Google’s Search Console used to be known as Webmaster Tools. It is a free service offered by Google which can help you to evaluate your performance in search. Anyone with a website can set up this service and once it’s running, you’ll have access to a lot of data which would otherwise be hidden.
Search Console may be a free service, but it still packs a punch in terms of functionality and value. If you don’t already have Search Console set up, you can find instructions for how to do this here.
Here are our top tips for making the most of Google’s Search Console.
1. Set up all variations of your website address
You may miss out on valuable data if you don’t set up all variations of your website URL. There are 2 main types of website properties:
- URL-prefix property
- Domain property
Since the arrival of http and https, this has made the process even more complicated. For the Auburn Creative website, we need to set up the following properties:
Although our website uses https protocol and it shouldn’t need the http prefix, it’s important that we gather data from all possible URL variations.
2. Submit your site map
If you have an XML sitemap on your website, Google should have no trouble finding it. That said, you can check for errors if you submit the sitemap to Google’s Search Console. If there are issues with any pages in your site map, this is where you’ll find that information.
3. Find our what users are actually searching for
Search Console isn’t the same as website analytics. It offers greater insight as it shows what searches your website shows up in, even if the users don’t actually click through. This can help you to develop a better understanding of your audience and refine your SEO strategy.
4. Monitor for alerts and manual actions
Manual actions will prevent your website from being seen in Google searches. If a human reviewer from Google determines that your website is not compliant with the webmaster quality guidelines, they can penalise the website. Setting up Google’s Search Console is the only way you will be alerted to a manual action. Once you have fixed the issues, you can request a reconsideration and this should remove the penalty.
Not many people know that manual actions can be applied to brand new websites. If you have just bought a domain or website, set up Google’s Search Console to check if any manual actions have been applied to the site.
5. Explore how Google sees your website
Ever wondered what Google sees when it crawls your website? You can use the URL Inspection tool to load a page as Google sees it. From a website architecture point of view, this can be helpful for spotting errors which may impact your rankings.
6. Check your website is mobile friendly
It’s no secret that Google favours mobile-friendly websites. You might think that you have a great mobile website, but what does Google think of it? Use the Mobile Usability tool to explore how mobile users access your website and spot any errors. While errors on this section of the report aren’t as problematic as a manual action, it’s still important to know when Google has an issue with your site.
Remember when using Google’s Search Console that it only offers an overview of your search traffic from Google. This means that other traffic sources such as social media, direct, referral and traffic from other search engines will not be included in the data. While helpful, it doesn’t offer a complete picture.