If you have been a webmaster or digital marketer for a long time now, you might remember Google’s Webmaster Tools. Google has replaced its Webmaster Tools with something new, functional, and highly effective: enter the new Google Search Console. Our pro technical SEO team makes use of this tool on a regular basis simply because it is that good.
Google created Search Console for the following people:
- Business owners hoping to handle their own digital and SEO marketing,
- Website administration personnel,
- Web development teams,
- Web app developers,
- Search engine optimisation specialists.
What is New Google Search Console? | What Does Google Search Console Do?
Many new marketers and website owners want to know: what is Google Search Console? If you own a website or handle the marketing of one, Google Search Console is a tool you will find extremely helpful. The first question most people ask at this point is “is Google Search Console free?”, and the answer is yes, it absolutely is. With Google Search Console crawl features, you can find out everything you need to know about your site and why it is performing the way it is on Google, 100% free.
Google Search Console is an online platform that aims to help website owners better understand how Googlebots view their websites when crawling it. It is also designed to help webmasters create a better organic presence online; one that has good search engine rankings. It provides a good all-round overview of your website’s success and where it needs work. Google Search Console reports present data on the following:
- Where your website visitors are coming from,
- How your website performs in terms of mobile,
- What search terms your website is ranking well for,
- Which pages receive the highest traffic,
- What your website’s top traffic queries are.
What does Google Search Console do? Read below for a brief overview of its functionality.
A Beginner’s Guide to Using New Google Search Console
A first-time user of Google Search Console would be forgiven for feeling confused. There is a lot going on when you first open it up, but luckily Google provides a lot of information and guidance that can be searched for answers.
Also, to understand the technical elements of Google Search Console and how it can be used for SEO purposes, we created this useful comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know about how Google Search Console crawl works and how you can use the platform to your advantage.
Overview of What is Included in Our Google Search Console User’s Guide
Here is what you can expect to learn in the GSC Guide for 2019.
- How to add a website to Google Search Console.
- How to set permissions on Google Search Console.
- How to add filters on Google Search Console.
- How to submit a website’s site map to Google Search Console.
- A summary of how to use Google Search Console.
How to Add a Website to a Google Search Console Crawl
First and foremost, you need to have a Google account set up. You will need to sign into this to activate the GSC service for your website. Follow these steps:
- Log into your business Google account and click through to the Google Webmaster Tools section.
- Locate the “add a property” option and click on it, then click on “Website”.
- Enter your website address in the following format:
- You will be asked to select a way to verify that you are the website owner. There are several options to choose from. You might need to your web developer or digital marketer to assist you with these options if you do not understand them, but the website explains each of the verification methods quite clearly.
How to Set Permissions on Google Search Console
You undoubtedly have more than one person working on your website and digital marketing and because of this you need to allow each team member a certain amount of access. Do not set all users to have full access. This could end up in lost data, inadvertently changed settings or a host of other related disasters. There are two roles to choose from – choose wisely.
A user with this permission setting has access to absolutely everything on the Google Search Console account. There are no restrictions on this type of user.
General user permissions come with limitations that are aimed at protecting both the website and the user. Users can see data and action some processes, but cannot access all features or add additional users.
Adding and removing owners and users can take some time. We strongly recommend reading what Google has to say about managing permissions, owners, and users on Google Search Console.
How to Add Filters on Google Search Console
Have you ever searched for a product on a website such as Amazon and been delighted by the convenience of using a search filter? That is almost exactly how filters work on Google Search Console. Filtering is a way of separating and categorising the data provided.
Below are a few filters you can use on GSC when trying to understand what the data means.
You want to know how your posts and content are performing in terms of video searches, image searches, and web searches. GSC allows you to separate data per video, image, and web search. It also allows you to compare any two search types or filters, which can be quite interesting.
If you are interested in data and reports from a specific time period, you can set a date range. When clicking around you will notice that there are custom date ranges you can choose, but you can also set your own custom date ranges as you work. Google Search Console only provides the last 16 months of data.
The Big Five filter type
This one I like to call the Big Five because it adds five additional filter elements that you can apply to any of your filtered searches. You can add these elements from right next to the date selection area. By adding these you can search by: queries received, country of origin, device used, search appearance, and website page.
How to Submit a Website Sitemap to Google Search Console
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console is quite important. It is your sitemap that shows Google how to find and index your most relevant and valuable pages. In short, it can do wonders for your search engine rankings if you have a well-designed sitemap and it is submitted to GSC.
Even though Google Search Console will start to crawl and evaluate your website before it has been verified, you can only submit a sitemap once you have completed the verification process. Once your website is verified, follow these steps:
- Log into your Google Search Console account and click on the “Sitemaps” tab.
- Scroll to “add a new sitemap” and enter sitemap.xml (your sitemap should be saved as such in your website folders).
- Click “submit”.
- Once submitted, Googlebots can crawl and index your site effectively.
Google also provides a wealth of information and advice on building and submitting sitemaps to GSC.
Summary of How to Use New Google Search Console
Is Google Search Console accurate? Considering that we use it so often, I would say that it is. That being said, here is a brief breakdown of the 10 top functionalities of GSC and how to use them (keep in mind that there is a lot more that you can do with GSC):
Determine highest-traffic pages.
To do this, click on the “performance” tab and then click on “page”, which is found right next to the “queries” tab.
Select the date range you wish to view and ensure that you select “total clicks”. You can use the arrows found next to “clicks” to change your view between highest to lowest and vice versa.
Determine average CTR.
Click on the “performance” tab and then select the time period you wish to view. You can also compare two different time periods. Scroll to “average CTR” and then take a look at “total impressions”. You should also click on “status” and select “performance” to have a look at the “average position”.
Determine highest CTR queries.
Again, click on the “performance tab” and then click on “queries”. Select your date range and then ensure that you select the “average CTR” box. You can sort the results by using the up and down arrows.
Identify ranking fluctuations.
Knowing how your ranking fluctuates can help you to determine what Google likes and dislikes about your site. To see the fluctuations, click on the “performance” tab followed by clicking on the “query” tab. Select the two date ranges you wish to see and click on “compare”. You can view the report on-screen or you can export it in CSV format.
Determine highest traffic queries.
It is quite important to know what search queries are bringing the most amount of traffic to your website. The pages that are ranking best, you can do a bit of conversion rate optimising on to boost your conversions. To determine which search queries are bringing in the most traffic, click on “performance”. Then click on the “query tab” followed by selecting your date range. Before you generate the report, select the “total clicks” option. You can sort the results by using the up and down arrows.
Compare the website’s performance across multiple devices.
Knowing how your website performs on mobile phone, desktop computer, tablet, or iPad is important if you want to provide a great user experience to all of your customers. To find out how your website performs on every type of device, click on “performance”, select the “devices” tab, and then select the following options: average CTR, total impressions, total clicks, and average position. Now you can compare performance across all devices.
Determine which pages are not currently indexed by Google.
Google Search Console will detail which of your website pages are not currently indexed by Google and tell you why. To see this, click on “overview” and select “index coverage”. Scroll to “details” and you will find a list of non-indexed pages with errors attached.
Discover the number of backlinks the website has.
Backlinks are quite important, especially if they are coming from high ranking quality websites. The more quality bank links you have, the better you will rank. Of course, you need to know which websites are linking back to you too. You can check on this by clicking on “links”. Click on “top linked pages” and select “total external links”. Now you can view how many backlinks the website has and where they are coming from.
Determine the most popular external anchor text links.
Anchor text can be used quite effectively to boost SEO results. The more descriptive and relevant your anchor text is, the better it is for your search engine rankings. To find out which of the external anchor text links are proving the most popular for your website (or in your externally hosted content), click on “links” and then scroll to the “top linking text” tab and then select “more”.
Determine how Google views the website.
Understanding how Google sees the website is quite important as you might find out why some pages are not ranking. Sometimes Googlebots just can’t see it right. To see how Google sees your website, click on the magnifying glass that is found towards the top of the webpage. Then simply enter the website address and hit send. The displays will be generated for you.
There is a lot more that you can do with Google Search Console such as find out which pages are indexed by Google, monitor indexed pages and errors they face, discovering mobile use problems and more.
Is Google Search Console the Same as Google Analytics?
You might be wondering if Google Analytics and Google Console is the same thing. While both of these platforms can boost your SEO results, they are not the very same thing. How do they compare?
Google Analytics provides an overview of a website’s traffic stats. Here webmasters can find stats on the website’s total number of visits, how long browsers stay on the site, the bounce rate, user demographics, and how users engage with the website features. Google Analytics helps digital marketers integrate their marketing campaigns with other platforms and services such as Google Plus, AdWords, and AdSense.
On the other hand, Google Search Console provides a more in-depth look at turning search results into effective campaigns. The main focus is based on impressions and the data provided revolves around the search queries of the site, click-through conversion rates, backlink information, HTML errors, and crawl errors.
To the inexperienced marketer, the differences may seem subtle. To experts in the industry, both tools are separated entities and should both be used to create highly effective SEO campaigns.
Bringing together the technical elements of a highly effective SEO campaign is not a walk in the park. While you can handle a lot of online marketing strategies and techniques yourself, it’s always advisable to consult with a technical SEO expert if you encounter challenges and hurdles along the way that you can’t seem to overcome (sometimes it takes years to learn the “tricks” of the SEO and digital marketing trade). That being said, the Google Search Console provides a comprehensive way to manage your online presence. Good luck with all your online and SEO marketing endeavours.