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Google Search Console Keyword Research: Finding Keywords Opportunities in GSC

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As you’ve probably seen from my previous articles, I like to talk a lot about Google Search Console. 

I believe Google Search Console is one of the most powerful SEO tools in the industry and allows us SEOs to do our job very efficiently and effectively.

Personally, I find Google Search Console to be one of the best tools to use for the SaaS industry.

Outside of using GSC for technical SEO and performance tracking, you can also use it as a reliable keyword research tool.

In this article, I’ll discuss the many functions GSC has when it comes to finding valuable keyword and topic opportunities.

Why Use Google Search Console for Keyword Research

So why should you be using GSC for keyword research? The reason is that the data we have access to in Search Console is coming straight from the source. 

This data is recorded directly from Google. 

This means that your query data won’t be inaccurate or misleading. This is data being collected straight from the source. 

This will help you make much more guided decisions when you know the exact search volume for each query.

The only downside to this is that you have to have existing content to have access to performance data.

So when you’re trying to gauge the effectiveness of a keyword, Google Search Console is the best way to go.

Each query will be listed with impression data, which is basically search volume.

An impression gets recorded when your URL appears for a specific query. So if your website ranks for “how to mow a lawn,” an impression will be tracked for that query and any other variation every time it’s searched.

Using this data, you can determine if your query (or queries) have legitimate searches attributed to them. 

Whether it’s getting clicks or ranking is a whole other story. Right now we’ll just be looking at how to find these keyword opportunities. 

Find New Keywords in Google Search Console

So before we jump into the actual tactics, the keywords we’ll be looking for we’ll basically boil down into 4 categories:

  • New keywords
  • Low hanging fruit keywords
  • Long tail keywords
  • Keywords you should optimize for

New keywords are basically keywords attributed to your site that you don’t have dedicated content for. 

These could be keywords that are semantically related to your topic but require a new page to match that intent.

For instance, say you still have that page on “how to mow a lawn,” you may find some queries in GSC that are similar to “best lawnmowers” or “how often should you mow your lawn.” 

These pages aren’t relevant to the page you created, but they’re relevant to the topic you covered. 

Depending on the intent for each query, it might be beneficial to either create a new page dedicated to the query or integrate it with the content you already have. 

As the saying goes in SEO….it depends.

Finding Low-Hanging Fruit Keywords in Google Search Console

Low-hanging fruit keywords are keywords that rank on your site that could potentially provide you with some quick wins. 

These are keywords that rank in between positions 4-20 and just need a little boost to see some movement. 

Finding Low Hanging Fruit Keywords You Should Optimize For 

These are keywords on your website that are in a good ranking position (positions 1-5) but just need additional work done like improving titles and meta descriptions to increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your URL. 

Tips for Using Google Search Console for Keyword Research

So just jumping right in, here are some of the ways you can use GSC to find different keyword opportunities throughout your site: 

  • Low-hanging fruit keywords
  • Regex searches
  • Finding keywords that need to be reoptimized 
  • Finding content with potential
  • Finding outdated content

One of the easiest keyword research tips using GSC is to look for branded search terms.

While some tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush give you estimates about branded traffic, GSC will give you actual data on whether your brand is seeing an increase or decrease in searches.

This is a good indicator of whether your brand strategy has been working or not. 

SEO is not a siloed channel so you’ll want to work with other channels to ensure your brand is growing in some way. 

The overall goal in most cases will be brand growth while contributing to revenue and leads.

Another useful tip for branded searches is to find queries you didn’t even know about. Filter your website based on your brand to find all of the different queries your brand is appearing for.

Maybe you’ll find queries based on reviews or FAQs, but you’ll want to use these queries to potentially help answer direct questions your searchers may have.

Another thing to keep in mind is that branded searches will typically have higher volumes of conversions attached to them, so you’ll want to capitalize on all touchpoints when it comes to branded searches

Outside of branded search, you’ll also want to look at the non-branded keywords driving traffic to your site. 

You’ll want to take a look at your high-performing keywords and see if there’s any topic/keyword variation that you can use.

Remember when it comes to SEO, nothing is more powerful than establishing topical authority. 

This means covering your topic in full using subpages with well-written content. 

Using Google Search Console to Find Questions Your Audience is Asking

Another way you can use GSC for keyword research is to use regex to find questions your audience is asking.

These types of keywords typically come in two different sizes. 

These could be questions that you have to create a new page for that or questions you could plug into your existing content. 

This will depend on your content and what it ranks for, but you’ll generally have two options when it comes to these questions. Depending on the SERPs, there’s usually no wrong answer here.

You can even use these regex queries in your content briefs.

Now, entering the regex can be a little tricky. I’ll show you a few options you have below.

Using Regex to Find Keywords in Google Search Console

Here are a few examples of regex you could use:  

  • ^(how|what|why|when|where|who).+$
  • ^(how to|what is|why is|when is|where is|who is|best way to|tips for|problems with|how much does).+$
  • ^(can|could|should|would|will|is|am|are|do|does|did|may|might|must|ought to|shall|should|would).+$
  • ^(which|who|whom|whose).+$
  • ^(is|are|can|could|should|would|will|am|do|does|did|may|might|must|ought to|shall).+$

SaaS websites can even use GSC for keyword research to find bottom of the funnel queries like:

  • \b(best|vs|how|software|benefits|why|alternative)\b

How to Use Google Search Console to Find Low-Hanging Fruit Keywords

As I mentioned before, low-hanging fruit keywords are basically keywords on your site that rank poorly. 

However, with these keywords, we could still see huge results with a little extra effort. 

Low-hanging fruit keywords typically rank from positions 4-20 and just need a little content boost to get to where they need to be.

To find these low hanging fruit keywords in Google Search Console, all you need to do is the following:

  • Head to the performance tab
  • Filter the date to the last 28 days
  • Export your data
  • Create a positioning filter to only show queries ranking 4-20
  • Sort from highest to lowest with impressions

Using Google Search Console to Find Keywords with Potential

Piggybacking off the low hanging fruit keywords, these are quick-win keywords that need a little bit more work to see movement. 

With that being said, these keywords typically have a high volume of impressions so they justify the need for the content makeover.  

These are typically going to be queries that rank in positions 40-60 and have a high volume of impressions attributed to them.

To find these pages all you need to do is:

  • Head to the performance tab
  • Filter the date to the last 28 days
  • Export your data
  • Create a positioning filter to only show queries ranking 40-60
  • Sort from highest to lowest with impressions 

Using Google Search Console to Find High-Ranking Keywords With No Clicks

These are the keywords we’re going to optimize for. 

High-ranking keywords with low CTR are keywords on the top of the first page that aren’t driving any clicks for whatever reason.

This could be due to competitors having better title tags and meta descriptions or your own title tag isn’t enticing enough. 

Whatever it is, you’ll want to find these pages and update them to increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your page.

To find these pages, all you need to do is:

  • Filter your data for the last 28 days
  • Export it to a spreadsheet
  • Set a positioning filter for pages under 5
  • Set a click filter for pages with clicks less than 5
  • Sort your impressions from highest to lowest

Now with this data, you can find pages that should be driving traffic but aren’t for whatever reason. Make sure you take these URLs to the SERPs to see why they aren’t driving traffic.

Using Google Search Console to Find Page-Specific Keywords

Another helpful keyword research tip is to analyze a specific page for the queries it ranks for.  

Here we can see which queries are related to this page (positions 1-29), which queries are different (60 and below), and which queries are similar, but different (positions 30-60)

This can help you decide whether you want to optimize your page to include more queries or if you want to find another topic that’s semantically related to your original page. 

Just remember to check the intent of that query before you go ahead and create new content for it.

To find these pages, all you need to do is take a URL that you want to inspect and plug it into the URL filter under the performance tab. From there, head over to the query report to see the queries that page is ranking for. 

Using Google Search Console to Find Dated Content

Another easy way to find keywords using Google Search Console is to find outdated keywords your site ranks for. 

These are keywords that rank for previous years (2022, 2021, 2020) and need to be updated to the current year.

If you’re a searcher, you don’t want to be clicking on pages that may be outdated, especially when the other results are more current.

To fix this, all you need to do is:

  • Head to the performance
  • Change the date filter to the last 28 days
  • Enter in a regex for a range of years or a specific year
  • Export your data

You’ll now have access to all of the queries on your website that are considered outdated. In most cases, you’ll just need to update the title and meta, so this should be a relatively easy fix.

Using Google Search Console to Find Keywords Coming From Local SEO

Another useful trick that isn’t recommended often is to use your Google Business Profile to see which keywords are causing your GBP to appear. 

This can help you whether you’re thinking of creating a location page or looking to flesh out your GBP more.

But to access to this data, you’ll need to set up UTM tracking. 

Once you have your tracking code set up, you’ll want to attach it to your GBP.

From there, you’ll be able to start collecting data based on how your GBP performs. 

Using Google Search Console to Find Keywords You Should Reoptimize For 

From a majority of the content pieces I audit, it’s fairly common for queries to be mismatched when it comes to search intent.

Depending on the length of the content, the queries it’s trying to target, and the industry it’s in, GSC will usually provide you with a list of queries that are somewhat related to your topic.

However, sometimes your query can be misaligned to search intent, which will cause your URL to have almost no organic visibility. 

If you come across this issue, you’ll likely have to reoptimize it around a different query (maybe even a different topic)

Doing this is easy, but like I said it depends on a few factors.

If you want to find these keywords, all you need to do is plug your URL into the page filter and review the query report. 

From here, you’ll want to review the queries with the highest impressions and see if it’s possible to reoptimize your article around the query (or the intent behind the query.) 

This will allow you to find a query that will actually get you some organic visibility and traffic. 

How you optimize for it will depend on the intent behind that query, but you’ll want to go after something that you know has search intent behind it. 

Using Google Search Console for Proper Keyword Research

And just to recap, some of the things that you should be looking when using Google Search Console for keyword research are:

  • Low-hanging fruit keywords
  • Regex searches
  • Finding keywords that need to be reoptimized 
  • Quick win content
  • Finding outdated content

Outside of Google Search Console, you can even use Reddit as an effective tool for keyword research.

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