There are only a few things that are as free and as useful as the good old Google Search Console is. And here’s a list of 70 more. You’re welcome.
But before you go, let’s teach you a thing or two about GSC. Things like what the hell it is and why you need it and study it like it’s a ’72 issue of Playboy. You can click on these two links after you’re done reading this article. Let’s begin…
What is Google Search Console?
Well, simply put, Google Search Console is a free tool from Google that can help you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in search results. It’s a straightforward and useful service that you’ll probably be checking on a daily basis looking for signs of life (I know that I was!).
At a glance, you can see the total number of clicks and impressions that your site had, what’s the clickthrough rate or CTA, and what was your position in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
GSC offers much more than just simple performance reports, but let’s first find out how to set it up for your new website.
How to Setup Google Search Console?
Although it can look intimidating, Google has made GSC quite accessible. Let’s cover all the steps needed.
- Sign in with your Google account on the Welcome Page
- Now, enter your web address in the left-hand box marked Domain – this will include all the URLs, subdomains and web protocols (http://, https://, www)
- Verify the domain ownership via the DNS record; You can find your host on this list and follow the instructions
- Once you’ve added the DNS record, go back to Search Console and click on the “Verify” button. You’ll probably see this message “the ownership verification failed.” That’s because the DNS record change may take up to 72 hours to take effect.
Commonly, after a day or two, you’ll have access to the Search Console. You can have multiple websites under one Google account. Don’t make my mistake by using a different Google account for each website as there’s no need for that and you’ll avoid a headache.
And now the fun begins.
How to Use Google Search Console
GSC is basically a series of reports that are located on the left-hand side of your screen. We’ll quickly go through the boring ones so we can then focus on the main ones and find out what we can do with them.
Overview is the main page that opens up on your GSC. The performance graph that you see will be a flatline and, I’ll be honest, very demotivating until it gets some signs of life. We also have the coverage graph and enhancements. We’ll cover those two as they’re located on our left-hand side menu.
This page is where we’ll be spending most of our time with GSC. Bookmark this page as it’s the one that’s most useful. It contains a nifty little graph with the number of clicks, impressions, as well as the CTA and your site’s position.
You have the top filter where you choose the timeframe and the search type (web, image, video, news), the four main metrics (clicks, performance, CTR, position), and tabs that are located under the tab. Below the main graph, you’ll find a table with specific results.
Here’s a great video from the Ahrefs guys that explains in great detail how to use the Performance page to improve your SEO.
When you press the URL Inspection menu button it will ask you for a URL (duh). Enter a single URL from your website to find out if Google indexed it already. The chances are that if you submitted your site’s sitemap, it was. If not, you can manually ask Google to index it asap.
This report shows you the total number of pages that appear in the search results. Green is good, red is bad but not necessarily so, as sometimes you’ll want some pages omitted from the Search, and then they’ll show up here.
If you recognize a page URL that should be indexed but isn’t, this is the time and place to find out why it wasn’t.
In order to get your whole website indexed on Google, we use something called sitemaps. I like to think of this as a menu in a restaurant that helps Google see and find out what’s what on your website.
There are many ways to create a sitemap and arguably the easiest one is to use a plugin like Yoast or something similar that you’ll be using in the beginning anyway. It will also update and upload it directly to GSC.
A sitemap is an important part of your website and should be checked from time to time in GSC to see if it’s being crawled regularly.
The removal page allows you to remove content that might be irrelevant or outdated from Google Search.
Core Web Vitals
This is an important part that gives me headaches. It basically shows you how your pages perform, based on real-world usage data. It mainly concerns the speed of your website and the individual pages and the usability and responsiveness.
As of May 2021, CWV is an important ranking factor if you want to get a rankings boost from Google. Keep an eye on it and try to improve it.
This report will tell you if any pages have mobile usability issues. If you chose a proper theme for your website, you shouldn’t have any issues here.
If you’re using Accelerated Mobile Pages, you’ll see if some things wrong here. There are a few more reports that you probably won’t use at the beginning like Breadcrumbs, Products, and Sitelinks Searchbox.
This is the backlink report where you can see which websites are pointing to your website property and to which individual pages. You can also see your internal links (your page linking to your other page).
Both backlinks and internal links are very important if you want to make it in this game. By producing quality content that you interlinked properly and that ranks well in SERPs, you’ll naturally get backlinks from other, hopefully, high-authority pages. The more high-quality backlinks you get, the better your website will rank.
Hopefully, we made the Google Search Console a bit easier to understand. I know, it sucks to learn new and boring things, but once the dough starts rolling in, you’ll be happy that you did!