Welcome to episode 301 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks about using Google Search Console and talks about our free workshop happening next week!
Last week on the podcast, we celebrated our 300th episode and talked about what you can expect in future podcast episodes. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Less Work, More Traffic
We’re holding a FREE event next week on Tuesday, April 27 at 1pm ET / 12pm CT called Less Work, More Traffic. In this workshop, we’ll teach you how to think strategically about the content that’s already on your site in order to build your audience and get more traffic.
You can register for free here, and if you want a bit of a preview of what we’re going to share during the workshop, you’re in the right place!
In this episode of the podcast, Bjork talks about the event and then shares seven different ways you can use Google Search Console to optimize your site for search traffic.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to get registered for our FREE Less Work, More Traffic Workshop
- What sitemaps are
- How to inspect your URLs in Google Search Console
- What the Discover section on Google Search Console does
- How to make sure you have email notifications turned on
- What Manual Actions are
- How to enhance your site for search
- How to improve your existing content
- Register for our FREE Less Work, More Traffic Workshop!
- Google Search Console
- Yoast SEO
- Video SEO for WordPress plugin
- Google App on the Google Play Store and on the Apple App Store
- Pinch of Yum Web Stories
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].Learn more about joining the Food Blogger Pro community!
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: I’m doing a quick solo episode today. It’s actually an episode focused on Google Search Console. I’m excited about this because it actually ties into an event that we’re doing here coming up. The event is all about how to optimize your content. We’re calling it Less Work, More Traffic. The idea is how do you think strategically about your library of content and do less work to get more traffic? Now? It doesn’t mean no work you’re going to have to actually do work. But it’s all about thinking, not just about creating new content, but how do we take the old content we have and optimize it. There’s lots of ways that you can do that. We’re going to be talking about some really specific things that we do and some easy to follow processes that you can use that help you to discover the best area for you to focus on. Then, what you are going to actually do once you’ve pinpointed the content that you want to update.
Bjork Ostrom: If you’re interested in checking out that event, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/register. It’s going to be happening on the 27th of April at 12 Central. You can do the time zone calculation there if you want. We’re going to have a replay available as well, but you can just sign up if you’re interested, even remotely interested in checking that out. It’s foodbloggerpro.com/register to learn more about that.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to go through that specific process, but today I’m going to talk about seven different things that you can do within Google Search Console. A lot of people think about Google analytics, we spend a lot of time in Google analytics, but we don’t spend as much time in what I’m going to call GSC for short so I don’t have to say that over and over again. Because it’s kind of a little bit neglected in the world of Google tools, but it’s really powerful and actually offers some incredible insights. I’m going to talk about some ways that you can use it and then in that event that we’re doing next week, if you’re listening to this podcast in real time, in that event, we’re going to walk through a specific process, start to finish what it looks like to pinpoint content that you can optimize, specifically around search optimization, how you can find those high value pieces of content where they’re not fully optimized, and then some of the things that you can actually do to go about optimizing that. Be sure to check that out. Again, foodbloggerpro.com/register.
Bjork Ostrom: But for those who aren’t familiar, here’s the couple of ways that you can use, last time I will say, at Google search console, or last two to three times, I’ll say it, no promises that I won’t say that again, but for the most part from now on I’m going to say GSC. Let’s jump in and talk about it. Number one, site maps. For those who aren’t familiar, a site map is essentially a map of your site. The word is describing what it is. Google crawls your site. We talk about that all the time. There’s bots that come and they crawl your site, and those bots are crawling your site to inform a search engine, or maybe it’s a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush. They have bots as well. Clarity actually has a bot, a tool that we’re working on that crawls your site once you start using it. All of these are tools that come in and crawl your site to get information about your site and to bring that back and display it in a certain way.
Bjork Ostrom: For Google, it’s displaying it as a search result and that’ll just happen naturally. If you have links on the web that eventually point back to your site, then Google will probably find its way to your site. But it’s better if you have a site map that you just give to Google and say, “Here are all the different pages on my site, and here’s how I want you to treat them.” The best way to do that, if you’re running on WordPress, is to use a plugin called Yoast SEO. What Yoast SEO does is it creates a site map automatically and then you can take that URL, you’ll be able to see it in the plugin, and put that into GSC that will then look at the site, Google will then look at your site and say, “Okay, I can see all of the different pages. I can see if I should crawl these or not. Then, I can take that into consideration when the Google bot crawls your site.”
Bjork Ostrom: Now, an important consideration here, if you are starting to do video, is that you should consider looking at a plug-in called Yoast SEO. I think it’s called Video SEO for WordPress. This is a premium plugin, but what this does is it layers on additional information about video. A lot of people don’t know this, if you’re using the regular site map plugin, and you’re also doing video, you’re not fully optimizing your site maps. You also need that video SEO plugin. What that will do is that will give additional information to Google via your site map about your videos.
Bjork Ostrom: Now, another consideration on top of that, if you are also using an ad network, we use AdThrive, for instance. That video SEO plugin for Yoast isn’t going to be smart enough to also catch those videos that you’re doing with your ad network. At least it’s not at the time that we’re recording this. Then, you have to also use a site map for your ad network. We actually have two different video site maps, one for AdThrive that represent the 90 or so videos that we have that are running video ad players. Then, we also have a site map for any of the YouTube videos that we have. That’s a video site map, and that lives within the Yoast SEO site map. But what that does is that gives additional information to Google about the videos on our site.
Bjork Ostrom: All of those are submitted. You can have more than one submitted site map. We actually have three. An AdThrive video site map, we have a category site map, and then we have the site map index, which is kind of the hub for our site maps. Technically, you actually, within your regular site map, that should account for the category site map. Usually what you’ll see is you’ll just have one. Then within that one, you’ll have multiple sub site maps. When we look at our site map index, we have within that category, page post, video, and web story site map. Anyways point being, you can have multiple site maps and you want to make sure that you have a different video site map for any of the video content that you have. It’s something that people normally don’t think about. We just started doing that a couple of years ago. That’s the first one. Site maps within GSC.
Bjork Ostrom: Second, URL inspection. This is a great tool to do any type of troubleshooting. Let’s say you’ve noticed something that’s a little bit weird within your site, and you want to do a little bit of troubleshooting, see if there’s some issue with one of the reasons why maybe your site isn’t displaying like you want it to in Google, or you would just want to see other ways that you can optimize this site. You can use the URL inspection tool. Essentially that’s a little health check from Google on a specific URL on your site. It will show you all of the different considerations. It’ll say, “Hey, is this submitted to Google? Has it been indexed?” But it will also show you any areas for improvement. It’s kind of like a stoplight where it’s green, yellow, red. Green means it’s great, it’s valid, it’s working. Yellows is like, “Hey, slow down here. There’s a warning. You should look at this.” Sometimes it means you need to add additional information. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just kind of a yellow flag for you to take a look.
Bjork Ostrom: Then, there’s red, which is an error. This essentially is something that you should look at and you should try to fix as soon as possible. Kind of that, “Stop what you’re doing. Take a look at this. This is an issue that we consider to be really important.” And by we, I mean, Google. It’s a great tool for troubleshooting, but it’s also a great tool if you make updates to a specific post. You can come back and you can look at that and you can take a look at what Google is saying about that by doing a little health check on that.
Bjork Ostrom: Now, when you do that health check, one of the things that you can do is you can request that Google indexes that page again. That means that Google is going to take a look at that, it’s going to come back to that page, and it will update the information that it has on it. That’s really important if you’ve made updates or changes that you go ahead and do that with the URL inspection tool so you can see the most up-to-date information.
Bjork Ostrom: Number one, site maps. Number two, URL inspection. Number three, Discover. What is Discover? The way to understand discover is to download the Google app. It’s like the app that you use for searching Google. It’s in the app store or Android. Essentially, it’s like the Google feed. When you are pulling up that app and you’re scrolling through, it’s going to give you the information that Google thinks that you’re interested in seeing. For me, I’ve been interested in cryptocurrency and I have a dodge coin, dogecoin, I don’t even know how to say it, coinbase information. There’s actually a page how to ask Google to re-crawl or update a page, which is funny because that’s what we’re talking about right now. Then, there’s stories there.
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially what Discover is a feed of information that Google considers to be interesting for you. They surface that based on your browsing history and things that you’ve read about, things that you’ve looked at, maybe YouTube videos you’ve watched. All of that information Google’s able to pull in from the Google products that you visited. It knows that information about you and it can surface content. For us as content creators, what we want to do is have our content surfaced in as many places as possible. One of the ways that we’ve been talking about Discover a lot is with web stories. Web stories have been kind of quiet in quarter one. It was interesting to watch Google testing that in quarter four. We’re going to start getting into testing it a little bit more with Pinch of Yum here in the next month or two to see, is this something that’s worth us moving forward on spending time with? We’ve been talking about that on the Food Blogger Pro forums a little bit saying, “Hey, what, what does this look like for us to do stories and to do that well?”
Bjork Ostrom: In order to do that, we need to have information around how much exposure that content is getting. The Discover area in GSC is going to show us that. It’s going to show us not only the number of impressions that something is getting, but also the number of clicks so we can see the type of traffic that we’re getting from the content that is showing up in Discover. Now, it could just be a normal web page. It could be a recipe that you’re posting and that displays in somebody’s Discover feed and people click on it and interact with it and come to your site. But it also could be a web story where somebody clicks into it and they watch that web story within Discover and they click through that and interact with the web story. Discover is the place where you can figure that out and see that information.
Bjork Ostrom: Now, one of the things that we’re also doing is we’re thinking about how can we use Google Analytics to get a better understanding of web story traffic. This is just a little tip that I wanted to share. One thing that we’re doing is we’re actually creating a different Google Analytics property. You have a property within Google Analytics. It’s not technically a different account. If you look at your Google Analytics accounts, there’s different tiers. If I’m looking at the Pinch of Yum account, we have a tier that is Pinch of Yum. Pinch of Yum is kind of like the hub, the analytics account. Then, the property, it’s called properties and apps, is where you can divide that up into other areas.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the properties we have is videos.pinchofyum.com, which is for anybody who’s purchased a Pinch of Yum e-book. There’s some videos that come along with that. We have pinchofyum.com, which is like the main hub for all Pinch of Yum traffic. Then, we also now, in addition to some other ones, we have pinchofyum.com/web stories. Essentially, what that is, is it’s a different property to track any of the “traffic” or metrics, I guess, is a better word for web stories related content. The reason that’s important is because we don’t want our web stories to be interfering with our real “real traffic” to our websites. We’ve created different properties to track that. that’s in Google Analytics and I was talking about Google Search Console, but GSC splits that out. It doesn’t muddy the water because there’s an actual Discover area. If you haven’t spent time in there, it’s an interesting area to pull up, especially if you’re starting to do web stories, because the primary way that we’re seeing Google use, those are the primary we have seen them use web stories, is within that feed, within Discover.
Bjork Ostrom: Be sure to check that out. You might not have any traffic there. That’s normal. You might not have any clicks or impressions. But if you start to do web stories or if some content occasionally gets picked up, you’ll probably see some spikes. It’s not as consistent as search traffic. It’s really kind of spiky behavior. It’s almost like something goes viral for a few days and then it dies off, but it’s an interesting area and something to keep an eye on. That’s number three, Discover.
Bjork Ostrom: Number four, this is more of a kind of a PSA of sorts. Make sure that you actually have e-mail notifications turned on. I’ve heard stories of people who have opted out of GSC notifications, and there’s some really important emails that they send out and people aren’t notified of those because they’ve opted out of receiving those emails. You can do that by going into the top right. There’s a little profile icon with a Settings widget, it’s called User Settings. You click on that. Then, it says Email preferences. I would just make sure that you have Enabled notification by email turned on and you don’t have any emails unsubscribed.
Bjork Ostrom: What that will mean is that any time that GSC notices an error, an issue, that you’ll get an email notification, because if you aren’t in the habit of actually logging in and looking at it, there might be some really important things that come up that you aren’t aware of. It’s important to go in and check to make sure that those things aren’t happening with your site, because if they are, that could be a really easy win to fix those things.
Bjork Ostrom: For example, this is actually number five, checking the security and manual actions area. I’ve also some stories of people having manual actions or security issues that they weren’t aware of. Essentially what a manual action is Google going in and saying, “Hey, we are going to flag this website or this platform, whatever it might be, this blog, because there’s an issue here and we think that this issue is worth us artificially restricting the amount of exposure that it gets.” Chances are for those listening you’re not going to have this, but there might be one of you, there might be two of you, there might be 10 of you, who have some issue in security and manual actions; and if you also have emails turned off, or if you haven’t looked at those, then that might be something that could be an easy win when you go in, you see that there’s an issue, you correct it, and you have that manual action removed.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re not going to dive deep into the specifics around that and it should really be a professional who understands search that would help you navigate that. But the action item for you, number five, is just to go and check that area. After you make sure that email notifications are on, make sure that you check manual actions and security issues in GSC. What you should see is a green check mark that says No issues detected. That’s good. You can move on. If you have email notifications turned on, you’ll know that you’ll get a notification when something does come up for that.
Bjork Ostrom: Number six, I’m calling this enhancing the enhancements. Enhancements are essentially any kind of additional contextual information that you’re providing to Google about your site. Some examples that we have for Pinch of Yum: bread crumbs, FAQ, guided recipes, recipes, review snippets, site link, search box, and videos. Now, there’s lots of other enhancements that you can have, but essentially this is information that’s coded in a certain way. If you’re using a recipe plugin or a plugin like Yoast SEO, it should be helping you do this, but it’s coded in a certain way to tell Google that this is a certain area. An easy example is the FAQ section. If you have an FAQ section, you can use something like Yoast plugin to do this. That’s going to mark up the content in a way that says, “Hey, this is a frequently asked questions area. These are questions and below the question is an answer.”
Bjork Ostrom: What you’re looking for here is, in the enhancements area, is anything that’s most importantly in error, and again, red, yellow, green. If it’s red, that’s Google saying, “Hey, this is important. You need to check this out and fix this.” If you have something that is red, go in and fix that error, because that’s going to mean that the enhancement is fully enhanced. It’s valid and there’s no issues with it. There’s going to be different errors that might present in all of those different enhancement areas so breadcrumbs are going to have different issues than FAQ, than guided recipes than recipes, than review snippets, on and on and on. The point here is to spend some time looking through this.
Bjork Ostrom: Now, if you have emails turned on, you should get a notification when these are discovered; but if not, you can log in and you can just look through all of the different enhancements that are available and make sure that, as much as possible, that you can get rid of those errors if you do see them. It’s not exactly the most fun thing to do, but it provides some pretty clear steps for you to walk through and some pretty clear ways that you can fix that. Google has a lot of information around that. If you don’t, reach out to somebody who’s a professional. If you’re a Food Blogger Pro member post that in the forum. We’ll do what we can to walk through that process and to help you figure out the best way to improve it.
Bjork Ostrom: Then, number seven, this is actually going to be the area that we are focusing on for the event that we’re doing, the Less Work, More traffic event. It’s around finding content that you can optimize and talking through ways to optimize that. Things that you can do to improve that content. The idea with this less work, more traffic concept is you’re not taking something from the ground up and hoping that you rank for it. You’re finding something that you already are kind of doing well with and you’re looking for ways to improve that and optimize it to gain some of that position.
Bjork Ostrom: If you’re on Google and you’re ranking in eight, how do you tweak and change and enhance that content so you can go from eight to position four? We’re going to provide some actual examples of ways that we’ve done that with Pinch of Yum. Sometimes it’s pretty drastic. Overnight, right after you publish the content, you can see there’s one example for a keyword where it went from six to number one and it’s just been there for the past three months for Pinch of Yum. We’ve done that by using a tool like GSC to go through and to analyze what content can we look at and how can we improve that.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to talk specifics of that result, but the takeaway here is to spend some time in the research results area and specifically to get familiar with the search queries area. You’re going to be able to see the queries, the keywords is another word to say that, that are most important to you based on the number of clicks and the number of impressions that you’re getting for specific keywords. It’s really interesting when you start to spend some time with this; and especially when you click in to look at a specific query and there are four areas that it offers in GSC: total clicks, total impressions, average click-through rate, and average position.
Bjork Ostrom: A really easy example is the query Pinch of Yum. This is a popular query because people are just trying to get to Pinch of Yum and instead of typing pinchofyum.com, they search Pinch of Yum and then click on the first result. Average position is 1.1; average click through rate, really high, it’s, 88%; and total impressions is 113; and total clicks is a hundred thousand. That’s for the last three months for the query Pinch of Yum when people search that on Google.
Bjork Ostrom: You can see, when you start to spend some time with this, you look at some of these other keywords that you might have that Google’s surfacing for you. You can track to see where that has ranked over time, and if it’s gone up or down. That’s what we’re going to be talking about in this event. We’re going to be talking about ways that you can slice and dice this information to quickly surface content that you can then optimize, and we’re going to be talking about some of the ways that you can optimize that as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Again, the event is coming up, for those who are listening in real time, it is coming up next week, and that is on Tuesday next week. It is at 12 Central. You can do the Central conversion time. Let me see if I can do that in real time. That is 10 Pacific, one Eastern, and that’s the extent of my time zone conversions, because we do that all the time with our team.
Bjork Ostrom: Really excited about it. If you want to check it out, foodbloggerpro.com/register. That’s where we’re going to be collecting anybody who’s interested and in notifying you of how you can check that out once we do go live with it, or if you want to watch the replay. Really fun to talk through this stuff. I love geeking out on any of these tools. We exist as a company because we want to help you get a tiny bit better every day forever. I hope this podcast allowed you to do a little bit of that. We’re going to be back here as always next week. Appreciate you and all that you do for this community, especially Food Blogger Pro members who are helping other members out. It’s one of the great joys that we have is creating a community of people who are doing good things in the world. We will be back here again next week. Thanks for listening.