If you have a website then you should absolutely be using Google Search Console but if you’re sitting there reading this, thinking “I haven’t even heard of Google Search Console” you’re not alone.
It’s one of the most important tools in the world of SEO but surprisingly it’s the most often overlooked when it comes to the suite of tools put out there by Google for marketers and web-developers.
In this article I’m going to cover a few of the basics and what it does to give you some insight into why you should be using it and what you can expect to get out of it.
Here’s what I’m going to cover:
What is Google Search Console.
What does it do for me and my website.
How it works and what data can I see/get.
Why you should be using it for your business to increase search traffic?
What The Hell Is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console used to be called Webmaster Tools (you might remember that?). Essentially it’s a dashboard for submitting your websites pages to Google for crawling and indexing for searchers online.
More than that it feeds back data to you within the dashboard, so you can actually understand how Google sees your website. This is important as you can actually get some really important data to improve your site and your rankings.
What Exactly Does It Do?
Alongside being able to index pages, which I’ll cover more in a moment, it also allows you to track search terms that are bring up your website and your pages. This may include search terms you hadn’t even thought of and can be a good source of keyword research. It also shows you your average page positions and it will alert you to page and site errors that could be affecting your sites performance.
There are other third party tools that may give you these insights and they have their place in the tool box for sure, but this is Google giving you a heads up directly…why wouldn’t you want that information?
So How Does It Work?
All you’ll need to do if you don’t have it setup is login with your Google account and connect it to your site by authorising it with either a piece of HTML code in your header or via your Google Analytics account (which you really need to have setup).
Once set up and validated, you’ll be able to request Google crawl pages and index them for search. BUT….there’s more to it than that. As well as being able to index an individual page (good for when you have made significant changes to a key page on your website or blog) but you can also submit a sitemap.
Google will find your site over time so this isn’t required but it definitely expedites the process. Even if your site isn’t getting much traffic at this stage you’ll still be able to pick up on problems and site errors which can have significant impacts on SEO performance.
(here’s what the dashboard looks like.)
Why You Should Be Using It?
By submitting your site to Google you’re asking Google to crawl the site and therefore get an idea of it’s “crawl-ability”. Google will tell you exactly where any errors are occurring, things you may never have otherwise thought to look for and it will also connect with Google Analytics allowing you to pull all the info into a central place.
Below are the main elements that Google Search Console will help you with.
Index individual pages & Submit sitemaps:
As you build out the content on your website you’ll want to let Google know about this and get the new content showing up in search engines ASAP. If you make a bulk change to URLs or product listings then you can submit a sitemap and allow Google to do the heavy lifting. But the main thing is that Google will act faster to get the right info in the SERPs (search engine result pages) letting searchers know about your product, services or content.
See website errors:
If you’ve had a custom site built recently or even if you’re using one of the major page builder players (WordPress, Shopify, SquareSpace etc) then your site should be fairly easy to maintain…if it’s new.
If it’s an older domain or you add a lot of new pages/products and are taking them down when you no longer need them then overtime you’ll have a lot of 404 pages buildup which can be bad for your SEO. Google Search Console (or GSC) can show you exactly where these pages are, allowing you to fix them and then update Search Console once you’ve done this. These are good signals to Google that you’re looking after the site and all this plays its part in improving search visibility.
Get an overview of your website health:
As above, you’ll be able to see errors like 404 pages but you’ll also be able to see other errors and technical issues too. You’ll be able to see Mobile responsiveness errors, AMP problems and much more.
Track your average positions and rankings:
On the positive side of things, you get to see what’s happening in terms of inbound searches. This is really important for any SEO and really website maintenance in general. Wouldn’t you want to know how people are actually finding you? Well now you can and you can see exactly where you rank for certain search terms.
See the search terms you rank for:
Here’s an example. If you’re a digital bank, like Tide, Coconut or Starling and you use the keyword for your homepage Business Banking you’d be able to see in Search Console your average position for that keyword but also you’re impressions (the number of times you showed up for that keyword) and even better the number of clicks you actually received from that one keyword.
But wait there’s more…perhaps you’re also appearing for the search terms “digital bank” or “mobile banking app”. You didn’t even know that was the case before but now you can see that you
a) have lots of impressions for that search term and
b) have a higher ranking in the SERPs for that term.
Well guess what, with a little bit more digging and some keyword research you might find that keyword is actually worth incorporating into your copy or even being promoted to the primary keyword.
Now You Just Need To Set It Up
This is of course, only a basic introduction to Google Search Console and there’s lots more that you can do, more info and stats that can be gained from it and it can inform a large part of your ongoing SEO strategy.
So many website owners aren’t using this or digging into its full potential but there’s a lot to be gained from it and if you care at all about increasing organic traffic it has to be a tool that you have at your disposal.
Setting it up is easy enough as are most of the tools within Googles suite. If you are working with an SEO agency, make sure they have this set up, alarm bells should ring if they don’t have it set up and unfortunately I know many agencies that don’t even know what GSC is and are charging premium prices for their SEO services.
If you’re not with an agency yet but have ambitions of handing SEO over to an agency then you’ll be doing them a huge favour by collecting this data for them in advance.
Let me know in the comments if you’re already using GSC or if you ‘re going to go ahead and set it up now or if you’re stuck with how to use it in your business?
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