A comprehensive Guide How to use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an invaluable tool for website owners and digital marketers, offering a wealth of data and insights that can help you optimize your website’s performance and search engine visibility. In this comprehensive beginner’s guide, we will explore the most important features of Google Search Console and explain how to set up and utilize the tool to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
Google Search Console (GSC) provides a range of powerful features that can help you understand how your website is performing on Google Search. Until 20 May 2015, the service was called Google Webmaster Tools.
Who should use Search Console?
- Business owners: Even if you won’t be using Search Console yourself, you should be aware of it, become familiar with the basics of optimizing your site for search engines, and know what features are available in Google Search.
- Site Admins: The Google Search Console (GSC) is a vital tool for anyone who manages a website, whether it’s a personal blog, an online store, or a company’s main page. If you use GSC on a regular basis, you can find potential issues and enhance your site’s search performance.
- Experts in Search Engine Optimization (SEOs) should have GSC as part of their arsenal. You can improve your SEO strategies and your site’s visibility with the data it provides on keyword rankings, search queries, click-through rates, and more. Sitemaps can be submitted, the indexing process followed, and fresh content can be requested all through GSC.
- Digital Marketers: To better understand their target audience and how they interact with the website, digital marketers can use GSC. Marketers can improve the effectiveness of their content and campaigns by studying user behavior on the site and making adjustments based on what they learn.
- Developers: They can use GSC to check that their clients’ sites are free of crawl errors, broken links, and other issues that could lower their sites’ search engine rankings. To further aid developers in making their sites mobile-friendly and user-friendly, GSC also offers mobile usability reports and Core Web Vitals data.
- Bloggers and copywriters: Just two examples of content creators who can use the information on trending search terms and keywords provided by GSC. This data can help guide writers in the direction of articles and searches that are most likely to attract readers and viewers.
Some of the most important features include:
- Performance report: Analyzes your website’s search performance, including impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and average position.
- Index coverage report: Shows the indexing status of your website’s pages and helps identify and fix indexing issues.
- Sitemaps: Allows you to submit XML sitemaps to help Google discover and index your website’s content.
- Mobile usability report: Identifies mobile usability issues on your website and provides recommendations for improvement.
- Manual actions: Alerts you to any manual penalties imposed by Google due to violations of their Webmaster Guidelines.
- Page experience report: Provides insights into the user experience on your website, including Core Web Vitals metrics.
Setting up Google Search Console for Your Website
To start using Google Search Console, follow these steps:
- Visit the Google Search Console website (https://search.google.com/search-console) and sign in with your Google account.
- Click on the “Add Property” button and enter your website’s URL.
- Verify your website ownership using one of the available methods, such as adding an HTML tag, uploading an HTML file, or using your domain registrar.
- Once verified, your website will be added to your GSC account, and you can start exploring the available reports and tools.
GSC Users, Owners, and Permissions
Google Search Console allows you to search queries, add multiple users to google search console and assign different levels of access and permissions. There are two primary roles in GSC:
- Owners: Have full control over the GSC property, including the ability to add and remove users, submit sitemaps, and view all reports.
- Users: Have limited access, allowing them to view specific reports and use some tools, but not make changes to the property or user permissions.
To manage users and permissions, navigate to the “Settings” tab in GSC and click on “Users and permissions”. Below you find a Video Tutorial how to add a user to Google Search Console.
Google Search Console Overview
The GSC Overview page provides a snapshot of your website’s performance, indexing status, and any critical issues or errors.
It serves as a starting point for your analysis and helps you quickly identify areas that require your attention.
Performance Search Results
The Performance report in GSC is a crucial tool for understanding how your site’s pages or website is performing in Google Search. This report provides data on:
- Total clicks: The number of times users clicked on your website’s search results.
- Total impressions: The number of times your website’s search results were shown to users.
- Average CTR: The percentage of impressions that resulted in a click.
- Average position: The average ranking of your website in Google Search results for the selected time period.You can also filter the data by date range, search type (web, image, or video), and device (desktop, mobile, or tablet). Additionally, you can view performance data for specific queries, pages, countries, and devices to gain deeper insights into your website’s search performance.
Search Console Page Experience Report
The Page Experience report in GSC provides insights into the user experience on your website, focusing on the Core Web Vitals metrics, which are crucial for evaluating your website’s performance and SEO. These metrics include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures the loading performance of your website.
- First Input Delay (FID): Measures the interactivity of your website.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures the visual stability of your website.
The report helps you identify pages with poor user experience and provides recommendations for improvement, which can directly impact your website’s search rankings.
URL Inspection Tool
The URL Inspection tool in GSC allows you to analyze individual URLs on top linked pages of your website to check their index status, crawlability, and structured data.
This tool helps you:
- Verify if a specific URL is indexed by Google.
- Identify and fix crawl errors.
- Preview how the URL appears in Google Search results.
- Test and validate structured data for rich results.
The URL Inspection Tool is a valuable feature available within Google Search Console (GSC) that provides insights into the indexing and search performance of specific URLs on your website. This tool offers a comprehensive analysis of individual URLs, making it easier for website owners and SEO professionals to troubleshoot indexing issues, identify crawl errors, and optimize their web pages. In this article, we will delve deeper into the functionalities of the URL Inspection Tool and how it can be used to enhance your website’s performance in Google Search.
Overview of the URL Inspection Tool
The URL Inspection Tool is designed to provide detailed information about the current status of a specific URL in Google’s index. It helps you understand how Googlebot interacts with your URL, whether it’s indexed, and if there are any issues that may impact its visibility in search results. The tool offers several key features that can assist you in optimizing your website:
- Verify if a Specific URL is Indexed by Google:
One of the main functions of the URL Inspection Tool is to verify whether a specific URL is indexed by Google. By entering the URL into the tool, you can quickly determine if the URL is present in Google’s index and if it’s eligible to appear in search results. If the URL is not indexed, the tool will provide information about the reasons for its exclusion, such as “Crawled – currently not indexed,” “Submitted URL blocked by robots.txt,” or “URL is unknown to Google.”
- Identify and Fix Crawl Errors:
Crawl errors can have a negative impact on the indexing and search visibility of your web pages. The URL Inspection Tool can help you identify and resolve crawl errors that may affect a specific URL. For example, the tool can detect issues such as server errors, redirect errors, or blocked resources. It provides detailed explanations of the errors and offers suggestions on how to fix them, allowing you to take corrective action and improve your website’s crawlability.
- Preview How the URL Appears in Google Search Results:
The URL Inspection Tool provides a visual preview of how your URL is likely to appear in Google Search results. This includes the title tag, meta description, and URL structure displayed in the search snippet. By previewing how your URL appears to users, you can assess whether the title and description accurately represent the content of the page and are enticing to users. If necessary, you can make changes to optimize the snippet and improve the click-through rate.
- Test and Validate Structured Data for Rich Results:
Structured data is a key element that allows search engines to better understand the content of your web pages and display rich results (such as product ratings, event information, or recipes) in search results. The URL Inspection Tool enables you to test and validate the structured data markup on your URL. It will analyze the implementation of structured data, identify any errors or warnings, and provide recommendations for enhancing the markup. By validating your structured data, you can increase the likelihood of earning rich results and providing a more engaging user experience.
- Verify if a Specific URL is Indexed by Google:
How to Verify Site Ownership
Verifying your own domain and website ownership in GSC is a crucial step in setting up your account. There are several methods available, including:
- HTML file upload:
Download an HTML file provided by GSC and upload it to your website’s root directory via SFTP or CPanel.
- HTML tag:
Add a unique meta tag provided by GSC to the <head> section of your website’s homepage. As a WordPress User you can use several plugins to do so.
- Google Analytics: Use your existing Google Analytics tracking code to verify your website, provided you have “edit” permissions in Google Analytics.
- Google Tag Manager: Verify your website using your existing Google Tag Manager container ID, provided you have “publish” permissions in GTM.
- Domain name provider: If you have access to the Domain Zone Configuration definitely the fastest and easiest way: Verify your website by adding a DNS TXT or CNAME record to your domain’s DNS settings.
Choose the method that best suits your technical expertise and access level.
Index Coverage Report
The Index Coverage report in GSC provides detailed information about the indexing status of your website’s pages. This report helps you identify:
- Pages successfully indexed by Google.
- Pages blocked by robots.txt or noindex directives.
- Pages with crawl errors, such as 404 (Not Found) or 5xx (Server Error) HTTP status codes.
- Pages with indexing issues, such as duplicate content or thin content.
By fixing the errors and issues found in the Index Coverage report, you can improve your website’s visibility in Google Search results.
Sitemaps are XML files that list the URLs on your website, making it easier for Google to discover and index your content. In GSC, you can and you should submit your sitemap(s) by navigating to the “Sitemaps” tab and entering the URL of your sitemap. GSC will then crawl your sitemap and provide a report on the indexing status of the URLs included in the sitemap.
With the increasing use of mobile devices for browsing the web, mobile usability has become a crucial factor in SEO.
The Mobile Usability report in GSC helps you identify any mobile usability issues on relevant pages of your website, such as:
- Text too small to read
- Viewport not set
- Content wider than the screen
- Clickable elements too close together
By addressing these issues, you can improve the mobile user experience on your website and enhance your search engine rankings, especially since Google’s search results now uses mobile-first indexing.
Manual actions are penalties imposed by Google when your website violates their Webmaster Guidelines (nowadays called Google Search Essentials). These penalties can significantly impact your site’s search traffic, rankings, and overall visibility. In GSC, the “Manual Actions” tab will alert you if your website has any active manual actions, along with the reasons for the penalties and recommendations for resolving them.
It is crucial to address any manual actions as soon as possible to restore your website’s search visibility and performance. By understanding the reasons behind these penalties, you can make necessary changes to your website and prevent future issues from occurring.
Monitor the Total Number of Indexed Pages and Indexing Errors
Keeping track of the total number of indexed pages and any indexing errors is vital for maintaining your website’s SEO health. In GSC, you can monitor these metrics using the Index Coverage report, which provides a comprehensive overview of your website’s indexing status.
Regularly review the report to identify and address any errors, ensuring that your website’s content is properly indexed and accessible to users via Google Search. By consistently monitoring your website’s indexing status, you can quickly address any issues and maintain your site’s visibility in search results.
Monitor Average Position Over Time
While average position can be a useful metric, it’s essential to interpret it within context. Focusing solely on increasing your website’s average position can be shortsighted, as this metric may not accurately reflect changes in your website’s rankings for specific keywords. Instead, track your website’s average position over time and analyze how it correlates with changes in your SEO strategy, content, and targeted keywords.
Monitor Your Impressions Over Time
As you develop your website, create new content, or optimize existing pages, your impressions should generally increase over time. Monitoring impressions can help you gauge the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and identify areas that require further optimization. However, keep in mind that there may be exceptions to this trend depending on your specific SEO strategy. For example, you may choose to focus on a smaller set of high-value keywords or prioritize other marketing channels, leading to a plateau or even a decrease in impressions.
By consistently monitoring your website’s impressions over time, you can gain valuable insights into your site’s search visibility and make informed decisions about your SEO strategy. Adjusting your approach based on data-driven insights will help you achieve better results and improve your website’s overall performance in Google Search.
Identify your highest-ranking pages
This number represents the mean for the entire ranking and search appearance of a website by URL. If you ranked a keyword for a single keyword it would likely rank #1 on the search page and #3 for a low-resource query — the average ranking should remain 22.
When using GSC, one of the metrics you’ll come across is the “average position.” This metric represents the average ranking position of your website’s URLs in Google Search results. It’s calculated based on the position of your website’s URLs for various search queries. For example, if one of your web pages ranks in position #1 for a certain keyword and position #3 for a different keyword, the average ranking position for that page will be calculated accordingly.
It’s important to note that the average position is a mean value that takes into account the entire ranking and search appearance of a website by URL. As a result, this number alone may not fully reflect the success or performance of your website in search results. Instead, it should be used in conjunction with other metrics and data provided by GSC to gain a comprehensive understanding of your website’s search performance.
Identifying Your Highest-Ranking Pages
To identify your highest-ranking pages using GSC, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Google Search Console account.
- In the left-hand menu, select “Performance.”
- In the “Performance” report, you’ll see several tabs, including “Queries,” “Pages,” “Countries,” and more. Select the “Pages” tab.
- Here, you’ll see a list of your website’s pages, along with metrics such as “Clicks,” “Impressions,” “Average CTR” (click-through rate), and “Average Position.”
- The “Average Position” column shows the average ranking position of each page for all search queries that triggered that page in search results.
- Sort the “Pages” list by the “Average Position” column to see your highest-ranking pages at the top. These are the pages that, on average, rank the highest in search results.
Do not judge the success of the search appearance of any web site based on an average position alone.
Learn how many total backlinks your site has
The backlink signals Google that you have trustworthy and useful content. It seems that the higher number of back links the site performs better! Quality of external and internal links is crucial — one link from a trustworthy site is more valuable than another link from low-quality web sites. To find out which websites have linked to specific pages simply double-click on these URLs in the reports.
You can access the “Links” report to learn about the total number of backlinks your site has, as well as other link-related information. The “Links” report provides insights into both external and internal links, allowing you to understand the overall link profile of your site. Here’s how to access and analyze the “Links” report:
Sign in to Google Search Console and select the property (website) for which you want to view the links information.
In the left-hand navigation menu, click on “Links.” This will open the “Links” report.
In the “Links” report, you will see several sections, including “External links,” “Internal links,” “Top linking sites,” and “Top linking text.”
Under “External links,” you will find information about the total number of links from other
Google Search Console is an essential tool for website owners and digital marketers, providing valuable insights and data to optimize your website’s SEO performance. By following this beginner’s guide how to use Google Search Console and leveraging the various search features, and reports in GSC, you can gain a better understanding of your website’s performance in Google Search, identify areas for improvement, and resolve any critical issues or errors.
Regularly monitoring and analyzing your website’s data in GSC will enable you to make informed decisions and adjustments, ultimately in search results and leading to better search engine visibility, increased organic traffic, and a more effective online presence. So, start exploring Google Search Console today and unlock the full potential of your website’s SEO performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google that allows website owners and administrators to monitor and optimize their site’s performance on Google Search. It offers insights into how Google crawls, indexes, and ranks a website, and provides tools for identifying and resolving issues related to search visibility.
Rich results are enhanced search results that display additional information beyond the standard title, URL, and meta description. Examples of rich results include review snippets, recipes, events, and frequently asked questions (FAQs). Rich results are generated using structured data markup on a website.
To make your website eligible for rich results, you need to add structured data markup to the relevant pages on your site. The markup should follow the schema.org vocabulary and adhere to Google’s guidelines for the specific type of rich result you want to display.
Within Google Search Console, you can use the Performance report to analyze your site’s visibility and performance on Google Search. The report provides data on metrics such as clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and average position for your website’s pages and search queries.
Yes, Google Search Console provides a Rich Results Status report that shows the status of rich result types on your site. The report helps you identify errors and warnings related to your structured data markup and provides recommendations for fixing them.
To use Google Search Console, you need a Google account. Once you have an account, you can add your website as a property and verify ownership using various methods, such as uploading an HTML file, adding an HTML meta tag, or using your domain name provider.
Absolutely, Google Search Console offers a Mobile Usability report that provides insights into how well your site performs on mobile devices. The report identifies any mobile usability issues and provides recommendations for improving the mobile experience.
Google Search Console and Google Analytics are both tools provided by Google, but they serve different purposes:
Google Search Console is focused on monitoring and optimizing a website’s presence on Google Search. It provides data on search performance, indexing issues, mobile usability, and rich results, among other search-related insights.
Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that analyzes website traffic and user behavior. It provides data on traffic sources, user engagement, conversion activities, and audience demographics, helping website owners understand how visitors interact with their site.
In summary, Google Search Console is centered on search engine optimization (SEO), while Google Analytics is geared towards understanding website traffic and user behavior. Both tools complement each other and are valuable for optimizing a website’s performance.
To access Google Search Console, follow these steps:
Go to the Google Search Console website at https://search.google.com/search-console.
If you have a Google account, click “Sign in” in the upper-right corner of the page and enter your login credentials. If you don’t have a Google account, you will need to create one before accessing Google Search Console.
Once you are signed in, you will be directed to the Search Console dashboard.
If you have already added and verified a website property in Google Search Console, you can select it from the property dropdown menu in the upper-left corner of the dashboard.
If you have not yet added a website property, you can do so by clicking the “Add property” button in the property dropdown menu. You will need to provide the URL of your website and complete the ownership verification process to access data and tools for that property.
Once you have added and verified a property, you can explore the various reports and tools available within Google Search Console to monitor and optimize your website’s performance on Google Search.