A Beginner’s Guide to Google Search Consoleby Rachel McMahon on March 24, 2021Digital Marketing
Have you ever wondered which terms your site ranks for? Curious if the schema you implemented worked? Those questions, and more, can be easily answered with Google Search Console. If you have always been interested in Search Console but did not know where to start, or if you are new to the SEO community, this guide will make it easy to get acclimated.
What is Google Search Console?
Search Console is a free platform that monitors the overall performance, functionality, and appearance of websites within the Google Search index. While there are several different tools and reports to learn, the basic tools discussed in this guide include:
- URL Inspection
- Performance Report
- Schema & Core Web Vitals
How Do I Setup Google Search Console?
The first thing you will need to do is add your website to the Google Search Console platform. Simply click “Add Property” and add your homepage URL into the Domain field. The next step is verification. Verification is in place to confirm actual ownership and involvement with websites. Search Console can directly impact a website’s performance, thus Google wants to make sure the right people have access.
- HTML File Upload: Upload a special HTML file that is unique to each website owner. Once your site is verified, leave the file in place.
- HTML Tag: Insert a code snippet into the heading of a specified page. Once your site is verified, leave the code in place.
- Domain Name Provider: Add a TXT or CNAME Record to your domain name provider.
- Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager: You must have “Edit” rights to use this method, but this involves verifying the tracking codes associated with the website.
Once verification is complete, you will need to wait a few hours while Google collects and organizes data. At that point, you will have full access to Google Search Console. If you are unsure about verification or would like additional assistance, please feel free to contact the Anvil team. We have been fully supporting clients with Search Console since its beginning, and we would be happy to help.
An XML sitemap is a necessity for search engines like Google. Within this tool, you can easily submit an XML sitemap to be crawled by Google by inputting the sitemap URL into the “Add a New Sitemap” section. Simply click “Submit” and the task is complete. Once Google has processed the sitemap, you will be able to review any errors to resolve for improved performance.
URL Inspection Tool
Wondering if Google has even crawled a particular page on your site? Are there any errors preventing Google from accessing the page? Is the page mobile-friendly? These can all be answered quickly by simply clicking on the “URL Inspection Tool” and inserting the URL of the page you would like to review. You will either see “URL is on Google” with a green check mark, or you will see “URL is not on Google” with an explanation. Two common causes for the second message are: the URL is not in the XML sitemap or the link is broken. Also, if you recently published a new page you can request indexing of that page within the URL Inspection Tool.
This is where you can gather all the data pertaining to your website’s visibility and user-engagement. The metrics at the top of the report include:
Total Clicks: The number of times a user clicked through to your website.
Total Impressions: The number of times your website was shown.
Average CTR: The percentage of impressions that resulted in clicks.
Average Position: The average position of your site in Google search results.
For a specific pull of data, you can change the date range or compare data from different time periods. See which of your pages are earning more clicks than others. View the list of keywords your site is getting shown for and any keywords that earn your website top rankings. Find out how your schema impacted performance as well; within the Search Appearance tab, you can obtain impressions and clicks for any rich results your website qualifies for.
Schema & Core Web Vitals
Once you have implemented schema, the next step is to verify that Google has processed the code without any issues. Within the “Enhancements” section, you should see a menu item for each type of schema used. For example, if you have added LocalBusiness, Video, and FAQ schemas – you should see “LocalBusiness”, “Video”, and “FAQ” within the menu. Click on any to learn if Google has found any errors within the code. In the event you do get an error, you can click “Validate” once you have resolved the issue.
Core Web Vitals have been a focal point for many website owners. Within the same “Enhancements” section, you will find an item labeled “Core Web Vitals”. Click to overview of performance for mobile URLs and desktop URLs: how many URLs have passed along with the number of URLs that failed. Understand which of the Core Web Vitals needs improvement and the list of specific URLs that need work.
Search Console is a must-have tool for those involved in website development and search engine optimization. Without it, you will have no idea how – or if – your website appears on Google which means you are left in the dark when it comes to any errors preventing your website from reaching your potential users. The expert SEO team at Anvil is happy to provide you with the guidance and support you need, whether it is with Search Console or improving your organic performance. Please feel free to reach out to discover how Anvil can help.