What is Google Search Console? Why and how to use?

Google Search Console

Last Updated on 27 October 2020 by Lukasz Zelezny

What is Google Search Console, and why should you use it? Once upon a time… (well, not all that long ago when you consider Google didn’t land on our computers until 1998) Google created a tool to help web developers maintain and troubleshoot their website’s presence in Google’s search results.

This was dutifully named Google Webmaster Tools.

 

However, in their infinite wisdom, Google decided that it wasn’t just handy for webmasters to understand what was happening behind the scenes. They thought it pertinent for anyone to have access to that information, and to boost their website performance.

What is Google Search Console?

So, in 2015, they changed its name to Google Search Console and promoted it as a valuable free monitoring tool for:

  • Business owners
  • SEO specialists
  • Digital marketers
  • Site administrators
  • Web developers
  • App creators

What is Google Search Console used for?

GSC helps you to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot your website’s presence in Google Search results. It does this with a range of tools and reports that make everything simple and straightforward to see and understand.

Its main functions include:

  • Confirms Google has found your website and has crawled its content.
  • Helps you to fix any indexing problems, and then allows you to re-index the new or updated content.
  • Provides a mass of search data about your site—including:
    • Which search queries you appear in
    • How often you return a result
    • How often users click through from a result
    • Ranking keywords on your site
    • Your site’s page rankings for specific keywords
  • It alerts you if it picks up any spam or indexing issues and site penalties.
  • Shows you which sites link to yours.
  • Encourages troubleshooting for AMP, mobile usability, and other search features.

Why would you want to know all of this stuff? Well, there’s a lot of competition out there. Google processes over 5 billion searches every day. To get found in all of that traffic, you need to understand your website’s ranking and performance. Using that information, you can improve your results to achieve those all-important conversions.

Why use Google Search Console?

According to Google itself, here’s why: to improve your performance on Google Search.

Okay, so how? Well, by taking care of these vital components:

Optimise your content with Search Analytics

You’ll find out which search queries are resulting in visits to your site. By analysing your impressions, clicks and position in searches, you know how to do more of the good stuff, and resolve the areas that aren’t working.

Getting your content on Google

You can submit your URLs and sitemaps to make sure they are crawled. You can also check that Google has the most up-to-date version of your site in its servers.

To receive alerts about any issues and instruction into how to fix them

GSC emails you whenever it spots something amiss. That way, you can identify which sites or pages have issues, how to fix them and to let Google know when you’ve taken care of the problem.

To better understand how Google sees your web-pages

The inspection tool uncovers a highly detailed view of the crawl, indexing, and information on your pages—directly from Google’s index.

How to use Google Search Console

This depends on the level of your experience and precisely what you want to achieve from its tools.

A beginner with very little time to spare

If you have a basic website and run a small business, you should use GSC to understand how searches work, and how to feature on more Google products (including YouTube, Google Maps, etc.) so you can be found more often.

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You should then use GSC to optimise your website and become easier to find.

With your new results flying in, GSC will help you measure them and use them to boost your results even further.

Beginners with the time and the inclination to learn

If you’ve got a little time to invest, it’s worth it; the results will speak for themselves. GSC teaches you about SEO and how to create the best chances of attaining traffic. Not any old traffic though—relevant traffic for your product and service, to attract new customers and conversions.

SEO operative and marketers

Advanced users use GSC to redesign ineffective or poorly performing sites. They deep-dive into its vast range of reports, analysing areas of concern, to customise and boost performance.

  • Control crawls and indexes
  • Create sitemaps
  • Target international and multi-lingual sites
  • Migrate pages and complete sites
  • Manage user experience
  • Optimise for mobile
  • Design search appearance

Web developers

Website developers and managers utilise GSC’s range of reports to monitor test results and to debug the site code.

  • Monitor reports for spikes in Index coverage, performance, and mobile usability. For those with AMP pages (Accelerated Mobile Pages—a stripped out version of the HTML, especially for boosting mobile performance), the AMP status report and rich results status reports are invaluable.
  • Use inspection tools to understand issues in indexing and scripting.
  • Learn how to structure data, use AMP, mobile best practices, and making the most from your API access.

How to add your site to Google Search Console

Adding your site to Google Search Console is incredibly straightforward.

  1. Sign in to your Google Account and access Google Search Console.
  2. Click ‘Add property’.
  3. Choose the type of from URL-prefix, Domain, or Google-hosted
  4. Verify your site.
  5. Data should begin to appear over the next few days.

Verifying your site

The current methods of verifying a site in Google Search Console are shown in the following list. Don’t worry; Google provides detailed, easy-to-follow instructions to get you up and running.

  • HTML file upload
    By adding a single HTML file, created specifically for you and your site.
  • HTML tag
    You can add a <meta> tag to your homepage or another specified page. Again, the code is user-specific to determine your site.
  • DNS record
    This method works by adding a string value to the TXT record of your domain with your provider.
  • Google Analytics tracking code
    Google recognises the GA tracking code inserted in your homepage or another specified page in between the <head> tags.
  • Google Tag Manager container snippet
    Placing the <noscript> portion of the Tag Manager code immediately after the <body> tag allows GSC to verify your site. You must have the correct permissions, though, or the verification will fail.
  • Google Sites
    Again, the Google Analytics Tracking Code method allows verification when using Google Sites.
  • Blogger
    New blogs created on Blogger are verified automatically when added. If not, add the property to GSC, and the blog will verify automatically. Older blogs must be verified using the HTML tag method.
  • Google Domains
    Any Google registered domain will be verified automatically when added to Google Search Console.

How to verify Google Search Console on WordPress

As one of the more popular CMS systems, here’s how verification works using the relevant options as described above.

Using the HTML file option

Once you’ve added the site as a property, you can choose to upload the HTML file via FTP. Drop it into the root directory and check for verification on your GSC control panel.

Using the HTML tag option

If you don’t have access to FTP, copy the HTML tag code and head to the SEO>Dashboard of your WordPress site. Select Webmaster tools and paste the code into the Google Search Console field. Hit save changes and check with GSC that the update has worked.

How to integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides a wealth of information that’s a little different to that of Google Search Console. To get the best out of both sets of data, you can link them together, which provides you with even more valuable reports.

From then on, you can access your GSC information in Google Analytics. With less jumping backwards and forwards between systems, the data is easy to read and analyse for patterns and performance.

Linking them is simple.

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account
  2. Go to Acquisition>Search Console
  3. Click on Set up Search Console data sharing
  4. Choose the relevant GSC account
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It’s that easy. And now all that data is yours to monitor and process, in one simple space.

What does Google Search Console crawl do?

When a search is performed, Google digs into its database to provide you with millions of results that relate to your keyword phrase.

Crawling: To find those pages, Google is continuously scouring the Internet for new and updated pages. This part of the process is called crawling.

New pages are crawled if they’re linked to from another website or if they’re submitted manually to Google. When a site owner delivers a sitemap, Google crawls all those pages of the site.

Indexing: Once new pages are discovered, Google analyses the content to understand what the site and its pages are about. This information is stored in the Google Index—a massive database compiled over many computers.

Serving and ranking: When you type your search query into Google, it matches the content in the Google Index to the phrase, and serves what it believes to be the highest-quality pages. It uses a complex system of many data to rank those pages.

Google Search Console Crawl Stats report

GSC provides a Crawl Stats report so users can understand how Google views their pages.

Spikes in the report indicate an issue, as generally, your crawl rate should be stable, growing steadily with the growth of your site.

Your crawl rate might drop if you add a new robots.txt rules, if there is broken HTML or unsupported pages, your site responds slowly, or for a few other reasons. Spikes in your crawl rate can happen if you introduce a lot of new information.

What is Google Search Console?

Google search console has been defined by Wikipedia as “a web service by Google which allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites”.

This service was known as Google Webmaster Tools until 20th May 2015. A new version of the search console was launched by Google in January 2018. The user interface saw some changes under this.

This service that is offered by Google is absolutely free of cost and helps you in maintaining, monitoring and troubleshooting the presence of your website in the search results of Google.

To get your website included in these search results, you need not to sign up for the Search Console but if you do so, you can understand and thereby improve how Google is looking at your website.

Firstly, Google Search Console confirms that your website can be found and crawled on Google. It also provides you a lot of information regarding your website. It tells you how many people visited your site, what device they are using- mobile or a desktop, most popular pages on your site and more. It also helps you in finding some particular error and helps you in fixing them. You can also submit a site map through it.

It also helps in fixing the problems related to indexing and if you update a content or upload a new one, you can request for re-indexing it. It tells the user about the sites that link to your website and a lot more information can be extracted from it.

How do I sign up for Google Search Console? 

Since Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google, therefore it is necessary to have an account with Google. This step is required before proceeding with the Search Console.

To do this:

  1. Go to the sign page of Google.
  2. Click on Create account.
  3. You will now enter your name there.
  4. Enter a username that you would prefer in the “Username” field.
  5. Enter a password and confirm it.
  6. Click on the Next button. Optional: Add and verify a phone number for your account.
  7. Click on the Next button.

This would set up your Google account.

Once you have set up your Google account or you already had one, you are suggested to set up your Google Analytics account first using this username and password. This would make adding Google Search Console easier.

  • Go toGoogle Search Console and log in there using the details of your Analytic account or your Google account.
  • After logging in, click on the “Add a Property” button.
  • Enter your web address and click on Continue.
  • No you will be asked to verify that it’s your own website. This can be done in one of the four ways:
    • Upload HTML file provided you have the access to your website’s roots
    • Via hosting provider if the hosting is managed by you
    • Via Google Tags if you are using them
    • Via Google Analytics Tracking Id
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Follow the above simple steps and you would be signed up for Google Search Console.

How do I disavow backlinks in Google Search Console?

Disavowing links to your site stops Google punishing you for harmful references which might otherwise be out of your control. Nearly two thirds of SEO experts use Google’s disavow function, because it is so useful for removing spammy or hacked back links to your site which could encourage Google’s algorithm to push your site down the rankings. But at the same time, using the disavow feature the wrong way or excessively can massively damage your site’s SEO performance. So how do disavow backlinks in Google’s Search Console?

To know whether you should go ahead with disavowing a backlink, consider whether it benefits your site’s SEO, and whether it is relevant. If the site it is on has nothing to do with yours, then the link is probably bad, or hacked. If the link is on a spammy site, you should disavow it. But if the link is from a relevant site and is just referencing you, then you shouldn’t disavow it, or you could actually do damage to your SEO.

Okay, so you’ve picked the links you want to disavow. Now, how do you tell Google Search Console to disavow them? Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have a way to directly put the links in and instantly disavow them. Instead, you have to import a list. You do this with a text file. On each line, put the full URL of the page which is linking to you. Don’t add anything else, but if you want to add comments to the file, you can do that by adding a # symbol behind what you want to write.

Then, jump over to the Google console and find the disavow links menu. Click “Choose File” And navigate to your text file containing the links you want to disavow. Confirm the selection, and let Google do it’s magic! The links to your site should be disavowed within twenty four hours.

Why is Google Search Console important for SEO?

Everyone knows that Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is extremely important if you have a business website or blog and want to direct more traffic to it, either to generate sales or to promote something of yours. SEO can help push you up the search rankings and allow online browsers to discover your useful website. Therefore, utilising all the SEO tools at your disposal is very highly recommended.

Google’s Search Console is a super versatile and powerful SEO tool which can tell you a great deal about the rankings and insights on your website, whether that be search results position, traffic, views, links to your site, etc.

With Google’s SEO Search Console, it’s super easy to see what keywords your website viewers are searching for, and using this information you can better target your website to the interests of your demographic. The Search Console also also provides you with a lot of great features and functions for modifying your SEO and successfully indexing your site’s pages.

Every SEO expert, webmaster, marketer or blogger should use Google’s Search Console. It’s very straightforward and easy to use, but also includes many professional and advanced tools for increasing your site’s performance.

How do you set up Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a super powerful tool for SEO experts, webmasters, bloggers and marketers, and if you’re not using it to optimize your website for search engine rankings and to significantly improve your website’s performance and traffic scores, then you should get Google Search Console up and running as soon as you can! It’s very simple and easy to get started with Google’s Search Console. Here’s how you can do it today!

You’ll need a Google account for this. Preferably, create one specially for your website or business. In your Google services menu, navigate to the Google Webmaster Tools section. Hit the label “Add A Property” to register your website with Google Search Console. Enter the URL of your website where it indicates, and confirm to continue. You’ll need to verify that the site URL you entered belongs to you, so go ahead and attach a HTML file or other verification method using the instructions on page.

Once your site is added and verified, you’ll have access to the Google Search Console dashboard, and as the “owner” you can assign other people as owners or users, with different action limitations on which features and functions they can use to optimize your website’s SEO score.