What Is Google Search Console?
The Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to see how you are doing on Google Search. You can improve your appearance on search results by making sure your site is relevant to what people are searching for. This will bring relevant traffic to your site. You can use Google Search Console to find and fix technical issues on your website, track who is linking back to your site, and test if your site is mobile-friendly or not. Finally, your website must be registered with Google Search Console in order to be featured in the Google Knowledge Panel.
Google’s search algorithm tries to determine what your page is about and what information on the page is most relevant to a user’s query. This is done by analyzing structured data found on the web. They label individual elements on the page to allow users to search for more specific content on your page.
For example, you might find the following structured data on a recipe page: the recipe title, its author, how many people it serves, cook time, calorie count, and more. The information can be used to improve search results. If a recipe website has the right kind of structured data, it can appear in the graphical section of the search engine results page. This can help the website get more clicks.
What Is the Difference between Google Search Console and Google Analytics?
The main difference is that one is for trimming and the other is for sanding. Google Search Console is a web service that helps you optimize your website’s visibility and presence in SERPs. Thus, the tool is search-engine focused.
Google Analytics provides data about your website’s visitors, including how they interacted with your website. Both metrics are needed to create a website that readers love. Use them together to complement each other.
Since we are covering the Google Search Console today, let’s go over what this tool can do for your SEO needs.
How to Set Up Google Search Console?
You cannot use Google Search Console unless you activate your account and link it to Google Analytics and any SEO tool you use to research keywords and write content. Not all tools have this feature, but some, like ZenBrief, do.
Activate Google Search Console
Log in to your Google Search Console account using your business email address. You will have two options. This is the domain and URL prefix that you will use to add your website. Use either option A or option B, there is no need to select both.
After that, you will need to confirm that you are the owner of the website or property. You can track your website’s analytics by using a Google Analytics tracking ID. To find your Google Analytics ID, simply log into your Google Analytics account and go to settings. Choose the settings for your property, including the basic settings and the tracking ID. If you verify your business, it will be easier to verify your Google Business Profile when you add or claim it.
Set up Google Search Console permissions
Who are the owners and users of the console? It is important to consider who should have what permissions when assigning them. Giving too much control to people can be just as disastrous as not giving them enough permissions.
It’s easy to access Google Search Console from your admin area in Google Analytics. To access your Search Console data in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Search Console.
Submit A Site Map
A site map is a digital map that provides Google with information about your website, including important pages, crawling and exclusion instructions, last update dates, and more. If you have a new website, you can submit the URL to Search Console so Google can crawl it.
Sitemap generators create an XML sitemap which can be uploaded to Search Console. This allows Google to more easily find and index your website. Go to GSC and find “sitemap” on the left-side menu. Click it. Enter your sitemap’s URL into the given space to allow Search Console to access it.
You will be given a report detailing any errors discovered so that you can work on fixing them. Be sure to check your sitemap regularly to see if any new URLs have been found. You don’t need to submit your sitemap every time you make a change to your site.
If you make any significant changes to your website, such as fixing errors, adding important pages, or redesigning it, you should always submit a new sitemap.
Understanding Google Search Console Basics
You should now have a good understanding of the basics of Google Search Console. Some important features of Google Search Console include the ability to:
- Monitor your website’s search traffic
- See how your website ranks in Google search results
- Submit your website to Google for indexing
- Receive alerts when Google detects issues with your website.
For SEO reports, you will use GSC’s primary sections. These are Performance, Coverage, Experience, and Enhancement.
Under the ” performance” tab, you will find search results with data from the past 16 months. The filtering options allow you to search specifically.
The data found here will inform your digital strategy. The information you receive will include:
- How many impressions your website received, or how many times searches see your website when they enter a search query.
- How many clicks your site received, or how many times searchers click on your site once they land on it in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
- The top queries searchers use to discover your website or your website’s average position in SERPs.
You won’t always want to look at every performance report and the strategical data it provides. GSC has filters you can use to help you focus on what you need. You can select different types of information by using the filter bar. For example, you can select information based on the search type, data range, page, query, search appearance, and country.
You can use Google Analytics to check which country most visits your site, the device searchers use when they land on your webpage, and how Google is serving your pages.
The coverage report shows you how often your site appears within Google’s search results. The coverage report can help you identify technical SEO issues that may be preventing your pages from appearing in search results. Usually, Google sends an email notification whenever there is an issue with your site, but it is always a good idea to check regularly to ensure everything is running smoothly.
The coverage report has four options for you to look at, which are: the number of people who have seen your ad; the number of people who have clicked on your ad; the number of people who have liked your ad; and the number of people who have shared your ad.
- Error – this means a page is not indexed by Google and won’t appear in search results. Click on a particular error to see which page is affected.
- Valid with warning – the pages are indexed, but they don’t necessarily show up on search results. This happens when Google thinks there is a problem with the pages, and you need to be aware of it.
- Valid – the pages are indexed by Google and show up in SERPs. You only need to take action if you don’t want a particular page showing up in search results.
- Excluded – these pages are not indexed by Google and will not appear in search results. When this happens, the page may have a no-index directive or a canonical tag.
If you create new content, you will see an increase in the number of indexed pages. If you remove pages from your website, the number of indexed pages will decrease.
A sudden decrease in the number of indexed pages is an indicator of a problem. The drop in traffic indicates that something is preventing Google from indexing the pages.
Google has introduced a new page experience update that includes a report in Google Search Console. This report is a combination of the core web vitals and other related metrics. That is:
- A metric measuring how fast your page loads. A good page should load in less than 2.5 seconds.
- Cumulative layout shift, which deals with visual stability. It should be less than 0.01.
- First input delay, that’s used to measure user interaction with your page. Aim for lower than 100 milliseconds.
These vitals all contribute to a good user experience. The page experience result shows you:
- The percentage of Good URLs – your core web vitals are good, and there are no mobile usability issues.
- The number of impressions you get with the good URLs.
- The number of failing URLs which are usually marked as poor or need improvement.
- Any security issues your site may have which makes a good user experience impossible.
- The pages that use HTTP instead of HTTPS.
You should give user experience a lot of attention. Google uses the next metric to decide who gets better ranking when you and your competitor both have good content. If you have a better user experience than your competition, you will rank higher. Therefore, take this report seriously.
Common Use Cases for Google Search Console
After we looked at what GSC is and how to establish it, we can explore how to use it to increase our organic rankings in search results.
At a high-level, a few of the most common use cases for Google Search Console include:
- Metrics such as keyword rankings, organic traffic, average position impressions, click-through-rate (CTR), and more need to be tracked in order to get a clear understanding of how well the website is doing.
- To check whether Google’s search crawlers are indexing your website properly, you can use their Index Coverage report.
- Submitting sitemaps.
- Analyzing backlink data.
- Ensuring mobile usability.
The new Page Experience report shows how your site is performing in terms of things like loading speed and mobile friendliness. The Core Web Vitals metrics are a set of metrics that focus on things like how quickly a page loads and how smooth scrolling is. The two sections mentioned are new additions to Google Search Console (GSC) as part of Google’s Page Experience algorithm update. They are designed to help you improve the user experience on your site.
7 Google Search Console Tips to Improve SEO
Now that we have talked about the main ways that GSC can be used, let’s go over some tips on how to use it to improve your SEO.
1. Identify pages with high impressions but low average position
One way to use GSC is to look at pages with high impressions but have a low average position in order to decide which pages to build backlinks to:
Start every link-building campaign by looking at Google Search Console for pages on a website that have gotten a lot of impressions (over 1000 in the last 3 months) but have a low average position (between 8 and 30).
2. Find under-optimized content for your existing queries
A way to optimize your website is to look for queries that a page is already ranking for and try to improve upon that. The “Queries” tab can be used to find out which search phrases are driving traffic. If the page does not already include the relevant keywords, this presents an opportunity to improve the ranking for those phrases.
3. Build authoritative content based on the site’s Top Pages
The next step is to use the “Top Pages” tab in Google Search Console to see which pages Google already considers to be authoritative. If you want your new pages to rank quickly, create more content around them.
4. Look at the index coverage report to see how well Google is indexing your pages, not just performance metrics.
GSC has a coverage report which helps you to understand which pages have been indexed by Google, and if there are any issues which prevent Google from indexing your site.
5. Submit a sitemap using Google Search Console
The platform allows users to submit a sitemap to Google Search Console. Sitemaps are used by Google to determine which pages on a site are the most important and should be crawled more often. It allows you more control over which pages you want Google to promote in search engines.
6. Don’t forget to analyze your website’s mobile and desktop traffic separately.
With most internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it is important to have a website that is mobile-friendly and can be found in mobile searches.
7. Use regex to increase rankings
If you want to find long-tail keywords that may be good for keyword ranking, you can use regex, or regular expressions.
Automating Your Google Search Console Reporting
While Google Search Console is a great platform for managing an SEO campaign, it lacks in reporting capabilities. Many marketing professionals find the reports from Google Search Console to be difficult to understand. You’ll often need to use data from Google Search Console alongside data from Google Analytics.
Google Search Console’s automatic reporting tool saves you time by creating reports for you, and you can customize what information your clients see.