A quick search on the internet would give you a list of over a hundred SEO tools and softwares that will help you expand your business successfully. But how do you know which one you should rely on? And is there any tool that is easy to use and comes at a reasonable price?
Not only does Google Search Console do most of your tracking for SEO and keyword ranking for you, but it also comes at zero cost.
Google Search Console is an important tool to gauge your position on Google search and impressions when compared to other websites. It helps a business troubleshoot and monitor things like the number of clicks your website is getting, which keywords the website ranks in and at what position, among others, to help you optimise your website.
In addition to this, it also points out whether your website abides by Google’s quality guidelines and if your website is mobile-friendly.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is the process of enhancing your website’s visibility to get more user engagement when they search for a particular phrase, service or product. This helps your website stand out from other websites swarming the internet today. Search engines like Bing, Yahoo and the biggest tech giant, Google, take into account several factors that form your ‘digital footprint’ to identify whether your business provides what a user is looking for. Additionally, each factor is given a separate value to judge whether your website is trustworthy and authentic.
These are some of the crucial elements of SEO marketing:
- Keywords: These refer to the words or phrases used by people to search for content online. A business should carefully choose keywords to use in their content.
- Content: This is the best way to engage with consumers and build relationships with them. The content you put out should be relevant to your business.
- Local SEO: This is a more specific strategy that enables a business to stand out in the local search results and target consumers from a specific geographic location or neighbourhood.
How to Set Up Google Search Console?
Here’s a simple way to set up your Google Search Console:
Log in from your Google account or Google Analytics credentials.
You will be given two options to select property type- Domain and URL prefix.
- Select the first option (“Domain”) if you want to see the analytics of your complete website, that is, all the subdomains and paths that are part of your website.
- If you wish to see the analytics of a single path or subdomain, then you should choose the second option (“URL prefix”).
Your next step is to verify ownership of your website via DNS record. This will differ based on the property type you have chosen.
- If you have chosen the Domain property type, click on the ‘Instructions’ dropdown to see select a provider your website is registered with.
- If it is, then you will have to simply log in to the registrar account. All instructions will be conveyed to you from here.
- If it isn’t, then click on the ‘Any DNS provider’ option. Log in using your domain provider, choose your domain, and then find the option to manage Domain Name Servers (DNS). Then you click on the ‘add a TXT record’ option and copy the record from the Google Search Console. Hit the ‘Verify’ button and give it a few minutes to get confirmed.
- If you have chosen the URL prefix property type, the most recommended way to verify ownership is by uploading an HTML file to the website.
Add a Sitemap to your Google Search Console. This is very important because, without it, Google will not be able to crawl through content on your website. To add the sitemap:
- Go to the Menu
- Choose Sitemaps
- Go to the ‘Add new sitemap’ option
- Copy-paste the URL of your XML sitemap
- Click on Submit
After completing the above, you will have to add users to your Google Search Console. A ‘User’ is defined as someone who has partial or complete access to the data in your Google Search Console. These users are of three types:
- The Owner: They will be given complete control over the property
- A Full User: They have the right to view all data in the selected property and also have the power to engage in specified actions
- Restricted User: They have the right to view restricted data and cannot access all the data in the Google Search Console
To add a user, follow the given steps:
- Go to Settings
- Click on the ‘Users and Permissions’ option
- Click on the ‘Add User’ button
- Now, enter the email ID of the user you wish to add
- Select what type of access you want to give them: restricted or full
Note: Whoever verifies the property in the Google Search Console is saved as the owner by default.
Using Google Search Console to Improve SEO Rankings
You have finished setting up your Google Search Console, but how do you use it to your advantage? Here are some things you can do:
1. Identify Which Keywords Your Website Ranks For
One of the most important things in the Google Search Console is the Performance reports. These reports contain all the basic information you would need to use for SEO and building your digital strategy. All keywords your website ranks for will be available in the ‘Queries’ tab.
2. Find out how users are engaging with your website
In the performance report itself, you will be shown four different metrics;
- Total Clicks: The total number of times people have clicked on your website link from Google search results within a specific timeframe.
- Total Impressions: The total number of times people have seen your website in the search within a specified timeframe.
- Average Click-Through Rate (CTR): This is calculated as the total clicks divided by the total impression.
- Average Position: This is calculated as the total number of positions you have divided by the total number of keywords you rank for.
3. Find Out How Many Pages of Your Website Are on The Google Index
Another important feature of Google Search Console is the ‘Coverage’ report, which lets you know how many pages have been indexed by Google. If one of your pages has not been indexed, you can submit it for indexing. To do this:
- Click on the ‘URL inspection’ tool
- Copy and paste the webpage URL you want to submit and wait for Google to complete its test
- If there are no errors found by Google, you can click on the ‘Request Indexing’ option
Google may take a few hours or a few days to process your request and add your page to its Index.
4. Identify Unindexable Pages and Crawl Errors
Google Search Console scans through your website, looking for errors so that you do not have to go through the extensive HTML of each page manually. To find this option select the ‘Error’ option under ‘Coverage’. Not only does Google Search Console highlight pages that weren’t indexed, but it also lists reasons about why they weren’t. When you have identified an issue, you know exactly what to do to optimise your website and SEO rankings.
5. Design your Website to be Mobile-Friendly
Google Search Console also provides you with an option to check for ‘Mobile Usability’ and identify any errors. The errors could range from how responsive your website is on a mobile device and how long does it take to load, and whether all elements on the page are appropriate (for example- the font is not too small or too big on a mobile phone). It also informs you about how you can correct these errors to provide consumers with a good user experience.
6. Find out whether Your Website Has Any Penalties
Google issues a manual action against your website if it believes that it violates quality guidelines. This poses a threat to getting your website removed from the Google Index. Some things that could result in a violation are:
- Publishing low quality content on your website
- Keyword stuffing
- Buying backlinks
- If Google believes that someone has hacked your website
- Redirects and links on your page or comments that lead to questionable websites
The Google Search Console has an option for ‘Manual actions’ where you can find out if you have been issued a penalty. It also provides you with a set of instructions to fix the problem so that you can get your website indexed.
15 Tips to Improve SEO Using Google Search Console
Understanding the basics of Google Search Console may take a while. However, once you get the basic understanding, you should keep the following things in mind for the long run:
- Identify your most important SEO metrics because focusing on only one metric could be misleading
- Avoid falling into the data trap. Remember to focus on the big picture, give more importance to keywords that are relevant to your business
- Export data from Google Search Console for further sophisticated analysis
- Look at how much traffic you are driving in from different devices, like desktops and mobile phones, separately. This is because your rankings from various devices will differ
- Look at how different sections of your website are doing
- Do not overlook the Countries tab. Based on the data, you can design your SEO strategy to target specific countries
- Keep an eye on high CTR keywords and optimise your website around them
- Identify opportunities where you can do internal linking. This speeds up the process of getting your pages indexed
- Analyse your performance weekly, quarterly, and yearly to see whether your SEO strategies are improving your ranks or whether they need to be re-evaluated
- Analyse whether your keyword ranking targets are reflecting your actual positions. If your targeting keywords are not ranking, then you could shift your time and effort to generate content for keywords that are gaining traction
- Address negative keywords by updating content on your website to include keywords you are ranking for
- Identify keywords that you are ranking for and use them to generate new content for your website
- Improve or maintain a consistent CTR. If the rankings of your website fall, then Google may perceive your content and website as irrelevant
- Compare your data with your competition to see their ranking
- Make sure that you submit and resubmit every URL for inspection. This will update your website on the Google Index faster
Is Google Search Console Better Than Other Platforms?
Several other SEO tools collect data about keyword rankings by sifting through SERPS. Not only may this information give you an incomplete picture, but the information is also backdated. Additionally, they only see the rankings of 30-40% of your website’s total keywords because these tools crawl through limited SERPs. The Google Search Console has at its disposal an expansive and complete dataset, which makes it an important tool to study metrics like clicks, impressions, keyword tracking, CTR and average position.
It is now easy to comprehend that obtaining data about the total number of clicks, the total number of impressions, CTR, and keyword rankings is essential to help your business design an effective SEO strategy. For this, Google Search Console is an accurate and reliable tool whose expansive dataset is unmatched by other SEO tools in the market. They help you identify areas where you should allocate resources and effort to boost your overall search performance. These insights can help you identify what is important to your audience, it could also show you whether your content is showing up on the search results.
To better understand Google Search Console and become familiar with its functionality, it is recommended that you spend some time exploring its features. If you are using Google Search Console for the first time, you might be overwhelmed with the amount of data you see. Try to make sense of the data with a team of individuals and come up with various SEO strategies to improve your rankings. Please remember that you can always go back and check on the data and see if your strategy worked, and re-evaluate how you want to move forward.