How to Use Google Search Console for SEO

Google Search ConsoleAs one of the various tools Google provides to webmasters, marketers, business owners and the like, Google Search Console supplies various reports that can help you improve your SEO.

Keep on reading to learn about the different tools offered in Search Console and what they can show you.

Getting Started: How to Access Search Console

There are a few ways get access to Google Search Console’s (GSC) features, the easiest being verification of a URL prefix. Through this method, you can see all the above tools for any URL under your specified domain.

Here are the ways you can verify that you own a domain:
  • HTML File – You can download an HTML file to upload to the root folder of your website using your preferred FTP (Note: you may need your web developer to do this for you)
  • HTML Tag – Copy and paste an HTML code somewhere between the <head> tag and before the <body> tag starts
  • Google Analytics – If you are using GA on your website, and the code is installed properly, you can instantly get access to GSC
  • Google Tag Manager – The same goes for GTM as Google Analytics
  • Domain Name Provider – This method is more difficult and would require that you alter your DNS settings wherever you purchased your domain
If you are an agency working with a client that already has Google Search Console, they can just add you as a user so you can gain access.Once you have your website verified, below are the various tools and reports you can use to enhance your SEO.

Overview

As your home screen, the overview page will give you high-level details on the health of your website. This includes performance metrics, any critical errors, speed test results and more.

 gsc-overview 

URL Inspection

Want to see how your new blog post is doing, or want to re-evaluate some older pages on your website? Use the URL inspection tool to see if the page is indexed, mobile-friendly, and more.

Performance

How do you perform in search results? You can use the following tools to see what areas you can improve on.

Search Results

As one of the most important tools in the search console, the search results is where you can see data on various types of searches (web, images, and video) over different periods of time.

With clicks, impressions, click-through rates, and average position in rank, you are able to further assess your campaign. Per whatever parameters you are analyzing, you can then see clicks and impressions for:
  • Queries (what people are searching for when they see your website)
  • Search appearance (AMP, rich results, videos, etc.)
  • Pages
  • Dates
  • Countries
  • Devices
You can also filter by all those same parameters to see specific performance metrics for key pages on your website: gsc-searchresults 

Discover

Some lucky pages or blog posts on your website could be selected to be featured on Google’s Discover. You can track your success of showing up in Discover in this area of Search Console by way of clicks, impressions, and more.

Index

Much like a library’s catalogue, Google indexes all the pages on your website. This area helps you understand how Google reads your website from a technical standpoint and allows you to see any improvements they recommend.

Coverage

If you are assessing your website’s technicality, using the coverage indicator is a must. From pages marked noindex to 404s and more, this can help you assess what changes you need to make to your website to help consolidate it.

You can also see which pages Google has crawled, excluded, or has found errors or warnings for.Sitemaps

Is your website not shown in search results? Have you recently updated content on your website? Have you made various technical changes such as redirects or noindexes? Submit your sitemap to Google to read immediately!

Enhancements

This area of Search Console deals with how users experience your website, and the ways you can improve your site not only for consumers, but in the eyes of Google as well.

Speed

As a newer “experimental” area in Search Console, you can see how your URLs perform on both desktop and mobile, and see which pages are slow, moderate, or fast.

Mobile Usability

As mobile search continues to dominate how users utilize the web, it is important that your website is optimized correctly for mobile user-friendliness. Some common issues that Google Search Console will alert you about include:

  • Use of incompatible plugins
  • Viewport not set
  • Viewport not set to “device-width”
  • Content wider than screen
  • Text too small to read
  • Clickable elements too close together

AMP

Are you using a plugin to include AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages) on your website? Maybe you are using a CMS where AMPs are automatically created? This section will let you know which pages are indexed or if there are any issues with your AMPs.

Rich Results

There are four areas where you can see which rich results Google found in your property, and whether or not they could be read, or if they have any errors:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Logos
  • Sitelinks searchbox
  • Videos

Security and Manual Actions

One thing that Google considers highly important when it considers whether or not to show your website is whether it is safe for users to access. The following section of GSC can help.

Manual Actions

In this area you can see if your property has any manual actions that might prevent it from appearing in Google Search.

Security Issues

It’s as straightforward as it sounds – this section will alert you if Google detects any security issues with your website.

Legacy Tools and Reports

When Search Console got a makeover in 2018, a lot of the old and beloved tools were lost. Thankfully, Google has recently brought them back for users, including:

  • International Target – Here you can target a user’s language presences on your website
  • Removals – This tool can help you temporarily hide and noindex specific URLs from the SERPs
  • Crawl Stats – See how often the Googlebot has crawled your webpages
  • Messages – Any important messages or notification from Search Console can be found here
  • URL Parameters – If Googlebot is experiencing problems with coverage of your site, you can go here to configure URL parameters
  • Web Tools – This area offers access to additional features such as ad experience reports (desktop and mobile), testing tools (including a schema testing tool), and links to other Google products and resources

Links

Have you been performing various link building tactics for your business? The links area in Search Console will tell you the following for external and internal links:

External links
  • Total links
  • Top linked pages
  • Top linking site
  • Top linking text
Internal links
  • Total links
  • Top linked pages

This can help show you which links you have acquired, and which have been indexed by Google, giving you a sense of the strength of your site’s backlink profile. Learn more about link building on our blog.

Check Out More Blog Posts on Google and SEO

Read more about SEO, Search Console, and other Google products and updates on our blog:

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