A Beginner’s Guide to Google Search Console: The Basics

Google Search Console was officially launched in 2015, although it existed before under a different name. It went by Google Webmaster Tools, but webmasters weren’t the only ones to find it useful.

Businesses, employees, marketers, web designers, app developers, and many more use the product. Hence, Google decided to rebrand Webmaster Tools to Search Console.

Today, it’s still serving different types of people. Anyone who wants to track and improve the performance of their website is free to use it. If you’re one of those, learn how you can use it effectively in your digital marketing strategy below.

1. How to Use Google Search Console

First, you need to add a property to Google Search Console. You’ll be asked to select the property type – either URL-prefix property or Domain property.

Google Search Console Property Types Explained

In the domain field or URL field, paste your website’s domain or URL, and click continue.

You’ll then need to verify with Google Search Console that the site is yours, which you can do in a few different ways:

  • HTML Tag
  • HTML File
  • Domain Name Provider
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager

You can choose which one is most convenient for you.

2. Google Search Console Features

Google Search Console gives you valuable insights into every aspect of your website, which helps you make sure it’s user-friendly and search engine friendly. If you’re not using Google Search Console, you’re going to have a hard time with your Search Engine Optimization efforts.

You can get data like the percentage of mobile and desktop users, where your visitors are coming from, and which pages on your site they’re visiting most often.

In addition, it helps you find errors and fix them. This tool can notify you through your email if it notices any new errors.

It has a ton of features to help you maintain your website to ensure it’s working at its best; let’s take a look at some of them below.

Performance Data

If you want to learn about the performance of your pages and keywords, head on over to the Performance tab.

You can learn a great deal about the incoming traffic here. It offers a detailed report on the behavior of your visitors, including their search terms. You can also see how many of those who’ve visited your site clicked it, measured by the average click-through rate (CTR).

You can see which keywords you rank for and how often your website appears in the search engine results page (SERP) for a particular keyword.

Curious about which page has a good performance under that keyword? Click it, and you can see the page’s performance metrics for the selected keyword.

Google Search Console Keyword Page Performance

You can even see the average position of your pages in the SERP. If you analyze this together with your impressions, average CTR, and keyword rankings, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of the performance of your keywords, pages, and the whole site.

Using all the data in this tab, you can see which pages need more attention. You can also use this as a reference to see which ones are working to better optimize your strategy.

Mobile Responsiveness

With Google’s mobile-first indexing, mobile-optimized websites now get higher priority and rankings. That’s why GSC gives you valuable information that can help the responsiveness of your web design.

The mobile usability tab reports the issues found on your website that can interfere with the user’s mobile experience. It can tell you if the text is too small for the small screens of smartphones, for instance. Other issues it might find include clickable elements that are too close together or incompatible plugins.

Not only does it list such issues, but it also tells you which websites the errors affect and how you can fix them.

Index Coverage Report

In the Index Coverage tab, you’ll see which pages are currently in Google’s index since the last update. It also shows you how many pages aren’t indexed and the errors preventing those pages from getting indexed. (If a page isn’t indexed by Google, it won’t show up in search results.)

Check this from time to time to ensure all your pages are indexed and running smoothly. This allows you to fix problems as soon as they arise. You’ll find out right away if Google is having trouble accessing your new content or even your old pages.

URL Analysis

Want to analyze specific URLs? Google Search Console can give you any information you want about any URL. It can also tell you when Google crawled it and how it looked at that time.

If there are URL errors found by Google bots, you’ll see those on this page. Click on a specific error, and you’ll see which pages have that problem.

You can find a detailed overview of errors on your site by going to the Crawl Errors page under the Crawl tab.

Links

If you’re looking to improve your link-building strategy, you shouldn’t miss this section. It contains data about your site’s backlinks as well as its internal links.

For example, you’ll be able to know which websites link to your site and how many of those links are on that website. You can also see your total number of backlinks and a list of the top linked pages on your site.

In addition, you can see how your site’s pages link to each other. This is important as Google uses the internal links to determine the structure of your website, the relative importance of pages, and how the content is related. And more importantly, a good internal linking structure makes it easy for users to get to the content they need.

Sitemap

A sitemap is like a roadmap of your website, something the Google bot can use to better navigate your site. Google will have an easier time indexing your site because it would already have all the information about it. The sitemap makes sure Google knows how to find all your pages, videos, and other content.

Small websites with a few pages might not see its benefits, but all big websites should have one. 

There are a number of ways to create a sitemap, but if you use WordPress, one of the easiest is with the Yoast sitemap tool, which is part of their awesome SEO plugin.

Manual Actions

Check your Manual Actions tab. Don’t see anything in there? That’s good; if you see a message, then you’re doing something wrong. A manual action is issued by Google when a human reviewer has determined that a page or pages on your site are not compliant with Google’s quality guidelines. 

These manual actions are usually a penalty for something such as bought links, cloaking, and spam. If a third party hacks your site, you’ll also see it here.

Don’t worry; you can fix any issue you find here by following the advice of GSC. Do this ASAP to preserve your rankings.

Use Google Search Console Now

Everything covered here is just a tiny glimpse of Google Search Console’s capabilities. Here’s another article about the benefits of Google Search Console for small businesses. If you want to get the most out of your website, get started with Google Search Console today. 

Of course, maintaining a website can be time-consuming and frustrating, even if you have all the tools in the world. At Sunny HQ, we are WordPress website pros, and we’d love to help you get the most out of your site! Give us a buzz to see how we can make your life a little easier! 

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