Google Search Console is a powerful tool that can help you optimize your website for search engines. It provides a wealth of data, tools, and insights that can help you make the most of your SEO efforts. In this blog post, we’ll cover the essential steps for leveraging Google Search Console to optimize your website.
Introduction to Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a free service offered by Google to help webmasters monitor and maintain their website’s performance in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). The service provides a wealth of data and insights that can be used to improve a website’s visibility in search results, as well as identify potential errors and issues that might be affecting its performance.
Google Search Console also provides tools and reports that can be used to identify and address technical issues, such as crawl errors and broken links, as well as optimize a website for SEO. It also offers a range of features that can be used to monitor a website’s performance, including the ability to submit sitemaps and individual pages for crawling and indexing, track search queries and rankings, and analyze search engine traffic.
Google Search Console is an indispensable tool for any website owner who wants to ensure their site is optimized for search engine visibility and performance. By leveraging Google Search Console, you can make sure your website is visible and performing well in SERPs, and make the most of your SEO efforts.
Setting up Google Search Console
The first step to leveraging Google Search Console is to set up an account. Setting up an account is easy (you will need a Google account) and only takes a few minutes. All you need to do is visit the Google Search Console website, click on the “Start Now” button, and follow the instructions to create an account. Once you have created an account, you can add your website to Google Search Console by verifying your ownership of the site.
In Google Search Console, your website is called a “Property.” Here is how you can go about adding your first property:
- To add your first property, find the property drop-down selector on any Search Console page, and click “Add Property.”
- You will have the option to select either a “Domain” or “URL Prefix.” The best option is to select “Domain” which will allow you to track data about all URL versions of your site; this option requires DNS access, meaning you’ll need access to whatever website you used to purchase your domain (e.g. GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc.). The other option (“URL Prefix”) offers more options for verification (you can verify using your Google Analytics account, for example) but is less comprehensive. If you use “URL Prefix” method, I suggest claiming all four iterations of your primary domain, which are 1) https://www.____.com, http://www.____.com, https://____.com, and http://____.com — that’s both the secure and non-secure version, as well as with or without “www.” Google sees these as distinct web properties in URL Prefix mode. At least make sure to verify for the primary version of your site — usually the URL you see when on your homepage.
- Once you have selected either the Domain or URL Prefix option, now it is time to verify your ownership of the site. In Domain mode, the only option for verification is by adding a TXT record via your DNS (this is less tricky than it sounds, and Google provides some basic instructions). For URL Prefix mode, there are several ways to verify your website, including HTML tag, HTML file upload, and domain name provider verification. Whichever method you choose, follow the instructions provided to complete the verification process. Once your website is verified, you will be able to access the Google Search Console dashboard and begin using the features and tools available.
If you have any trouble, try checking these Google resources with additional Google Search Console information.
Submitting your Site Map to Google Search Console
Once you have set up your Google Search Console account and verified your website, the next step is to submit your website’s sitemap. A sitemap is an XML file that contains a list of all the pages on your website. It is an important tool for SEO as it helps search engines discover and index your website’s pages.
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console is easy. All you need to do is log in to your account, click on the “Sitemaps” tab, and enter the URL of your sitemap. Once you have submitted your sitemap, Google will begin crawling and indexing your website’s pages. Not sure if you have a sitemap? You probably do! Try checking at www.__yoursite__.com/sitemap.xml — this is a default feature for most CMS (content management systems) such as WordPress, Squarespace, Wix.
Submitting pages for crawling and indexing
In addition to submitting your sitemap, you can also submit individual pages for crawling and indexing. To do this, log in to your Google Search Console account and paste your URL into the bar at the top labeled “Inspect any URL”, and then click on the “REQUEST INDEXING” button. Once you have submitted the page, Google will begin the process of crawling and indexing it.
It is important to note that submitting pages for crawling and indexing does not guarantee that the page will be included in Google’s index. Google’s algorithms are constantly evolving and pages can be removed from the index for a variety of reasons. However, submitting pages for crawling and indexing can help ensure that your pages are discovered and indexed as quickly as possible.
Monitoring your Search Performance
Google Search Console provides a range of tools and reports that can be used to monitor your website’s performance in search results. The “Performance” report provides insights into how your website is performing in terms of clicks, impressions, and average click-through rate. The report also provides data on the keywords that are driving traffic to your website, as well as the countries and devices from which your website is being accessed.
Identifying and Fixing Crawl Errors
Google Search Console provides a “Pages” report that can be used to identify and fix errors that may be affecting your website’s performance in search results. The report provides data on the pages that are returning a 404 error, as well as any other errors that may be affecting your website’s performance.
By leveraging the Pages report, you can identify and fix any issues that may be preventing your website from being indexed and appearing in search results. This can help ensure that your website is visible and performing well in SERPs.
Optimizing Your Site for SEO
Google Search Console provides a range of features and tools that can be used to optimize your website for SEO. The “Experience” section (including “Page Experience”, “Core Web Vitals” and “Mobile Usability”) provides insights into how your website is performing in terms of pagespeed, https, and other key SEO factors. By leveraging the data and insights provided by these reports, you can identify areas for improvement and make sure your website is optimized for SEO.
Analyzing Your Site’s Search Performance
Google Search Console also provides a report that can be used to analyze your website’s backlink profile (i.e. the number of links back to your website, and where they are coming from). You can also analyze your own website’s internal and external linking structure to make sure that you are linking frequently to your most important content. The “Links” report provides insights into the websites that are linking to your website, as well as the anchor text used in the links.
Try Our GSC Query & Landing Page Explorer
We’ve created a simple Dashboard to help small business owners and creative entrepreneurs understand their own Google Search Console data. Since the GSC dashboard can be a bit convoluted, we designed the Search Console Query & Landing Page Explorer to be as simple as possible. Here are instructions for testing this powerful but simple Dashboard (we call them “Google Insights”) for your own business.
Google Search Console is an indispensable tool for any website owner who wants to ensure their site is optimized for search engine visibility and performance. By leveraging Google Search Console, you can make sure your website is visible and performing well in SERPs, and make the most of your SEO efforts. Take these initial steps for your new website within Google Search Console, and you’ll be well on your way towards getting your new site indexed, driving organic traffic, and boosting your SEO rankings.