Google Search Console: 3 Content Metrics That Matter For SaaS Marketers

Hello all!

Welcome back to another issue of our monthly newsletter, where we discuss tactical tips and tricks that content marketers can apply to their strategies.

This month, we’re covering how to use and interpret data from Google Search Console (GSC) to supercharge your content marketing results.

Metric 1) Impressions

Impressions are sometimes cited as a vanity metric. We’d beg to differ.

That is, GSC impressions are a great way to see under the hood of the website. They communicate that:

  • Pages are being indexed
  • The organic reach/visibility is expanding
  • There are URLs that need further investigation for improved optimization

Let’s talk about three of the most common impression trends you’re likely to encounter and how you should approach them.

1) Impressions are steadily trending upward

Impressions for newsletter

If you log into GSC and see that the entire website’s impressions are steadily growing or that the impressions for an individual URL are steadily growing, you can generally assume that your organic marketing program is working.

That information communicates that Google is successfully finding, crawling, and indexing your website.

As you post more content and rankings continue to rise for more and more keywords (GSC calls these queries), you should continue to see growing impressions.

As you grow more accustomed to what GSC is telling you, you can even dive into brand vs. nonbrand query impression growth to make sure that all your marketing is contributing to the overall growth and interest of your brand and product over time.

2) Impressions are high, but clicks are low

Impressions 2 for newsletter

High impressions and low clicks happen for several reasons that are worth understanding.

If impressions are high, it’s typically because your content is on page 1. However, if clicks are low while the impressions are high, you should check the following:

  • Is our content URL and title listed on page 1 like the rest of the content, OR is one of our images or videos from that URL featured in a carousel or block of images on the SERP?

    Depending on the nature of the keyword, these tend to generate lower clicks despite putting you "on page 1."

  • Are we on page 1, but there are a ton of featured snippets, ads, and image/video carousels at the top of the SERP that we don’t have the ability to rank for?

    Sometimes people love videos to learn, and your blog has no opportunity to land on the top of page 1 without also featuring an embedded video on it.

  • Were we on page 1 but dropped to the bottom of page 1 or onto page 2?

    While impressions will stay high, the further away you get from the top, the fewer people click on your content.

3) Impressions are extremely volatile

Impressions 3 for newsletter

Impressions are a great way to determine that something has drastically changed with the way Google is displaying our website. If you’re seeing impressions (or clicks) all over the map for a particular URL, check out the following.

  • Did you lose a position in a SERP feature?

    Oftentimes a keyword will generate a snippet, a video carousel, a podcast carousel, recipes, or even a Twitter carousel.

    If the intent behind what searchers want or the popularity of that search changes, those features sometimes disappear and reappear as the algorithms sort it out.

  • Is your content new?

    When content is new, Google’s algorithms interpret, test, shuffle, and try to figure out where you’re best suited based on all the rankings factors you’re satisfying.

    Sometimes that leaves your impressions going haywire for a few weeks or even a month+ as it continues to understand what you have to offer.

  • Is one piece of content competing with another piece of content on your website?

    Google has a rule that only one piece of content on your website is supposed to be able to rank for any one keyword.

    If you have multiple URLs that are too similar in topic, Google can struggle to understand which one to prioritize, and sometimes you’ll see it pass impressions to those URLs without ever ranking any of them on page 1.

Metric 2) Clicks

Clicks are the golden metric that your SEO is working and your title tags are compelling. But they communicate several other things to the content and SEO practitioner.

Let’s look at two of the most common trends you’ll see in click data.

1) Click growth or click decline

Generally speaking, if your clicks are growing, that means one piece of content is continuing to rank higher for more keywords, or your website overall has more content ranking as you continue to publish.

And the same goes for steady click declines. Declines typically happen as you lose rankings due to content decay (pieces ages out, intent changes, or a competitor updates their content).

Updating your content or consolidating to match intent should help you recover those clicks.

Recovery clicks newsletter

Click growth and decline can also signify the relative authority of your website over time.

If you have a lot of content on your website, but your brand and product marketing aren’t generating attention, PR, and important backlink-building efforts - it can be difficult for a website to maintain rankings as you lose “relevance” to the market.

2) Dramatic drops

Clicks 2 for newsletter

Dramatic drops in GSC clicks always set off the alarm bells for marketing teams.

Here is why you might see significant click drops within Google Search Console:

  • You’ve just completed a significant consolidation or migration project, and you intentionally removed 100s or 1000s of pages from your website, knowing that you’d lose clicks that you deemed as not valuable to the business.

  • You’ve just completed a significant consolidation or migration project, and you forgot to implement 301 redirects (or did so poorly).

    You deleted many pages people liked to backlink to that gave your website significant authority signals.

    And you forgot to submit your sitemap into GSC with your new domain and hosting information.

  • You’ve accidentally de-indexed a URL when working in your CMS, or you redirected a page to an irrelevant topic.

    Simply undoing either action should help you recover any lost rankings and clicks.

  • A Google Core Update was recently released, and your website wasn’t rewarded.

    This sometimes is unwarranted, and Google sincerely made a mistake.

    However, often this means that you’re not meeting the quality standards or are aggressively optimizing your site to game the algorithm in a way that Google recognizes and doesn’t like.

Metric 3) Queries

Queries, or GSC’s term for what SEOs call keywords, can communicate a ton of useful information to us about our content.

1) What queries are we ranking for (matching intent for)

The first thing we learn from our queries is which URLS from our website Google is serving searchers based on what they type into the engine.

So now we know exactly what keywords we’re ranking for which pages and which generate the most traffic and visibility for us.

*Pro Tip: As Nate Turner shared in a Content That Grows podcast episode (below), you’ll often choose to write an article about a topic for reasons related to customer interest or ICP data without having a keyword target.

That’s right, you can create content without SEO in mind.

You can go back into GSC a couple of months later and see what queries Google thinks your post is most aligned with. It can often be worth modifying that initial post to make it rank and receive more consistent traffic when you find a worthwhile query.

2) The number of queries over time

If you’re trying to determine if you need to modify and update a piece of content to match intent or if the piece needs backlinks, there is a general rule of thumb that you can follow.

The easy way to think about it:

  • If the content URL is gaining queries over time, you’re likely matching intent and can rest easy as clicks and impressions continue to rise
  • If the content URL is losing its total number of queries over time, you need to update, pivot, or expand to better match the intent of the keyword target
  • If the number of queries is relatively stable, but you’re losing positions, you’d likely benefit from more backlinks

3) Target semantically related queries and easier wins

Semantically related terms in GSC newsletter

If you’re looking for keyword ideas that will:

  • Give you more traction around topics Google believes your site is an authority for
  • Help you target topics related to your top-performing content so you can grow faster

…then, GSC is one of your best tools for identifying your future roadmap.

Instead of focusing all your time and energy on celebrating the queries that are generating a lot of clicks, focus your attention on another area.

Look at which queries are coming up under your best-performing pieces of content that are not generating clicks and don’t rank in the top 20 positions (on average).

The terms at the bottom often give you a good idea of what Google believes are semantically related topics, but they don’t think your particular post is a good candidate to rank for that query.

Instead, if you find queries you’d like to rank for by doing this search, you can add them to the roadmap for future content pieces.

*Pro Tip: You can tell if targeting one of these keywords with a new article will internally compete (be too similar) with your existing one by doing this:

  1. Pull up two windows on your computer side-by-side
  2. In one window, Google search the keyword you’re thinking about targeting
  3. In the other window, Google search the keyword currently receiving the most clicks
  4. Compare how similar the results are

If those two SERPs are nearly identical in the content they display, then don’t build a separate article to target those two queries. You’ll likely want to add in a section to be sure you’re expanding your intent coverage.

If those two SERPs look very different, especially the articles at the top of page 1, then you can feel free to target both of the queries using two different articles.

Compare SERPs for newsletter

What are you waiting for?

With this information, you should be able to use GSC data to interpret, diagnose, and make necessary decisions related to your content.

And you might even impress your SEO counterparts.

Enjoying our monthly newsletter? Recommend us to a friend and send them here to sign up to receive our future issues.

Have more questions related to this topic? Feel free to ask us on
LinkedIn or respond to this e-mail.

Related + New Resources For Your Team

[Watch/Listen 👁️👂] The AI and Marketing Hype Machine

Nate and Derek are back to talk about the hype surrounding AI in the marketing industry - discussing how impactful AI will likely be and how it will be used within various content marketing efforts

Take me to this resource -->
[Read 📖] How to identify ALL your content that needs consolidating

Consolidation is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get a lot of content under control and performing. See how to identify your website's opportunities here.

Take me to this resource -->
[Read 📖] What Is Content Decay? How To Identify and Fix for Organic Growth

For any company trying to scale its blog and drive meaningful business results, it is critical to understand content decay and how it impacts your growth. Learn more here.

Take me to this resource -->
[Read 📖] 3 Common Technical SEO Issues [+ Tools & Resources to Fix Them]

The following three technical SEO issues can significantly impact your website's ability to be crawled and indexed. See how you can use GSC and other tools to fix the problem confidently.

Take me to this resource -->