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Digital Marketing

How to Check Your Website Ranking

Last Updated on June 4, 2021

Have you ever wondered where your website ranks on Google Search? Figuring out this information is key to improving your SEO strategy. Determining where your website ranks on Google can be as simple as googling a keyword you are trying to rank for and examining the results that appear on the first page. However, this approach requires more time and doesn’t provide much insight into your page rankings. What’s the best way to check your website ranking?

Search Console is a tool created by Google specifically to check website rankings. Not only does it tell you where you are ranking for a particular keyword, but it also uncovers how many visitors are clicking on your page, who’s linking to your website, and what parts of your website need work to improve your rankings. 

Let’s dive into how to check your website ranking using Google Search Console. 

Table of Contents

    1. Setting Up Google Search Console
    2. Google Search Console Dashboard Overview
    3. How to Use Google Search Console to Check Your Website Ranking
    4. Next Steps to Improve Your Website’s SEO Today

Setting Up Google Search Console

To access Google Search Console, you actually don’t need to set up an account. You will, however, have to confirm that you have access by verifying ownership through one of 2 ways: Domain or URL Prefix. Choose the Domain option if you want to claim all 4 versions of your URL (www version, non-www version, HTTP, and HTTPS), or choose the URL Prefix option if you want to examine a specific URL. If you are uncertain, we’d recommend starting with the Domain name provider.

Google Search Console set up

Once you’ve selected a property, you’ll have to verify ownership through one of several ways:

  • Google Analytics tracking ID 
  • Google Tag Manager
  • HTML meta tag
  • HTML file upload
  • Domain name provider DNS configuration

Google Search Console Dashboard Overview 

Now that you’re signed in to Google Search Console, you’ll see a dashboard.

Google Search Console dashboard

Not all of the tabs on the left side of the dashboard will be relevant to the topic of this post, so we’ll just examine the few that are. 

Performance Tab

The tab that is most important when it comes to checking your website ranking is the Performance tab. Click on “Search Results” under this tab, and you’ll see a line graph with four metrics: clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and average position.

Performance tab line graph with four metrics: clicks, impressions, ctr, and average position

What does each of those four metrics mean?

Clicks 

The total clicks metric is simply the number of times your website has been clicked on.

Impressions 

The total impressions metric is the number of times your website has been seen but not clicked. (This could be through organic search, ads, etc.)

Average CTR 

The average click-through rate is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions.  

Average position 

The average position is the spot where your page ranks on a Google search results page. Positions 1-10 are on page 1 of the search results, positions 11-20 are on page 2, and so on. Earning spot #1 or #2 is the ultimate goal because those are the two pages that receive the most traffic.

On the Performance tab, you can toggle these 4 metrics off and on by clicking on them. By default, the search type will be set to “web” and the line graph will display data from the last 3 months. 

Google Search Console performance tab

If you continue to scroll past the line graph, you’ll find more filtering options. The “Queries” and “Pages” tabs allow you to filter by specific queries (aka keywords) and specific pages. Use the “Countries” tab if you are interested in seeing search results from countries outside the United States. The “Devices” tab allows you to see how many users are on mobile, desktop, or tablet devices when accessing your site. 

Index Tab

Under the Index tab, you’ll find three sections: “Coverage,” Sitemaps,” and “Removals.” These sections can be a bit technical, so we’ll just give a brief overview. 

Coverage

The “Coverage” tab shows all page errors on your site. Under this section, you can compare the pages that have crawl errors to the valid pages. Make sure to address the pages with errors as soon as possible

Coverage Tab in Google Search Console

Sitemaps

If you need to submit a sitemap, use the “Sitemaps” tab.  A sitemap tells Google how the site is structured and how to crawl the site.

Sitemaps tab in Google Search Console

Removals

You probably won’t need to use the “Removals” tab. However, if for some reason you ever need to remove content from Google Search, you can submit a request under this tab. 

Removals tab in Google Search Console

How to Use Google Search Console to Check Your Website Ranking  

Now that you know your way around GSC, we can get into the meat of how to check your website ranking

Find out what keywords are being searched

First, navigate under the Performance section and click on the Pages report. A list of all your website’s pages will be listed under this section. Pick a specific page that you want to examine the keywords for. Click on the page to add it to the filter.

filter feature on performance tab in Google Search Console

After clicking on the desired page, flip back to the queries tab and you’ll be able to see what the top keywords are for that page. Take a look at the example below of the kinds of keywords that are being searched to find our home page.

Queries in Google Search Console

Find out which pages are ranking for keywords

To find out which pages are ranking for keywords, simply do the opposite. First, begin by selecting a query and adding it to the filter. Then flip over to the pages tab and examine the results. Which pages are ranking for that particular query? In the example below, you can see which pages on our site are ranking for the keyword “us digital partners.” 

Pages in Google Search Console

Advanced Filtering

Since the default filter is only showing exact matches to your search query or page URL, you might want to try advanced filtering options to get even better results. You can also get results for keyword phrases, groups of keywords, or exclude keywords. Click on the query filter at the top of the page and it will open a window to change how you filter.

Filter in Google Search Console

For example, we could select ‘Queries containing’ and enter “Website design” to see all search queries that contain the words “website design.”

Filter by query in Google Search Console

Now you can see which pages rank for these specific searches. You should pick the most relevant page to include in your filter. After completing the filter, you can check the search rankings. Advanced filtering will be far more insightful than getting the average ranking for every keyword a site ranks for. If your site or page ranks for a variety of topics, that’s great, but you’ll want to check rankings for each topic separately.

Advanced filtering in Google Search Console

What pages are increasing in ranking?

Checking your search ranking position is an important step in improving your SEO. Since SEO is all about driving organic traffic to your website, start with the pages that are increasing in clicks.

  1. Change the date filter to compare. You’ll most likely want to compare several months of data to get more meaningful results.
    filter to compare
  2. Sort by ‘Clicks Difference’ to see the page that has the largest increase.clicks difference

    Note: Notice that we aren’t sorting by ‘Position Difference.’ While this seems like the most logical metric, remember that would show you the position across all possible keywords that the page ranks for. If the page is ranking for even more keywords, that could decrease the page’s overall average ranking.
  3. Select the page you want to check search engine ranking (one of the top pages that has the biggest increase in clicks).
  4. To see which specific search queries are improving in rankings, switch to the Queries report.
  5. Sort by Impressions in descending order and scroll through the results looking at the Position Difference column. The position difference column will show you the keywords with the biggest improvement in ranking for this page. You can also use the filter in the table to filter results. For example, only see keywords with more than 100 impressions and positions smaller than 30. This will help show you the most relevant keywords.

what pages are increasing in ranking

What pages are dropping in ranking?

Finding which pages are dropping in rankings is a great way to discover which blog posts or pages need a content refresh. Pages could be dropping in rankings because the information may be outdated or other websites have created newer or better resources.

To find what pages are dropping in ranking, follow the same steps above for which pages are increasing in ranking but toggle the Clicks Difference column to sort by the pages losing clicks (negative numbers). Clicking the page and switching to Queries will also show you the specific queries losing traffic and rankings.

What new keywords or pages are ranking?

Discovering what new keywords your website is ranking for is a great way to show your hard work paying off. Simply use the compare date time frame and set the filter for Impressions from the previous time period to Equals 0. Then sort by Impressions Difference to see the keywords or pages that have increased in Impressions the most.

See who’s backlinking to your website 

Ever wondered who is backlinking to your website? You can find out by going under the Links section. Under this section, you can see which pages on your website have the most internal or external links and what websites are linking to pages on your site. Just be aware that some of these sites that are linking to your website could be spam, so it’s best to be wary.

Next Steps to Improve Your Website’s SEO Today

In the world of SEO, there’s always room for improvement. It’s time to take the information that you’ve gathered in Google Search Console and use it to improve your website’s SEO. Here are some action items:

Improve on-page SEO 

On-page content, that is, the content on your website pages, needs to be optimized in order to rank well. How can you improve on-page SEO?

Create relevant content

Maybe your Google Search Console research has proven that you aren’t ranking for the keywords that you’d like to be ranking for. You can solve this issue by writing SEO-Friendly content. Write blog posts or pages focused on a specific keyword that you’d like to rank for or optimize an existing page on your website that has the potential to rank for that keyword. Make the keyword the title and incorporate it several times throughout the copy.

Add internal and external links

External and internal links make your website stronger. Think of it as a spider web that’s all interconnected. Get in the habit of hyperlinking your pages to each other and also hyperlinking to relevant and credible outside sources. These internal and external links will make your site more visible to search engines.

Get more backlinks

The best way to get more backlinks is to simply ask! Offer to link to someone’s website if they link back to yours in return. This mutually beneficial strategy will help both websites increase in authority in the eyes of Google.

Check your site speed

The longer it takes for a site to load, the more likely a visitor will leave.  Slow site speed can be caused by many technical factors and can be hard to fix, but it’s important to have a fast site so you don’t lose traffic or slide down in the rankings. It’s a good idea to run a site speed audit or ask a developer for assistance to ensure that your website is running at top-notch speed.

Use alt text

Google reads everything on a website, including images. Make sure to use alt text to describe every image on your website and incorporate keywords into the alt text if you can. Not only is alt text good for your SEO, but it also helps your website stay ADA compliant.

Other helpful SEO tools

Aside from Google Search Console, there’s a handful of useful SEO tools that we’d recommend using:

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics is the #1 tool for analyzing site traffic. Pairing Google Analytics with Google Search Console will lead to better SEO because not only will you have information on which pages get traffic, but you’ll also know what keywords those pages are ranking for.
  • Yoast SEO plugin: When it comes to optimizing website content, we’d highly recommend the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. Yoast provides benchmarks for improving on-page SEO such as editing the meta description, adding alt text, checking keyword density, and more. To get started, read our blog on How to Use Yoast for SEO.
  • UberSuggest Chrome extension: Ubersuggest is a free Chrome extension created by SEO expert, Neil Patel. This extension gives you an in-depth look at a Google search results page and allows you to examine keywords, backlinks, domain authority, and traffic for websites.

To Wrap Things Up… 

Hopefully, this blog post has demonstrated the value of Google Search Console and how it can serve as a guide for improving your SEO. Set up your Google Search Console account today (if you don’t already have one) and start exploring!

If you’ve got questions about how to check your website ranking or find yourself stuck in Google Search Console, please reach out and we can help.

 

Scott Volpenhein Image Alt

By: Scott Volpenhein

Scott is our digital analyst leader here at USDP.
He's got a reputation for being the problem-solving charts and graphs guy.