Why is using Search Console so important?
Google Search Console gives you vital insight into how your website is performing in search on Google. You may say “but, I already have Google Analytics set-up”. Well, that is great but Search Console is different from Analytics. Google Analytics focuses on your user’s behavior while on your website and Search Console focuses on how your website is being found and performing in search.
Adding your website to Google Search Console
- First, you will want to sign in to your Google account.
- Navigate your web browser to Google Search Console
- Choose to “Add a property.”
- Choose “Website” from the drop-down menu and enter your URL. Double-check that you are using the URL exactly as it appears in your browser.
- Click “Continue.”
- Next, pick how you want to verify you own your website (HTML file upload, domain name provider, HTML tag, GA tracking code, or GTM container snippet).
- If your site supports both http:// and https://, you will track both so add them both. Likewise, add any sub-domains you wish to track (www.domain.com, blog.domain.com, etc).
Once you have added your website to Search Console you will want to submit a sitemap. What is you a sitemap, you ask? A sitemap is essentially a list of all the content on your website in an easily digestible file for Google to crawl. The sitemap can be formatted as either an .rss or an .xml file. Don’t worry, you can use any number of freely available plugins or online tools for this. (I use All in One SEO on most of my websites).
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console
- Sign in to Google Search Console.
- In the sidebar, select your website.
- Click on ‘Sitemaps’. The ‘Sitemaps’ menu is under the ‘Index’ section. …
- Remove outdated or invalid sitemaps (if any) like sitemap.xml.
- Enter ‘sitemap_index. …
- Click Submit.
Google can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to index your website. In my experience is usually completed within a couple of days and it doesn’t really start showing data for a few more days after that.
Exploring the dashboard
From the main dashboard, you will see three main dimensions. Performance, Coverage, and Enhancements. Once you are indexed by Google you will start to see some basic data populate the graph. Some of the information you can glean from Google Search Console is how many impressions you are getting, how many clicks you get from those impressions, what pages are linking to you, what keywords and queries you rank for, as well as any indexing errors you may have since your last sitemap update. Here is a breakdown of the main Overview page.
Performance, it helps you identify how many times you have shown up in search (impressions), how many clicks you got from those impressions as well as the Average Click-through Rate (times you were clicked) and the Average Position(how many links down from 1) you are ranking in search.
Below the graph, you will see headings for other key performance indicators like what are the most used queries (search terms) for finding you in search, your top pages showing in search, what countries are searching, what type of device was being used and the dates of the searches being referenced.
This is where you can see how many of your pages are indexed and if you have any pesky errors that may cause you to lose valuable ranking position.
If you encounter any indexing errors you will be notified by Google and I suggest those are looked after right away. Errors can be in the form of missing pages, content being marked Noindex, etc. These errors cause rapid drops in search impressions and a rapid drop in organic traffic. If you don’t fix the errors you run the risk of a complete de-index by Google.
I like to update my sitemap in Search Console whenever I make changes to my website. When I add a new page or a new post, even when I update copy, I generate a new sitemap and add it to Search Console. It ensures I don’t see errors and it tells Google that I have new information for them to crawl.
Here You are going to find data on your sites Speed, Mobile, and Product listing issues.
I know you are asking yourself, What do I do with all this information now that it is at the palm of my hands? Google says “You can use the information in Search Console to influence technical decisions for the website and do sophisticated marketing analysis in conjunction with other Google tools like Analytics, Google Trends, and Google Ads” and that “Search Console will help you monitor your website traffic, optimize your ranking, and make informed decisions about the appearance of your site’s search results.”
I write short easy to digest articles on SEO and website performance. My goal is to help clients better understand what it is SEOs do.
Michael Winchester is a website designer and search engine ranking specialist in Southern California.
Michael Winchester Design | (562)283-5688