What if you could see yourself the way the world saw you? That’s what Google Search Console offers. Well maybe not you and maybe not the entire world, but for healthcare digital marketers, it provides something even more valuable—the ability to see your website the way Google’s search engine crawlers do.
It’s a terrific tool for improving your website performance. The benefits are exhaustive and while it takes significant expertise to mine them completely, there are a few basic things every beginner can do. If that’s where you are, here are a few tips on how to use Google Search Console.
Identify broken links
Isn’t it disappointing to run a search on Google, find a page that you think will answer your question, and then discover that it’s a broken link? Google’s crawlers certainly find it disappointing and too many broken links on your site will damage the rankings you get for live pages. Google expects you to keep your site clean and through Search Console, they offer the tools to do it.
It’s easy to run a report each month telling where your broken links (404 errors) are. You can use your Content Management System (CMS) to implement a 301 redirect for each one, ensuring that any reader looking for the broken page will be automatically redirected to the one that you’ve determined to be the next best option.
A word of advice—don’t redirect to the home page. It’s too generic. You’ve got an interested searcher looking for information so pick the page that’s most likely to help them.
Get a links report
These refer to the external links you’re getting. What websites have posted links to your home page or some other piece of content for their own audiences? In general, it’s an extremely good thing to have these. Not only are they promoting your site, but search engines take that as a signal that your website offers valuable content, and there will be a ripple effect that lifts your rankings across the board.
Another word of caution—not all links are good. If you see one from a site that’s spammy or that you don’t want to be associated with, Search Console offers you a tool to “disavow” it. This is important; spammy links will have a downward drag on your rankings as sure as good links will lift them up.
Review search engine appearance
You’ll be able to see how your site’s pages are appearing for searchers. Search Console will also monitor if you’re using duplicate content for your page’s titles or descriptions.
Review keyword data
This the big prize. Find out how you rank for the keywords that are most important to your practice. Find out what keywords people use to find your site. You can adjust your content appropriately.