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Google Search Console – What it Tells You

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free and extremely helpful tool that can be used to monitor and gauge the performance of your website. Google Search Console, especially when paired with Google Analytics, can provide valuable insight regarding the status of your domain in Google’s search index. It can also help you find and fix any potential issues and errors. Let’s explore just how to setup GSC, what its features are, and what those features can tell you about your website.

Why Use Search Console?

There are several reasons to use Google Search Console to monitor your website performance. Some good reasons to consider using the search console include:
  • Confirm that Google is indexing your website and crawling properly.
  • Receive notifications of any page index issues, so if Google removes a page from the index, you know about it and are provided with a chance to submit a manual review.
  • View site traffic
  • view backlinks

The Features of Google Search Console (GSC) and What Can They Tell You?

The following are all areas of GSC that you should always be keeping a close watch on:
  • Performance
  • Index Coverage
  • Sitemaps
  • Links
  • Mobile Usability
  • Manual Actions
Let’s break these down in more detail and explore just what types of insights you can derive from the information presented in GSC.

Performance Tab

The performance tab is probably the tab you’ll be spending the most time on. It shows you what keywords each of the pages for your site rank for. This kind of information can help you make better decisions as to what portions of your website need the most attention. The performance tab is especially useful for helping to optimize the content, meta titles, and meta descriptions of the pages and posts on your site. This tab is further broken up into sub-tabs that provide you detailed information about different metrics used to rank your site on Google. The different sub-tabs of the performance tab are broken up into:
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Average Position
Let’s talk about these sections in a little more detail.

Impressions

The impressions sub-tab tells you how often your site is shown in search results on Google based on the query keyword. To view the impressions of a specific keyword, simply click on the keyword you wish to explore. This will show you which pages are being displayed in search results based on which keyword was used in the search engine query. Armed with this information, you can determine whether the pages that are ranking for a keyword are the ones you actually want ranking for the aforementioned keyword.

Clicks

The clicks sub-tab is pretty self-explanatory. It displays the number of times a searcher actually clicked on a link to your website from a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This information is most often used to help optimize your meta titles and meta descriptions. If you’re not getting the number of clicks you expect, changing up your meta titles and meta descriptions can provide a marked improvement in the number of clicks you receive.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The Click Through Rate (CTR) of your website tells you the percentage of people that saw your site in a Google SERP and actually clicked through to your website. Like your Clicks rating mentioned above, the information provided by the CTR of your website is a great opportunity to better optimize the meta titles and descriptions for your pages. The better your titles and descriptions, the more likely a searcher will click through to your site.

Average Position

The average position tab of GSC tells you what the average ranking position is of specific keywords on your website over the period of time you selected. However, the Average Position of your site is not always the most reliable metric that GSC tracks. The reason for this is that users continually get different search results for the same search queries. But, just because the actual position of your site is not easily determined through GSC, that doesn’t mean that your Average Position doesn’t provide any useful information. The Average Position metric can help you determine whether or not any sudden changes in CTR, clicks, and impressions are explainable.

Index Coverage Tab

This tab simply shows you how many pages are in Google’s index since your most recent update. It also shows warnings and errors that are causing Google to have difficult indexing your website. Since this tab is primarily used to show you any potential errors with the pages on your site, you should check it often. The faster you discover errors on your site, the faster you can correct them and that can help prevent Google from penalizing your site. You can even click on a specific page to see exactly what caused the error to happen in the first place.

Sitemaps Tab

The sitemaps tab on Google Search Console is where you can submit an XML sitemap so that Google knows what pages and posts you wish to be indexed. To add a sitemap to Google Search Console, all you have to do is provide the location URL and it does the rest. If you don’t know what your XML sitemap URL is, you can generate one in a couple of different ways. The easiest way is to use the Yoast SEO plug-in on WordPress sites to generate your sitemap for you. If you don’t use Yoast SEO, you can always create your own sitemap manually or by using an online generator. Then, once you have an XML document with your URLs, you can upload it to your website and then submit the URL to Google Search Console in the way we described above.

Links Tab

The links tab in Google Search Console tells you a lot about the different types of links on your website. There are a few different sub-tabs of the link section on GSC. They are the External Links section and the Internal Links section. The External Links section shows how many links are pointed at your site from other websites on the internet. You can also see the anchor text those sites used to link to your site. The Internal Links section tells you which of your website pages link to other pages on your website. This information can help you devise a clever internal linking structure to drive your site visitors towards the content you want them to see.

Mobile Usability

The Mobile Usability tab of Google Search Console is another one that is pretty self-explanatory. This tab shows you how accessible your site is to mobile users. Since mobile searches are quickly becoming the most common user agent for Google searches, we highly recommend keeping a close eye on this section. If your website is not well-optimized for mobile use, mobile visitors to your site will leave more quickly.

Manual Actions

This is the only tab on Google Search Console that you never, ever, want to see anything in. This section of the tool provides you with information that Google wants you to take care of immediately under threat of blacklisting your website. In addition to errors showing up in the Manual Actions section of Google Search Console, Google will also send you an email with the same information. The most common manual actions issued by Google are:
  • Too many rich snippets (spammy structured markup)
  • Spam
  • Hiding things from Google
  • You got hacked
  • You bought links or have otherwise unnatural links on your website
If you see Manual Actions listed in this section of Google Search Console, then you need to take care of them immediately. You do not want to be blacklisted from the world’s most popular and commonly used search engine!

How to Set Up GSC

Before you can start benefiting from the information Google Search Console can provide you, you will first have to sign up for and set up an account. Once you have an account created you will need to click on the ‘add a new property’ button to add your site and begin tracking your performance. Once you click the button, a window will pop up that prompts you to simply insert the full URL of the website you wish to track. There are two separate ways in which Google Search Console can track the information on your site. One way is by using the Domain Name and DNS of your website to verify that you’re the owner. The other way is by using the exact match URL for your site. But, be careful here. You will always want to make sure that the URL you enter is an EXACT match for your site. For example, if you have an HTTPS site, then you will need to make sure that ‘https://’ is included in the URL you submit to Google Search Console. After you have submitted your URL, you will need to move on to the next step: verifying ownership.

How to Verify Ownership of Your Site in Google Search Console

After you have submitted your URL to GSC, you will need to prove to Google that you are, in fact, the actual owner of the website. There are a few different ways to do this, but the most common and easiest way is to use the Yoast SEO plug-in on your WordPress site. To verify ownership of your site using this method you will need to select the ‘HTML tag’ method in the window that popped up after you submitted your URL to GSC. Simply copy the code that appears in the dropdown box and paste it in the ‘Webmaster tools’ tab in the Yoast SEO plug-in on the Dashboard of your WordPress site. Another simple way to verify you’re the owner of your website is to upload the Google Search Console HTML document provided in the same window. Follow the instructions from the ‘Learn more’ link provided in the same popup window that appeared when you submitted your URL. Just make sure that you stay connected to GSC while it verifies your site through this method.

Contact Contractor-Advertising for Help With Google Search Console

Now that you know a little more about Google Search Console, you can start using it to keep track of the performance and potential errors of your website. And, if you have noticed that you’re not performing as well as you’d like on Google, then you can always contact the SEO professionals here at Contractor Advertising for help in getting your website to meet Google’s very rigorous standards. Fill out the form below to enlist the help of our SEO experts today!