There’s a lot of work that goes into managing and maintaining a website, so it can be helpful to take advantage of the various available analytics tools. One of which is the Google Search Console. We’ve uncovered what the Google Search Console is and outlined all there is to know about setting up and using the platform.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free analytics and troubleshooting service made available, to help you monitor how efficiently your website is running and how it’s recognised by search engines. The tool also informs you if you should be making any optimisations, both from a content and design perspective.
Importantly, you don’t have to go through the process of setting up Google Search Console for your website to rank, but you can gather great insight into how your pages stack up by using the platform.
What can you use Google Search Console for?
Google Search Console is a handy data-led tool that can be used to work out where your website needs little tweaks or changes. These are made to make your pages more appealing to Google. Signing up to the platform allows you to:
- Highlight and fix any technical SEO concerns or website indexing issues
- Request re-indexing after you’ve updated your pages or added fresh content
- View search traffic and impression data (how often does your website appear in Google search results?)
- Analyse your backlink profile and where they’re coming from
- Register for alerts to notify your when Google encounters a concern with your website
As a website owner or operator, it’s important that you have an awareness of the benefits of Google Search Console, and how it can help you to improve your website, ranking, and online performance.
What is the difference between Google Search Console and Google Analytics?
While both Google Search Console and Google Analytics offer insight into your website’s performance, each is slightly different. The main separation though, is that Google Analytics is more focussed on who is visiting your website and what user behaviours are. On the other hand, Google Search Console is more interested in how well your website is operating internally. Both platforms are as important as each other and should be used to achieve more accurate and in-depth reporting.
How to set up Google Search Console
To begin using Google Search Console, you will first need to go about setting up an account. To do this, simply visit the registration page and enter your domain into the name bar – there’s no need to include the ‘www.’ element or any subdomain detailing. From here, simply follow the on-screen instructions which will guide you through the rest of the process.
How to verify Google Search Console
After you’ve registered for Google Search Console, it’s time to verify your account. This simply proves to Google that you are the owner or administrator of the registered domain, and shouldn’t prove too troublesome. There are numerous ways you can go about verifying your account, including:
- Uploading a HTML file
One way to prove that you are the owner of a website and have access to the backend is to upload and publish a file to a specific URL. This evidences that you have editorial capability.
- Adding Google Analytics tracking code
If you have a Google Analytics account, you can verify your Search Console account by adding tracking code to a specific page. If you aren’t registered with Google Analytics, you can create an account and complete this step.
- Adding a Google Tag Manager snippet
If you already have a Google Tag Manager account, you can verify your account by adding a snippet to a specific page. If you don’t have an account, register with ease and follow this step.
Using Google Search Console: the basics
Using Google Search Console can help you to improve your website appearance and performance, to put your brand in a position to generate more digital traffic and sales. We’ve looked at the data you can uncover using Google Search console, as well as how you can use the tool to improve your SEO.
Data you can find using Search Console analytics
Google Search Console is a helpful resource that collects data about your website, to give you insight into how your performance is impacted by certain factors. Examples of the data collected by the tool include:
1. Website performance information
When you run a website, it’s important to continually keep on top of and analyse performance data. If not, you immediately risk missing out on crucial details that could result in you losing your ranking position. An example of useful performance data that Google Search Console provides is impression information (how many times your website has appeared within search results).
2. Indexing data
A great feature of Google Search Console is how it highlights the number of pages across your website that are capable of being indexed by Google. This makes it easier to identify the pages that aren’t. If you’ve updated or uploaded new content recently, and the Search Console isn’t showing it as catalogued, you can manually request a re-index.
3. Consumer habits data
As well as providing website functionality data, Google Search Console also offers useful information around consumer behaviour. You can use this consumer data to drive any important improvements to your website. Examples include:
- Click through rate and visitor personas
- The steps users are taking after clicking on a link to your website (including bounce rate)
- How often users are converted into customers, and where these customers come from
Using Google Search Console data for SEO
As highlighted, the type of data Google Search Console provides is perfectly placed to help you improve website performance. This in turn benefits your pages from an SEO perspective in several ways:
1. See which keywords are underperforming
An underperforming keyword is one which falls outside of the top two positions on Google’s search results page. This is because pages positioned three or below receive only a small minority of consumer traffic. Fortunately, it’s possible to use Google Search Console to find which keywords you’re underperforming on. This allows you to focus your improvements where they’ll have the biggest impact.
To go about identifying underperforming keywords, you’ll need to browse search report data within the console. This will show you which pages are receiving good traffic, despite a lower ranking position. Once you’ve highlighted such a page, you can undertake an individual inspection of the URL, to check whether there are any opportunities to improve SEO.
2. Fix issues with your sitemap
Your sitemap acts as a type of blueprint of your website (it lists all the subdomains, and outlines their hierarchy). This lets a search engine, such as Google, know which pages are the most important. Crucially, your sitemap should be easy to crawl, which means each page should be accessible (this may be through internal linking or via home screen, etc).
Because Google Search Console offers indexing data, you are able to quickly recognise whether your website is structured efficiently, with a clear hierarchical composition. In instances of inefficiency, you can use the provided data to analyse where improvements should be made.
3. Understanding your backlink profile
Your backlink profile is an important contributing factor when it comes to search engines ranking your website. As such, you should use the available Google Search Console data to develop a good understanding of what backlinks you have. You can then analyse the information to work out what kind of content is most successful. This gives you a direction to follow in terms of new content creation, with clear evidence pointing towards what digital PR activity is most likely to attract unique backlinks.
4. Find the pages that require more internal links
Not only does internal linking help users to navigate to other relevant associated pages across your website, but it also makes your website structure clearer. Check which pages across your website have low/no internal linking using the Google Search Console, by navigating to the ‘Internal links’ subheading.
From here, you can list the pages in such a way that those with the least internal links are clustered and easily picked out. Of those pages that have very few, if any, internal links, look to create opportunities to internal link.
5. Make your out-of-date pages relevant
It’s only natural that older pages that used to rank highly start to drop off as their relevancy starts to diminish. However, the page might still be full of useful content. By toggling the ‘search results’ Google Search Console tab, you can quickly find content with traffic that has reduced over a certain period. Once you’ve found an outdated page, give it a look over and see if there are any opportunities to update the content – the page might end up ranking again!
6. Improve page speed
Page speed is everything and with each additional second your website takes to load you lose more users to impatience. Get to grips with how fast your pages load by analysing your speed report within the ‘enhancements’ tab of the Google Search Console. This shows you which pages take the longest to load and reasons why.
7. Fix mobile functionality issues
When creating your website, ensure it offers strong mobile functionality. If not, users will leave immediately before engaging with your content. To see how your website is performing in this respect, head on over to the mobile usability area of the console where you’ll be presented with a series of content and design recommendations.
Now you’ve got an understanding of what the Google Search Console is and what it can offer, it’s time to make the improvements to your website which will best result in greater traffic and increased sales. Discover even more expert guidance around setting up a business and marketing your brand, or alternatively, to set up your own website, buy your domain name.