Monday, October 31, 2022

In working through any website redesign, one of the most important pieces to look at is data. Data is one tool you can use to see if you are meeting your defined website goals. There are many different types of data-gathering tools, but one of the most important is Google Search Console. 

What is Google Search Console? 

Google Search Console is one tool you can use to help you understand how your site is performing in search engine results. The tool allows you to run reports on what keywords your users are searching for and how they find your site through organic search results. This information is crucial to understanding how you can improve and optimize your site. 

Google Search Console v. Google Analytics

Google Search Console and Google Analytics can look similar but, gather different pieces of information on your website. To put it simply, Google Search Console helps you see and understand how your website is performing in Google's search results, while also revealing problems Google might have indexing your website's content. Google Analytics helps you learn more about your users. It shows you who they are, how they found your website, and how they interact with it.  

Knowing your rankings and having your site perform well, will help your target audience find your University of Iowa site. Through Google Search Console you are able to see a variety of information including: total clicks, total impressions, total average click-through rate (CTR) and average position. You are also able to see top search queries and what terms or phrases users are typing into a search engine to get to your site. Through search console, you can also submit your website's Sitemap as well.  

Google Search Console data
Google Search Console data
Examples of Google Search Console data.

All about sitemaps

Sitemaps help Google discover the content you think is important on your website and also provides valuable information about these files and pages. It is important to note that whenever you launch a new site or redesign an existing site, you should always submit a new sitemap. This will ensure Google is crawling the most up-to-date version of your site and providing you with accurate feedback on your data. Additionally, we have also included additional items you should consider both before and after your site launch in our launch checklist

Example of submitting an Sitemap
Example of submitting a Sitemap in Google Search Console.

While data-gathering tools are only one part of the equation when it comes to understanding if you are achieving your website goals, it is a critical piece for understanding the effectiveness of your website. Utilizing Google Search Console will give you a wealth of data about your website performance and how users are interacting with your pages. The more you know about your site, the more easily you can make the changes that will help your University of Iowa site succeed.