Over the past five years, Google Search Console keyword phrases have steadily increased as more webmasters have come to understand the power of Google’s data. For website owners and business owners who want to improve their SEO rankings, there is no better performance data available than the important metrics that come straight from Google.
There are many SEO softwares out there that track keyword rankings, but Google has the most accurate and up-to-date information about the keywords your site ranks for on a daily basis. In this way, Google, or software built over Google’s API, is the only source of truth for how your url is performing in search right now.
If you want to earn more keyword rankings and drive organic traffic from search, GSC is the best platform available. Beyond keyword tracking, the platform empowers you to perform other key SEO actions that will improve site visibility and ensure that Google is crawling and indexing your site as efficiently as possible.
–What is Google Search Console?
–Key Features of Google Search Console
–Getting Started: How to Set Up Google Search Console
–The Metrics: How to Use Google Search Console
–How to Use Google Search Console Effectively
Google Search Console is a free platform provided by Google to measure website performance in search engine results pages. Formerly known as Google Webmasters, Google Search Console allows site owners to check the indexing status of their web pages, track their keyword rankings, and improve the overall visibility of their websites in search engine results pages.
There are many features that Google Search Console offers webmasters to understand their search engine performance and elevate their usability to meet Google’s standards.
If you’re brand new to tracking your website in the GSC platform, setting up your account and getting started is simple. Here is a run-through of all of the first steps to get your account properly linked to your domain, adding users, and linking your GSC account with other useful platforms.
Once you’ve created an account with Google Search Console, open the drop down menu and select “Add Property”. You will be given the selection of three different types of properties, various ways to verify your property, as well as the subsequent steps for each verification method. Verification methods will be available depending on the property type.
HTML file upload, domain name provider, and Google Analytics tracking code are popular choices for verification, but Google provides detailed instructions for each in Google webmaster tools.
If you have multiple team members or individuals monitoring the same domain, it’s easy to add additional users to your Google Search Console account. Property owners can designate both full users, restricted users, or associates, each of which comes with limited permissions.
Full users can see all of the Google Search Console data and can take most actions that a property owner can, but only the property owner can make fundamental changes to the account, such as adding or removing property owners, changing an address, or submitting a sitemap. If you’re a site owner that is working with an SEO or digital marketing agency to execute your SEO strategy, you should add your account managers or agency representatives as full users or restricted users.
A property can have up to 100 users. Here are the Google webmaster instructions of how to add a user to an account.
Google Analytics is another free tool that Google provides to site owners and one you should already be using to understand your website traffic and other key performance indicators. Google Analytics focuses on metrics related to all traffic on your website, not just the users who arrive from organic search.
If you want to simplify your life and have all or your analytics in one location, you can link your Google Search Console account to your Google Analytics account. By doing so, Google will import all of your GSC data into your Google Analytics reporting.
To do so, you will have to have both accounts already setup. Then, login into your Google Analytics account.
Once these steps are complete, you will have additional reporting available and your GSC data in your Google Analytics account.
One of the downsides of GSC is that the dashboard is rather limited in comparison to other SEO softwares. The data, however, is still the best, because it comes straight from Google.
If you want access to a more comprehensive dashboard with more advanced data visualizations, LinkGraph’s Google Search Console tool combines a more engaging user interface with the same powerful Google Search Console Data. Unlike other software, LinkGraph’s is built over Google’s API, meaning you have access to the same real-time data you find in GSC.
To access the tool, create a LinkGraph Account (you will also get access to our other SEO tools like our landing page optimizer and keyword explorer). Select the “Google Search Console” tool on the left side of the dashboard, where you will be able to link a new account via the “Projects” tab.
Once you’ve added your domain property, users, and linked your primary Google accounts, you’re ready to start tracking your website’s performance in the SERPs.
If you’re new to SEO, understanding what the metrics represent is important. Here is an overview of the primary metrics that Google tracks organized by how they are structured in your Google Search Console Account.
The overview section is a summary of the three primary categories of metrics that Google Search Console Tracks: Performance, Coverage, and Enhancements.
The URL inspection tool is a way to quickly inspect the indexed version of any given web page on your domain. There are three ways to access and use the tool in your Google Search Console account.
Once you inspect a url, GSC will provide you an overview of information from their last crawl attempt, including whether or not the url appears in search results, whether it appears in search results but has issues, where the page was found, and more.
Watch the below video for more information on how to make the most of the URL inspection tool and the data it provides.
The Performance section of your Google Search Console account will provide all of the metrics related to your urls’ search appearances. The primary data graph will provide four key metrics that quantify how your site is performing overall across all web pages.
If you want to filter these search performance metrics for specific keywords, landing pages, days, or some other factor, you can set your parameters from the table located below the primary graph.
The table will populate based on the filters or combination of filters you select. You can filter your clicks, impressions, average position, and average CTR by any of the following parameters.
How best to utilize all of this data will depend on your own keyword targets, strategy, and SEO goals. Overall, the data is designed to provide you both a big picture summary and many granular pictures of the strengths and weaknesses of your search performance.
Before Google can rank your urls for keywords, it has to crawl and index your pages. The Index section of your Google account will give you all of the information you need to understand how Google is indexing your pages, as well as tools to improve how Google is understanding your web pages.
This feature of the Google Search Console tool allows site owners to see which of their landing pages have been indexed and whether Google bots encountered any problems when crawling them. Since 2018, Google uses mobile-first indexing data when available. Ideally, there will be zero errors on your coverage report, but if not, Google will identify what pages had errors and the type of error so you can attempt to correct it.
A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like — a roadmap for all of the web pages in your domain. It communicates to Google’s crawlers what the most important pages of your website are, even if you don’t have internal links pointing to all of your pages.
Essentially, a sitemap helps Google crawl your website more intelligently and efficiently, which benefits your keyword rankings in the long-run. You can generate an XML sitemap using a site map generator (try the Yoast plugin). If you are unsure of which pages to include in your sitemap, consult one of our SEO strategists before generating your file.
You are certainly not required to add a sitemap to your GSC account, and for smaller sites with only a few landing pages, it may not be necessary. However, larger websites (like ecommerce sites with lots of product pages) can really see their keyword rankings benefit by adding a sitemap. To upload your xml sitemap in your Google Search Console account. First, select the “Sitemap” tab.
You will be directed to the page where you can upload your xml file. Add the link to your file and click submit.
In Google Search Console, you will be notified when there are any crawl or indexing errors on your website. Checking back in on your sitemap is important as Google won’t necessarily crawl every page on your website with the same frequency. Also as your website grows or anything changes with your overall site architecture, you will want to update your sitemap so Google continues to understand which pages are central to your site architecture.
One of the newest features of Google Search Console, the Removal tool allows site owners to both remove content from the SERPs and see which content has been removed due to the requests of third parties.
The removal tool offers three options to site owners:
The majority of site owners will only ever access the first feature of the tool. If for some reason you need to temporarily remove a URL from Google, you can submit your request via the removal tool. The request can be submitted for a specific url or any urls containing the same prefix, and they will be removed from Google for six months.
This tool does not permanently remove web pages from Google’s index. To do so, site owners need to either use the robots no index tag or delete the content from their site.
In 2020, Google switched out it’s PageSpeed report with Core Web Vitals report. This report is all about the technical performance of your website. Google bots measure website performance and page experience through their Core Web Vitals metrics. The following metrics make up Core Web Vitals:
Google Search Console provides Core Web Vitals reports for both the mobile and desktop versions of your website.
Google recommends focusing on improving those affected urls that receive “Poor,” and “Needs Improvement,” ratings. Click on “Open Report,” to get more details about the issue type that is resulting in the subpar rating.
Once you’ve attempted to fix the issue, you can verify whether Google is seeing the issue as resolved across your entire site. Choose the, “Validate Fix,” feature, and Google will track usage data for 28 days to see whether the issue is fixed. If your website is newer, keep in mind that Google can only verify the fix if you get enough site traffic for statistically significant usage data.
Some improvements you may be able to make on the backend of your WordPress site (or whatever CMS you use), but other errors may require you to work more closely with a developer.
The mobile usability report provides site owners with insights about how their website performs on mobile devices. If any of your pages do have mobile usability issues, the “Details” table will highlight the type and status of the error. Errors that may be noted on your mobile usability report include:
Some of these errors are more simple to fix than others, but it is important to address the errors as best as possible, particularly if your website traffic primarily comes from a mobile device. With mobile-first indexing, Google uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking, meaning solving these issues is of great importance for getting higher rankings.
AMP pages are essentially a streamlined version of HTML that result in faster loading times on mobile devices. If you want to create accelerated mobile pages for your website, your web developer will need to follow AMP HTML specifications. Then, you can use Google’s tool to confirm that your AMP pages are properly set up and recognized by googlebots.
The enhancements section of the Google Search Console account provides sitewide insights and performance reports that can help site owners improve their rich results, or those SERP results that include carousels, images, or other non textual elements.
Rich results can help your search results look more attractive to users, but your site can only appear in rich results if you have structured data markup, or the standardized format of website code for classifying page content. What you see in the “Enhancements” portion of the Google Search console toolbar will depend on what structured data types you have implemented across your site.
You can work with your web developer or an SEO agency to implement structured data on the backend of your website. First, explore Google’s search gallery to find the structured data types that make the most sense for your web pages and that you want to appear with your result. There are multiple options ranging from breadcrumbs, events, products, recipes, and more.
Enhancements are essentially HTML improvements that elevate the performance of your pages for users as well as helping Google’s bots better understand the primary purpose of each of your webpages. It is worth the effort to make sure to use structured data markup if you want to improve your overall appearances in the search engine results pages.
We will not cover all enhancements here, only the most common that online businesses use to improve the quality of their search appearances. Google Search Console helps site owners know when there are performance issues across these enhancements and how to resolve them.
Breadcrumbs are a rich results type that can help Google’s crawlers and users understand your site structure, or where your web pages are located in your website’s hierarchy. Site owners in any industry can benefit from adding breadcrumbs to their website, but particularly large sites with multiple landing pages.
The first page of your website that users arrive at through organic search may be a blog post or a resource page, not necessarily your homepage or primary category pages. With breadcrumbs, users (and Google bots) always have a sense of where they are located on your website.
Once you have implemented the breadcrumbs structured data markup, Google will provide a report that lets you know whether or not there are any errors and which support team can help you resolve the issue.
The Logos structured data markup helps Google understand the logo associated with your business or website. By adding the Logos structured data markup, it ensures that your logo appears in branded search results for your company. The logos structured data type will help Google know to show your brand logo in knowledge panels.
In the Google Search Console Tool, the logos report will let you know whether or not your logo is appearing correctly in rich results and if not, how to correct the issue.
The local business structured data markup is really important for any local or small business with a brick-and-mortar store who users will likely find via mobile search.
This structured data markup type provides essential information about your local business like your physical address, hours of operation, online reviews, and makes it easy to contact you by phone straight from the result. If there are any errors in your search result, Google will notify you in the GSC dashboard.
Having a save, secure website creates a higher-quality web experience for users, which is why Google provides warnings of any security issues it detects on your website. Google will flag any issues that could harm users it sends to your website, and will notify you of which pages the security issues were detected on.
Google Search Console provides details on how to resolve the specific security issues it detects. It is site owners responsibility to resolve those security issues in order for their rankings to improve. In order to test whether or not the security issues have been resolved, simply “Request Review,” in your Security Issues report and provide the following information in your request:
It usually takes 2-3 weeks before Google Search Console notifies site owners by email of whether the issues have been resolved.
The manual actions report is meant to prevent those websites who use black hat or unethical attempts to manipulate their search results. If your site is issued any manual actions, some or all of your site will not be shown in search results.
There are a variety of reasons why your website may be issued a manual action, but they all fall under the umbrella of failing to follow Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. To fix the issue, follow these guidelines outlined in Google Search Console’s help center.
Since the launch of the new Google Search Console, legacy tools and reports do not have a current replacement in the new Google Search Console dashboard. Google does not make the older version of GSC available, but site owners can still access these tools via the links Google provides in their help center:
The Links section of Google Search Console allows site owners to see their backlinks, internal links, top linking sites, top linked pages, as well as the most common anchor text other site owners use when linking to theirs. Site owners can export a CSV file of all of their backlinks by clicking the “Export External Links,” button to get a closer look at those sites that are linking to theirs.