If you have your own website and are concerned about how well you rank in Google search results, be sure to use the Google Search Console.
What is Google Search Console?
The Google Search Console tells you everything the Google crawler knows about your website. This gives some indication of how well your site is crawler-friendly so that it can gather important information and place your pages at the top of search results.
This information includes things like:
- How often people see your pages in search results;
- How often people click on your pages in search results;
- Any crawler errors encountered by the Google crawler.
- The status of your robots.txt or sitemap.xml
- Performance on individual site pages
Google previously offered this panel called Google Developer Tools, but recently updated the tool to call it Google Search Console.
How to use Google Search Console
To view Google Search Console statistics for a specific website, you need to claim ownership of that â€œproperty,â€ as Google calls it.
- To do this, log into Google Search Console with your Google Account and click the down arrow in the upper right corner of the screen.
- If you are already the owner of existing websites, you will see them here. If you don’t, you will need to select the Add Property link at the bottom of this drop-down list.
- In the initial screen of the wizard, you will need to enter the domain of the website you wish to claim. If you are using the entire domain that you want to track, enter the domain on the left without “https:” in front of it.
If you are using a subdomain to launch this new website, you will need to use the box on the right and enter the entire URL path to the subdomain. Google will only consider URLs below the subdomain level as part of your property.
- To claim a domain as your own, you need to insert a special code into the DNS configuration with the domain registration account with which you registered the domain.
- Once you confirm that a domain belongs to you, Google will add it to your list of assets in Google Search Console.
Using Google Search Console
The new version of Google Search Console has a much simpler menu with statistics hidden in separate reports that you will have access to.
In the left navigation window, if you choose Browse, you will see several reports displayed in the main window.
- Performance: The number of times people have clicked on one of your pages in the search results.
- Coverage: Shows how many pages on your site are indexed by Google.
- Improvements: Shows updates about the mobile or AMP version of your pages and any related issues.
You can explore each of these areas by clicking the Open Reports link in the upper right corner of the chart.
This will open up a new series of charts that allow you to take a deeper look at performance.
This page breaks down performance into several parts.
These areas include:
- The total number of times someone has selected your link in search results.
- The total number of times your site appeared in the first search results.
- The average click through rate (Views and Clicks) for your site.
- Average position in Google search results.
As you scroll down on the performance page, you’ll also see a list of the top searches that are driving people to your site through Google searches.
By selecting the tabs at the top of this section, you can also see:
- The most popular pages that are ranking for your site.
- The most popular countries, where the most visitors to your search come from
- the most popular devices, which are used by the most visitors to your search.
- How your site appears in search results
- Daily breakdown of impressions and clicks of your pages
You can change the time frame for any of this data and these charts for any time range up to 16 months ago.
Your website coverage shows how many pages are being crawled and whether the crawler is getting any errors while crawling your site.
The list below this table contains important error information if Google excluded any of the pages on your site due to crawl errors.
If you see a situation like the one above, where most of your website is excluded and there are no errors, it is most likely due to a configuration error on your side.
This could be due to any of the following reasons:
- Your robots.txt file is being blocked by the Google crawler.
- Your .htaccess file contains a Google noindex blog entry
- You converted your site to https and did not update your Google Search Console with an updated domain.
If any part of your site is ruled out for any other reason, you will see those reasons in the error table and can troubleshoot and fix the problem from there.
Other Google Search Console Information
Looking at the navigation bar on the left, there are a few more important areas that you should be aware of.
Select URL validation to see what the Google crawler sees when it crawls a specific page on your site.
What you want to see will be green. It should tell you that the URL is showing up in Google search results, as well as give you more details on the indexing status and any crawl restrictions.
This is a very useful way to check if the most important pages on your site are being indexed by Google and see any errors explaining why they are not.
Selecting Sitemaps from the navigation bar will show you if your sitemap is submitted correctly and how many pages on your site the crawler has recognized using your sitemap.
You will see a sitemap file that is recognized by the Google crawler as an XML sitemap file. It will be displayed when you:
- last submitted this sitemap to Google;
- when the crawler last read the sitemap;
- Current status
- Total pages (URLs) listed in the sitemap
Hope you are using a good SEO plugin that will generate the entire sitemap file for you.
In the Improvements area of ??the navigation menu, you will see additional information to help you improve your site in search results.
The first is usability on mobile devices. Errors allow you to understand why certain pages on your site are not optimized for mobile devices.
The logos page will provide details on performance and errors caused by any markup in your logo if you are using it. Here you will see detailed information that you can use to troubleshoot problems.
The sitelink search box page contains information about any performance issues or errors caused by the sitelink search box markup that may be on your page.
If you don’t see any information on the aforementioned two pages, it is because you are not using this markup on your site.
In the Security and Manual Actions section of the navigation bar, you can see if Google has taken any action against your site due to security or other concerns. If your site is okay, you should see a green checkmark that says “No problems found.”
If there are problems, Google will display an error that will help you understand more deeply what is causing Google to take action against your site and quickly resolve those issues.
The final page is the links page, which will give you an idea of ??all of the following related to how other sites link to your site.
- The pages you link to the most.
- Other sites that link to your site most often.
- The most common text phrases that people use to link to your site.
This information gives you an idea of ??how people see your page and on which topics you consider the most authority.
Legacy Tools and Reports
For a limited time, you still have access to many of the tools and reports that were available in the legacy version of Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Developer Tools.
These tools provide most of the same information listed above, but in a different format and with slightly different data. However, all of these tools will soon be phased out, so it’s best to get used to using Google Search Console and all the tools out there.
By understanding how to use the Google Search Console, you can make sure that your site is performing well in Google search and that you are more likely to be in the top of Google search results.