How to use Google Search Console for Keyword Research

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You might not think of using Google Search Console for SEO because it’s often an overlooked tool in the SEO world. With all the new tools that provide everything you need for a hefty fee every month, it’s easy to forget about foundational tools that can help you on your journey to the first page of Google.

Starting with the most obvious, we’ve got Google’s Page Speed Insights for speed optimisation, Google My Business for local SEO and Google Analytics for all your traffic data.

And for keyword research? We’ve got Google Search Console.

Google Search Console is often used for measuring your website’s organic search performance. But you can also use it to find valuable keyword data to assist with your keyword research and on-page optimisation.

In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to use Google Search Console for keyword research using two different methods so you can improve your position on search results without the eyewatering price tag of the usual keyword research tools.

Method 1: Find high-impression keywords

In this method, we’re going to look for quick win keywords by searching through your queries report to find keywords with high-impressions and a low click-through rate. This means that you are already ranking on Google for these terms but not high enough to win the clicks when most users search for them on Google.

Step 1: Open Google Search Console’s Search Performance Report

How to use Google Search Console for Keyword Research, Google Search Console's Performance Report

To get started, head to your Google Search Console account and click on the “Performance” tab.

Here you’ll find data on all the clicks and impressions your website has received from organic search traffic in the past 3 months.

If you want to, you can customise this report to show a longer or shorter timeframe, but I find 3 months works quite well for what we’re going to do next!

Step 2: Scroll down to “Queries”

If you scroll past the main chart on your Performance report, you’ll find lots of tabs with more information on your search traffic. We want to use GSC for keyword research, so we’re going to stick with the “Queries” tab and see what comes up.

How to use Google Search Console for Keyword Research, Google Search Console's Performance Report

The keywords in this list are all keywords people are using on Google that are showing your website in the search results.

Step 3: Analyse Impressions vs Clicks

When analysing your impressions vs clicks, if you see a keyword with a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks, then you’ve got some work to do and you can skip to step 4!

If you see a keyword with a high number of impressions and clicks, chances are you are currently ranking fairly high for that keyword. If you are already ranking in the top position for this keyword, there’s nothing else for you to do here.

To double-check, open your website browser in incognito or private mode and copy and paste the search term into Google. If your website is ranking #1 on the first page of Google, this tells you that you’re already hitting all the markers you need for that keyword on that page.

If you aren’t ranking on the top spot then you should now have a list of your competitors (the ones ranking higher than you) to carry out competitor analysis before working on your on-page SEO.

Step 4: Find the page associated with the keyword

How to use Google Search Console for Keyword Research, Google Search Console's Performance Report

In this example, we can see that the website has been seen 41 times but only been clicked on once.

When searching the keyword on Google in incognito mode on Chrome, I can see that the website ranks #4 on page one.

Now, you can either take the page URL from your own search to figure out which page is ranking for the keyword you’re looking at, or you can find this information on Google Search Console.

Head back to Google Search Console and click on the keyword. Once you only have one keyword showing, click the “Pages” tab to find all the pages on your website ranking for this keyword. The top one with the most impressions and clicks is the one you want to look at.

You can repeat this method for every search term that comes up on your Google Search Console’s query report to look for keywords your website is already ranking for and then assess what work needs to be done to boost your position.

Method 2: Find low-hanging fruit keywords

In this method, we are going to find low-hanging fruit keywords for specific pages on your website that you want to work on.

These are keywords that pages on your website show up for, however, you haven’t optimised for them, so performing more on-page SEO around these keywords is likely to boost your position!

Step 1: Head to Google Search Console’s Search Performance Report

We’re heading back to the “Performance” tab in your Google Search Console account for this first step.

As we’ve already covered, here you will find all the data on your website’s clicks and impressions from organic search traffic.

Step 2: Scroll past the report and click “Pages”

Instead of focusing on “Queries” first, this time, we’ll head to “Pages”.

How to use Google Search Console for Keyword Research, Google Search Console's Performance Report

Here you’ll see a list of all the pages on your website and their total impressions in organic search results.

Find the page on your website you want to do keyword research for and click on it so the report only shows that one page.

Step 3: Once you have filtered the results, click on “Queries”.

How to use Google Search Console for Keyword Research, Google Search Console's Performance Report

Here you will find a list of all the relevant keywords to your page with the total clicks and impressions they generate to your website from search engine results pages (SERPs).

With this data, you can find the keyword that generates the highest number of impressions and use that as the primary keyword for your on-page optimisation.

Once your on-page updates have been picked up by Google, you should notice an increase in website traffic and clicks on your Google Search Console’s performance report for the keyword and page you’ve selected in this method.

Good keyword research is just the beginning

It’s worth keeping in mind that you can learn how to use Google Search Console data to your advantage but that alone won’t improve your rankings in search. You must understand all the moving parts of SEO to take this data and boost your position on SERPs. That includes:

  • On-page SEO: How to optimise your website pages for your chosen keywords
  • Off-page SEO: How to boost your website’s reach with backlinks, Google tools and brand building
  • Technical SEO: How to ensure you’re delivering an amazing user experience AND ticking all the boxes for Google’s bots

So although being strategic with your target keywords plays a crucial part in your position on SERPs, you need to make sure you have a full understanding of SEO to get the best results.

If you’re ready to dominate Google and learn my full SEO blueprint for success, check out The SEO Hive.

Kate Smoothy
Kate Smoothy
Kate Smoothy specialises in shit hot websites that rank on Google. When she's not working with SEO and website design clients, you can find Kate sharing helpful content on TikTok and LinkedIn to help you level up your website and SEO.
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