Jul 17, 2021
Devyani PaliwalDevyani is an ACJ graduate with a bachelors in English Literature. A voracious reader since her school days, cinema aficionado and music enthusiast, she has been doing content writing for some time now.
From getting started with Google Search Console, to its latest updates, features, and what exactly it can do for you and your business or brand, by the end of this blog, you’ll know everything about this impressive tool. Make sure that you stick around till the very end to make the most of it.
What is the Google Search Console?
With the help of Google Search Console or GSC, users can easily monitor, manage as well as analyze their websites. The console, through its online portal, lets webmasters use valuable statistics to determine how their content is being perceived by the people.
Using GSC makes optimizing websites supremely easy because of its wide array of tools and data that is directly provided by the search engines. It is essentially the official means via which Google relays to site owners what exactly they need to do to improve their rankings.
Why is GSC Important?
As we have already explained, you can easily enhance your website’s organic search presence as google search console crawl reports let you monitor the required details and optimize them.
To be more specific, the console focuses on the click and the impressions left by the site’s visitors. However, there is also so much more it does. Some of these things are:
- letting you know how your pages rank
- determining search queries that are currently driving traffic
- locating and using backlinks
- identifying bugs and errors
- adding sitemaps
- optimizing content to be mobile-friendly
- monitoring Core Web Vitals
And the best part – it’s free and just waiting to optimize your website and get you more visitors.
Google Search Console Insights
With the introduction of Search Console Insights, Google has elevated the content-inspection level of the tool. The experience now makes use of the data collected not just by Console but Google Analytics as well which makes it much more effective.
If you’re a blogger, digital content creator, or website owner, this is a great feature that can help you improve your content in a way that will help you in expanding your reach. No matter the amount of technical expertise you have, or even if you haven’t got any, it doesn’t matter.
Anyone can use it to enhance their content. With the help of insights, the following questions can be successfully answered:
- What piece of content that you’ve published is faring the best?
- Which pieces are trending in general?
- How are your latest pieces doing?
- Before getting to your content, what searches are people doing?
- Through which article do users reach your website most often?
And so on.
How to set-up Google Search Console?
Now that you have a better idea of what Google Search Console is, follow the steps given below to set-up your account:
1. Sign in to GSC with Google
Before doing this, you’ll need to have a Google account. It is free, as we have mentioned above, and for all those who have a Google Analytics, Adwords, or Gmail account, those login details can also be entered here.
2. Add your website domain to the GSC
After the sign-in, you can choose the option to add a property type via your domain or a URL prefix. If you opt for ‘Domain’ it means that the property you’re setting up will include all subdomains as well as protocol prefixes that come along with your domain.
So just enter your site’s root-domain and then press ‘continue’.
If you go for ‘URL-prefix’ then it means that you’ll be creating only a single property for only one URL prefix for your site.
So the Google Search Console will only be connected to that one version – not the entire thing with all the different subdomains – and this makes it harder to get accurate data. But sometimes you have to go for ‘URL-prefix’.
3. Verify your website
Four ways in which you can go to get this verification done are – HTML file upload, domain name provider, HTML tag, GA tracking code, or GTM container snippet. Also, If your site supports both http:// and https://, add both as separate sites.
4. Determine your target audience
Under ‘Search Traffic’, you need to select ‘International Targeting’. Then you click on the ‘Country’ tab and then proceed to choose it. Don’t forget to check the ‘Target Users in’ the box on the left of the country bracket.
5. Link your Google Analytics account
Well, as we’ve already said, link your Analytics account to your Console one.
6. Work on the sitemap
While it isn’t really required for small websites, you don’t need to submit a sitemap to Google. However, for ecommerce websites, where there is so much content to browse through, submitting a sitemap becomes important.
But going for a sitemap, either way, is only encouraged. So to submit a sitemap on GSC, just go to ‘Sitemaps’ under the ‘Index’ feature and paste your URL in the space given and then hit submit.
Features of Google Search Console
The most important features, accessible from google search console home, that make it so good at what it does are:
A technical feature that helps the user determine the number of pages that are indexed by Google since its last update. Also, the number of pages that aren’t, the errors as well as warnings that are coming up due to which Google isn’t being able to index certain pages.
You should keep a check on this tab regularly to see if there are any issues with your website. Google even notifies you when any new errors come up.
This feature helps users in figuring out which pages and keywords are ranking where exactly in Google. By regularly using Console, you’ll be able to determine where you’re going wrong and what pages need more attention, and optimization to rank better.
In the performance tab, you’ll come across a number of lists such as ‘queries’, ‘pages’, ‘countries’ or ‘devices’. Further, with ‘search appearance’ you’ll be able to gather how your rich results are faring in Google search. All of these are then sorted into:
- clicks (number of times people click on your website in Google search)
- impressions (how many times a particular page is shown in the results)
- Average CTR (click-through rate; percentage of people visiting your website after seeing it listed on the results page)
- Average position (average ranking of a particular keyword or page during that specific point in time)
It is used to analyze specific URLs. The comparison is made between the indexed version by Google and the live version to analyze the differences. Technical information such as when and how Google crawls it, and also what it looked like when it did.
If there are certain errors, Google is not able to crawl your page properly and these reports can be helpful in resolving those issues. Even information about the structured data present in the URL is provided.
Just beneath ‘Index coverage’, the Enhancement tab has been located. This helps in improving how a particular site performs. The site speed, AMP usage, as well as structure data enhancements are worked on using these tabs that lead to better results in the SERPs.
- Speed: Issues that are keeping the site from loading at a quicker rate are shown.
- AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages: lightning-fast mobile pages): If the user has set up AMP for their website(s), errors regarding that are listed in this section.
- Rich results enhancement tab: For those using structured data, they need to check this feature out to get insights and improvements that will help them in getting richer results. All the errors that are keeping your website better in searches are listed in the enhancements tab.
The XML sitemap acts as the roadmap to all the different important pages as well as posts available on a website. It is necessary because it gives Google an idea of where your most important pages are located.
With this tab, users can easily determine where the XML sitemap is placed on their site. It is recommended that every user enter the URL of their XML sitemap into Google Search Console so that it is easily discoverable by Google and you can keep a check on it.
In this section, you can learn how many other sites have links that are pointing towards your website. It will also list what websites link, the number of links those websites have, and even the anchor texts that most commonly link back to your site.
All this information is really helpful because it directly relates to SEO which plays an important role in the rankings on Google.
As is clear from the title, this section lets you know the issues that your mobile website or the mobile-specific pages might be having. As most of us use our smartphones to use different sites these days, the importance of this particular feature is pretty apparent.
Therefore, using this feature, users need to ensure that their content is mobile-friendly because if it isn’t, they are more than likely to bounce.
Pretty self-explanatory. If there are any security issues, you will be notified about them in this tab.
How to use Google Search Console?
There are a number of ways in which GSC can enrich your website:
Improving your technical SEO using Index Coverage Report
The index coverage report that we have explained in the previous section plays an integral part in fixing errors and warnings.
From ‘Soft 404’ errors to any other errors that one might encounter (redirect errors, crawl errors, or server errors), the process given below can be followed to fix those issues:
- Loading the page in your browser
- Entering the URL in the ‘URL inspection’ tab
- Go over the issues that the Console has listed
- Work on any that come up
This is the basic framework of the process that needs to be followed and the bottom line is, most of your issues will be easily managed with it.
Getting more traffic using the Performance Report
There are several ways in which this can be done using Google Search Console:
1. Boost your CTR
First, you’ll have to determine the pages that have low CTR based on the report. This is done after highlighting the “Average CTR” and “Average Position” tabs. Following this, check the ‘position’ option.
Set the setting to “Greater than” 4.9 and then you’ll have a set of pages that have a rank of #5 or below. Then you go for the “CTR” box and set the CTR filter to “Smaller than” 4.35. Now you have a list of keywords that are ranking 5 or lower and have a CTR of less than 4.35%.
These are the keywords that will get you more traffic. Only after figuring out the keywords that’ll get you more traffic, you find the pages that are getting less traffic and then start working on optimizing the content (titles, meta descriptions, and so on).
2. Unearthing the “Opportunity Keywords”
These kinds of keywords rank between positions 8-20 and also get the impressions that you need. The opportunities that they provide are two-folded. Since Google already feels that this keyword is a good fit for your content (or else it won’t have been listed), all you need to do is amp it up a little.
The other great thing about such keywords is that you won’t be dependent on the content that is just stuffed to the brim with some weird keywords that have been sourced from third-party SEO tools. The impression data given in GSC will give you an exact idea of the traffic you can expect.
Core Web Vitals
One of the latest and greatest additions to Google Search Console, Core Web Vitals is a collection of metrics that are integral in delivering a good user experience. Introduced in the first half of last year, Vitals soon became their own report in Search Console.
Considered ‘critical’ for web experiences by Google, after being added to GSC, are making the lives of users so much easier. Even though we have listed ‘Speed’ in the features list given above, it has now been replaced by ‘Core Web Vitals’ in the latest update.
What are the Core Web Vitals?
- Largest Contentful Paint: Works on the page speed, and the ideal speed is 2.5 seconds or faster.
- First Input Delay: It refers to the responsiveness of the page and how quickly a website interacts with the user. The ideal measurement is less than 100 seconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: This means the visual stability as well as the unexpected layout shift of visible page content, ideally, it should be less than 0.1.
These three metrics are vital because together they bring the user-centric outcomes that are tangible, measurable, and support lab diagnostic metric equivalents.
How to improve your Core Web Vitals?
According to Google, you should go about fixing those things that have been labeled “Poor” first and then after that, get around to doing other things on the list. Going from the things that need the most attention, listed in Google Search Console, to the least.
You may need some technical expertise here, for all those non-technical users, because some of the issues might need that. You can just download the reports and send them to the person who will be helping you with the technical bits.
As per Google, some of the most common page fixes are:
- Page size should be brought down to less than 500KB
- Confine the number of page resources to 50
- Make use of AMP
Tips for using Google Search Console
Make the most use of Google Search Console using some of these tips:
Make optimal use of “URL Inspection”
URL inspection is the swiftest way to get new pages indexed. All you have to do is enter the URL in the box and after hitting Enter, click on “Request Indexing” and you’re all set.
Further, you can also use it to reindex already existing content.
Make your website mobile compatible
We all understand the importance of smartphones and hence, your content and UX needs to be completely optimized for mobile.
Under the “Mobile Usability” feature Google Search Console, issues such as “Text too small to read” and “Clickable elements too close together” are listed and these are the little things that make all the difference.
Compare Your CTR On Desktop and Mobile
The latest Performance reports help you in easily comparing the CTR on desktop and mobile. Although it’s pretty normal for there to be a slight difference between the two, a giant difference is not good.
Latest Updates and What They Mean for Marketers
With the latest Google Search Console updates, the search engine has just tried to make it easier for users to meet their standards and get the things Google prioritizes right.
One thing that marketers should take away from these updates is that Google wants them to improve the AMP flow for sure. The enhanced AMP flow is indicative of the fact that Google is prioritizing AMP pages and is urging site owners to give the required attention as well.
As we have tried to explain to you in a myriad of different ways, Google Search Console might just be the answer to all your digital woes and therefore, you need to get cracking right away. Be it improving your CTR, site load speed, or anything else, make the most of one of the best gifts of Google.