Search Engine Optimization…the ever-changing beast you’ve spent hours pouring over and working to reign in. While you may be using the right keywords, H2 tags, Alt tags, etc., to rank higher on Google search results, what if we told you there’s one simple tool you may not be using, and it’s holding you back from being crawled by Google? Enter Google Search Console — an incredibly powerful free service that gives you a great deal of information about your website and the people who visit it. Businesses and marketers know the importance that brand trust plays in securing long-term clients, but many fail to implement strategies that stick.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a collection of tools and reports that allow users to monitor, manage, and improve their websites. It is a web service provided by Google free of charge, that gives you information about your site and the people who visit it.
Why Google Search Console is Important
Google’s Search Console offers to help you monitor and maintain your site’s search presence and is often your best friend when it comes to maintaining good standing with Google. Search Console makes sure that Google has access to your content, helps you monitor spam issues to keep your site clean, can help you submit new content to crawl, and allows you to remove old content.
How to Setup Google Search Console
STEP 1: ADD YOUR SITE TO GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE.
Taking this step tells Google that you are the website owner, webmaster, or another authorized user and gives you access to all of that good info we listed above. You must have a Google account to log into the Search Console. We recommend using the same log-in you use to sign into your Google Analytics account, as it will be beneficial later in the process.
Once you’re logged in, paste your URL in the box next to the red “Add Property” button.
STEP 2: VERIFY YOUR SITE.
After adding your website, you must verify it in order to access the reports.
Start at the Search Console dashboard, choose “Manage Site” then “Verify this Site.” From here, choose “Alternate Methods,” then you have one of four options to complete the verification: If you have experience working with HTML, you can upload an html file. If you are the owner of your site’s domain, you can verify using your domain name provider. If you use Google Tag Manager, you can verify via Google Tags. If you have already have Google Analytics setup, the easiest method is to use Google Analytics Tracking ID.
STEP 3: ADD AN XML SITEMAP.
Sitemaps give search engines and web crawlers important information about what type of content you have available and how your website is organized. Adding a sitemap to Google Search Console will ensure that Google has all of the information it needs to properly find content on your site and index it more quickly. With your sitemap, go to your Search Console dashboard, select “Index”, then “Sitemaps.” From here, paste in your URL and click “Submit.” It takes a few days for Google to pull in the data, so check back in every day until the reports start getting pulled.
How To Use Google Search Console
Once Google Search Console begins generating information about your site, there are a few key data points we recommend analyzing right away:
This section shows how many pages are and are not in the index of Google since the last update and what errors and warnings caused problems for indexing. Check this tab regularly to see what errors and warnings appear on your website. When you get such a notification you can check the error in more detail here. When you’ve fixed the error you can mark it as fixed to make sure Google will test the URL again.
CHECK ROBOTS.TXT FILES.
You most likely have authorized pages within your website that you don’t want indexed by search engines. In order to signal to Google which pages these are, you can create a robots.txt file, which provides boundaries for search engine crawlers and tells them what they can and can’t crawl.
With Google Search Console you can check on your robots.txt file to see exactly what these boundaries are. To do so, log into Search Console and pull up your dashboard, then choose “Crawl” followed by “robots.txt Tester.” From here, you can see your robots.txt file, find errors and make changes.
FETCH AND RENDER
If you’ve made changes to your website, you may notice that they don’t show up in Google search results. Search Console allows you to notify Google of the changes and get your updates indexed correctly. Simply go to your Search Console dashboard, select the page you need to submit, click on “Crawl” then “Fetch as Google.” From here, enter the full URL of the page you want indexed, then click “Fetch and Render.” This process may take a few minutes, and once completed, click “Submit to Index.” If you’re only submitting one specific page, then choose “Crawl Only This URL” but if you want to index the entire site, choose “Crawl This URL and its Direct Links.”
Your updates should catalog your new content within just a couple of days.
CONNECT GOOGLE ANALYTICS.
Although Google Analytics and Search Console seem very similar at first, they have distinct qualities, and it’s crucial that you allow them to work together. Google Analytics allows you to see who is visiting your site (how many visitors you’re getting, how they’re finding your site, how much time they spend on your site, and where they’re coming from); while Google Search Console gives you more internal information (who is linking to you, if there are problems on your site, and which keywords your site is appearing for in search results). When the two accounts are linked together, you can pull very insightful reports that will help you enhance your website. How do you link them? In the upper right hand corner of your Search Console dashboard, click on the gear icon, then click “Google Analytics Property.” Choose the Google Analytics account you want to be linked to your Search Console and click “Save” and you’re done!