Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool that is used to carefully monitor the performance of your website. Search Console can also help you gain insight regarding the status of your website within Google’s search index. In addition to those insights and monitoring tools, Google Search Console can also help you find and fix any structural or code-based problems your site may have.
Is Google Search Console Worth the Effort?
Since Google Search Console is free, powerful, and easy to set up, there is no real reason not to use it. Some of the more popular reasons to use GSC are:
View site traffic
See your backlinks and inlinks
Confirm that Google is actually indexing and crawling the pages on your website
Valuable warnings and notifications for any issues your website may be facing
What are the Features of Google Search Console that Are Worth Your Time?
While Search Console has a huge variety of features and tools hidden within it, there are a few features that you should keep an eye on more than any of the others. The following features of Google Search Console are the ones you should keep tabs on:
The Performance tab on Google Search Console is probably the tab that you will be spending the most time on. This tab is where you see all of the performance aspects of your site and how well they are doing. This tab is especially useful for helping optimize the content, meta titles, and meta descriptions of your webpages. And, the performance tab is also broken down into several sub-tabs. The sub-tabs of the performance tab are:
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Let’s break those down in further detail.
The “Impressions” sub-tab of the Performance Tab tells you how often any URL on your site is shown on a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) based on whichever query keyword(s) was/were used. To see the impressions made by individual keywords, simply click on the keyword you wish to further explore. This information will help you determine whether the page ranking for a particular keyword is actually the page you want to rank for that specific keyword.
This is probably the most straight-forward sub-tab of the Performance Tab on Google Search Console. This sub-tab simply tells you the number of times a searcher clicked on a link to your site from a Google SERP. If you aren’t getting the number of clicks that you think you deserve, then you can use the information found in the Clicks sub-tab to help you optimize your meta titles and descriptions. Remember, the meta title and description are the first things searchers will see when they find your site on a Google SERP. Make them count.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of searchers that saw your link in a Google SERP that clicked through to your site. It is very similar to the Clicks tab we just talked about. The only difference is that this is a percentage rather than just a straight count of the searchers that landed on your website.
The Average Position sub-tab of the Performance Tab on Google Search Console tells you the average search position of a specific keyword on your website for a given period of time. However, the Average Position of keywords on your site is not always the most reliable metric on GSC. The reason for this is that searchers regularly get different search results for the same queries in the same location. But, just because the actual position of your site is not easily determined through GSC, that doesn’t mean that your Average Position doesn’t provide any useful information. The Average Position metric can help you determine whether or not any sudden changes in CTR, clicks, and impressions are explainable.
The Sitemaps tab on Google Search Console is where you can point GSC at an XML Sitemap for the pages on your site so that Google knows what pages and posts you want to be indexed in their search engine. To add an XML Sitemap to Google Search Console, all you have to do is provide the location URL for the sitemap for your site and GSC does the rest for you. If you don’t know the URL for your XML Sitemap (or you don’t have one), you can generate one in a couple of different ways. The easiest way (for WordPress users) is to simply use the Yoast SEO plug-in to generate one for you. If you don’t want to use Yoast SEO (or you don’t use WordPress), then you can create your own sitemap manually or by using an online generator. Then, once you have an XML Sitemap document, you can upload it to your website and then point Google Search Console at that newly generated sitemap in the way we described above.
The Links Tab in Google Search Console tells you a lot about the internal and external links on your website. The External Links section tells you how many links are coming into your website from external sources (other websites). You can also see the anchor text used by these external linking sources. The Internal Links section tells you which of your website pages link to other pages and posts on your website. This information can help you create a logical and SEO friendly internal linking structure to funnel your site visitors towards the pages and posts you want them to see the most.
This tab of Google Search Console simply shows you how many of your pages and posts are in the index at Google since your most recent update. It also shows errors and warnings that are causing Google to have difficulty indexing and ranking your website. This tab should be checked often since it shows you any potential errors you have on the pages on your website. The faster you discover and fix errors found in this section, the less likely Google will penalize you for your mistakes.
The Mobile Usability tab is pretty straight-forward. This tab simply shows you how mobile-friendly the pages are on your website. This tab also shows you any potential problems your mobile versions of pages have. We here at Goldstein Brossard recommend that you keep a careful watch over this tab because the percentage of Google searchers that are doing so from mobile user-agents grows every single year. If your site isn’t optimized for this large swath of potential users, then you could potentially chase away new customers.
The Manual Actions tab on Google Search Console is, by far, the most important tab to keep an eye on. This tab shows you the serious errors and problems that Google has found with your site that will require manually fixing and manually submitting those fixes to Google. In addition to these errors showing up on Google Search Console, you will also receive an email notification of the Manual Action. Some of the more common reasons Google issues Manual Actions are:
Too many rich snippets (spammy structured markup)
Hiding things from Google (cloaking)
You’ve been hacked
You bought links or have otherwise unnatural links on your website
How to Set Up Google Search Console
Setting up Google Search Console is quite easy to do. First, you have to sign up for the service and set up an account. Then, all you have to do is load up the tool and click on the “add new property” button to add your site and begin tracking your performance! After you have added your property, you will get a pop-up window that prompts you to either input the Domain Name for your site or the full URL (including things like https://) of your site into the tool. Next, you will be asked to verify ownership of your website.
Verify Ownership of Your Site on Google Search Console
There are a couple of different ways to verify ownership of your site to Google Search Console. The easiest (and most common) way to do this is to use the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress site. If you want to verify in this way, you will need to click on the ‘HTML Tag’ button on Google Search Console. Then, copy all the code that GSC provides you and paste it in the “Webmaster Tools” tab in the Yoast SEO plug-in settings on the Dashboard of your WordPress site. Another common way to verify ownership of your site to GSC is to upload the Google Search Console HTML document that is provided in the same window to your site. Follow the instructions from the “Learn more” link provided in that same popup window on Google Search Console. If you verify with the second method, make sure you leave GSC open through the entire verification process.
Contact Goldstein-Brossard for Help With Google Search Console Today!
Now that you know a little more about Google Search Console, you can start using it to keep track of the performance and potential errors of your website. And, if you have noticed that you’re not performing as well as you’d like on Google, then you can always contact the SEO professionals here at Goldstein-Brossard for help in getting your website to meet Google’s very rigorous standards. Fill out the form below to enlist the help of our SEO experts today!
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