How to set up Google Search Console
This post includes affiliate links. This means I recommend products that I have used and I get a commission if you buy through one link on my website (at no additional cost to you). I only recommend products I've used and I've found useful.
Google search console is a free tool by Google that provides detailed information about how your site appears in Google search results. You can find out how many times your site appears on Google search results, how many clicks it gets and detailed information about your Google ranking for different keywords. This is valuable information you should use to optimise your site and improve your SEO ranking, which will increase the free organic traffic you get from Google.
This blog post will explain what Google Search Console is and why it’s different from Google Analytics. It will also provide you with step-by-step instructions to set up Google Search Console, take you through the main reports and give you some pointers to start using it to improve your SEO ranking.
Why use Google search console
When you have an online business, one of your key priorities is to get traffic to your website. Improving your ranking on search engines is a good way to get free traffic to your site. Each search engine has a set of “Webmaster tools” that are available free. These tools give website administrators access to information about how their sites are interacting with the different search engines, which can be invaluable information to improve your website’s ranking on search engines.
According to NetMarketShare, 76.14% of search engine traffic run through Google in Oct 2018. This blog post will focus on Google’s webmaster tools or Google Search Console.
There are also free webmaster tools available for other search engines. Follow this link for step-by-step instructions to connect to Bing, Yahoo or Yandex webmaster tools.
What is the difference between Google Analytics and Google search console
Google Analytics gives you information about your website users: how many users, which pages they visit, how long they stay on each page etc. Google search console provides you with information about how Google views your site: how many times has each page appeared on Google search results, how many clicks, the Click Through Rate, who is linking to your site, etc.
You can also integrate both Google Analytics and Google console and access Google console’s data through Google Analytics. I will run through this later on this post.
How to connect to Google Search Console
The easiest way to connect to Google Search Console is through Yoast SEO plugin, which I also use to improve SEO before I publish all my blog posts.
Step 1 – Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a free WP plugin that provides tools to help you improve your search engine ranking. You can find step-by-step installation and configuration in my post “Improve your search engine ranking with Yoast SEO“.
Setp2 – Go to Webmaster tools in Yoast SEO
In the WP Dashboard, go to YSEO> General and choose the Webmaster Tools tab:
You can click on each one of the above links and follow the instructions to verify your website with Baidu, Google, Bing and Yandex. Yahoo is powered by Bing, so verifying your website with Bing means you also verify it with Yahoo at the same time.
Step 3 – Follow instructions to verify your website with Google
To verify your website with Google, you need a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create a free account here.
The same Google account is valid for all Google services, so you only need one account to use Google Console, Google Analytics, etc.
Once you have a Google account:
1 – Follow the Google verification link in the Webmaster Tools tab above.
2 – Log in to your Google account. You will be re-directed to the Verification screen below:
3 – Choose “HTML tag”.
4 – Copy the meta-tag that appears in blue above (the blanked area shows the ID number that will ID your site in Yoast. You can copy either that number only or the full meta-tag and Yoast will remove the “unwanted” part.). Leave this window open as you will need to come back to it.
5 – Go back to your site and paste the meta-tag in the Google text box in the Webmaster Tool’s dialog.
6 – Click on “Save changes”.
7 – Go back again to the Google verification window, and click “Verify”.
8 – You will get a confirmation window showing that Google has verified your website.
You can now access your website details in Google Search Console, which provides information about what content within your site Google has indexed and search statistics, errors, etc.
How to connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console
To connect your Google Analytics account with Google Search Console, you need to have a Google Analytics already set up for your site. If you haven’t set this up yet, check my post “Step-by-step guide to set up Google Analytics”
Once you have set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console:
1 – Login to your Google Analytics account
2 – Go to Admin on the bottom left of the navigation pane. Select Property Settings.
3 – Scroll down to find “Search Console” and click on “Adjust Search Console”
4 – A new window will open showing any Search Console properties already linked (or blank like below if you have linked no properties yet). Click on “Add”.
4 – A new window will open asking you to select the Google Console property you want to link to Google Analytics. Select the website you want to link and click “Save”.
5 – A new window will appear asking you to confirm this association. Click “OK”.
6 – Click “Save”
Now you can view data from Google Search Console through your Analytics account going to Acquisition > Search Console in your Analytics navigation bar and choosing one of the reports available.
How to use Google Search Console
When you open the Google Search Console, you get the main dashboard with a navigation bar on the left-hand side and a summary of the main reports open: Performance, Coverage and Mobile Usability. You can click on either of the reports to open the detailed report.
You can also open each of the main reports from the navigation bar on the left-hand side. Google Search Console enables you to get information about:
1 – Google search traffic – Performance report
The performance report shows the number of times that your website has appeared in Google search results (impressions), the number of clicks, the average Click Through Rate (CTR) and the average ranking position of your website on Google results.
The Performance report also shows you which keywords you are ranking for and the associated number of impressions and clicks for each keyword. It also shows which countries and type of device (mobile, desktop or tablet) the queries come from. A Search appearance report is also available for specific search result data. See Google help for more details.
You can also:
– Filter the data for web, image or video and you can select the time window you want to see.
– Add new queries and filters and select the data for a specific keyword or page (or exclude a specific keyword or page), specific devices, countries, etc.
– Select the metrics you want to see on the graph clicking on the different metrics: total clicks, total impressions, Average CTR or Average position.
– Export the data.
This data allows you to perform key analysis like:
– Look for posts that are not ranking on Google results or are ranking low. You can then work to improve the SEO and content on those posts and increase their ranking. Check out my posts on keyword optimisation https://marinagallego.com/keyword-research-improve-website-ranking/ and how to improve SEO https://marinagallego.com/5-actions-improve-seo/ for tips to improve your SEO ranking.
– Look for posts that are ranking well in Google results but are not getting many clicks. You can then try to improve your title and post a summary to increase the click-through rate.
2 – Google search appearance and errors – URL inspection report and Coverage report
With Google Search console, you can find out which pages Google has indexed and can appear in search results. You can also see how your links appear to a user within Google results, and you can get information about any errors or warnings.
URL inspection report
The URL inspection report is a useful tool that allows you to enter a URL and gives you the following information:
– Confirms if Google has included the URL in search results. If Google has not yet indexed the page, you can send a request to Google to index it within this same tool. This should ensure that Google indexes the URL a lot quicker than if you wait for Google to crawl it.
– Confirms if the URL is mobile friendly or highlights any issues with the mobile version.
– Allows you to “Test Live URL”. You can see a screenshot of how Google sees the URL and a list of any errors to load the page.
This report shows the number of pages that Google has indexed and any errors or warnings. You can also see a list of all the pages not indexed and for each one of them you can select:
– Inspect URL: this takes you back to the URL inspection option explained above.
– Test Robots.txt blocking: this option opens the Robots.txt file and checks if the URL has been blocked in this file.
– Fetch as Google: This option allows you to enter a URL and fetch it as Google would from a desktop or mobile. Once it’s fetched, you can select the URL for Google to index it. If you choose render, you can see the page as Google sees it and next to it the same page as a visitor would see it, so you can check any problems.
– View as search result: opens a new tab where we can see the search result as shown by Google if Google has indexed the page. If Google has not yet indexed the URL, this page appears blank.
Mobile Usability report
This report shows any errors within your website that would make the website not display properly in a mobile device
All the data provided within the URL inspection, the Coverage and the Mobile Usability reports will help fix any problems or errors within your site that stop any pages from being indexed by Google or make a page not display properly on Mobile devices.
3 – Sitemaps
This report allows you to submit a sitemap and see what sitemap files have been submitted so far and the current indexing status of each sitemap submitted for that site.
Submitting a sitemap to Google can help your pages get indexed quicker and can also show any sitemap errors.
4 – Links
This report shows a list of all the internal and external links that point to your site. You can also see which text is being used to link to your site.
5 – Security and manual actions
These two pages show any security or manual action errors for the site. Look at Google’s help to find more details about the manual actions report and the security issues report. These reports highlight issues with malware, unusual re-directs or other security problems.
In summary, Google Search Console is a great tool to understand how your website is performing on Google search results and to help you work on your SEO and improve your ranking. If you are working on your SEO, there are several easy steps you can take to improve your SEO ranking and you also need to research keywords for SEO before you write your blog posts. Using Google Search Console and Google Analytics and working on improving your SEO ranking will increase your website’s traffic. Getting organic search traffic from Google can take time though, so don’t be discouraged if your progress seems slow and keep working on it.