September 23, 2013 was not a good day for those of us who toil in building digital presence. While there had been a steady rise in “not provided” [keywords] for some time, that was the day that Google virtually eliminated keyword capture from the GA dashboard.
Fortunately, there is still a way to dig out your organic search keywords from the past 90 days by gaining access to Google Webmaster tools. This post will explain how, starting with the setup of the Google Webmaster tools.
For folks who are not that technical like me, you might feel a bit intimidated by the name. After all, you’re not a webmaster. The good news — you don’t need to be a webmaster to master the Google Webmaster tools.
The following step-by-step guide (including a WordPress version and a non WordPress version) shows how to set up Google Webmaster tools. I’m not going to call it a “no-brainer,” which brings undue pressure to the process. I will say that if I can do this — my brother refers to me as “mechanically declined” — it bodes well for your success.
Step One: Log in Google Webmaster tools with your Gmail account.”
Step Two: After login, click on “ADD A SITE”
Step Three: Enter the URL of the site, and click on “Continue”
If your website is NOT based on WordPress, here’s the process for you to finish the Google Webmaster tools setup.
Step Four <non WordPress version>: Verify ownership of your site — click on “Recommended method,” download the “HTML verification file,” upload to FTP directory where your website is hosted. OR you can choose one of the options in “Alternate methods.”
Step Five: Click on “VERIFY” and it will finish the setup.
If your website is based on WordPress, you can follow the steps below to finish setting up Google Webmaster tools.
Step Four <WordPress version>: Verify ownership of your site — click on “Alternate methods,” choose “HTML tag,” and copy the “meta tag.”
Step Five : Log in to your WordPress, go to “Appearance” à “Editor,” find “Header.php” under “Templates,” paste the “meta tag” after “head profile …” and click “Update File.”
Step Six: Go back to Google Webmaster tools, click on “Verify” and it will finish the setup.
Discover your keywords
Now you have access to your Google Webmaster tools. Here’s how you can use the new tools to discover the keywords that matter the most to you.
When you are logged in to your Google Webmaster tools, click on the site you verified.
Go to “Search Traffic” à “Search Queries,” and you will find the keyword information.
For each keyword, it shows the number of impressions and clicks. An impression indicates that people see your site in the search results. As it sounds, a click is when people actually click your result to see your site.
The tool also provides what called the CTR or click-through-rate for each keyword. CTR is number of clicks divided by the number of impressions; i.e., the percentage of people seeing your website appearing on search engine results pages who click to your site. And you’ll see the average position on the search engine results page (SERP) that your site appears for a given keyword. If the average position is “14,” this means your site appeared after 13 other sites on average.
Moving from theory to reality, I’ve captured a slice of keywords from my blog below.
My immediate reaction to this data —
- Why would 31 percent of the people who specifically search on [ishmael’s corner] not click? (A riddle for another time.)
- I’ve got to improve my average position for [storytelling techniques], a term in my sweet spot, but generating little traffic because I’m buried in the 14th position (which puts me on the second page, search’s version of Siberia)
- It’s inevitable that if you do a good job with longtail search, some irrelevant traffic will come your way. So it is with searches on [wing wah egg roll].
Back to the big picture —
While the Google Webmaster tool isn’t the perfect fix for keywords disappearing from the GA dashboard, it does deliver enough keyword data to frame your organic search, especially for those doing PR SEO.