Good news for Google Search Console users

Two welcome improvements to Google Search Console enhance the experience of a tool every webmaster should use.

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If you have a website, you should absolutely sign up to Google’s Search Console service.

It is entirely free, easy to set up and provides some incredibly useful insights regarding how your site is performing. We shouldn’t forget that Bing Webmaster Tools also has its strengths, but Google Search Console has been the go-to tool for me for many years and I would struggle without it.

I love it as the data is straight from the horse’s mouth. Whilst we should not assume that the various reports show everything that Google knows about your site / your links / etc, you should make it a regular port of call and take the time to analyse the reports that are available to you. A particular favourite of mine is the ‘average position’ reports, which I find much more valuable than any 3rd party platform and arguably the best barometer of your visibility in organic search on Google.

It is very encouraging to see that Google is constantly investing in the platform and I was pleased to see some good news being announced yesterday on Google’s Search Central Blog.  There are two key enhancements:

1) Improved Filtering

The filters that are available to you to make sense of the data have been improving and it is great to see the official support for regular expressions, more commonly known as regex.

Whilst it has always been possible to export data from Search Console and play with the data in Excel, the addition of regex filters makes it much quicker to do some more advanced filtering in the web interface.  Regex can be a bit intimidating (have a look at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Guide/Regular_Expressions/Cheatsheet for a guide), but there are some very easy examples that allow you to do some more advanced filters that were previously harder than they should be.

For example, if I wanted to look at search queries that used either ‘browsermedia’ or ‘browser media’, I can use the following filter:

regex filter search console

 

This will then show all queries that contain these terms:

regex results

There are obviously more useful applications of regex, but I hope that this simple example demonstrates the principle and it will definitely be a helpful addition for all you regex experts out there.

2) Improved Comparison

Whilst Search Console has allowed a degree of comparison data for some time, the addition of multiple metrics is another useful improvement and one that allows you to analyse a bigger picture far more quickly. The days of running multiple reports or exporting all data to analyse externally can be consigned to history.

Using the Browser Media site data, here is another example of how this new feature can be helpful:

search console compare multiple metrics

In this example, we can quickly compare a number of metrics between the UK and the US. If you wanted to add click through rates and overall impressions to the comparison, it is as simple as ticking the boxes above the graphs, but the tables start to get very wide very quickly, so I have just shown a geographic comparison of clicks and average position to demonstrate the principle.

Although only one filter can be applied in ‘compare mode’ regex is supported in the filter, so you can quickly build some very helpful datasets.

So, a good week in Search Console land and some welcome additions to enjoy. We look forward to watching the service evolve in the coming months / years.

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