Google Search Console (GSC) is a free web service for webmasters. Whether you're an expert or new to SEO, this guide will tell you all that you need to learn about the Google Search Console. From steps on how to get started with GSC to advanced tips and strategies, we 've got them all covered for you.
How To Use The Google Search Console
Here are five steps to get you started with GSC.
Add Your Website to the GSC
- Login to the GSC
- Click "Add A Property" and paste your homepage URL to the field
- Verify your site. The easiest ways are HTML file, CNAME, or HTML Code Snippet
You can set your domain in the "www" or the non-www version. The version you select is the version that will be displayed in the search results. So if you decide on a non-www version, your site won't have a "www" in the search results (example https://Cloudlgs.com).
You can also choose not to set a preferred domain
, but it would be a bad idea. This can weaken your backlinks as Google may treat the two versions of the domain as distinct references to distinct pages.
Decide on Your Target Country
Google looks at various data to figure out which nation your site is targeting. Such data include your server location, listed address, and the country you obtain the most backlinks from. The more information you can provide to Google, the better.
So how do you set your target country? Here are the steps:
- Under Search Traffic, choose International Targeting
- Click the Country tab, then check the "Target users in" box
- Find your target country from the drop-down box and click
Connect Google Analytics with Search Console
When Google moved all searches to HTTPS, priceless keyword data disappeared from Google Analytics. The simple way to retrieve some of that keyword is to connect Google Analytics
to your GSC account.
How? Here are the steps:
- Open up Google Analytics
- At the bottom of the left menu, click Admin, then Property Settings
- Scroll down and choose Adjust Search Console, then click Add
- Scroll down to find your website and click Save
Add a Sitemap
A sitemap is very important if you run a big site, like an e-commerce site with a lot of pages. If you have a small site, you can opt out on this information but it's still a good idea to get on ahead with it.
First, you need to make a sitemap
. You can find your sitemap in Yoast or in yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. Once you have your sitemap, submit it to Google through the new GSC.
- Open your GSC account, then select "Try the new Search Console”
- Click the Sitemaps button
- Copy and paste your sitemap URL and click Submit
How To Fix Technical SEO Issues with the GSC
To optimize your technical SEO
, you need to fix the technical issues of your SEO. GSC is equipped with a lot of features to help you easily identify and solve these technical SEO problems. Here's how to use these features:
The "Index Coverage" Report
If everything is designed right on your website, Google will discover your page and index it. But when things go wrong, you need the help of an Index Coverage report to fix any problems with indexing.
The Index Coverage report allows you to know which pages from your website are added in Google's index. It also informs you of any technical problems that stop your pages from getting indexed.
At the top of the report, you'll find four tabs. Here are the tabs and the errors they can find:
The Error tab, as suggested by its name, shows all the error on your site. If you scroll down, you get more details on every error. When you click on an error status, you'll see a list of pages with that specific issue.
So how do you fix common errors?
404 errors should be simple to fix. First, select a URL on the list. In the side panel, click "Fetch as Google", then click Fetch.
For "Soft 404" and other errors (like redirect, crawl, and server), here's how to fix them:
- Select the URLs with that error. Visit every URL to make sure that they're really down
- Click "Fetch as Google"
- This time, select "Fetch and Render"
- Read through the particular issues that the GSC informs you
- Examine the HTTP status of the page
Valid With Warnings Tab
To fix "Warnings" hit the "Valid with warnings" tab. If the problem is caused by robots.txt, click on "Test Robots.txt Blocking" instead of "Fetch As Google". Unblock the page from Robots.txt if you want it to be indexed.
If you don't want the page to be indexed, you can add the "noindex, follow" tag then unblock it from robots.txt or use the URL Removal Tool to remove the page.
This tab tells you the number of pages indexed in Google. There are two things you need to watch out for:
The unexpected decrease of indexed pages: A sudden decline in the number of pages could be a sign that a lot of pages are blocking Googlebot or maybe you added a noindex tag accidentally.
An unexpected volume of indexed pages: If your indexed pages surpass the number of published posts, then that's an issue.
There could be a lot of reasons to exclude a page from Google. Maybe the page has a duplicate content or perhaps, the page is low quality, meaning it's not useful for search engines. That said, you want to ensure that Google doesn't exclude pages that you want to be indexed.
"HTML Improvements" Report
Even if you're not a coder, you probably know that a screwed HTML means a negative effect on your SEO. Fortunately, it's easy for you to identify any HTML issues in the Search Console. Just open the "HTML Improvements" report and Google will tell you about it.
For more specifics, click on a category for a full list of pages with problems. Easy.
Improve Traffic With The Performance Report
If you want to achieve more organic traffic
, the Performance report in the GSC comes in handy. The Performance report shows you the number of clicks you get, your click-through-rate (CTR), and average ranking position. It basically tells you how your site is doing in Google search.
This new Performance Report is the new version of the old Search Console's "Search Analytics". While the old Search Analytics report shows the data from the past 90 days, the new Performance report shows the data from the last 16 months. Cool right?
Here are how the Performance report increases organic traffic:
- Determine pages with a low CTR
- Find the page that ranks for the keyword you just discovered
- See all the keywords this page ranks for
- Optimize title and description to acquire more clicks
- Observe the results
Find "Opportunity Keywords"
An opportunity keyword refers to a phrase that obtains a good number of impressions and ranks between 8 to 20. This is a such a large opportunity because you can typically push it up to the first page.
To find these keywords, first, set the data range for the past 28 days. Next, filter the report to display keywords ranking more than 7.9. Finally, get a list of opportunity keywords under "Impressions".
Sophisticated GSC Features
Structured Data Testing Tool
Schema can link you up with sitelinks, star reviews, and recipe pictures that help increase your clicks and make your result unique. A recent study confirms that review stars can increase your CTR by 35%.
The good news is that Google has a tool that makes testing Schema structured data easy. You can use this free tool in Search Console. Simply click Web Tools then Testing Tools and Structured Data Testing Tool.
Internal links are unquestionably very powerful however most people use it wrong. The good news is, the GSC has a great feature made to help you solve this problem. This report displays the exact pages that you need to some internal link boosting.
To access this report, click "Internal Links" in the sidebar of the console. You'll instantly see the number of links directing to each page on your site. What's even better is, you can discover the exact pages that internally link to a particular page.
If you found a page that has an insufficient number of internal links, add some internal links that direct that page.
Another way to boost your posts is to use internal links from Powerhouse Pages. A Powerhouse Page is a page on your website with a large number of quality backlinks. More backlinks mean more link juice to transfer on through internal links.
To access the Powerhouse Pages in the GSC, just click "Links To Your Site" and you'll be directed to the "Your most linked content" section. Click "More" to see a full list. Finally, add some internal links from those pages to the pages you like to boost.
Tips And Strategies In Using Google Search Console
Be Proficient In Crawl Stats and Crawl Budget
You don't need to concern yourself with crawl stats if you have a site that has less than 1,000 pages. But if you have more than a thousand ages, then it's worth mastering the crawl budget.
A Crawl Budget refers to how many pages that Google crawls each day on your site. You can find this figure in the "Crawl Stats" report. It's important to SEO
because it can slow down Google's indexing efforts.
Here's what you can do to maximize your Crawl Budget:
Use Crawl Budget Only On Essential Pages
Stop wasting your crawl budget on insignificant pages. This is especially true for e-commerce sites. If you're not careful, you might end up wasting your crawl budget on junk pages.
To resolve this problem, set URL Parameters. Simply hit the "URL Parameters" link, then click "Add Parameter".
Determine The Average Time Google Downloads Your Page
Any spike that you see on the crawl report can kill your crawl budget. This can also hurt your rankings. So to squeeze more of your crawl budget and improve your ranking, speed up your site.
Obtain more Backlinks
can also be good for your crawl budget. The more backlinks, the larger your crawl budget.
Maximize the "Fetch As Google"
This tool is the quickest way to get new pages indexed. You can also use it to reindex updated content. As you already know, fresh content helps increase organic traffic quickly.
Ensure That Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
As many people are using their mobile devices to use the internet, you should learn to adapt to this change. Optimize your content and user experience for mobile to get a good ranking in the search engines. But how do you learn if Google sees your site as mobile-friendly?
The "Mobile Usability" report in the Google Search Console can help you with that. This report allows you to know if your mobile users have a difficulty using your site. You can also compare the CTR of your mobile and desktop with the Performance report in the GSC.
If you want assistance with Google Search Console and other search engine optimization services, contact Cloud LGS