Google’s algorithms change rapidly, and the best way to keep up is by going straight to the source. The Google Search Console, formerly called Google Webmaster Tool, is a collection of free tools that support your SEO and keyword efforts, allowing you to do just that. We’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on the Search Console’s features and functions so you can decide for yourself!
In today’s post we’ll address the following:
- What is the Google Search Console?
- The difference between Google Analytics and the Search Console
- The Google Search Console features we love
- Why is the Google Search Console so useful?
- Setting up a Google Search Console for your business
What is the Google Console?
Google Console is a free tool offered by Google to anyone who owns a website. You can add it to your business’ Google account to optimise your site for organic search. This is not necessary to appear in search results, but it gives you invaluable insight into how Google sees your website. Understanding the factors that influence your ranking allows you to make informed decisions about your marketing efforts, monitor and if necessary, troubleshoot your site's organic ranking in Google Search results.
The difference between Google Analytics and the Google Search Console
Now, both Google Analytics and the Search Console are invaluable tools. But a lot of our clients (and marketers, too) are unsure what differentiates the two. Do they need to have both or is one of them more than enough? The thing is, whilst Analytics and the Console look very similar on the surface, there are major differences between them. And to say it upfront: Yes, you should really make use of both!
- Google Analytics mainly addresses the performance of your website and gives you information about your visitors, who they are, where they’re from, and so on. You can, for example, find out how many of your website visitors are using iOS or Android operating systems - which comes in handy considering the latest iOS update and the issues many marketers are struggling with as a result.
- The Google Console, on the other hand, reveals information that allows you to supercharge your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy: Who is linking to your site, are there any technical errors, and so on. We’ll take a closer look at the Search Console features and functions in a second.
Google Search Console Features We Love
The Google Search Console gives you invaluable insights into what Google thinks of your website, whilst allowing you to track metrics such as the keywords your website ranks for, your click-through rates and impressions. But there’s a lot more to it.The Google Console offers a range of great SEO tools, for free. With the Search Console, you can:
- Measure your site’s traffic and performance
- Gain insight into keyword positioning on Google
- Find out how often your site is selected via a search term
- Identify sites that link to your content
- Find out if your site is mobile-friendly
- Post sitemaps and crawl individual URLs
- Get alerts for issues and bugs that need to be fixed
Let’s take a look at a handful of these in more detail!
Why is The Google Console so Useful?
Understanding how Google views your website and its pages are crucial for making your site more secure and accessible for users, bettering your organic search ranking and increasing click-through-rates. In addition, you’ll know right away, if there ever was an issue with your website, such as Google being unable to access a page - or what we call a ‘crawl error’.
- A glimpse into website performance metrics
Google Search Console is a great source for helpful information, especially when it comes to your website’s performance. It gives you a detailed insight into:
- Impressions: The number of links to your website users saw on Google search results.
- Clicks: The number of clicks from a Google search results page that brought a user to your website.
- Click-through-rate (CTR): The click count divided by the impression count.
- Queries: The keywords users searched for, which generated link impressions
- Position: The average position of a URL in search results
- Average position: The average position of the topmost result from your website
- Identify the top keywords your website ranks for
Google Search Console reports include data on the most commonly found keywords on your site, your current ranking position for each keyword and how often you appear in search results. Some say this might just be the most important Search Console feature. To see your keywords in Google Search Console, choose the “Performance” tab and scroll down the page to “queries”.
- Understand how Google sees your website
You’ve probably put a lot of your time and money into your online presence, but what does Google make of it? In the Search Console, you’ll find an Index Status report that’ll give the answer to you straight. It shows how many pages of your website are indexed with Google and whether elements of your website are preventing Google Bots from crawling and indexing your site. If you notice unusual spikes, without recently having done work on your website, it’s a clear indication of something being off.
- Submit a sitemap
You probably already know this, but you can decide which pages you want Google to crawl and make it easier for Google to do so by submitting a sitemap of your website. A sitemap is an XML file that contains the URLs inside your website. You could submit your sitemap by adding your sitemap file to your robot.txt file or by submitting the sitemap in your Google Search Console.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
In a mobile-first world, smartphone traffic is leaving desktop traffic behind in the dust. If you want to win over Google, it’s crucial that your website is mobile-friendly. Luckily, the Search Console makes it pretty easy to uncover issues and fix any errors. Just click on “Mobile Usability” and you’ll be given all the details needed to step up your game.
- Find out who links back to your site
Ever wondered where you could find backlink data without having to pay for it? You’ve probably guessed it by now, but just to be sure: The Google Search Console uncovers who is talking about your website on the web by showing you what other sites have linked to yours. This includes which ones of your pages those sites have linked to, and what pages get the most links. To check out your backlink data, visit the “Links” report.
You can see how the Search Console could come in handy, whether you’re running a business, earning your bread as an SEO specialist, digital marketer or web developer. Once you’ve got a basic understanding of the Google Search Console and know your way around the tool, you should delve a little deeper into the advanced settings and features of the Console and take your SEO efforts to a whole new level.
How Do You Set Up Google Search Console?
Here’s how you can add your website to the Google Search Console:1.Sign in to your Google account.
- Make sure it’s your business account, not a private one.
2.Click on ‘Google Webmaster Tools’.3.Click on ‘add property’ in the top left corner.4.You can now proceed by adding your website’s URL.
- We recommend choosing the new “Domain” option on the right, without the www or subdomains.
- That way, all existing versions of your website, both http:// and https://, will be added to the Google Search Console.
5.Next up, you’ll need to verify your website.
- By doing so, you show Google that you’re truly the owner.
- You can choose to do so in different ways. You can find out more about verifying your site ownership here.
6.You are all set to go.
- Google starts tracking your website from the moment you add your domain (even before verification).
- All your data will start to build up from then.
- You'll receive email notifications if Google identifies any unusual events, such as violations of any of Google’s search quality guidelines.
You may want to proceed by giving business partners or team members access to the Search Console. Here are detailed instructions on how to add and remove owners and users in the Search Console.Anchor Digital is the leading Search Engine Optimisation agency in Brisbane. We create, optimise and manage websites that complement our clients’ branding, boost their organic ranking and work towards their business goals. Get in touch with our SEO experts today and unlock a treasure chest of traffic-driving SEO strategies!