The Google Seach Console helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results – and it’s free.
I use Search Console every week to monitor my pages and the queries people are searching for that my content ranks for. If you are wanting to grow your organic search traffic, setting this up is a must.
What is the Google Search Console?
The Google Search Console is a collection of tools and resources to help you monitor your website performance in the Google search index.
Here is what the Search Console looks like. As you can see, it tracks the queries your pages show up in, clicks, CTR(Click through rate) the pages in the index, position in search results, countries, devices and much more.
Why use the Google Search Console?
You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results. You can submit your site to Google here by just entering your website address.
However, by setting up the search console, it will help you understand how Google views your site and you will be able to learn all kinds of valuable information that will help you optimize the performance of your site in the search results.
Main reasons you should set this tool up for your website.
You can closely monitor your site’s performance in Google Search results by:
- Making sure that Google can access your website and blog content
- Submitting new content for crawling and remove content you don’t want to be shown in search results
- Creating and monitoring website and blog content that delivers visually engaging search results
Questions that the Google Search Console can answer for you.
- Which search words and phrases caused your site to appear in search results?
- Did some search words and phrases result in more traffic to your site than others?
- Are your product prices, company contact info, or events highlighted in rich search results?
- What web sites are linking to your website and providing referral traffic?
- Is your mobile site performing well for visitors searching on mobile devices?
- What pages are showing up for which keywords and phrases?
Setting up Google Search Console
Setting up the Google Search Console is similar to setting up Google Analytics. You will need to add a piece of code to your website so that Google can verify that you own the website.
Once you sign up for an account, you will need to add a property(website URL) and then you will verify your website. To do this, start by adding a property.
Once you add your site URL, you will need to verify it by one of the following methods.
- HTML file upload – Upload an HTML file to your site.
- HTML tag – Add a meta tag to your site’s home page.
- Domain name provider – Sign in to your domain name provider.
- Google Analytics – Use your Google Analytics account.
- Google Tag Manager – Use your Google Tag Manager account.
Because we setup Google analytics already, I would choose this method. If this doesn’t work for some reason, use option 2 and add a meta tag to you site <head> section.
Once you’re verified, you will see the following Dashboard.
Here you get a snapshot of your Crawl Errors, Search Analytics, and your sitemaps. There won’t be any data as data in the Search Console is delayed by 2 to 4 days.
What are Crawl Errors?
Website crawl errors can prevent your page from appearing in search results. These are bad and you will want to monitor this to make sure there are none.
If you do get crawl errors, you will want to deal with them ASAP.
The Crawl Errors report provides you with details about your sites URLs that Google could not successfully crawl or that returned an HTTP error code.
The report has two main sections:
- Site errors: This section of the report shows the main issues for the past 90 days that prevented Googlebot from accessing your entire site.
- URL errors: This section lists specific errors Google encountered when trying to crawl specific desktop or phone pages. Each main section in the URL Errors reports corresponds to the different crawling mechanisms Google uses to access your pages, and the errors listed are specific to those kinds of pages.
What is Search Analytics?
The Search Analytics Report shows how often your site appears in Google search results. You can filter and group data by categories such as search query, date, or device.
You can use this data to improve your site’s search performance, for example:
- You can see how your search traffic changes over time, where it’s coming from, and what search queries are most likely to show your site.
- You can learn which queries are made on smartphones, and use this to improve your mobile targeting.
- You can see which pages have the highest (and lowest) click-through rate from Google search results.
Once you get some data in here, explore all of the different views for Queries and pages.
I find this data to be very useful for helping decided which pages to optimize on your site.
What is an XML sitemap?
A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.
You can see my sitemap here: http://craigcherlet.com/sitemap.xml
It looks like this.
How to set up an XML sitemap?
If you use WordPress, setting up a sitemap is simple. You can use the Jetpack plugin and get a sitemap setup in seconds or you can use one of the many Sitemap plugins available.
These plugins will generate your XML sitemap and will also notify most major search engines every time you create new content.
In my experience, these tools are a must-have for every website if you want to rely on organic search traffic.
It will help you get more organic traffic and will also help you understand what your visitors are doing on your site and what pages are turning up in Google search results.
Good data helps you make great decisions.