The Google Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools) is one of the most underused tools in the Google armoury but also one of the most useful. Originally created to help designers and SEO experts understand how their sites were performing, over the years Google has added plenty of new features.
It is relatively easy to hook up your website to Google Search Console. All you need to do is log in with your Google account, add your product or website, and upload the file produced to your root directory. Google also gives you the option to connect using html code between the html head and body text of your site or via your Google Analytics code if you are using it. To get going, all you need to do is click the verify button. Once you have verified your account I strongly advise you link your Google Analytics account to your Search Console to receive increased metrics in your analytics.
Why Use Google Search Console?
It gives you a deeper insight into how Google looks at your site, the visitors it has and important metrics like the keywords they utilised to get to your site and any issues with your website. From this you can decide how you can then optimise performance when it comes to content and design. Even if you are a small business owner who doesn’t know that much about SEO, learning how to use Google Console can give you an understanding of what works for your website and what you should be looking to change or develop.
When you first open Google Console, you’ll see three visual boxes on the right hand side. It may take a little while for these to populate with data as Google first has to search your site and produce the information on the console. Once it has you’ll find graphs supplying information on:
- Crawl Errors: These occur when a search engine tries to access a page on your site but fails to do so.
- Search Analytics: This shows your performance on Google Search and allows you to apply filters to better understand how users are behaving.
- Sitemap: This visual report gives you insight into any sitemaps you have uploaded to the Google Search Console.
Next to this, on the left hand side, is a menu that provides more information about how your website looks on Google, with tips on what you can do to improve your content.
This covers a whole range of site parameters such as your meta tags and descriptions and how you appear in web searches. Google search results have changed over the last few years and can include rich snippets as well as event/time orientated results. This section also provides you with information on accelerated mobile pages so you can focus on how your results look on smartphones and tablets.
Search analytics provide you with an overview of key SEO metrics like the number of inbound links to your site, how much internal linking you have and how you are doing on mobile usability.
This gives you an idea of the URLs that have been indexed to appear in search engine results. If you have a robot.txt file it will show the URLs that have been blocked from indexing and it also highlights those pages you have removed from the index. The index is a good way to ensure that Google is accessing your content properly.
How often your website is crawled and ranked is important, as is keeping track of any errors that occur. This section also allows you to add sitemaps and test your robots.txt for errors.
This section outlines any faults in the content or design that may well lead to a security issue. The console also has an email facility which can alert you if anything seems to be wrong.
Getting used to Google Search Console
While there is a lot of information to digest when you first create your Google Search Console account and register your site, it’s one of the most useful free tools available to businesses who want to make sure they are optimised for organic search. I hope this basic description of Google Search Console, encourages you to implement this ever so important Google tool, in later articles I will go more in-depth with some of the fantastic features available in this free Google Tool.