How to Use Google Search Console for SEO
SEO is critical for elevating your brand’s online presence.
It determines how users discover your site, what types of audiences you’ll attract, and where you rank among your competitors.
There are a variety of digital tools available to assist with elevating your SEO strategy. Among these is Google Search Console, a free service for monitoring your website and generating expert reports.
Learning how to take advantage of this gift from Google will help you climb the rankings. After reading this guide, you’ll be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the top brands in your field online.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free service that helps brands and site owners diagnose technical SEO issues to improve search visibility.
You’ll be able to watch your site performance 24/7, while also having the ability to instantly generate reports regarding keyword performance, technical SEO errors, and site security.
Anything that can have an impact on your domain’s SEO value can be found by using Google’s suite of tools. While it can take some time to get savvy with the service, it has zero barriers to entry making it a necessity for any online brand.
Why is Google Search Console Important for SEO?
Google Search Console is available for free as it actively helps Google to better understand the content found on your website.
While the company is not working to help your brand specifically, they do want to ensure that your content finds the ideal audience. This will help you generate more qualified leads while allowing Google to offer a superior search engine experience for users around the globe.
When you actively take advantage of Google Search Console, you’ll gain instant feedback for the following aspects of your site’s SEO:
- Checking SEO performance for chosen keywords (ranking, search volume, etc.)
- Diagnosing technical SEO issues like loading speeds or navigation errors
- Gathering reports on backlinks pointing to your domain
- Scanning for mobile website usability errors
Furthermore, you can actively help Google by creating your sitemap for navigation, or by submitting new crawl requests when completing major website changes.
You should be monitoring all of the above weekly or monthly to continuously improve your domain authority and avoid falling further down in the rankings. Without Search Console, you rely on automated, periodic check-ins that may inaccurately index your pages, while remaining oblivious to easily fixable site health errors.
How to Create a Google Search Console Account?
Creating your own Google Search Console account is a straightforward process. You can access the setup process on Google’s site here.
To get started, you will require:
- A Google Analytics account
- A domain with DNS verification
- Access to your domain name provider account (GoDaddy, Bluehost, Dreamhost, etc.)
Then, follow these steps:
Step – 1: Enter your website by either using the Domain property or the URL prefix. You’ll see examples of both auto-filled in either field.
Step – 2: It will then check to determine if site ownership has been verified by Google. Since we are creating a new account, you will see the domain ownership verification instructions next.
Step – 3: Choose a TXT or CNAME record type (the former is recommended). You’ll then need to copy the contents of that record into your domain’s DNS configuration on your domain name provider’s site. Be sure to save those changes.
Step – 4: Head back to Google Search Console setup and click Verify.
With this, Google will be able to recognize you as the owner of the domain. After the verification is complete, you’ll be able to access the Google Search Console tool at any time from the website or your Google Analytics account.
Note that you’ll be identified as the Owner of the Search Console account. However, you can add Full Users and Restricted Users by adding one at:
Search Console > Settings > Users and Permissions > Add User
How to Use Google Search Console for SEO?
Once you reach your Google Search Console overview, you’ll have access to a variety of powerful SEO tools and features. We recommend getting acquainted with one tool at a time so that you can eventually make full use of this incredible, free service.
Below, we’ll go through the service’s top features:
- Submitting a Sitemap
- Website Performance
- URL Inspection Tool
- Index Report
- Security Report
- Links Report
- Manual Actions
A. Submitting a Sitemap
A sitemap is a map of your website that you create manually to assist with the indexing process.
By default, Google’s crawler will follow the links on your website and index the pages naturally. However, by submitting a sitemap, you can tell Google which pages to crawl and which to avoid for several reasons.
The necessity for a sitemap usually is determined by the website size. If you are using a basic website with just a few pages, the navigation is likely very simple allowing the Crawler to index the pages without issue. As your website size grows, especially if you begin to make use of internal linking and redirects, submitting a sitemap is considered best practice.
Your website’s CMS likely has a future to create a sitemap for you automatically. This functionality is present on sites like WordPress or Wix. However, you can also create your sitemap file manually as you gain more experience.
You can find detailed instructions on how to set up your sitemap from Google here.
To submit the sitemap file:
- Click on Property and select the appropriate website.
- Under Index, click on Sitemaps.
- Enter the sitemap URL into the required field. Then click Submit.
You can also delete and replace your sitemap at any time by revisiting this section.
B. Website Performance
Your Google Search Console account will feature a Performance tab that shows off key insights about your SEO performance in real-time.
Among these include total clicks, total impressions, clickthrough rates, and average ranking position based on all of your keyword rankings.
You can also filter this traffic data by the source (web, mobile) as well as by period. You can utilize this information to focus on particular periods of high or low clicks to diagnose your SEO strategy and make the necessary improvements.
The lower half of this tab allows you to gather more specific data for several key SEO areas.
1. Queries shows the phrases or keywords users are typing to find your website as a result. In some cases, the query might contain a keyword that matches your industry but shows an overall mismatch in search intent. Reviewing your queries will help you understand how you can pivot your content to better communicate your business offerings online.
2. Pages allows you to review the traffic by the individual web page. Because you are ranking each page for a specific keyword, you can review what queries people are using to find a specific page on your domain. Trends in your performance are direct indicators of the type of action necessary to improve your SEO for that page.
3. Countries will show user metrics based on where those visitors are around the globe. If you’re making efforts to market to people in different countries, you can segment your data and monitor your performance in real time by location.
4. Devices offers similar features in that you can monitor user activity based on their chosen search device. This can include PCs, tablets, smartphones, and other technology.
Performance data is critical for any marketing channel. Use Google Search Console to monitor your website performance daily and adjust your strategy as necessary to pursue continuous improvements.
C. URL Inspection Tool
The URL Inspection Tool is a popular feature that allows site owners to diagnose a specific web page.
By entering a URL into the tool, you can gain access to a report of how a Google Crawler will view this your URL. It provides reports on two key areas including Index Coverage and AMP enhancements.
Index Coverage shows whether or not the page is crawlable and if it is currently indexed. It will also display any relevant indexing data such as whether or not this URL is included in the domain sitemap. If you are utilizing any advanced SEO techniques such as placing canonical tags on this URL, those will also appear in the report.
Likewise, any issues that are preventing this page from being indexed will appear here. You can take this actionable data and apply it to the URL so that normal indexing can resume and allow you to continue ranking.
Enhancements will first list out any notable issues with mobile browsing health. Google places a high priority on a smooth mobile experience, so you should use this data to speed things up and present your content more clearly.
You can also check in on any advanced SEO tactics like schema markup here to determine if you are implementing it correctly.
D. Index Report
The Index Report function works much like the Coverage tab in the URL inspection tool. However, instead of diagnosing one page, the Index Report shows the status of every URL found on your domain.
On the top level, this report will show which pages were indexed and which were not. You’ll want to focus on the non-indexed pages and review the errors preventing the crawler from doing its job correctly. If Google cannot crawl the URL, it will not appear in search rankings nor will it recognize any SEO or content changes.
However, the report also shows more useful data as to how you can further improve pages even if they were able to be indexed. The crawler may technically be able to index the URL, but there are warning signs indicating that it may not fully understand your content and which audience it relates to.
Google provides a full list of its indexing errors as well as the actions you should take to eliminate the issue here.
E. Security Report
Unless you have security in order, you’ll likely experience a hack at some point as a website owner. Even the top brands in the world face security issues that must be dealt with swiftly to protect the brand and its customers.
Google Search Console attempts to monitor and flag malicious activity by tracking actions taken on the website. The tool primarily scans for these three items:
- Hacked Content – Any unusual injections of content, back-end code, or fishy URLs pointing to untrustworthy sites
- Unknown/Unwanted Software – This applies to anything such as malware or malicious software that can trigger unwanted actions or phish for user information
- Social Engineering – Any content that deceptively coerces users into taking action is social engineering. New content may describe one thing, but lead users to download something else entirely like software or a virus
To protect users, a flag will prevent this page from being indexed and appearing in search results. You should run a security report to review the issue and take the suggested action to resolve the problem.
After you resolve the issue, or if there was an unusual misunderstanding that led to an incorrect flag, you can file a reconsideration review. Google will manually review the URL, but the process can take several weeks to complete.
Security issues are imperative to diagnose as you are held accountable. Even if you are the victim of hacking, it is your responsibility to provide a solution as soon as possible. Failure to do so can get you permanently marked by Google as an offender, making it all but impossible to rank your domain.
F. Links Report
Any time another domain links back to a page on your site, you acquire a backlink.
Backlinks provide powerful SEO benefits, particularly when they come from other high-ranking, reputable sources of information. Part of any successful SEO strategy is to deliver excellent content that’s worthy of sharing across the web.
However, the inverse can occur when unreputable or malicious sites begin linking to your pages. In those scenarios, you want to know which sites are referring to your content, so that you can have control over which sites are trying to build a relationship with your domain.
The Links report will generate a list of every backlink pointing to your site. You can check out the top referral sources, see how much traffic you receive, and determine which pages get the most referral traffic.
You can use this data for positive results to try and earn more backlinks on other pages that are lagging in performance. Similarly, you’ll want to continue supporting valuable pages with lots of backlinks to maximize the organic benefits that your hard work is providing.
For toxic backlinks, you’ll now have a list of webmasters to contact. If that link is causing problems for your SEO efforts, you have the right to ask other site owners to remove the link. Google recommends doing this before attempting to take any further action.
If you’re unable to get a result, you can use Google Search Console to submit a disavow request. You will need to collect any specific URLs or domains in a list to upload to this page here.
G. Manual Actions
Finally, a Google employee always can take manual action against your domain if they find any violations of their policies. All webmasters have a responsibility to ensure that every page adheres to a set of guidelines that are listed here.
Such actions that would fall under this category might include:
- Implementing deceptive, sneaky redirects
- Scraping high-ranking content from other URLs
- Spamming keywords in an attempt to trick crawlers
- Adding pages with no real content or discernible purpose
Many of these actions are exclusively exploitative, though it is possible to find yourself flagged for issues you did not intend to cause.
In either case, you can find any notifications about Manual Actions within your Google Search Console account. As with the other features, you should find a description of the problem as well as suggested actions you should take to resolve the issue.
After you resolve the problem, you’ll need to manually request a reviewal of the updated page. Be sure to explain the problem, why it occurred, and what you did to correct it and prevent it from occurring in the future.
Optimize Your Website SEO with DashClicks
Improving your website’s SEO is possible thanks to an abundance of free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. However, the process requires dedicated effort and knowledge of the services to obtain worthwhile results. As a site or business owner, that’s not always a reality.
DashClicks provides simplified ways to improve and optimize your SEO. Our dedicated Analytics software allows users to track set numbers of keywords along with important snapshots from Search Console like daily traffic, clickthrough rate, search rankings, and much more.
If that’s not enough, our dedicated SEO fulfillment team has the trained personnel and resources to ensure your domain gets the love and care it needs to perfect its SEO strategy.
Start with DashClicks today by signing up for your free account and discover a new way to optimize your SEO strategy.