Google Search Console is a free tool that helps businesses monitor and improves the performance of their websites in Google search results. It can be essential for website owners who want to improve their website’s visibility and ensure that their site is fully optimized for search engines. It reports on many site metrics such as search appearance and user experience. Which in turn can increase traffic to your website. Understanding how to use Google Search Console can help solve many technical SEO issues your site is experiencing, and yet many business owners have no idea about it or understand how to use it. In this article, we’ll show you how to use Google Search Console to boost your SEO and improve your online rankings.
How Google Search Console Works
The main purpose of Google Search Console is to give website owners insights into how Google crawls and indexes their site and to identify and fix any issues that might prevent the site from being ranked well in search results. It helps communicate relevant data between Google and SEO managers – both technical and content-wise. Some of its features include:
- Monitor organic traffic, keyword ranking, CTR (click-though-rate), ranking, traffic volume
- Check if your web pages are properly indexed by Google crawlers
- Identify removals, disavow files, and sitemaps
- Check your page experience and performance of Core Web Vitals
- Troubleshoot and identify mobile-responsiveness
- Check on security issues that Google flags
- Analyze your backlinks and internal links
How to Set Up Google Search Console
You’ll need to create a Google Search Console account to get started and verify ownership of your website by adding a code or the HTML file to your website, or by using your Google Analytics account. You can verify your property, aka website either by adding your domain property or a URL prefix. Lastly, verify that you own the site by using your Google Analytics tracking ID. The Google Analytics tracking ID can be found in Admin > Property Settings > Basic Settings > Tracking ID. To get started with GSC and verify your domain start here.
Adding a site map to Google Search Console is essential because it helps Google find and crawl all the URLs on your website and rank them. To submit your sitemap, go to “Sitemaps,” paste the URL of your XML sitemap into the box labeled “Enter sitemap URL,” then hit “Submit.” You can also add new users besides yourself by navigating to Search Console > Choose a property > Settings > Users and permissions > Add user.
Google Search Console Features
Once verification is complete, Google Search Console starts collecting data on the website’s performance in Google search results, including search queries, impressions, clicks, and other important metrics. Based on the data analysis, website owners can take actionable steps to improve their website’s performance in search results. For example, they can optimize their content, fix broken links, and ensure that their site is mobile-friendly. Here’s a breakdown of some key features of Google Search Console.
When you first open up your GSC account you’ll see an overview report, which includes a brief summary of your website’s most significant data. It shows metrics such as manual actions, indexed pages, and more. You can view more specific details like Search Analytics, Sitemaps, and Crawl Errors by opening one of the links provided. The Overview report is a great tool to quickly see any larger issues right away or to get an overall report into how your site is performing.
URL Inspection Tool
The URL Inspection Tool provides insight into how Google views a specific page on your website. This helps to see whether a page is crawled or indexed by Google and troubleshoot issues if the page doesn’t appear in the search results. The URL Inspection Tool also identifies errors linked to mobile usability, HTML, and JavaScrpt in the event they need to be fixed. Since this tool checks one page at a time, you will need to copy and paste each specific URL to get the page results.
Use the “Performance” report in GSC to monitor your website’s search performance, including clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and average position. You can use this data to identify which search queries are driving traffic to your site, and which pages are performing the best. The first part of this report shows featured snippets. You can view results by each search type including Web, Image, Video, and News. Four main metrics will display:
- Total Clicks – How often users click on your website in the search results.
- Total Impressions – The number of times your website appeared in a search result.
- Average CTR – Percentage of the average number of times users click on your website in the search results.
- Average Position – Your website’s average position in search results.
- Queries – Displays the highest search queries and keyword performance.
- Pages – Displays the best-ranked web pages.
- Countries – Leading countries
- Devices – Shows which devices visitors most frequently use (mobile, tablet, and desktop).
- Search Appearance – This shows which types of results the website displayed.
- Dates – Sorts the impressions and clicks by date.
Use the Index report in GSC to identify any issues with how Google is crawling and indexing your website. This report can help you identify errors such as pages that cannot be indexed, pages with duplicate content, and pages with low-quality content. The status of each page is broken up into four colors: Red, Yellow, Green, and Grey. As you might guess, any Red or Yellow issues indicate the biggest issues that you will want to deal with right away.
The experience report provides data as it relates to your website visitor’s user experience. For this criteria Google uses 3 main data metrics:
- Core Web Vitals – Tests your website’s page loading speed, responsiveness, and overall stability. You can get a rating of Good, Needs Improvement, or Poor.
- Mobile Usability – To rank for a ‘Good’ status on mobile devices, there mustn’t be any mobile usability errors in the mobile URL.
- HTTPS Usage – Pages have to be served over HTTPS to get a ‘Good’ page ranking in Google search.
Security Issue Report
Use the Security Issue Report to identify any security issues or manual actions that Google has taken against your website. This will also provide information that might suggest your website has been hacked or could potentially harm the end user. This refers to phishing attacks or attempts to install malware on the visitor’s computer.
There are three categories of security issues:
- Hacked content – Content on your website that was posted without your permission.
- Malware/Unwanted Software – Software created to harm a visitor’s device.
- Social Engineering – Dangerous content that can make the visitors do something risky (e.g. reveal personal information).
If you have any errors or issues, fix them as soon as possible to avoid any negative impact on your search rankings.
As the name implies, the Links Report displays all the links that are directed to your website. This report only focuses on which links aren’t helping with your SERP rank. For external links, there are three reports: Top Linked Pages, Top Linking Website, and Top Linking Text. For internal links, there are only Top Linked Pages. Each report provides detailed information such as the most frequently linked pages from your website.
This just scratches the surface of all of Google Search Console’s capabilities. You can use GSC for keyword research, ranking based on specific keywords, device performance, and much, much more. By using Google Search Console to monitor your website’s performance, identify issues, and optimize your content, you can improve your website’s visibility in Google search results and drive more traffic to your site.
Even with so many valuable insights at your fingertips, it can be a maze not knowing how to interpret and utilize all this data. That’s where we come in. Our team of SEO experts can do all the heavy lifting for you, improve your online presence and turn prospects into customers. Schedule a free digital consultation with our team today.