An In-Depth Guide on How to Use Google Search Console to Boost Your Business Online

cnxt_dev
cnxt_dev
2019/07/25 20:00

Want to know more about how you can use Google Search Console to enhance your website and your business? This is the only guide you need.

If you have your own website or maintain a website for your employer, being able to track the site’s performance is not negotiable, not if you want to ensure potential customers can find and use your site anyway.

Google Search Console is a tool that the vast majority of website owners and marketers use to keep track of their site’s performance and improve their rankings. The tool is completely free, easy to set up and very useful.

This guide outlines everything you need to know about setting up and making the most of Google Search Console.

Google Search Console Basics

Part 1: Getting Set Up

Sign In

To use Google Search Console, you will need to create a Google account. Simply visit https://search.google.com/search-console/about and click on the blue Start Now button to start the process. If you don’t have a Google account, click on the Create Account link to generate an account and use that to login to Search Console.

Add a Property

You will now be prompted to add a property to the dashboard. There are two types of properties that you can add: Domain or URL Prefix.

Google Search Console first steps

Next, you will need to verify that you own the domain, which will require you to add a line of code to the DNS configuration for the site. Once you’ve added the code, you can click on the Verify button and the property will be added to your dashboard. There are also some other verification methods available if you can’t verify your site via the Domain name provider.

Verify domain in Google Search Console

Part 2: Link Search Console to Google Analytics

By linking Search Console to Google Analytics, you can find out more about the search factors that are linked to your traffic and conversation data.

To link the two platforms, login to Google Analytics, navigate to your Admin panel and click on Property Settings.

Scroll down to the Search Console settings and click on Adjust Search Console.  On the next screen, click on the blue Add link, select the property you just added to Search Console and click Save.

To access your Search Console reports, navigate back to the Home screen of Google Analytics, click on Acquisition and you will see the Search Console menu item.

Where is Google Search Console in Google Analytics

The Landing Pages report contains data on all the URLs of your site that are displayed in search results. The Countries, Devices and Queries reports will all provide you with data on how your landing pages are performing in relation to different factors such as location, search queries and devices.

What should be noted is that you will only be able to see data as far back as Search Console has been collecting it for your site.

Part 3: Submit a Sitemap

To find out whether you have a sitemap, visit example.com/sitemap.xml. If nothing shows up, you will need to generate a sitemap. Once you have done so, click on the Sitemaps menu item in Search Console, insert your URL and click on Submit.

First steps in Google Search Console

Part 4: Understanding the Google Search Console Tabs

Now that your site is set up, let’s go through each of the tabs in Google Search Console to discover how the platform can enhance your SEO efforts.

Overview

Google Search Console Performance pannel

The Overview tab contains three different graphs:

  • Number of web search clicks for a specific period
  • Pages with errors versus valid pages
  • Mobile usability stats and Sitelinks Searchbox data (Full details are available further down in this guide)

The overview tab really is just an overview and it gives you easy access to three of the most detailed site reports.

Performance

As the name suggests, the Performance report includes data on your site’s performance for a specific period, which you can set in the top right-hand corner.

Google Search Console panel

This is the information you will find under in this report:

  • Total Clicks. The number of users that clicked through to your website from Google’s search results
  • Total Impressions. The number of times a user saw a link to your site in their search results
  • Average CTR. The percentage of search result impressions that resulted in clicks
  • Average Position. The average position of your website in Google’s search results

Further down the page you will find a table with the following data:

  • The queries that led to your website showing up in search results and the number of clicks that were generated for each query
  • The number of times specific pages on your site showed up in search results and were clicked on
  • The countries that were presented with one of your URLs in their search results and the number of clicks that were generated per country
  • The devices that your site showed up on in Google’s search results and the number of clicks that were generated per device

The Performance report is one of the most useful for tracking your SEO efforts. For one, you can ensure that your website is ranking for the right keywords and that the pages that have been indexed are also ranking for the right keywords.

Using this report, you can refine your keyword and SEO strategy for your site as a whole or for specific pages.

URL Inspection

The URL Inspection report requires you to type in a specific URL in order to analyse it. The report will tell you whether a specific URL can or already is appearing in Google’s search results, if your site has been submitted and indexed by Google and whether your site is mobile-friendly.

URL inspection Search Console Guide

If you have recently made significant changes to your site or it hasn’t been indexed by Google yet, you can use this page to request indexing. The URL Inspection tab will also indicate whether Google is able to crawl your site based on what’s included in your robot.txt file.

Naturally, if Google is unable to crawl your site, it won’t be able to index it, so this is a report you want to keep an eye on for SEO purposes.

Coverage

The Coverage report outlines which pages Google can or can’t index due to errors. It will also show you which pages have been excluded from search results, something you can adjust in your robot.txt file. If there are pages with errors, you can see how to fix it by clicking on the error.

Coverage error Search Console

It’s important to keep an eye on and fix any errors to ensure that all of the pages on your site can be indexed by Google.

Mobile Usability

Since the introduction of mobile-first indexing, it’s more important than ever to make sure your entire site is mobile-friendly. This report will tell you whether there are any pages on your site that can’t be accessed by mobile users so that you can fix them.

Sitelinks Search Console guide

Sitelinks Searchbox

This report indicates which rich results Google found on your site and whether or not they could be read. Schema markup highlights the most important content on your site in Google’s search results. Basically, it makes your site more visually appealing in SERPS by including images, videos or reviews. Naturally, this report won’t be relevant if you’re not using schema markup on your site.

Links

The Links report highlights your top external and internal linked pages, the top linked text as well as the websites that are currently linking into your site. The link report is important if you are in the process of or have already implemented a backlink strategy and can help you to identify backlink opportunities.

In Closing

Google Search Console is a must-have tool for all website owners because it adds additional value to reports from Google Analytics or any other platform that you’re currently using to report on website performance.

Google is still the largest and most popular search engine around today and there’s no better way to understand how to boost your website’s performance and rankings than from Google themselves.