What Makes Search Console So Useful For SEO
Olga Zarr joins the SEO Rant to discuss the central role that Search Console takes in doing SEO audits:
What makes Search Console unique
The data found inside of Search Console
When to move to a third-party tool
When it comes to SEO tools and data Google's Search Console is foundational. It's fundamentally different than anything else out there. While third-party tools are great and essential for a heap of SEO tasks Search Console holds a special place in the hearts of SEOs.
In this episode, Olga and I discuss what makes Search Console so special and when you should move to a third-party tool.
Here's a summary of what we discussed.
Why Is Search Console So Important?
Google's Search Console is different than any other SEO tool out there since the data comes straight from Google. That fundamentally sets it apart from anything else out there. Search Console is Google's own SEO tool and because it comes from Google the data in Search Console is uniquely important.
That said, the source of the data is one thing, what you can do with that data is something else entirely. Here too, Search Console shines. The tool offers a heap of filters (and even an API) that enables you to start parsing data and digging deep into what's happening with your site. Search Console, because it allows you to play around with the data as it does, is a great resource to help you answer questions about your site's performance.
Another unique aspect of Search Console is that it includes everything an SEO needs to get started with monitoring a site. There's so much information inside of Search Console and it touches on every aspect of maintaining a strong organic presence.
In specific, here's just some of the data that Search Console includes:
Google Crawl Stats Data: How often Google is crawling your site and with what bot
Server Responses: What response type Google is getting in what frequency and for what pages
User Experience Data: Everything from Core Web Vitals to mobile usability
Index Coverage: Which pages have errors preventing indexation or which pages have been excluded from the index, etc.
Links: Access information as to the top linking sites and far beyond
Organic Performance: A plethora of data on impressions, clicks, & average rank
Page Enhancements: See which pages contain structure data elements or AMP in order to determine if they contain any errors, etc.
The point is, you can get a comprehensive understanding of where your site stands from a variety of perspectives using Search Console. What's more, is that the data inside of Search Console is deeper than you might expect. For example, in the Crawl Stats data, you can see trends on server response time. Or take links data, you can see what pages you tend to link to internally. The point is, there's a lot of layered information on the full spectrum of "SEO" embedded within Search Console. All of which makes it a pillar of doing SEO.
When to Move to Third-Party SEO Tools
While Search Console is the foundational tool for SEOs, it does have its limits. Google didn't design Search Console for the professional marketer to be able to dig into the data in an extremely refined manner. For this, you'll need a third-party tool.
When you want to dig deeper into things for a very nuanced understanding of your site, you'll have to move to an external tool (i.e., a tool not operated by Google). For example, Google will tell you the links you have pointing towards your site but it won't tell you which links are follow or nofollow.
Put it like this: Search Console was designed to help site owners understand what's happening with their site so they can improve it. Third-party tools were designed so that you can create some ROI with your site. They're designed to help you as an SEO or marketing professional create value for your clients or company. This is why third-party tools offer more in terms of competitive research or let you run deep audits on a site or include a slew of reporting options, etc.
That's not to say you can't use Search Console in conjunction with a third-party tool. First of all, a good third-party tool will let you integrate with Search Console so you can utilize both data-sets together. Also, you can use Search Console as a starting point for utilizing a third-party tool. For example, I often see which keywords are driving impressions in Search Console so that I can better track them inside of Semrush (I use Semrush, for obvious reasons).
The point is, it's not an either/or scenario. You need both. You can't only rely on Search Console and you can't only rely on a third-party tool. They have to be used symbiotically.
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on carving your own SEO path and career.
Learn more about SEO Rant Podcast's host, Mordy Oberstein.