The lesser known (and lesser utilized) cousin of Google Analytics is Google Webmaster Tools. A free data and insight tool, integrating Webmaster Tools with your Google Analytics is necessary to gather some of the data and reports available in your Google Analytics dashboard. To the joy of many website administrators, you can also use Webmaster Tools to gain some of the keyword knowledge lost from Google Analytics not showing almost all of the keyword searches that led people to your site.
Being able to see the long-tailed keyword phrases that drove traffic to your site – and the average search engine position of those phrases – can help you to correctly focus your SEO improvement efforts.
Obviously, you can aim to improve the average search position of all your blog posts, pages or products, but where you’re more likely to get the most bang for your buck is to focus on those long-tailed keyword phrases that are on Page 2 (so, keyword phrases with the average position from 10.1-20).
How to Improve your Search Ranking using Google Webmaster Tools
After logging in to your Google Webmaster Tools, visit Search Traffic –> Search Analytics, and check the box next to Position.
Next, scroll down the page a bit to locate the section that shows your keyword phrases and their average ranking. Keep clicking through the pages of results until you get to the keyword phrases that have the average position higher than 10.0.
TIP #1: If you click on the double arrows pointing to the right, you can see the live search results for that keyword phrase and what other results are located around it.
At this point, it’s best to review the next several pages of keyword phrases to detect any similar phrases. In my case, I was able to locate multiple keyword phrases that related to a post I wrote back in 2012 about how to tag a Facebook Page in your status update.
Upon reviewing that post, I decided to update some of the Facebook terminology to help improve its search position. For example, back 5 years ago when that post was written, the common terminology for a Facebook Page was “Facebook Fan Page”. However, “Fan” isn’t really used anymore to describe your Business Page, so I changed up the text on the blog post.
Reviewing your posts gives you an opportunity to update more than just terminology. If you have a blog post with screen shots that are out of date, now’s a perfect time to refresh the post with new ones.
TIP #2: Every person would use a different set of words to describe the same type of info they are searching Google for, so you shouldn’t take the data found in your Webmaster Tools and try to stick in every variation of the same topic or keyword phrase into 1 blog post or website page. Instead, look at overall trends in the phrases that are *almost* getting that post on Page 1, and see if you can make changes based off that.
Of course, reading through these search position results may inspire more blog post ideas (and the keyword phrases you should use for those blog posts), too.
When thinking about improving your site’s SEO, it’s often not about a complete overhaul of the entire site but rather to focus on a smaller number of things to improve upon that will give you the biggest pay off for the time and work involved. After identifying and optimizing those almost-page-1 blog posts or pages, watch your Google Analytics as well as your Webmaster Tools in the months to follow to see if your changes improved the ranking.