Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool to monitor your website’s performance carefully. Search Console can also help you gain insight into the status of your website within Google’s search index. In addition to those insights and monitoring tools, Google Search Console can 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 links
Confirm that Google is 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 wide variety of features and tools hidden within it, there are a few features that you should keep an eye on more than any 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 one you will spend 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 handy for helping optimize the content, meta titles, and meta descriptions of your web pages. 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, click on the keyword you wish to explore further.
This information will help you determine whether the page ranking for a particular keyword is the page you want to rank for that specific keyword.
This is probably the most straightforward sub-tab of the Performance Tab on Google Search Console. This sub-tab 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 you think you deserve, then you can use the information 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. However, the Average Position of keywords on your site is not always the most reliable metric on GSC. This is because searchers regularly get different search results for the same queries in the exact 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 helpful 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 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.
You can generate one in several ways if you don’t know the URL for your XML Sitemap (or you don’t have one). The easiest way (for WordPress users) is to use the Yoast SEO plugin to develop one for you.
If you don’t want to use Yoast SEO (or you don’t use WordPress), then you can create your sitemap manually or by using an online generator. Then, once you have an XML Sitemap document, you can upload it to your website and point to Google Search Console at that newly generated sitemap as we described above.
The Links Tab in Google Search Console tells you a lot about your website’s internal and external links.
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 toward the pages and posts you want them to see.
This tab of Google Search Console 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, 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 in this section, the less likely Google will penalize you for your mistakes.
The Mobile Usability tab is pretty straightforward. This tab shows you how mobile-friendly the pages are on your website. This tab also shows any potential problems your mobile versions of pages have. We here at Goldstein Brossard recommend that you carefully watch this tab because the percentage of Google searchers doing so from mobile user agents grows yearly. If your site isn’t optimized for this large swath of potential users, you could chase away new customers.
The Manual Actions tab on Google Search Console is, by far, the most crucial tab to keep an eye on. This tab shows you the grave errors and problems that Google found with your site, requiring manual fixing and submitting those fixes to Google. In addition to these errors appearing on Google Search Console, you will also receive email notifications 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 relatively easy to do. First, you must sign up for the service and set up an account. Then, you must 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 popup window that prompts you to either input the Domain Name for your site or the full URL (including things like HTTPS://) of your location 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 ways to verify your site’s ownership to Google Search Console. The easiest (and most common) way to do this is to use the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress site. You must click the ‘HTML Tag’ button on Google Search Console to verify this. Then, copy all the code that GSC provides you and paste it into the “Webmaster Tools” tab in the Yoast SEO plugin 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 provided in the same window to your site. Then, follow the instructions from the “Learn more” link in that same popup window on Google Search Console. If you verify with the second method, 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 your website’s performance and potential errors. And, if you have noticed that you’re not performing as well as you’d like on Google, then always contact the SEO professionals here at Goldstein-Brossard for help getting your website to meet Google’s very ous standards. So, please fill out the form below to enlist our SEO experts today!
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