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Keeping Up (Web) Appearances

The free Google tool your site can’t live without

Web maintenance is a necessary, time-consuming task for pool professionals. When balancing other business priorities, website issues can go undetected for weeks. That’s where learning the basics of Google Search Console can help.

The Biggest Benefits of Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides tools and reports to measure a site’s search traffic and performance. This allows website owners to fix issues to ensure Google has the best version of a site for customers. It also allows website owners to submit sitemaps to let Google bots crawl the most updated content.

Once signed up for GSC, website owners verify their site in a step-by-step process before opening the data dashboard to learn how to improve their sites’ performance.

Zach Baltes, pay-per-click specialist at The Get Smart Group in Angels Camp, California, advises using GSC to keep atop of website performance issues, which are critical for pool pros during promotional periods. Baltes says Google Search Console sends notifications for errors such as the dreaded 404, which can prevent customers from making a purchase on your site.

“Generally, you’d find out the hard way a month later (or even longer) when you see a report showing you had zero conversions or no visitors,” he says. “I’m no mathematician, but even I can tell you that is not good for your ROI.”

Google Search Console brings these errors to your attention with interactive reports. If a link isn’t working, click on the report to repair it. Google Search Console also tracks the performance of your website, Baltes says: It looks for things like crawl errors, spam issues or keywords that need more attention.

GSC also recommends keywords that can boost organic search traffic, says Tim Pelletier, director of SEO at Digital Position, LLC, a search engine agency.

One of the ways Google finds websites is through keywords. For example, customers searching for a popular pool filter will find sites that most organically contain that keyword, and place those in the top Google results. In GSC, a user can see how often a keyword brings traffic to their site.

 A business owner may consider creating more content around specific keywords to improve Google search rankings, like creating a blog around that keyword to boost organic search opportunities, Pelletier says. Pool pros don’t need to be SEO experts to do this with GSC, which he calls “basically your free version of keyword tracking.” As with any new tool, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but beginners willing to explore it and reading GSC starter guides can learn fast.

The Performance Tab

Because Google Search Console tracks performance, users should explore the performance tab often. This is the simplest way to see a website’s standing on Google.

A screenshot shows the data inside the performance tab of Google Search Console. Most business owners want to see how often they’re getting in front of customers. Total clicks, total impressions and average position offer insight into the health of a website.

Pelletier says the performance report should be the first step when starting to learn Google Search Console. This tab includes total clicks, total impressions, average click-through-rate (CTR) and average position of a site. Impressions show how many times a searcher saw a link to a site in search engine results; a site’s average position is where you show up in Google search results (ideally on the first page).

“You want to make sure your average position is strong throughout the year and certainly strongest during your periods of high demand,” Pelletier says. “Monitoring this is critical to ensure your site’s health.”

Explore the “Mobile Usability” Tab

In addition to being free, Google Search Console offers valuable insights about both your desktop and mobile sites. GSC can show errors for both, Pelletier says, like a site’s text being too small or if content is wider than the screen. Since mobile searches account for about half of web traffic worldwide, Pelletier says checking Google Search Console’s mobile appearance is a must.

A screenshot shows Google Search Console data for mobile usability. Mobile searches account for about half of web traffic worldwide, so it’s important to make sure mobile user numbers stay high.

Baltes agrees this step is too often ignored. “A lot of clients we work with [predominantly in the pool industry] have a huge mobile clientele,” Baltes says. “Some of these mobile searches make up 50% or even more of our client’s total inquiries — 50%! How would you like to ignore half of your potential customers?”

Baltes advises pool pros to look at the mobile tab often: “These steps make the difference between a mediocre website and a rock-solid one that outperforms its competitors.”

Don’t Forget Overview

For pool pros with minimal time on their hands for web maintenance, the overview tab provides a big-picture to pinpoint issues that would otherwise take weeks to discover.

The less-technical overview tab gives a snapshot of problems needing immediate correction — like a web sales promotion with broken links.

Checking the overview tab inside Google Search Console shows how many web search clicks a website is getting.

“If you have a glaring problem with your website, these steps will ensure you’re well on your way to getting the problem fixed,” Baltes says, noting the overview tab provides exact URLs of links with issues.

Luckily, GSC can show right away where web promotions went wrong early on, allowing pool pros to fix it ASAP. Without consulting the overview tab or GSC in general, pool pros might otherwise miss sales opportunities and have a less-than-professional-looking site. 

“With GSC, you’ll get notifications when something like this happens so you’re able to quickly resolve the issue,” Baltes says.

If you want to improve the way Google — and customers — see your site, GSC is a tool worth investing time in to elevate a professional online pool pro image. And if you’re slightly intimidated by new tools, the experts say you have nothing to fear. “Yes, there is a learning curve to it, but if you can understand how to use Excel, for example, you can understand how to use Google Search Console,” Baltes says.

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