A guide for beginners with Google Search Console

Do you own your own website or keep the company website you work for? Of course, to do this right, you need to pay attention to the performance of your website.

Google offers a number of tools to collect and analyze data of your website. You may have heard of Google Analytics and Google Search Console before. These tools are free to use for everyone who maintains the site and can give you valuable insights about your site.

Why people with websites should use Google Search Console

Google Search Console has been created to easily monitor the performance of your website. You can get valuable insights from your Google Search Console account, which means you can see which parts of your site need to function.

This may be a technical part of your site, such as an increasing number of crawl errors that need to be fixed. This can also get a specific keyword to get more attention because rankings or impressions are decreasing.

In addition to viewing this type of data, you'll receive email notifications when Google Search Console notices new errors. Due to these notifications, you quickly identify the issues you need to fix.

Set up an account

To start using Google Search Console, you will need create an account . In the new Google Search Console, you can click on ‘add new property’ in the top bar:

Click the ‘Add property’ button, you can insert the website you want to add. If you choose the New Domain option, you only need to add the domain name - so there is no www or subdomain. This option keeps track of everything connected to that domain. With the ‘old’ URL prefix option, you must add the correct URL, so with ‘https’ if you have an https website and with or without ‘www’. To collect the right data, it is important to add the appropriate version:

Once you have added a website, you need to verify that you are the owner. There are several options for verifying your ownership.

The Domain option only works with DNS verification, while the URL prefix supports different methods. You can learn more about differences in Google documents: Add a new property and Verify your site ownership .

For WordPress users using Yoast SEO, get the verification code through the ‘HTML tag’ method:

You can easily copy this code and paste it into the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab of the Yoast SEO plugin:

After saving this section, you can return to Google Search Console and click on the 'Verify' button to confirm. If all goes well, you will receive a success message and GSC will start crawling your site.

Features in Google Search Console

Now that you've set up your account, what's the next step? Well, it's time to look at some of your data! We will explore some of the reports and information available in the rest of this article.

#first. Performance tab

In the Performance tab, you can see which pages and keywords your site ranks in Google. In the old version of GSC, you could see maximum data for the past 90 days, but in the current version, you can see data for up to 16 months. Remember that data is available from the time you set up your account.

If you check your performance tab regularly, you can quickly see which keywords or pages need more attention and optimization. So where to start? In the performance tab, you'll see a list of ‘queries’, ‘pages,’ ‘countries,’ or ‘devices.” With the ‘search interface’, you can check how your rich results are performing in search. Each section can be sorted by the number of ‘clicks’, ‘impressions,’ ‘average CTRs,’ or ‘average positions’. We will explain each of them below:

Click

Clicks tell you how often people click your site in Google search results. This number can say something about the performance of your page title and meta description: if only a few people click on your results, your results may not stand out in search results. . It may be helpful to check out the other results displayed around you to see what can be optimized for your excerpts.

The position of search results also has an impact on course clicks. If your page is in the top 3 of the first page of Google results, it will automatically receive more clicks than the page ranked on the second page of search results.

Impressive

Impressions tell you how often your site is, or how often a particular page is displayed in search results. For example, in the GSC account of our site, Yoast SEO is one of the keywords our site ranks. The number of impressions displayed after this keyword shows how often our site is shown for that keyword in Google search results. You do not know what page ranks for that keyword.

To see which pages can rank for a particular keyword, you can click on the keyword line. Do this for the keyword (Yoast SEO), the keyword is added as a filter:

You can then navigate to the ‘Pages’ tab to see which pages rank correctly for this keyword. Are those the pages you want to rank for that keyword? If not, you may need to optimize the page you want to rank for. Think of writing better content that contains keywords on that page, adding internal links from related pages or posts to the page, making the page load faster, and so on.

Average CTR

CTR - Clickthrough rate - tells you what percentage of people who saw your site in search results also clicked on your site. You can understand that higher rankings primarily also lead to higher clickthrough rates.

However, there are also things you can do to increase your CTR. For example, you can rewrite your meta description and page title to make it more appealing. When your site's title and description stand out from the other results, more people will probably click on your results and your CTR will increase. Remember that this will not have a big impact if you have not already ranked on the first page. You may need to try other things first to improve your rankings.

Average position

The last one on this list is the ‘Average position’. This tells you the average rank of a particular keyword or page during the time period you've selected. Of course, this position is not always reliable because more and more people are getting different search results. Google seems to understand better and better which results are most relevant to which visitors. However, this indicator still gives you an idea if the average number of clicks, impressions, and CTR is explainable.

Index coverage

The more technical but valuable tab in Google Search Console is the ‘Metrics range’ tab. This section shows how many pages have been in the Google index since the last update, how many pages are missing, and which errors and warnings make it difficult to properly index your pages.

We recommend that you check this tab regularly to see what errors and warnings appear on your site. However, you also receive a notification when Google finds a new error. When you receive such notice, you can check for more details errors here.

You may find that the error is caused when, for example, the redirect does not seem to work correctly or Google is looking for broken code or error pages in your topic.

Click the link, you can analyze the error in more depth to see which specific URLs are affected. Once you've fixed the error, you can mark it as fixed to make sure Google will double check the URL:

There are a few things you should always look for when checking your insurance reports:

  • If you are writing new content, your indexed pages will increase in number steadily. This tells you two things: Google can index your site and you keep your site ‘alive’ by adding content.
  • Watch out for a sudden drop! This could mean that Google is having trouble accessing (all) your site. Something may be blocking Google; Whether robot.txt changes or the server stops working: you need to consider it!
  • Mutations (and surprises) in the chart can mean problems with duplicate content (like both www and non-www, incorrect rules, etc.), The page is automatically generated or even hack .

We recommend watching these types of situations closely and resolving them quickly, as too many errors can send low-quality (poor maintenance) signals to Google.

#2. Check the URL

The URL testing tool helps you analyze specific URLs. You retrieve the page from Google's index and compare it to the current page on your site to see if there's a difference. On this page, you can also find more technical information, like when and how Google crawls and how it looks when it is crawled. Sometimes, you will also notice some errors. This may be related to Google being unable to crawl your page properly. It also provides information about the structured data found on this URL.

# .3 Advanced tab

Under ‘Index range’, you can find the Advanced tab. Here, you'll find everything you need to improve the way your website works. It has insight into website speed, mobile usability, AMP usage and structured data improvements that can lead to rich results in SERPs.

Speed

The new speed report is still in beta, but has been an invaluable addition. This report provides a good idea of ​​your site's loading speed on mobile and desktop. In addition, it also shows which pages have issues that prevent them from loading quickly. Data is based on Chrome UX reporting, so real data by real users. Site speed is a difficult topic with lots of moving parts, so it's good to learn how you should think about website speed.

AMP

One of the tabs for everything ‘AMP’. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages: mobile pages are lightning fast. If you have AMP set up for your website, you can check for errors in Google Search Console. In this section, you can see valid AMP pages, valid pages with warnings and errors:

Below the chart, the issues are listed. If you click on one of the issues, you may see the URL affected. As in the index section of GSC, you can validate your bug fixes if you've fixed the problem.

Rich results

If you have structured the data on your website, powered by Yoast SEO, then check the Improvements reports in Search Console. The Improvements tab is a place to gather all insights and improvements that can lead to rich results. There is an ever-expanding list of supported results. When writing, that list contains:

  • breadcrumbs
  • events
  • faqs
  • how-tos
  • jobs
  • logos
  • products
  • reviews
  • sitelinks searchboxes
  • videos

All of these tabs indicate how many valid improvements you have or how many errors or warnings. You get detailed information about error types and warnings and these URLs are found. There is also a trend line that shows if the number of problems is increasing or decreasing. And that's just the beginning of it.

Improvement reports help you find and fix problems that hinder your performance in search. By examining issues, reading support documentation and confirming fixes, you can increase your chances of getting rich results in search. We have a more extensive guide to Structured Data Enhancement reports in Google Search Console.

# 4. Site map

An XML sitemap is like a roadmap for all important pages and articles on your website. We think every website will benefit from having one. Is our Yoast SEO plugin running on your website? You then automatically have an XML sitemap. If not, we recommend creating a page to make sure Google can find your most important pages and posts easily.

In the XML sitemap tab of Google Search Console, you can tell Google where your XML sitemap is on your site:

We recommend that people enter the URL of their XML sitemap into GSC to help Google find it easily. Also, you can quickly see if your sitemap has errors, if some pages are not indexed. Check this regularly, you are sure Google can find and read your XML sitemap correctly.

We recommend that you regularly check the XML sitemap section of your plugin to manage which post types or categories you include in your sitemap!

# 5. Link

In the links to your website section, you can see how many links from other websites are pointing to your website. In addition, you can see which sites link to, how many links those sites contain to your site, and finally, which anchor text is most used to link to your site. This can be valuable information as links are still important to SEO.

In the internal linking section, you can check which pages on your site are linked the most from other points on your site. This list can be valuable for frequent analysis because you want your most important pages and posts to get the most internal links. By doing this, you are sure that Google also understands what your platform is.

# 6. Mobile usability

The mobile usability tab in this section shows you usability issues with your mobile website or with specific mobile sites. As mobile traffic is increasing worldwide, we recommend checking this regularly. If your mobile website is not user friendly, a lot of visitors will leave it quickly.

# 6. Manual operation

Manual action tab is the tab you do not want to see anything. If your site is penalized by Google, you will get more information here. If your site is affected by a manual action, you will also receive an email notification.

There are several situations that can lead to these types of penalties, including:

  • You have unnatural / purchased links
    Guaranteed from and to Your website is valuable, not just for SEO. It is best that your links come from and links to related content are valuable to your readers.
  • Your website has been hacked
    A notice says your site may be hacked by a third party. Google may label your site as compromised or lower your rankings.
  • You are hiding something from Google
    If you 'hide' (meaning intentionally displaying content that is different from the user, with the intent of rejecting one of them) or using 'sneaky' redirects (e.g., hiding the link URL), then That you are violating Google webmaster guidelines .
  • Plain Spam
    Automatically generated content, active removal and concealment can cause Google to blacklist your site.
  • Structured markup spam
    If you use Rich Snippets for too many irrelevant elements on a page or bookmark content that is hidden from visitors, that could be considered spam. Mark what is needed, and not everything is needed.

# 7. Security issues

Last but not least: in the security issues tab, you will receive a notification when your site has security issues.

Search Console: an extremely useful tool

Reading this post will give you a good idea of ​​what Search Console is capable of, so I want to ask you this: Have you used Google Search Console for your site? If not, we definitely recommend creating an account so you can start collecting data about your site. Do you think something is missing? Feel free to leave a comment!