How does Google Search Console help you find poor performing pages with no potential?

One terrific tool is the Performance Report in Google Search Console, (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools).

As you are most likely aware, many of the pages on your site are not pulling their weight when it comes to search engine results.

In this search console training video, Ross Barefoot walks you through a set of basic steps to help you see where the dead weight is. Don’t leave dead web pages on your site. Trimming out underperforming pages will allow Google(currently still the most important of all search engines) — and your visitors — to focus on the quality content instead. Google Search Console tools can be a powerful asset to your optimization efforts when used properly.

Would you rather read? The transcript is below.


Hi. I’m Ross Barefoot with Search Engine Academy and today I’m going to be showing you a method for removing pages that don’t really serve a purpose on your website. Now, most webmasters realize that you need to add content regularly to a website in order to keep it fresh in the eyes of Google. But, what a lot of webmasters don’t realize is it’s also important once in a while to prune out the content that’s been sitting there not doing any good so Google can focus on the quality parts of your website.

I’m going to show you a method to do that using Google Search Console. It’s just one of many ways that you can look for targets, pages that you can remove. Remember to subscribe if you’d like to learn more about videos like this or give us a thumbs up. We’d really appreciate it. Let’s head on over now to Google Search Console and I’m going to be using a demo website to show you what I’m talking about.

Google Search Console “Performance” Tab

So, here we are within the Google Search Console for Rocky Mountain Search Engine Academy. I said it’s a demo website. It’s basically a website I used to use and have sort of abandoned. Now, I mainly use it for these type of demos. So, you won’t see a whole lot of activity in here, but it will give you an idea of the principles I’m about to demonstrate. So, within Google Search Console, I’ve navigated to the performance tab for Rocky Mountain Search Academy. For an exercise like this, typically I want to use as big a window of time as possible, so I’m going to say last 16 months and I’m going to click apply and then I’m going to enable this right here, average position and to average CTR so that I have all four columns in my table down here in order to evaluate content.

A review of using Google Search Console performance tab

And, now I’m going to select the pages display and I’m going to start sorting it by impressions. I’m going to sort it from the least impressions in search to the most. What this means is Google counts an impression any time a page that you have appears in a search result that is seen by a human, and it can be deep within the search results, like down here, you’ll see this is on page three. Sometimes it goes a lot deeper than that. And, you’re seeing here pages in the last 16 months. Google has only shown, in this case, one time.

But, there is a proviso. You’ll see a lot of junk in here, like these are basically pages that appear under the display of a particular tag. Now, normally, I make sure that tag, which is a function of a blog, doesn’t get indexed by Google. But, these are some strays that have gotten into the mix. Let’s go ahead and expand the number of results. You can see usually for an active website, this will max out at 1,000 different results. But, as I scroll up and down this list, what I’m looking for is really for real pages. In other words, pages that are not just a [inaudible 00:03:15]… Don’t carry something like tag in the URL or a category page. And, one of the things that I can do is get rid of those pages.

Exporting Your Search Console Data as a Spreadsheet

Now, usually, I find it easiest to export this to a spreadsheet and then work with it in that form, and so, that’s what I’m going to do right now. I’m going to download it as CSV, which is a form of a spreadsheet. Google Search Console does this little thing where it downloads it as a zip file and then you have to extract the zip file, so I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to click on this little arrow in Chrome. I’m going to click show in folder, which will basically show me the zip file here in the folder that it’s downloaded to, and now what I’m going to do is unzip it. I can do this with the tools within… In this case, I’m using a PC, so within Windows Explorer. Extract everything. And, then, it’s going to give me a bunch of different CSV files, one of which is pages. So, let’s go ahead and open up pages.

Screen capture: Export from Google Search Connsole

Let me drag it into view here. And, this will give me the URLs and then those same impressions and clicks. All right? And, then, I can do the same type of sorting, but more importantly, I can do filtering. So, within Excel, I’m going to go up here and select data and then I’m going to click on filter and I’m going to use these little dropdown arrows in order to filter. So, in this case, I’m going to look for anything that has tag in the URL and it’ll show me all the possible options here. I’ll click okay. Once I’ve shown all those… I’m only showing those in my rows, so within Excel, I’m going to select those rows and hit control minus to get rid of those URLs so that they’re not cluttering the screen.

Now, the other one that was a problem for me was category, and so, I’m going to do the same thing with category. Fewer pages, but let’s go ahead and get rid of them and now what I’ll do is go back up and I’m going to clear that filter so that now I’m back to seeing all the other URLs. Now, I’m going to do a sort and I’m going to sort it by the impressions from the smallest to the largest. So, here now I’m starting to see… These are some other weird URLs that don’t really indicate pages, but this one here, SEO Basic, Basic Tip Zero Zero Eight, it’s a very, very old blog post. Google… It may have been popular at one time, but Google is not showing it the all in search, so this is a page that I’m going to remove.

Now, there’s right ways and wrong ways to remove a page from your website and so, I will be planning on doing a video for the best right way to remove a page. This one has so little in terms of impressions, we probably could just delete this page. But, in any case, I’m going to create another column over here called prune, question mark, and you can call it whatever you want. I’m going to say yeah, I want to get rid of that page. It’s not serving any purpose. Here’s another old blog post. In the last year, it’s got one impression in search. Not serving a purpose. Same down with this one. Let’s see. I can see from the URL what it is. It’s an announcement of workshops for 2013. That definitely is an old page that doesn’t do any good for us anymore.

I remember writing this post back in 2012. Those are the terms and conditions that you have to click on to do anything online. In other words, you download any software, you enter any website, it always just says accept. You agree you’ve read the terms and conditions. This was me just venting and obviously my venting is not of interest to anybody except me because basically you have to say, “Yes, I’ve read the terms of something.” And, of course, none of us have. But, that’s a digression, right? And so, instead of digressing, I think you get the idea.

This is a great way to get rid of content that Google is just not paying any attention to. If Google’s not paying any attention to it and if you know it’s not serving a functional purpose on your website, you know, like a terms and conditions page or a contact page, something like that that has to be there, go ahead and get rid of it. Now, of course, keep creating new content. This website is… Like I say, is… It is basically abandoned, so you’re not necessarily seeing a vibrant existing website. But, this gives you an idea of how you can use Google Search Console in order to find those pages that aren’t serving a purpose for you anymore.

I hope this was useful. I’ll be doing another video as to how to actually get rid of pages like that in the very near future, so once again, if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and subscribe. Hit the little alarm button so you’ll get notifications. Please, if this is useful to you, give us a thumbs up, or if you have other ways that you use, please leave us a comment below and we’d love to hear from you.