Google Analytics is a great start to begin with gathering analytics data about our website. But it has one glaring blind spot: search statistics. Fortunately, we can use Google Search Console to find all of those stats and a lot more. We can see where we are ranking and how many clicks we are getting from various searches. Plus, we can submit sitemaps to Google, remove pages from the index and see indexing errors that might be hurting our ranking.
Hey there and welcome back!
So last week in this series we talked about Google Analytics and all of the really cool things that it can do for you and your website. But there is one blind spot that it has: what you can see about your search statistics is severely limited.
And that’s where Google Search Console comes into play. Google Search Console, which formerly used to be Google Webmaster Tools, allows you to see a lot of your search related statistics such as what searches you’re showing up in, how many clicks you’re getting from those searches, how high up the search results you’re showing up and so much more.
Plus, you can submit your sitemaps directly to Google here so that they can be indexed quicker. And you can also submit individual posts and pages right after you post them right into Google as well. And you can also remove pages from the index if you need to.
And finally you can also use it to check for different errors that might be hurting your website’s ranking such as 404 errors, slow page speed, mobile usage problems and so much more. It’s a one-stop free shop to analyze and start fixing your SEO.
So today let’s walk through getting started with Google Search Console and looking at all of the many things that you can do inside of it.
Okay so to get started with Google Search Console to get started off you’ll have to go to the URL listed below and you’ll have to sign in with your Google account or create a Google account. If you already have Google Analytics set up, you already have a Google account. And actually that Analytics account will come in handy a little bit later.
So I already have a couple of properties already set up which is why I’m already seeing this. But once you get going, you’ll be going in and adding a property. And in here you can enter in the domain of the website you’re hoping to track with Google Search Console. You enter it in here, and then it gives you four ways you can verify your ownership.
The first one is that it will ask you to download a file and place it on your website and it will go and look for that. You can also use your Google Analytics account, and you can use your Google Tag Manager account to also verify your ownership of this website. And then finally you can also enter in your DNS settings, but that’s for more technical people. Really Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager options are going to be your best bet.
Okay once you’ve got it set up and once you’ve got a few days worth of tracking data, you will see this. And right here we see our overall performance. We see some coverage things. And a bunch of different things here on our dashboard. The first thing that you’ll want to see, and what I really use the search console for, is to go in and see your search results stats.
So as you can see here it goes back three months. And we have the line graph. We can add in average click through rate and the average position. That is your ranking. If you’re curious about where you’re ranking for different queries and where pages are ranking, the average position is what you’re going to want to use.
And then below that we have a few different table options we can use. We can see here the query, this is what people are typing in to Google and our site is appearing in those searches. And then obviously here we have the clicks, impressions, click through rate, basically it’s clicks divided by impressions times one hundred, so you get the click through rate and then we also have the average position our website pages are showing up for that search.
And then we can also change it and see the pages. We get sort of the same data. Countries. Devices. Search Appearance. And then dates.
And then we can also add in filters up here. So say that I want to see the stats for one specific page. Go in here, and now I’m just seeing the queries where this page is showing up. I’m seeing the clicks, impressions, click through rate and position. And there are a number of filters, and you can really go to town just going through this data.
And next up another really cool thing that you can use with Google Search Console is use it to submit sitemaps to Google. Sitemaps are a critical part of SEO. Basically they are a set of links that Google will use to crawl through your website. So it will use the list you give it to index those pages and then from those pages it will crawl even further into your website. And this helps it to get index faster because you’re submitting it right to the source. The indexing won’t be immediate. It will go into a queue. But it will be much quicker than if you didn’t do anything.
And also to that point, we can go up here and inspect a URL on your website. And when you enter in the URL, it will tell you some information. You’ll see if it’s been submitted and indexed and when it was last crawled. So we can see that this was fairly recently.
And then, this is the really cool part, so when you create a new post or a new page and right after you publish it you go in here and enter in the URL, you’re probably not going to see any of this. It will say it’s not indexed or Google doesn’t know it. And then you can request for it to be put in the queue to be indexed.
And that’s kind of like submitting the sitemap to be indexed except that’s just for that one page and that page will be indexed a lot a quicker rather than having it just run its normal course. And then if you update your page, you can come back in here and also hit request indexing and it will put it back in the queue to reindex and then Google will pick up on those changes and it will use those changes to rank your website and display the information in search results.
And then finally we can use Google Search Console to discover and fix different errors on our website. So we come in here to coverage and we see a graph and we have a few errors. The big thing, obviously, is going to be 404 errors. This means that there’s a link that Google picked up on and it went to it and it didn’t get the resource, the page or whatever and it hit a 404 error.
We would want to go in here and fix them. Just at a glance I’m not sure what these errors are about. So at some point I’ll probably just go through and make sure those pages are finding it. It is saying it’s a soft 404, so it just might have been an issue right when it was indexing. Those sorts of things.
And we can go back. And also noindex errors. Those are all pages that I don’t want to be indexed just because they’re all purchase type pages and they don’t need to be popping up in Google or any of that. If you have a server error, a 500 error, it will tell you that too and you can go in and fix those. Because some of them, especially a 404 error, will hurt your ranking a little bit.
And then also kind of on that same point, there are a few enhancements that they’ve been adding on. This one is speed. It’s still in that sort of experimental phase, so don’t take anything you see here as gospel. Although it would be worth making sure that your site speed is as fast as it can be. Mobile usability. It will tell you if there’s content wider than the screen or if clickable elements are too close together.
Also if you have FAQs schema, it will tell you if something is wrong with that, logos or products or any of that. But again, just with Google Search Console there’s a lot here. There’s a lot of really good information. Obviously you’re going to be using this a lot for your search results and seeing those statistics and seeing if your SEO efforts are working, if they’re not. And then the sitemaps help with the SEO and the coverage and the other things that they are adding can help you to fix issues so that your website is performing as good as it can be.
So that’s Google Search Console in a nutshell. As I’ve said, it’s a great tool to check in on how your SEO efforts are going and maybe figure out what you need to be working on. And I’ve placed a couple of links in the description below where you can learn more about it and how you can use it to help your website.
But in the meantime, do you have any questions about Google Search Console? If so be sure to leave them down in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if you want more videos on these Google tools, web analytics, digital marketing or other website-related topics, be sure to subscribe.
And I’ll see you next time!