Recently updated on February 10th, 2024

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The Best Guide on Google Search Console

A website, to become or remain efficient, must be subject be done regular checks and improvements. In order to help webmasters, Google has made different-2 practical and effective tools available to them, including in the Google Search Console also called GSC.

Hello dear reader – If you have a website (personal or professional), you have somehow heard of this (GSC) powerful platform, which essentially allows you to evaluate performance relating to natural referencing or search results matrix. We invite you to discover how the Google Search Console works and explore its features.

What is the Google Search Console?

Previously called Google Webmaster Tool, the Google Search Console is a tool created by a famous search engine to help managers or webmaster to do SEO health checks on their websites, optimize their referencing notifications, naturally and improve their performance. By using this tool, users can analyze many parameters such as click rates, impressions, CTR, requests on which their pages are positioned, crawl errors, unindexed URLs, index URLs, or the quality of external links.

The Google Search Console is very easy to access: all you need is a Google account, then link a website to the tool. Two options are available for this: you can select a “domain” type property {like xyz.com} (to manage the entire site, including subdomains) or a “URL prefix” type property {https://xyz.com or https://ab.xyz.com} (to manage a single subdomain or domain).

GSC Property

The first option (“domain” property) is the most relevant, but it involves validating the domain through the DNS, which is a bit more complex. This procedure allows Google to ensure that you are indeed the owner of the site in question – the data provided by the Google Search Console is not public.

What is the use Google Search Console?

To comprehend the benefit of Google’s tool, it is necessary to understand two things: how the search engine works and Google’s dominance in the market.

Google’s crawler robots track the web all the time to index new content and thus be able to offer search engine users ever more relevant and qualitative results. To do their job of indexing on your website, and ranking the pages to be positioned in the SERP (the results page), these robots must access the different pages and ensure that they work.

This is the primary interest of the Google Search Console: confirm that Google can detect your website and crawl its URLs, then resolve any indexing issues.

Why Go with Google Tools?

Because the American search engine is the undisputed leader in its field since it has a 92.47 % market share in the world, India ( 95.25% on the mobile, source). So it is essential, to guarantee the visibility of your site and generate traffic, to be present on Google, and to ensure that your pages are well positioned in the SERP.

It is the main reason to use Google tools: To better understand how your site is displayed in the engine results and to find what things need to optimize the positioning of your pages. And all the data provide in GSC are important from the SEO perspective to manage your website.

In doing so, the Google Search Console is essential for anyone who owns or administers a website, regardless of their level of expertise: business manager, site administrator, web developer, marketer, or SEO specialist.

What are the differences between GSC and GA?

The words “website analytics” caught your eye: since you already use Google Analytics, you naturally wonder if it is relevant, in your case, to use the Google Search Console.

The question is fair. But we also think about it that these two tools are complementary. In essence, Google Search collects data about a website until the user clicks on an organic link and accesses the site in question – it focuses above all on studying how the pages are visible in the SERP and how people access it also through metrics like target queries and clicks. The tool, therefore, focused on the search engine and its crawler robots. It answers the question: how does a user arrive on your website?

For its part, Google Analytics collects statistics from the moment the Internet user clicks on the link to reach the site, whatever the channel used – therefore, not necessarily from Google search engine or any search engine. Metrics include the total number of visits, bounce rate, average time spent on site, user demographics, and more.

The information comes mainly from the browser and third-party cookies. Google Analytics, therefore, is user-centric. It answers the question: what does the user do once on your website?

Read Also: Best Comprehensive Guide to Google Analytics 4

What are the features of GSC (Google Search Console)?

Now that you are more familiar with Google’s Search Console, and that you have understood its benefit, it is time to explore its different features and find out what they can bring you in the daily management of your website.

Using the GSC, easily add your website to the search engine and Sitemap of the website

We said it above: Google robots crawl the web to index the pages of websites. They are certainly able to manage on their own, but there is a way to help them and optimize their crawl: the sitemap.

Google Search Console - Sitemap

This “plan” of a website makes it possible to list its URLs and to indicate to the robots which ones must be indexed in priority – which is essential when certain pages do not have internal links between them. The Google Search Console allows you to submit your sitemap to Google and check its validity.

Note:- Most of the sites are crawled by Smartphone bots, so make sure your website is optimized for the mobile version.

Googlebot smartphone - Google Search Console

In the above image, you can easily

Also, see the pages that have been indexed by the robots (those that are visible on the search engine) and those that have not been (as well as the reasons that have prevented the bots from indexing them).

You can submit URLs yourself for indexing (a way to manually index some of your pages)- “URL Inspection”; request the deletion of certain URLs “Removals”; consult the statistics of visits to your site by robots.

You can also Evaluate Site Performance

This is the big piece of the Google Search Console: it allows you to analyze the SEO performance of your website by identifying blocking points to improve the positioning of pages.

Concretely, you can view traffic data (click rate, number of impressions, requests on which the site is displayed in the results), find URLs that cause 404 errors, identify the best-performing pages (those that generate the most organic traffic),analyze performance over a period going back up to 16 months or custom date,

Data Range - Google Search Console
get recommendations for actions to take to gain positions in the SERP (in terms of natural referencing and improving the HTML code).

GSC Notification on Error

Also, note that Google’s Search Console is a communication interface that allows the search engine to send you messages or send you alerts. For example, if you ever believe you are under a penalty (related t any algorithm), remember to check your Console: if the penalty was assigned to you manually, you will have received an official notification through this channel.

This functionality extends to technical performance – and in this, Google Search Console joins Google Analytics. It is possible to obtain information about essential web signals (Core Web Vitals) and to generate reports for each page on desktop and mobile devices. The three measurement criteria are:

Core Web Vitals - Google Search Console

The LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): The time it takes to display the main element of the page and the time should be less than 2.5 sec.

The FID (First Input Delay): The time that separates the completed interaction from its actual execution and it should take below around 100 ms.

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): The stability of the visual elements of the page as it loads. The Page element not move much after full load or it should be 0.1.

Note: This update is come in – June 2021 – Algorithm – “Page Experience” [Firstly, it rolled out for mobile but for the desktop version it rolled out in Feb 2022.]

Analyze Keywords:-

You know it: in organic search, the choice of keywords is essential. The Google Search Console lists the organic queries on which your website appears in the top 100 results of the SERP and for which your pages generated clicks or organic traffic.
You can see this in performance or search:-

Performance - Google Search Console
This list of keywords is used to feed an SEO audit and to identify the most relevant queries for a given website, for example, those found in the 10, 20, 30, or under 100 results. This gives an approx. idea of the keywords.

Google Search Console Crawl Reports Let You Monitor

Google Search Console crawl reports allow you to monitor various aspects of your website’s crawling and indexing by Google’s search engine. Here are some key features and functionalities provided by Google Search Console crawl reports:

  1. Crawl Errors: Search Console provides information about crawl errors encountered by Google’s bots while accessing your website. It highlights issues such as server errors, DNS resolution problems, and URL accessibility problems. This helps you identify and resolve issues that may hinder proper crawling and indexing of your site.

  2. URL Inspection: This feature allows you to inspect specific URLs on your website and view how Google sees and indexes them. It provides details about the last crawl date, HTTP response, indexed status, and any potential issues detected with the URL. It helps you ensure that important pages are crawled and indexed correctly.

  3. Sitemaps: Search Console allows you to submit a sitemap, which is a file that lists all the important pages on your website. The crawl report for sitemaps shows the status of submitted sitemaps, including the number of URLs discovered, indexed, and any potential errors encountered during the crawling process.

  4. Index Coverage: This report provides an overview of the indexing status of your website. It shows the number of indexed pages, the URLs that were excluded from indexing, and any issues detected during the indexing process. It helps you identify indexing problems and take necessary actions to improve the visibility of your content in search results.

  5. Crawl Stats: This section provides statistics about how Google’s bots crawl your website over time. It shows the number of pages crawled per day, kilobytes downloaded, and response times. These stats can help you understand the crawling behavior of Google’s bots and identify potential performance issues.

  6. Mobile Usability: Search Console provides a mobile usability report that highlights any mobile-specific issues detected on your website. It identifies pages with problems like viewport configuration, font size, tap targets, and more. Ensuring mobile-friendly design and usability is crucial for providing a good user experience and ranking well in mobile search results.

How to set up Google Search Console for your website?

Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Go to Google Search Console

  • Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you monitor and optimize your website’s performance on Google Search.
  • To access Google Search Console, you need to have a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create one for free.
  • Go to https://search.google.com/search-console and sign in with your Google account.

Step 2: Add and verify your website

  • To use Google Search Console, you need to add and verify your website as a property. A property is a website or an app that you own or manage.
  • You can add your website as a domain property or a URL prefix property. A domain property includes all subdomains and protocols of your website, such as https://www.example.com, http://example.com, https://blog.example.com, etc. A URL prefix property includes only one specific subdomain and protocol of your website, such as https://www.example.com.
  • To add your website as a domain property, enter your domain name (such as example.com) in the Add property box and click Continue. To add your website as a URL prefix property, enter the full URL of your website (such as https://www.example.com) in the Add property box and click Continue.
  • To verify your website, you need to prove that you own or control it. You can choose from different verification methods depending on the type of property you added. Some common verification methods are:
    • DNS record: You need to add a specific TXT record to your domain’s DNS configuration. This method works for domain properties only.
    • HTML file: You need to upload a specific HTML file to your website’s root directory. This method works for URL prefix properties only.
    • HTML tag: You need to add a specific meta tag to the <head> section of your website’s homepage. This method works for URL prefix properties only.
    • Google Analytics: You can use your existing Google Analytics tracking code to verify your website. This method works for URL prefix properties only.
    • Google Tag Manager: You can use your existing Google Tag Manager container snippet to verify your website. This method works for URL prefix properties only.
  • Follow the instructions for the verification method you chose and click Verify. If the verification is successful, you will see a confirmation message.

Some Important Update of Google Search Console:-

  1. Search Console URL Inspection API – Feb 2022 [This is useful for the third party tool that uses Google data to manage their app or tool but this URL Inspection API has some limitation.
  2. Page Experience Update for Desktop – Jan – 2022
  3. New look or Design Interface to Google Search Console – November – 2021
  4. Aligning Search Console Testing Tools with URL Inspection Tool (Show data of – Mobile friendliness and Rich Result) – October – 2021
  5. Google Search Console Removes Generic Rich Results Search Appearance – May – 2021
  6. Google Search Console Discover Report – February, 2021
  7. Google News Performance Report – January 2021

For more updates, you can check google official page related to search console update

FAQ

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free web service provided by Google that allows website owners and webmasters to monitor and optimize their website’s presence in Google search results. It provides valuable insights and tools to help you understand how Google crawls, indexes, and ranks your website.

How do I set up Google Search Console?

To set up Google Search Console, you need to have a Google account. Then, you can visit the Google Search Console website, add your website as a property, and verify ownership by following the provided instructions. Verification can be done through various methods such as HTML file upload, HTML tag, DNS verification, or Google Analytics.

What is the importance of Google Search Console for my website?

Google Search Console provides essential information about your website’s performance in Google search results. It helps you identify indexing issues, monitor organic search traffic, optimize website content, submit sitemaps, detect crawl errors, and improve your overall website visibility and presence in Google search.

How can I submit my sitemap to Google Search Console?

After adding your website as a property in Google Search Console, you can submit your sitemap through the “Sitemaps” section. First, make sure you have created a sitemap for your website. Then, enter the URL of your sitemap in the provided field and click on the “Submit” button. Google will then process your sitemap and use it as a reference for crawling and indexing your website.

How can I check if my website is indexed by Google?

In Google Search Console, you can use the “Index Coverage” report to check the indexing status of your website. This report shows the number of indexed pages, as well as any pages that were excluded or encountered issues during indexing. Additionally, you can perform a site-specific search on Google by typing “site:yourwebsite.com” in the search bar to see a list of indexed pages from your website.

How can I fix crawl errors in Google Search Console?

Google Search Console’s “Crawl Errors” report provides information about specific errors encountered by Google’s bots while crawling your website. To fix crawl errors, you need to identify the type of error (such as server errors, DNS errors, or URL accessibility issues) and take appropriate actions, such as fixing server configuration, updating DNS records, or resolving issues with the specific URLs mentioned in the report.

Can I use Google Search Console for mobile optimization?

Yes, Google Search Console provides a “Mobile Usability” report that identifies mobile-specific issues on your website. It highlights problems like viewport configuration, font size, tap targets, and more. Addressing these issues helps ensure a positive mobile user experience and can improve your website’s performance in mobile search results.

How often should I check Google Search Console?

It is recommended to regularly check Google Search Console to stay informed about your website’s performance in search results. Depending on your website’s activity and updates, checking Search Console on a weekly or monthly basis is a good practice. This way, you can promptly address any issues, monitor search traffic trends, and optimize your website for better visibility.

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