Google Search Console: A User's Guide

Discover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Google Search Console and how to use it to optimise your SEO results, including specific tactics and strategies for ranking enhancement.

If you want to make the most of Google Search Console and boost your site’s ranking, continue reading!

Google Search Console - What Is It?

Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google that enables you to monitor the health of your website via a variety of tools and reports. This updated version, which replaces “Google Webmaster Tools,” is a critical component of your SEO toolbox because it allows you to monitor and improve nearly every aspect of your website’s SEO.

 

This comprehensive Google Search Console guide will:
    1. Show you how to configure Google Search Console for your own website.

  1. Show you how to use Google Search Console to boost your keyword rankings, diagnose website errors, and monitor your website’s SEO, among other things…

 

Why would you want to use Google Search Console?

 

Google Search Console enables you to:
    1. Submit a sitemap to ensure that Google discovers and indexes all of your web pages.

  1. Identify errors on your website that may be affecting your search engine optimization ranking
  2. Keep an eye on your keyword ranking and whether your clicks per keyword are increasing or decreasing.
  3. Verify that Google can access the content of your website. 5. Submit your pages for expedited crawling and indexing.
  4. Keep an eye out for malware warnings and requests for file reconsideration.
  5. Determine how search engines view your website
  6. Determine the keywords for which your website is currently ranking.

How to Create a Google Search Console Account

To begin, you’ll need a Google account to configure Google Search Console. You should already have a Google Account if you use a Google product – Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Google Docs, Google My Business, or a Gmail account.

 

I recommend that you use the same email address to create accounts for all Google Products. This will simplify the process of linking accounts and sharing data.

 

The following are the steps for creating a Google Account:

Step 1: Navigate to Google.com and click the’sign in’ link in the top right corner.

Step 2: Select the ‘Create an account’ option.

Step 3: You can create a Gmail account or click ‘use my existing email address instead’ to sign in with an existing account, such as your work email. After that, click ‘next’.

 

You’re ready to create a Google Search Console account if you already have a Google account or if you create one.

  1. To log in, navigate to https://search.google.com/search-console/about
  2. Enter your email address and password.
  3. After logging in, you will be prompted to choose a property type. Select the domain option if you want to track all of your URLs. To track specific URLs, select the URL prefix option.

 

 

The following are the steps for configuring Google Search Console via the Domain Option:

  1. Click continue after entering your domain/website address. Keep an eye out for whether your website uses the www or non-www version.
  2. Next, log in to your domain registrar, such as Godaddy.
  3. Incorporate the provided TXT record into the DNS configuration.
  4. Return to Google Search Console and perform a verification.

 

To configure Google Search Console using the URL Prefix option, follow these steps:
1. Continue by entering your domain/website address. Keep an eye out for whether your website uses the www or non-www version. Enter the complete URL prefix, for example, (https://www.yoursite.com).

 

You can verify your website in GSC in a variety of ways; simply click the down arrow next to each method.

  1. HTML file: download the provided HTML file and upload it to the root directory of your website.
  2. HTML Tag: Include a meta tag on the homepage of your website. Simply copy the provided meta tag and paste it into the homepage of your website.
  3. Google Analytics: this is one of the simplest options if your website already includes Google Analytics. This method will work as long as you use the same email address as your Google Account.

Choosing Your Destination Country

If you want to inform Google that you want to target a specific region, you can do so in Google Search Console, which typically redirects to an older version of the search console.

 

To select a country as your target, follow these steps.

  1. Create an account with Google Search Console.
  2. On the left, scroll down to the section titled ‘Legacy tools and reports’ and click the down arrow.
  3. Select ‘International Targeting’ from the drop-down menu.
  4. After that, click the Country tab.
  5. Select the radio button next to Target users.
  6. Next, click the drop-down menu and choose your destination country.

When Is It Appropriate to Use a Geographic Target?

  1. You use Top Level Domains (TLDs) to target specific markets.
  2. You use subdomains to target specific markets.
  3. You are a small business operating in a country with a multilingual population.

When to Abstain from Using a Geographic Target

  1. You are a local business seeking to reach a multilingual audience in another country.

 

 

We would not recommend setting a geographic target for specific countries in this instance.

  1. You are a global business with subfolders that cater to global customers.

If you are a global business with a headquarters in the United States of America, DO NOT set a geographic target to the United States, as all subfolders will be considered to target only US customers. We recommend configuring GT for subfolders ONLY if you are using country targeting.

 

  1. You simply wish to improve your ranking within country.

Selecting a target market via Webmaster Console enables Google to determine the country for which gTLDs should be targeted (.com, .net, .org etc.) Provision of this information will have no direct impact on your rankings. As with any other geo-targeting signal, it has the potential to boost rankings for locally-sensitive queries. On the other hand, you risk losing valuable international traffic.

 

Connect your Google Analytics account to your Google Search Console account

Google switched its search engine to HTTPS in 2013, citing increased security.

 

The disadvantage was that critical keyword data was removed from Google Analytics.

 

However, by connecting Google Analytics and GSC, it is now possible to easily retrieve some keyword data.

 

To connect GSC to Google Analytics and gain access to keyword data, follow these steps:

  1. Open Google Analytics and click the bottom-left ‘Admin’ button.
  2. Select ‘Property Settings’ from the menu bar.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Adjust Search Console’.
  4. Click the ‘Add’ button.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of your website and click ‘Save’.
  6. Click the ‘Add’ button.

 

Once these steps are completed, your GSC will be connected to Google Analytics.

 

To gain access to GSC data, follow these steps:

  1. Log into Google Analytics.
  2. Select the ‘Acquisition’ tab.
  3. Navigate to the ‘Search Console’.

 

There are four primary reports available in Search Console:

  1. Landing pages; these are the pages from which users arrived at your website via organic search.
  2. Countries; the country from which organic sessions originated
  3. Devices; a breakdown of the devices used to access your website by users.
  4. Queries; the keywords for which you currently rank in organic search, the number of organic clicks received for each keyword, the number of organic impressions received, the click-through rate, and your average ranking position.

 

Add a Sitemap to Google Search Console for Your Website

A sitemap is essentially your website’s table of contents.

 

There are two types of sitemaps: HTML sitemaps, which are typically designed to assist website visitors in quickly locating specific pages on your website; and XML sitemaps. Especially useful for large websites with a large number of pages.

 

Sitemaps in XML format, which are typically optimised for search engines. These include the pages, videos, and other files on your website, which make them more discoverable for indexing purposes.

How to locate your sitemap

If your site is built with the “Yoast” plugin and is written in WordPress, the sitemap should already be present; you just need to access it.

                   

Take the following steps:

  1. Access your website’s dashboard.
  2. Navigate to the location of your Yoast Plugin.
  3. Navigate to the ‘General Tab’.
  4. Select ‘Features’.
  5. Scroll down to XML Sitemaps and click the question mark to the right of XML.
  6. Select ‘View the XML Sitemap’ from the drop-down menu.

 

 

If you are not using WordPress and are instead using a platform such as Square Space or Shopify, both of these platforms include built-in xml sitemaps.

 

For other platforms, I’d recommend directly contacting their support for assistance in locating your sitemap.

 

If you are not using “Yoast” and are unsure whether your site has an XML Sitemap, you can visit yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. If you have a sitemap, it is located here. If you do not already have one, you will need to create one.

 

To create a sitemap, navigate to xml-sitemaps.com and follow the instructions for creating one and adding it to your website.

 

Using Google Search Console to Submit a Sitemap

  1. Log into your GSC account.
  2. In the left side panel, click on ‘Sitemap.’
  3. Typically, at the top, you’ll see your website address, such as yourwebsiteaddress.com/
  4. For your sitemap, enter everything after the slash. For example, if your sitemap’s URL is yourwebsiteaddress.com/sitemap.xml, enter sitemap.xml following the slash.
  5. Click the ‘Submit’ button.

 

 

This concludes the process of creating a Google Search Console account for your business.

 

Google has now verified your website, and you can now:

  1. Monitor your website’s SEO performance, including Google traffic, rankings, and click-through rate.
  2. Receive direct notifications regarding broken links, website errors, and other issues.
  3. Boost your SEO by adding valuable new content.

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