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The Simple Guide to Building a Martech Stack

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The Simple Guide to Building a Martech Stack


There is no one marketing tool that can handle all marketing processes and enable team collaboration at the same time. And even if there is, it won’t be the best at everything.

This reason alone is why marketers need to look for various tools to put together their martech stacks.

It’s no wonder why there is no such “miracle” tool yet. Marketing processes can be quite complex. For example, this is our blog content creation process:

Flowchart of Ahrefs blog's content creation process

As you can see, there are multiple stages in this process. Thing is, those stages need different tools; one for keyword research, one for writing, a couple for communication, a couple for publishing, etc.

Generally, the more tactics you use and the more processes you create, the more tools you’ll need in your martech stack. But this process of amassing ad hoc solutions can easily get out of control and hurt your performance. So let’s try to avoid that and start from the beginning:

Martech” is short for marketing technology. A martech stack is a collection of software used by marketers to conduct, manage, measure, and improve their marketing activities.

Oftentimes, martech stacks are designed to work in conjunction with one another (through built-in integrations or APIs) to supplement marketing processes.

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What is martech used for?

The short answer: probably everything. Personally, I was amazed when I found out there is a dedicated tool for transferring content from Google Docs to WordPress—something I’ve done manually for years. I never thought I might need a tool like Wordable. But now there’s no turning back.

See also  The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2022

So it’s really good to know what’s out there in terms of marketing technology. Here are some of the main areas where you can use martech:

Research

Some types of research are impossible to do without the right software. For example, you can’t do keyword research without an SEO tool.

Matching terms report results

Just four seed keywords resulted in almost 4 million keyword ideas. Data via Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

In other cases, martech will help you streamline your research process. For example, when analyzing the social reach of media or influencers, you don’t need to manually check each social media platform. A tool like Sparktoro has it all in one place.

Report on TechCrunch. Key data above. Below, bar graph showing social followings, etc

Creation

Here, martech offers tools for teamwide collaboration, getting feedback, no-code page building, and streamlined visual content creation.

For example, while looking for a design tool, you will inevitably come across Adobe’s Creative Suite. While it offers great tools, they’re a bit of an overkill for marketers. You’d be better off with a streamlined design tool like Figma or UXPin.

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Ahrefs webpage design on Figma

Our team used Figma to create Ahrefs’ website, etc. We also use it to store our design system.

Content distribution

Whatever marketing channels you’re using, there is a tool for that. For example, you can schedule your social media posts to be sent out to multiple platforms within the same tool. No need to jump back and forth between social media profiles, trying to fit in the perfect spot for posting.

Page on MeetEdgar to schedule posts. Drop-down filters on left and preview of post on right

You can use tools like MeetEdgar to take the strain off social media posting.

User experience personalization

With the right technology, you can set up systems that personalize your website’s texts, images, displayed products, and more. This way, instead of showing generalized messages that are “all things to all people,” you can display content that feels like it was specifically prepared for the reader.

Pictures, prices, and brief write-up of products

Barilliance allows e‑commerce stores to automatically personalize visitors’ experience using AI. For example, it can display competing products that past visitors viewed when considering an item or show cross-sale opportunities based on dynamic models.

Marketing automation

With marketing automation tools, you can plan how your brand will engage with people throughout the customer journey, from setting up lead generation forms without any coding to devising automated email workflows based on your subscribers’ engagement signals.

Flowchart of example email workflow

And going after the latest trend of conversational marketing, you can have a chatbot to answer your customers’ questions 24 hours a day, as IKEA Canada does.

IKEA Canada's chatbot

Analytics

If it’s digital, it can be measured. And if it can be measured, it can be improved. For example, at Ahrefs, we constantly monitor our content’s performance in terms of keyword rankings and organic traffic. If we see one of those on a downtrend, we can improve the content or promote it more.

In the screenshot below, you can see the organic search graph for one of our articles. The arrows mark instances when the article was republished with updated content. As you can see, revamping the article led to an increase in organic traffic multiple times.

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Optimization

Not sure what page design will convert more visitors? Don’t guess. Use A/B testing tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely. Tools like these will let you easily deploy your test (even if you can’t code), automatically gather data for as long as you need, and report the results.

For instance, in the screenshot below, you can see us using Tubebuddy to test two versions of video thumbnails.

Data Analytics page showing bar graphs, pie charts, etc

Customer relationship management

Popularly known as CRMs. These are tools marketers (together with sales teams) use to keep important information about their leads and customers.

Using spreadsheets for this purpose is a thing of the past. Modern CRMs have the advantage of being central, dynamic databases that send and receive information from other tools automatically.

A great illustration of the role that CRMs have in digital marketing is the promise that one of the biggest marketing automation providers, HubSpot, aims to deliver: first and foremost, a great CRM.

Excerpt of HubSpot article talking about its CRM

How to build a martech stack

Before you even think about building a martech stack, make sure you’ve identified your marketing goals and chosen your marketing tactics. It’s impossible to build a useful stack without first deciding these things because the purpose of the stack is to help improve your marketing activities. If you need help with these two things, read our guides on choosing marketing goals and marketing tactics.

With that out of the way, let’s see the next steps of creating your own martech stack.

1. Identify your needs and match that with your current stack

Your needs pertaining to the martech stack will likely stem out of two things: your marketing goals and your team’s need to make everyday operational work happen.

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If you’re doing digital marketing, your goals almost automatically translate into software needs. For instance, improving organic traffic without an SEO tool is a guessing game. Trying to increase your share of voice on social media effectively without analytics and scheduling tools is just crazy. And you won’t set up a single email workflow without an email automation tool… you get the idea.

So here’s what you can do. Simply write down your marketing goals and see if you’ve got the right tools for the job already. If not, make a note next to the goal. This way, you will buy what’s really necessary, save some money, and avoid the confusion of having too many workspaces.

Depending on your company size, digging through your current stack can take several minutes or several hours. Larger organizations will most likely have a martech stack built up over the years. Some tools in the stack may not even be used anymore for some reason. If so, it may be worth coming back to the tried and tested tools.

At Ahrefs, we keep a list of our marketing tech that also mentions people with access to it. This way, we know:

  • The tools we use/don’t use.
  • Whether we should still be paying for them or not.

List of Ahrefs' martech

Here’s another thing to add to the list: your team’s needs. This is an important component of your software requirements, but it’s so obvious that it can slip the managers’ minds. The end result is them buying software that simply suits their personal opinions.

Sometimes, managers choose the martech stack on their own. They often think, in their best intentions, that doing things this way won’t distract the team. Wrong. They’re actually doing their team members a disservice. It’s important to ask your teammates what they need. More often than not, your fellow marketers will be well versed in the martech landscape.

2. Establish a budget

Because you need to know what you can afford. And it’s good to know this before you go shopping for software.

As in life, you can be in one of two scenarios here. You either have a stiff budget, or you have some room to move. And what you get depends on how well you can justify your needs.

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If your budget has already been decided, you may need to prioritize some tools over others, cut costs through single-seat subscriptions, or choose the lower-cost (or even free) options.

But if your budget is not some arbitrary number you can’t influence, here’s a tip:

Try to explain the demand for new tools through your marketing goals. It’s not always transparent to CFOs or CEOs why you need a particular software, especially when it’s pricey. On that note, it’s worth mentioning that if you can’t meet your marketing goals because you don’t have the software, the whole company is in trouble.

3. Research possible software options

So by this point, you should be able to determine what kinds of software you’ll be looking for (and may even have some brands in mind) and how much you can spend on them. Now it’s time to pick and choose.

Here are a few ideas on how to find the right kinds of tools:

  • Get recommendations – Ask your network on LinkedIn or Twitter, post a question in your marketing community, or post a query on Quora.
  • Analyze your competition and/or companies you look up to – For this, you can use websites like StackShare, BuiltWith, or Slintel. Sometimes, you can find that information directly from the source, e.g., by browsing that company’s blog (many companies actually like to share this information, and we’re doing it too in this article).
  • Check out review platforms – First, websites like G2 and Capterra have curated lists of software in probably every software category (some have buyer’s guides too). Second, people go there to share their experiences of using the software. It’s wise to take the reviews with a grain of salt, but you can pick up patterns in opinions or some details you may want to check for yourself.
  • Cross-check your tools – See if there are any unnecessary overlaps and check if the tools that are supposed to work together have the required integrations. Remember, having more tools is not always better.

4. Deploy the tools and make the transition

Once you finally get access to your new set of tools, here are some things worth remembering:

  • Make a list of your entire martech stack and share it with whoever is concerned (marketing team, possibly your CEO and/or CFO). You can create a similar list (like the one from point #1) that shows the tools’ URLs, the people responsible, how to access the tools, the prices, and whatever else you feel may be helpful to keep track of.
  • If you have any old tools still running, don’t cancel them just yet because they probably hold valuable data that will perish if you stop paying for them. Whenever possible, export data from the old tools and import it into your new tools. You can also continue running some of the older tools until you’re 100% confident everything you need is in the new stack.
  • Consider reaching out to the creator of your software for some guidance to make sure everything works as it should. Some tools are quite complicated to implement (especially when you’re making data transitions or performing integrations with other software).

5. Make sure your tools are used properly

New tools will probably confuse your team for the first couple of weeks. Even interface changes between your old and your new software could cause a temporary drop in productivity. Make sure to put some time aside to actually learn the tools.

Many software companies offer comprehensive educational materials for free (or without any additional charge). For example, when you sign up for Ahrefs, you may not know anything about SEO except that you need it. And that’s OK because, through our Academy, we show you how to do SEO effectively as you master our software.

Ahrefs Academy's page

Going further, if you need to develop custom operating procedures (like reporting or content creation processes), it’s a good idea to have one person responsible for documenting them using the new tools.

Final tip: consider doing regular evaluations of your martech stack. You can ask your teammates’ opinions during meetings or send out an internal survey once every couple of months. This way, you may get some additional insights, e.g., your tools need an upgrade/downgrade, or your team needs additional training.

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Now, let’s see what an example martech stack can look like.

Our favorite marketing tools (a sample of our martech stack)

Here is a portion of our martech stack we use to run an eight-figure ARR company.

1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an industry-leading, all-in-one SEO tool. We created this tool to help marketers rank higher on search engines and get more traffic. So naturally, we use it every day to fuel our own marketing strategy. We use it mostly for:

  • Finding topics to write about.
  • Studying how to structure our blog posts.
  • Choosing which articles to update.
  • Finding outreach prospects.
  • Studying competitors.
  • Monitoring our performance in search engines.
  • Finding technical SEO issues.

Copy of Ahrefs' value proposition

Where to get: ahrefs.com
Price: Free tools available; paid plans start at $99 per month (you get two months free if you decide to pay annually)
Some alternatives: SEMrush, Moz

2. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free service from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in the search results.

It offers the most accurate data when it comes to Google’s search-related products, e.g., organic traffic data, organic click-through rates, index coverage, etc.

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GSC's value proposition

Where to get: search.google.com/search-console
Price: Free
Alternative: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. Disclaimer: not exactly an alternative (only Google Search Console features exact organic traffic numbers from Google Search) but rather a complementary tool that fills the gaps of Google’s tool

3. Google Workspace

The first non-marketing tool on our list that marketers need too. It’s productivity and collaboration in one place. But this product probably doesn’t need an introduction. Google Workspace ties together tools such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Drive, and more. Even at this moment, I’m using Workspace to write this article.

These tools are free, but businesses will most likely need to jump to the pricing site right away to pick a plan that suits their data storage needs and see what other premium features Workspace offers.

Google Workspace's value proposition

Where to get: workspace.google.com
Price: Free for personal use; premium plans start at $6/mo
Some alternatives: Microsoft Office 365, Zoho Workplace, ONLYOFFICE Workspace

4. Notion

Another non-marketing tool that we can’t live without. Notion is our team workspace. Something that Google Workspace falls short of. We use it for internal documentation and collaboration.

Remember the blog creation process in the intro of this article? We track that entire process on Notion.

Notion's value proposition

Where to get: notion.so
Price: Free for personal use; premium plans start at $4/mo
Some alternatives: ClickUp, Confluence

5. Grammarly

Even the best writers make mistakes. Grammarly automatically checks our articles for spelling and grammar issues and can even make style suggestions. If you’re doing content marketing, you simply need a tool like this.

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Grammarly's value proposition

Where to get: grammarly.com
Price: Free for personal use; premium plans start at $12/mo
Some alternatives: ProWritingAid, Sapling

6. Wordable

We use Wordable to export articles from Google Docs to WordPress. The tool exports texts and images and translates original formatting to HTML. Otherwise, publishing on WordPress is more repetitive, manual labor, which can result in more mistakes.

Wordable's value proposition

Where to get: wordable.io
Price: Free for personal use; premium plans start at $12/mo
Some alternatives: Official WordPress Add-on for Google Docs

7. WordPress

Another tool that probably doesn’t need any introduction. We use this massively popular CMS as the infrastructure for blogging. And because you’re reading this article right now, that makes it so that we both use WordPress.

WordPress's value proposition

Where to get: wordpress.org
Price: Free for personal use; premium plans start at $12/mo
Some alternatives (when it comes to flexibility): Drupal, Joomla

8. vidIQ

vidIQ is one of the few video marketing tools we use (the other one is Tubebuddy, which has already been mentioned in this article). We use this tool to get insights on videos and channels on YouTube.

vidIQ's value proposition

Where to get: vidiq.com
Price: Free plan available; premium plans start at $7.5/mo
Some alternatives: Tubebuddy, Ahrefs (for YouTube SEO)

9. MeetEdgar

MeetEdgar is the tool we use to automate posting on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. This is not just another social media scheduling tool. It’s truly a social media marketing automation tool. It can even generate social media updates automatically based on the content of an article.

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MeetEdgar's value proposition

Where to get: meetedgar.com
Price: Starts at $19/mo
Some alternatives: Buffer, SproutSocial, Hootsuite

10. Sparktoro

Sparktoro helps us find creators/influencers based on topics, following, and other signals. It’s especially helpful for finding potential partners in a niche we’re not familiar with.

Sparktoro's value proposition

Where to get: sparktoro.com
Price: Starts at $19/mo
Some alternatives: No single platform I’m aware of (though Klear and Social Blade come quite close)

11. Hunter

Hunter is a tool for finding anyone’s email address with just the name of the person and where they work. It’s one of the tools we use to do outreach for link building. Basically, once we find and vet an outreach prospect, we need to find their email address to contact them—which is rarely public information. This is where Hunter comes in.

Hunter's value proposition

Where to get: hunter.io
Price: Free plan available; premium plans start at $49/mo
Some alternatives: FindEmails, NinjaOutreach

12. Pitchbox

Pitchbox is an influencer outreach and content marketing platform. However, we don’t use all of its features, only the ones that allow us to send emails to our link prospects at scale (e.g., email personalization and automated workflows).

Pitchbox's value proposition

Where to get: pitchbox.com
Price: Free plan available; premium plans start at $49/mo
Some alternatives: BuzzStream, NinjaOutreach

13. Figma

Figma is a collaborative interface design tool. Aside from being a great design and prototyping platform, Figma makes our lives easier by allowing us to share designs among our designers and developers and keep a consistent design system.

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Figma's value proposition

Where to get: figma.com
Price: Free plan available; premium plans start at $12/mo
Alternative: UXPin

Final thoughts

So there you have it. Building a martech stack is deceptively similar to shopping, but it’s not necessarily that fun and easy. It’s a good idea to forget about your personal preferences for a moment and think about how a particular choice will fit your processes, how it helps you achieve your goals, and whether your teammates will like it too.

At Ahrefs, we’ve been building our stack through trial and error for years, and it’s never a finished process. But that’s a good thing. From time to time, we do spot a new tool that makes us wonder how we got by without it. So keep your eyes open to increasingly smarter and easy-to-use martech.

Lastly, if you want to see what other online tools we use for marketing, check out this list.

Got questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter.





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SEO

A Complete Google Search Console Guide For SEO Pros

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A Complete Google Search Console Guide For SEO Pros

Google search console provides data necessary to monitor website performance in search and improve search rankings, information that is exclusively available through Search Console.

This makes it indispensable for online business and publishers that are keen to maximize success.

Taking control of your search presence is easier to do when using the free tools and reports.

What Is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free web service hosted by Google that provides a way for publishers and search marketing professionals to monitor their overall site health and performance relative to Google search.

It offers an overview of metrics related to search performance and user experience to help publishers improve their sites and generate more traffic.

Search Console also provides a way for Google to communicate when it discovers security issues (like hacking vulnerabilities) and if the search quality team has imposed a manual action penalty.

Important features:

  • Monitor indexing and crawling.
  • Identify and fix errors.
  • Overview of search performance.
  • Request indexing of updated pages.
  • Review internal and external links.

It’s not necessary to use Search Console to rank better nor is it a ranking factor.

However, the usefulness of the Search Console makes it indispensable for helping improve search performance and bringing more traffic to a website.

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How To Get Started

The first step to using Search Console is to verify site ownership.

Google provides several different ways to accomplish site verification, depending on if you’re verifying a website, a domain, a Google site, or a Blogger-hosted site.

Domains registered with Google domains are automatically verified by adding them to Search Console.

The majority of users will verify their sites using one of four methods:

  1. HTML file upload.
  2. Meta tag
  3. Google Analytics tracking code.
  4. Google Tag Manager.

Some site hosting platforms limit what can be uploaded and require a specific way to verify site owners.

But, that’s becoming less of an issue as many hosted site services have an easy-to-follow verification process, which will be covered below.

How To Verify Site Ownership

There are two standard ways to verify site ownership with a regular website, like a standard WordPress site.

  1. HTML file upload.
  2. Meta tag.

When verifying a site using either of these two methods, you’ll be choosing the URL-prefix properties process.

Let’s stop here and acknowledge that the phrase “URL-prefix properties” means absolutely nothing to anyone but the Googler who came up with that phrase.

Don’t let that make you feel like you’re about to enter a labyrinth blindfolded. Verifying a site with Google is easy.

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HTML File Upload Method

Step 1: Go to the Search Console and open the Property Selector dropdown that’s visible in the top left-hand corner on any Search Console page.

Screenshot by author, May 2022

Step 2: In the pop-up labeled Select Property Type, enter the URL of the site then click the Continue button.

Step 2Screenshot by author, May 2022

Step 3: Select the HTML file upload method and download the HTML file.

Step 4: Upload the HTML file to the root of your website.

Root means https://example.com/. So, if the downloaded file is called verification.html, then the uploaded file should be located at https://example.com/verification.html.

Step 5: Finish the verification process by clicking Verify back in the Search Console.

Verification of a standard website with its own domain in website platforms like Wix and Weebly is similar to the above steps, except that you’ll be adding a meta description tag to your Wix site.

Duda has a simple approach that uses a Search Console App that easily verifies the site and gets its users started.

Troubleshooting With GSC

Ranking in search results depends on Google’s ability to crawl and index webpages.

The Search Console URL Inspection Tool warns of any issues with crawling and indexing before it becomes a major problem and pages start dropping from the search results.

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URL Inspection Tool

The URL inspection tool shows whether a URL is indexed and is eligible to be shown in a search result.

For each submitted URL a user can:

  • Request indexing for a recently updated webpage.
  • View how Google discovered the webpage (sitemaps and referring internal pages).
  • View the last crawl date for a URL.
  • Check if Google is using a declared canonical URL or is using another one.
  • Check mobile usability status.
  • Check enhancements like breadcrumbs.
See also  Why NAP & User Experience Are Crucial To Local SEO

Coverage

The coverage section shows Discovery (how Google discovered the URL), Crawl (shows whether Google successfully crawled the URL and if not, provides a reason why), and Enhancements (provides the status of structured data).

The coverage section can be reached from the left-hand menu:

CoverageScreenshot by author, May 2022

Coverage Error Reports

While these reports are labeled as errors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Sometimes it just means that indexing can be improved.

For example, in the following screenshot, Google is showing a 403 Forbidden server response to nearly 6,000 URLs.

The 403 error response means that the server is telling Googlebot that it is forbidden from crawling these URLs.

Coverage report showing 403 server error responsesScreenshot by author, May 2022

The above errors are happening because Googlebot is blocked from crawling the member pages of a web forum.

Every member of the forum has a member page that has a list of their latest posts and other statistics.

The report provides a list of URLs that are generating the error.

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Clicking on one of the listed URLs reveals a menu on the right that provides the option to inspect the affected URL.

There’s also a contextual menu to the right of the URL itself in the form of a magnifying glass icon that also provides the option to Inspect URL.

Inspect URLScreenshot by author, May 2022

Clicking on the Inspect URL reveals how the page was discovered.

It also shows the following data points:

  • Last crawl.
  • Crawled as.
  • Crawl allowed?
  • Page fetch (if failed, provides the server error code).
  • Indexing allowed?

There is also information about the canonical used by Google:

  • User-declared canonical.
  • Google-selected canonical.

For the forum website in the above example, the important diagnostic information is located in the Discovery section.

This section tells us which pages are the ones that are showing links to member profiles to Googlebot.

With this information, the publisher can now code a PHP statement that will make the links to the member pages disappear when a search engine bot comes crawling.

Another way to fix the problem is to write a new entry to the robots.txt to stop Google from attempting to crawl these pages.

By making this 403 error go away, we free up crawling resources for Googlebot to index the rest of the website.

Google Search Console’s coverage report makes it possible to diagnose Googlebot crawling issues and fix them.

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Fixing 404 Errors

The coverage report can also alert a publisher to 404 and 500 series error responses, as well as communicate that everything is just fine.

A 404 server response is called an error only because the browser or crawler’s request for a webpage was made in error because the page does not exist.

It doesn’t mean that your site is in error.

If another site (or an internal link) links to a page that doesn’t exist, the coverage report will show a 404 response.

Clicking on one of the affected URLs and selecting the Inspect URL tool will reveal what pages (or sitemaps) are referring to the non-existent page.

From there you can decide if the link is broken and needs to be fixed (in the case of an internal link) or redirected to the correct page (in the case of an external link from another website).

Or, it could be that the webpage never existed and whoever is linking to that page made a mistake.

If the page doesn’t exist anymore or it never existed at all, then it’s fine to show a 404 response.

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Taking Advantage Of GSC Features

The Performance Report

The top part of the Search Console Performance Report provides multiple insights on how a site performs in search, including in search features like featured snippets.

There are four search types that can be explored in the Performance Report:

  1. Web.
  2. Image.
  3. Video.
  4. News.

Search Console shows the web search type by default.

Change which search type is displayed by clicking the Search Type button:

Default search typeScreenshot by author, May 2022

A menu pop-up will display allowing you to change which kind of search type to view:

Search Types MenuScreenshot by author, May 2022

A useful feature is the ability to compare the performance of two search types within the graph.

Four metrics are prominently displayed at the top of the Performance Report:

  1. Total Clicks.
  2. Total Impressions.
  3. Average CTR (click-through rate).
  4. Average position.
Screenshot of Top Section of the Performance PageScreenshot by author, May 2022

By default, the Total Clicks and Total Impressions metrics are selected.

See also  6 Things I Learned About Building An In-House SEO Team

By clicking within the tabs dedicated to each metric, one can choose to see those metrics displayed on the bar chart.

Impressions

Impressions are the number of times a website appeared in the search results. As long as a user doesn’t have to click a link to see the URL, it counts as an impression.

Additionally, if a URL is ranked at the bottom of the page and the user doesn’t scroll to that section of the search results, it still counts as an impression.

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High impressions are great because it means that Google is showing the site in the search results.

But, the meaning of the impressions metric is made meaningful by the Clicks and the Average Position metrics.

Clicks

The clicks metric shows how often users clicked from the search results to the website. A high number of clicks in addition to a high number of impressions is good.

A low number of clicks and a high number of impressions is less good but not bad. It means that the site may need improvements to gain more traffic.

The clicks metric is more meaningful when considered with the Average CTR and Average Position metrics.

Average CTR

The average CTR is a percentage representing how often users clicked from the search results to the website.

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A low CTR means that something needs improvement in order to increase visits from the search results.

A higher CTR means the site is performing well.

This metric gains more meaning when considered together with the Average Position metric.

Average Position

Average Position shows the average position in search results the website tends to appear in.

An average in positions one to 10 is great.

An average position in the twenties (20 – 29) means that the site is appearing on page two or three of the search results. This isn’t too bad. It simply means that the site needs additional work to give it that extra boost into the top 10.

Average positions lower than 30 could (in general) mean that the site may benefit from significant improvements.

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Or, it could be that the site ranks for a large number of keyword phrases that rank low and a few very good keywords that rank exceptionally high.

In either case, it may mean taking a closer look at the content. It may be an indication of a content gap on the website, where the content that ranks for certain keywords isn’t strong enough and may need a dedicated page devoted to that keyword phrase to rank better.

All four metrics (Impressions, Clicks, Average CTR, and Average Position), when viewed together, present a meaningful overview of how the website is performing.

The big takeaway about the Performance Report is that it is a starting point for quickly understanding website performance in search.

It’s like a mirror that reflects back how well or poorly the site is doing.

Performance Report Dimensions

Scrolling down to the second part of the Performance page reveals several of what’s called Dimensions of a website’s performance data.

There are six dimensions:

1. Queries: Shows the top search queries and the number of clicks and impressions associated with each keyword phrase.

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2. Pages: Shows the top-performing web pages (plus clicks and impressions).

3. Countries: Top countries (plus clicks and impressions).

4. Devices: Shows the top devices, segmented into mobile, desktop, and tablet.

5. Search Appearance: This shows the different kinds of rich results that the site was displayed in. It also tells if Google displayed the site using Web Light results and video results, plus the associated clicks and impressions data. Web Light results are results that are optimized for very slow devices.

6. Dates: The dates tab organizes the clicks and impressions by date. The clicks and impressions can be sorted in descending or ascending order.

Keywords

The keywords are displayed in the Queries as one of the dimensions of the Performance Report (as noted above). The queries report shows the top 1,000 search queries that resulted in traffic.

Of particular interest are the low-performing queries.

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Some of those queries display low quantities of traffic because they are rare, what is known as long-tail traffic.

But, others are search queries that result from webpages that could need improvement, perhaps it could be in need of more internal links, or it could be a sign that the keyword phrase deserves its own webpage.

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It’s always a good idea to review the low-performing keywords because some of them may be quick wins that, when the issue is addressed, can result in significantly increased traffic.

Links

Search Console offers a list of all links pointing to the website.

However, it’s important to point out that the links report does not represent links that are helping the site rank.

It simply reports all links pointing to the website.

This means that the list includes links that are not helping the site rank. That explains why the report may show links that have a nofollow link attribute on them.

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The Links report is accessible  from the bottom of the left-hand menu:

Links reportScreenshot by author, May 2022

The Links report has two columns: External Links and Internal Links.

External Links are the links from outside the website that points to the website.

Internal Links are links that originate within the website and link to somewhere else within the website.

The External links column has three reports:

  1. Top linked pages.
  2. Top linking sites.
  3. Top linking text.

The Internal Links report lists the Top Linked Pages.

Each report (top linked pages, top linking sites, etc.) has a link to more results that can be clicked to view and expand the report for each type.

For example, the expanded report for Top Linked Pages shows Top Target pages, which are the pages from the site that are linked to the most.

Clicking a URL will change the report to display all the external domains that link to that one page.

The report shows the domain of the external site but not the exact page that links to the site.

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Sitemaps

A sitemap is generally an XML file that is a list of URLs that helps search engines discover the webpages and other forms of content on a website.

Sitemaps are especially helpful for large sites, sites that are difficult to crawl if the site has new content added on a frequent basis.

Crawling and indexing are not guaranteed. Things like page quality, overall site quality, and links can have an impact on whether a site is crawled and pages indexed.

Sitemaps simply make it easy for search engines to discover those pages and that’s all.

Creating a sitemap is easy because more are automatically generated by the CMS, plugins, or the website platform where the site is hosted.

Some hosted website platforms generate a sitemap for every site hosted on its service and automatically update the sitemap when the website changes.

Search Console offers a sitemap report and provides a way for publishers to upload a sitemap.

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To access this function click on the link located on the left-side menu.

sitemaps

The sitemap section will report on any errors with the sitemap.

Search Console can be used to remove a sitemap from the reports. It’s important to actually remove the sitemap however from the website itself otherwise Google may remember it and visit it again.

Once submitted and processed, the Coverage report will populate a sitemap section that will help troubleshoot any problems associated with URLs submitted through the sitemaps.

Search Console Page Experience Report

The page experience report offers data related to the user experience on the website relative to site speed.

Search Console displays information on Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability.

This is a good starting place for getting an overall summary of site speed performance.

Rich Result Status Reports

Search Console offers feedback on rich results through the Performance Report. It’s one of the six dimensions listed below the graph that’s displayed at the top of the page, listed as Search Appearance.

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Selecting the Search Appearance tabs reveals clicks and impressions data for the different kinds of rich results shown in the search results.

This report communicates how important rich results traffic is to the website and can help pinpoint the reason for specific website traffic trends.

The Search Appearance report can help diagnose issues related to structured data.

For example, a downturn in rich results traffic could be a signal that Google changed structured data requirements and that the structured data needs to be updated.

It’s a starting point for diagnosing a change in rich results traffic patterns.

Search Console Is Good For SEO

In addition to the above benefits of Search Console, publishers and SEOs can also upload link disavow reports, resolve penalties (manual actions), and security events like site hackings, all of which contribute to a better search presence.

It is a valuable service that every web publisher concerned about search visibility should take advantage of.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: bunny pixar/Shutterstock



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