What is Google Search Console? A beginner guide

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Quick – how well is your site performing in search right now?

There are high-priced tools that can give you an estimate of how well you rank over time, but let’s face it – they’re just guesses. Fortunately, there is a way you can get accurate data on your rank, how many times your site is seen in search results, and even your click through rate.

And it’s all free.

We’re talking about Google Search Console (GSC). It’s simple, easy to use, and completely free! Whether you are a business owner, web developer, site administrator, or SEO specialist, Google’s Search Console service is a must to set up for your website if you want to chart your growth and improve your rank. We’ll dive into the basics of Google Search Console and how to set it up in this article.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free Google service that allows you to maintain and monitor your site’s presence in Google Search results.

With this Google Search Console you can monitor impressions, clicks, and rank for pages on your website, as well as see which keywords are driving traffic (and add in as many keywords as you want to see your rank for those too). You get data straight from the source. View your website’s performance at a glance, and see what is actually generating impressions and clicks to your content.

Here’s a quick screenshot from our Google Search Console to show you what this data looks like:

Here we can chart our impressions and clicks in search over time. This is aggregate for the entire site and what’s really cool with Google Search Console is we can drill down to individual pages and keywords too! Google Search Console also calls out keywords that are driving traffic to your site right now and your average rank and click-through rate, giving you an in-depth look into how well your SEO efforts are paying off.

You can also optimize your site by leveraging Google Search Console’s technical recommendations and site health report. With Google Search Console you can review errors that Google is seeing on your site with explanations on how to fix them. Here’s the site coverage and errors report:

Lastly, you can keep Google up to date by submitting new URLs from your site so Google indexes them right away.

Google Search Console also provides a legacy tool to show you backlink data as well! As you can see, Google Search Console is a well-rounded tool that can be your secret weapon in outranking your competition. Next we’ll walk you through the steps to set it up and get started with your website.

How do I set Google Search Console up for my website?

Setting up Google Search Console for your website is easy! Below are a few steps to guide you through the process. Let’s get started!

First, create Account and Add Property

To set up GSC for your business you will first need to create an account. Once you have created an account, open up the search console and click on ‘add property.’ When you click on this, it allows you to insert your website.

Next select a Domain or URL Prefix

Google Search Console gives you two options for inserting your site.

The newest way to insert your site is by entering the ‘domain.’ This option is quite simple, all you have to do is enter the site’s domain name (the ‘middle’ part of the url between the ‘www’ and the ‘.com’). By using the domain option, you GSC allows you to track everything that is connected to that domain.

The other option, which is older but still relevant depending on what information you are planning on tracking, is the ‘URL prefix‘ option. With this option, you have to insert the URL of your website (including the http/https and the www.). While the domain option collects data for all URLs, protocols, subdomains, and paths under its domain, the URL prefix option collects data only under the specified address. Thus, it is important to choose the right option for collecting the right data that you want.

Finally, verify your Google Search Console Account

Once you have created your account, you need to verify your ownership. There are several ways to verify your account. For reference, Google has explained how to verify ownership of the account through various options listed here. Some of these options include:

1) Verify by HTML file upload: You can upload a verification HTML file to a location on your website. Google Search Console provides you with the file and some instructions to upload, this gets a bit technical so it’s best to work with your web developer.

2) Verify with your domain provider: By logging into your domain provider, like GoDaddy, you can add a DNS record that allows Google Search Console to verify your site. When choosing the DNS record option Google Search Console will provide a TXT record to enter into your domain provider. Add it and head back to the property you added to Google Search Console and click ‘verify.’ Some domain providers take a few minutes to register these new DNS records and some even take up to 24 hours so be patient!

3) Add an HTML tag to the homepage You can also verify your site by adding a meta tag to the <head> section of the home page, like the HTML file upload this will probably require the help of your web developer.

4) Verify with your Google Analytics Tracking Code: If you are using Google Analytics for your site, you’re in luck because you can verify Google Search Console with it. Choose ‘Google Analytics’ as the verification option and place the tracking code in the <head> section of your page (not the page body, it will fail).

5) Verify with Google Tag Manager Container Snippet Code: If you are using Google Tag Manager for your website you can verify Google Search Console with that as well. Choose the Google Tag Manager option and follow the instructions shown. Place the <noscript> portion of the tag manager code directly after the opening <body> tag because placing it anywhere else will fail to get your desired results.

What can I do with Google Search Console?

Among monitoring the viewership of your site, there are many ways that you can use Google Search Console to collect data and improve your rank. Here are some ideas:

Track Impressions

Impressions are important because they tell you how often a specific page appears in your search results. You can use this to see which pages rank for a certain keyword. If you want to see what pages rank for a specific keyword, just click on the line of the keyword. You could also use the ‘pages‘ tab to see the exact pages that rank for a keyword.

Monitor Click Through Rates

You can also use Google Search Console to view click through rates for keywords and searches. Click through rates tell you how often people viewed your website. This number is important because if you have a high number of clicks on a page , then it means that you probably have a good page title and meta description. If you don’t, then you may need to edit these two things.

Submit new pages to be indexed

One of the lesser-talked about features of Google Search Console is the ability to submit new URLs to be indexed by Google. Your website will only appear in search results if Google knows it’s there – sure Google will index new pages on your site eventually but that could take weeks, or maybe months depending on Google’s crawlers. With Google Search Console you can submit new blog post URLs to be indexed right away so your content can start ranking as soon as you hit ‘publish.’

Conclusion

It’s pretty clear that if you’re not currently using Google Search Console for your website, you should get on that right away.

By checking your stats regularly you can make adjustments to improve your rank and ignite your site’s traffic. Start outranking your competition today with a free Google Search Console account, sign up here to get started.

Centori also integrates with Google Search Console to match your site’s performance with lists of keywords you build to give you the most accurate data possible. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and start improving your rank today!

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