Richard Brenkley, Founder, Better Agency


The Google algorithm is designed to put the right content in front of any user and their keyword search – at any time and in the correct context. It’s quite a feat of engineering that so often is right. But when it’s wrong, it’s usually your fault.

Over the years we’ve seen so many changes to this algorithm and the nuances of how it reads, interprets and ultimately ranks what you do. There have been clear phases and updates along the way, all designed to ensure that the accuracy of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) improve each time.

Google SERPs are arguably one of the most audience-centric pieces of tech on the internet today, and we could all learn a little bit about Google’s relentless pursuit of delivering what they think a user wants to see.

In recent years though, the algorithm has shown that the devil is very much in the detail. This means taking into consideration how Google thinks (i.e. user-first) and following suit with your user experience and content-led SEO strategy.


Appreciating user intent

If you want to make gains with your rankings you really need to understand your performance at a keyword level. Similarly, you should appreciate the nuance of what Google thinks a user wants to find when they search that specific keyword.

That ‘user intent’ behind your keyword target needs to match the context and experience of your content, and for a user to be able to take action on your website, i.e. if you are trying to rank for what Google thinks is an ecommerce search term, with a brochureware site, then it’s unlikely you’ll beat online retailers to the top spots.


Tools are widely available

There is an abundance of keyword research tools and technology that   can help you understand what users search for. The results are often easy to digest and some tools even offer on-page technical advice as to how you might rank higher. However, there is only one tool that offers true insight into your own data, offering everything you need to make revenue changing gains.

That tool is Google Search Console. It’s free, available to all, and is often overlooked as a source of data but can be your trusted friend in the pursuit of increasing the right organic traffic volumes.


All hail Google Search Console

Google Search Console, formerly known as Webmaster Tools, came to the rescue a few years ago, after organic keyword data was stripped from

Google Analytics. And it’s been an underused asset of marketing teams for too long.

There is so much insight and feedback within Search Console that makes  it a near-essential SEO companion and it should form part of your daily routines. It is often the first place you’ll see the future performance of your

business as well as the general health of your website, according to Google themselves.

In this guide, we focus on just one area of Search Console that can help you make marginal gains in performance by identifying and understanding where to apply efforts for quicker returns.


Better Agency’s Search Console guide

 In order to start, you’ll need to have access to Google Search Console, and then follow this guide to get at the data. The aim is to discover two sets of keyword targets, some may be obvious, others might be newly discovered:


1. Page one rankings – positioned 6-10

With the majority of the clicks from SERPs focused on the top positions, being bottom of the page can sometimes mean you achieve very little. Increasing ranks whilst featured on page one can be different to normal optimisation techniques. However, the reward for doing so can be a sharp increase in traffic volumes.


2. Page two rankings – positioned 11-20

You may be surprised what you rank for in these positions. By using  the Search Console data you can understand the potential traffic gains by assessing the Impressions and multiplying them by a factor of 3+ (it can vary hugely). These terms potentially represent ‘low hanging fruit’ and with some minimal action can rank on page one.

Once you have your 5-10 keyword targets, you can plan out the actions you need to take in order to increase ranks. There are several things you can look to understand:

  • Does the keyword carry commercial intent, and therefore, can it drive revenue?
  • Does the keyword actually describe something my business can do or sell?
  • Does the page that ranks cater for the keyword, directly or indirectly?
  • Does the page that ranks have enough link equity to rank higher?
  • Have I optimised the page technically to target this keyword and would that affect other rankings if I do?

There are so many points to consider – impossible to cover in this guide alone – but getting at the raw data can at least give you an area to focus on. You may also want to follow ‘landing pages’ through to Google Analytics so you can overlay commercial performance to validate why you are applying effort to the keywords you’ve identified.