An effective and efficient internal monitoring of website is one of the most significant aspects of website maintenance. Internal website management and optimization include detection and removal of errors and broken links. Maintenance of content structure and design-based nuances of the website as per pre-defined SEO standards also form a part of the internal management and optimization. This is where Google Search Console can help you out.
Google Search Console (GSC) is a revised version of earlier Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) that Google provided for website owners. It is a free service provided by Google that permits webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. As of May 20, 2015, Google re-branded Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console.
This shift has enabled SEO experts, marketers, designers, programmers, owners of small businesses, app developers, and numerous other individuals to make the most out of this powerful SEO tool from Google.
On-page as well as off-page SEO at one place: Linking Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA)
Most website owners are aware of Google Analytics. GA is the tool that helps you understand SEO aspects such as the source of your website traffic, the medium used by visitors to reach to your website, and the details of who your visitors are. Even though the GSC may sound functionally similar to GA, there are some fundamental differences between the two.
Google Analytics provides more of an external viewpoint on your website, while Google Search Console is more related to internal monitoring. For instance, GSC presents an overview of the keywords that are bringing you the most traffic, the presence of malicious content on your website, the inbound and outbound links on your site and more.
In May 2016, the integration between Google Analytics and Google Search Console with the upgraded integration was upgraded by Google. Once you have set up both accounts, you can link them by using the ‘Google Analytics Property” option in the console. After having saved this, you can head over to Analytics, where you can now access the Search Console Report. Both Search Console and Google Analytics data can be viewed alongside, that gives some visibility into what keywords are leading to what behaviour on the site
Integration of search console within Google analytics provides four reports:
- Landing page report: outlines the aggregate Impressions, Clicks, and Position data across all the keywords for a particular page
- Countries report: provides GSC and GA data associated with the country of the visitor
- Devices report: links GSC and GA data by the Device Category of the user – either desktop, mobile, or tablet
- Query report: provides a broad list of all search queries with Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Average Position
Make it easier for the crawlers: Establishing a direct connection with Google
Although the process of crawling is automated, user preferences can be conveyed to Google as far as this process is concerned. If you want to prevent certain pages or parts of your website from appearing in the search results, you could place a robots.txt file at the root of your site. The robots.txt file prevents the crawlers from accessing those parts of a website which have been disallowed by you. GSC can help you see the pages and resources that you have blocked. In addition, it has a robots.txt tester that helps you test your robots.txt files for errors.
The Crawl menu in the GSC is a very useful tool. It displays crawl errors, such as 404s, links leading to non-existent or irrelevant pages, or blocked pages. It also provides a detailed statistics on Google’s crawl conducted on your pages, its rate of activity, and how secure your page is as far as loading time is concerned. Fixing these issues and parameters can significantly increase your SEO potential.
The crawl menu also allows you to submit a sitemap. This sitemap provides Google with structural as well as other crucial information of your website. A sitemap submission helps Google better understand the contents of your website and hence allows hassle less crawling. The GSC provides you statistics about sitemaps that you have submitted as well as the ones that Google has located till date. You can also test your sitemap for its validity before submitting them.
Get into Google’s shoes: Adopting the “Fetch as Google” approach towards Indexing
The Fetch is a Google Tool that allows you to assess how Google crawls or renders a URL on your site. The “Fetch as Google” feature allows you to look at the specific details that can either make or break your website ranking.
The Console allows you to submit new or changed pages for indexation. This helps in getting them indexed faster as opposed to if Google were to do it by itself. In addition, the indexation status in the portal displays all the URLs of your site that Google has either indexed or removed along with those that you have blocked.
Your one-stop solution for all website security needs: Understanding GSC and how it protects your website from harm
A website security is a huge concern; considered serious by Google as well as a website owner. While conducting a search on Google for any particular topic, you might observe certain results flagged by Google for potential security threats. These flags or warning messages appear on the website once you click on the link, or even below the link itself. These flags could be in the form of messages such as “this site might harm your computer” or even “warning-(web forgery) suspected”.
The security issues section of the GSC is a huge help when it comes know whether your site is safe, or is it vulnerable to attacks from hackers or malicious programs. GSC allows you to perform necessary checks on your website for these type of threats. Such checks enable you to take suitable measures to ensure that your site is not vulnerable. GSC can also help you progressively grow and develop the security measures on your website at all levels of the process, beginner, intermediate and advanced. This process includes building your own support team, enabling quarantine on your website, assessing damage and periodic cleaning, and maintenance of the website.
Increase your website’s appeal: Customise your website looks in search results
A search appearance menu of GSC provides a lot of insights on how your website would appear in the search results. According to an SEO expert, Neil Patel, search results that contain a lot of useful information in their SERP appearance have considerably higher chances of getting clicked.
Better search appearance can be achieved through a feature in GSC known as structured data. The structured data section in the console helps in singling out errors and adding rich snippets in your HTML code. Rich snippets are some of the basic units of structured data, which contribute towards making your search appearance better. Structured data can also help in detecting errors in the coding of Rich cards, which are much like structured data, but are more visually appealing.
The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) link provided under search appearance menu provides valuable insights on how to make your website more user-friendly for mobile phone users. The AMP feature of the Google Search Console can help in rendering your site faster on mobile devices, which is a must for driving traffic in today’s digital world.
GSC has undergone some significant updates to stay in line with Google’s cycle of constantly reinventing its services
- It has increased the efficiency of its AMP reporting. GSC can now help you filter reports from Rich Cards and regular SERP appearance, thereby giving the concept of search appearance and visual appeal a whole new meaning.
- Previously, the absence of structured data or errors in the same could result in your pages being removed from the search results, especially when AMP is concerned. However, this has recently changed, and now such issues only pop up in the form of notes, instead of your pages becoming invalid in mobile searches.
- Earlier, website users had the option of removing site links that they did not want featuring in the search results. However, Google announced that they would no longer be providing this functionality since their completely automated algorithm is much better at deciding which site links must be displayed.
- While the report that GSC provides on existing or potential security issues in your website is one of its highlights, it has further improved this feature by providing much more detailed reports. These reports envelop a wider range of security threats and issues. Along with giving detailed insights into the issue, they also provide separate recommendations for each kind of problem.
We are sure these tips would help you to understand what Google Search Console is and how it helps increase your SEO rating. There are other paid services as well; however, the GSC does a great job as a communicator between your website and Google, especially in conjunction with Analytics. Moreover, it comes free of cost.