Page one of Google results is coveted ground. When any page of your website lands on the first page, it feels like you’ve finally “made it.”
There’s a reason it feels that way. The first page is truly where the action happens. In fact, only 0.63% of users click a result on the second page. Hence, the old SEO joke:
Q. Where do you hide a dead body?
A. On the second page of Google results, because no one will ever find it.
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And the higher you can make it on page one, the better. Every spot you climb increases the clickthrough rate by 2.8%, and the #1 result gets 10x as many clicks as the #10 spot.
In other words: SEO results have real-world impact on your firm.
That’s why we love Google Search Console, Google’s free tool that gives insights into how your site performs and alerts you to issues that can help (or hurt) your search results.
Today, we want to walk through how financial advisors can set up Google Search Console, as well as how to find the insights you need to rank higher in Google results.
Installing Google Search Console is a fairly easy process. First, head over to https://search.google.com/search-console/about and click the “Start Now” button. You’ll need to be signed in to a Google account.
The first thing you’ll have to do is enter your domain.
Pick the one on the left. There are a few limited instances when you would pick the one on the right, and you probably won’t need those.
If you’re entering your primary domain, add your main URL. If you have any subdomains for landing pages through your marketing system (e.g., Hubspot, Mailchimp) , you can set up an account for those here too.
After you enter your domain, Search Console will display a window with instructions on how to verify domain ownership, which just means they’re asking you to prove that this domain is yours. Search data is proprietary information, so you can’t just access any site’s info.
In this step, you need to copy the TXT record displayed in step 3 and add it to your domain provider, which is where you purchased your URL. Leave this window open! You’ll need to click “verify” after you complete this step, so open your domain provider’s site in a different tab.
If you don’t remember where you purchased your domain, we don’t blame you! Your domain is probably one of the first things you purchased for your company long ago. (Honestly, at this very moment, I can’t remember where we purchased threecrownsmarketing.com.) Many advisors we work with have to do some digging to figure this step out. If you have a company that hosts your site, asking them is a great place to start.
The details of adding your TXT record depend on which domain provider you use as each provider has a different process. Here are links to instructions for how to do it with some of the more popular domain providers:
After you have successfully created a TXT record, come back to Google Search Console and click “verify.”
That’s it! Pretty easy, right? Now just give Search Console a few days to start collecting data. It can take up to 72 hours from the moment of verification to show anything.
One note that some advisors get stuck on: Search Console does not work retroactively. Now that you’ve set it up, it will collect data for you going forward always and forever, but it can’t collect anything from before it was installed.
Now that you have Search Console installed, let’s take a look around!
On the homepage, you’ll see that you have several sections available to you on the left – don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to use everything! Some of these sections are super simple and some are a little more complex. Let’s look at each one:
One of the main functions of Google Search Console is to make sure that every page on your site is properly indexed, which is how Google crawls your pages and finds out what’s on each page so they can include it in search results. If a page isn’t indexed, it won’t be available.
Of course, you don’t want every page to be indexed. Most advisors have a few client-specific pages that you don’t want just anyone finding, but you definitely want people to find pages like Services, About, and your blog.
The URL Inspection section of Search Console allows you to check each individual page to see whether it’s indexed by Google or not.
This is my favorite part of Search Console – where you not only see how your site performs in search results, but exactly which phrases people search where your site shows up.
Scroll down to the bottom half of the page and click the tab labeled “Queries” and you’ll get to see the meat and potatoes of what Search Console has to offer.
Here you’ll see pretty much every search that you rank for, no matter where you rank. You can see where you’re winning and where you need to do some work. Check out which phrases you are getting lots of clicks on and which you’re not getting as many as you’d like.
This is truly a gold mine of information! You could build your entire content strategy for a year based on which phrases you want to rank higher for.
If you have any info in this section, that’s great, but don’t feel bad if you don’t. You know when you get on Google on your phone and they display that list of links they think you’ll like? That’s called Google Discover. If they ever display anything from your site in someone’s Discover feed, the data will show up in this section.
The Pages section is where you can see indexing issues your pages may be having. This can easily feel overwhelming, but don’t let it get you down. In many cases, you may find that a page that isn’t indexed doesn’t actually need to be.
For instance, we have 261 pages on our site that aren’t indexed because they have an “Alternate page with proper canonical tag,” according to Google. In short, they’re an alternate version of an original page – either a desktop version of a mobile page or vice versa. That’s not an issue that we need to worry about, so we can ignore it.
Click each of the items in this section and then click “Learn More” to find out if it’s something you should fix or not.
This is just like the last section, only it tells you about indexing information for the videos on your site.
This section tells you whether your sitemap has been successfully submitted to Google. We’ve found a good number of advisor websites that haven’t submitted their sitemap, which makes it basically impossible for your website to rank well on Google. If you’ve never submitted your sitemap before, you can do that here!
If you want any pages removed from search results, this is where you can submit requests to have them removed and monitor any pages that you have had removed.
There is more to Google Search Console than what we’ve covered here, but those are the core essentials of what you need to know to help you rank better.
Want to talk about other ways to improve how you rank in search results? Click here to schedule a conversation with our team.