Google Search Console is a collection of resources and tools designed to help webmasters, website owners, and SEO professionals monitor the performance of a website in the Google search index.
As a free service which enables anybody to learn important information about their website and anybody who visits it, it is an invaluable tool which can be used to help improve overall performance and optimisation.
Why All Website Owners Need Google Search Console
By tracking metrics and delivering information regarding exactly who is visiting your website, from where, how they are finding it, and which devices are being used, website owners can act on this information to make optimisations and changes to increase conversions.
In addition to this, you can use Google Search Console to fix errors, create a robots.txt file for search engine indexation, and submit a sitemap.
When new errors appear in Google Search Console, you will get an email straight away. This lets you fix the error immediately before it becomes a problem that will have a negative impact on your website.
Creating an Account and Adding a Website
Google Search Console uses a regular Google account so, if you already have one of these, you don’t even need to register one! If you don’t have an account, you can make one in a matter of minutes.
Before you can begin using Google Search Console, however, you will need to add your website and verify it before moving forward. The verification process demonstrates to Google you are the true owner of a website and are authorised to access the detailed information Google Search Console provides.
Adding a website is a very simple process. When you are logged in, there will be a red box (you can’t miss it) which says Add Property. Simply type your URL in this box, press the button and go through the verification process.
There are a few different ways you can verify your website with Google Search Console. To do this, navigate to Manage Property and choose one of the following options:
- Add a pre-made HTML meta tag to your website’s homepage inside the <head> tag;
- Upload a HTML file to your website’s root directory;
- Sign in to the provider of your domain name; or
- Use your Google Analytics/AdSense account.
A good website design or SEO company in Auckland can help you with this process if you are not technically minded.
Google Search Console Features
The new version of Google Search Console was released earlier this year and it now comes with a ton of new and useful features. It is worth mentioning that, at present, some of the features between the old and new Google Search Console are still migrating. As such, you will sometimes need to switch between versions to use all the older features.
The Performance Tab
This is the main part of Google Search Console and is what makes it such a valuable tool. Inside the performance tab, you can see which pages and keywords your website ranks for in Google.
As you begin to check the performance tab more frequently, you will start to see which keywords and pages need attention or should be optimised.
Inside the performance tab, there is a list of queries, pages, countries, and devices. You can sort these sections by metrics such as the number of clicks or impressions, among others.
- Number of clicks – this metric tells you how often end-users click on a link on a search results page to visit your website. This alone can tell you a lot about the optimisation of your page’s title and meta description. If few people are clicking, you may need to make the page title and meta description more appealing.
- Impressions – this tells you how often your website appears on search results pages for specific keywords. You can use filters to move between different keywords to see how often your site appears.
- Click Through Rate (CTR) – CTR shows you the percentage of people who see your website on search results pages and then click through to visit. If you have a low click-through rate, you should consider rewriting your page’s meta description to make it more engaging or try other methods to improve your ranking.
- Average position – this metric tells you the average ranking you achieve for a selected keyword. Although different people get different search results depending on a variety of factors, this is still a useful indicator you can use to further optimise your individual pages and their content.
This tab tells you how many of your pages appeared in Google’s index since its last update. It also tells you how many pages are not indexed as well as the errors, warnings, or shortfalls that are causing some of your pages not to rank.
You should check the Index Coverage regularly to see warnings and errors as they appear and to take steps to rectify them. Although Google does send notifications when it finds an error (e.g. when a page is set to no-index), it is always best to catch these problems straight away, so you can swiftly resolve them.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
It is important you optimise your website for mobile use both to deliver a better user experience and for SEO purposes. The AMP section in Google Search Console can help you check whether pages are mobile-friendly and, if not, what errors there are.
You will find all errors displayed in an easy-to-read chart which you can then use to locate and resolve the errors. When you click on one of the errors, you’ll get a comprehensive message that provides all the details required to diagnose and fix it.
Missing Features in Google Search Console
Google has not integrated all features into the new Google Search Console yet, either because it is still migrating the feature or because Google has found a better way to present the data.
At the time of writing, the migration is ongoing. You can, however, access missing features by using the older but still available version of Google Search Console.
The features that are currently missing from the newer version include:
- Search appearance
- Google Index
- Search traffic
- Crawl-related data
- Security issues
Although this is a minor inconvenience, you can still access these features by switching between versions. Google Search Console’s newer version brings with it a whole new infrastructure and the potential for improved features, and we think this is a fair compromise. Over time, these features will either be migrated as they were or replaced with something new – only time will tell.