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Google Search Console Tutorial

In this Google Search Console Tutorial, we will go through how to sign up your new Google Search Console account, add your website, verify your site, and make use of the data that is available in your Google Search Console account.

Google Search Console is a tool for Google to give feedback to webmasters about their websites regarding Google’s organic search. The data provided by Google Search Console includes SEO traffic reports (with queries, pages, countries, devices, and more), web page crawl errors, mobile usability, Core Web Vitals (including loading speed of pages), links reports, etc.

In Google Search Console, you can submit your website’s sitemap, manage multiple websites (if you have more than one website), inspect if your web page URL is in Google’s index or not, removal web page URLs from Google’s index, etc.

Refer to Mobile SEO Best Practices before implementing the work to optimize your website for Google SEO.

Google Search Console Tutorial

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Sign Up Google Search Console Account

You must have a Google Account before you can use Google Search Console.

If you do not have a Gmail account or Google Account, please register a new account.

If you already have a Gmail account or Google account, go to the official Google Search Console site and log in.

http://search.google.com/search-console/

Add and Verify Website

You must add your website URL or domain as a Property in Google Search Console.

Add Property - Google Search Console

Click Add Property, after you have logged in to your Google Search Console account.

Domain URL Prefix - Google Search Console

Select one of the property types:

  • URL Prefix
  • Domain

URL Prefix

When adding URL Prefix, you will add the site URL of your website, such as:

https://www.gordonchoi.com

If you have two sites (one in English and the other in Traditional Chinese language) under one domain but two different sub-domains, such as:

https://www.gordonchoi.com
http://hk.gordonchoi.com

you will have to add each of the sub-domains as URL Prefix.

The reporting data of each of the URL Prefix will appear as a Property in Google Search Console.

Domain

When adding Domain, you will add the domain name of your website, such as:

gordonchoi.com

After you have added and verified the Domain, such as:

https://www.gordonchoi.com
http://hk.gordonchoi.com

the data of both sites (under 2 different sub-domains) will appear under one Property in Google Search Console.

Verification

After adding the URL prefix or domain to Google Search Console, you are required to verify you have the ownership of your website.

Verification options - GSC

If you have added your website with the URL prefix (i.e. website URL) e.g. https://www.example.com, then you can verify the ownership of your site with one of the four options.

  • Upload a file to the root directory of your website.
  • Add a meta tag to the head section of your website’s home page.
  • If Google Analytics tracking code (GATC) is installed on your website, verify using GATC.
  • If Google Tag Manager (GTM) is installed on your site, verify using GTM.

If you have added your website with the domain name e.g. example.com, then you must verify the ownership of your site with DNS verification.

After you have completed one of the above verification options, you can click the Verify button, and the verification will be successful.

It may take 1-2 days before your website’s data (e.g. Google SEO traffic reports under Performance reports) to appear in your Google Search Console account.

Tools in Google Search Console

Main Menu - Google Search Console Account

Overview

For each website in your Google Search Console account, the information is displayed under 3 main parts:

  • Performance
  • Coverage
  • Enhancements

Under Enhancements, it includes Core Web Vitals, Mobile Usability, Sitelinks Searchbox, and Videos.

Performance

Performance Report / Chart - Google Search Console

SEO traffic reports available are available under the Performance section in Google Search Console.

Each SEO traffic report (including both with filtered and non-filtered reports) is represented by 4 data metrics:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR (Clickthrough Rate)
  • Positions

Dimensions are represented under different tabs, including:

  • Queries
  • Pages
  • Countries
  • Devices
  • Search Appearance
  • Date

Queries

By default, the Performance report first displays the data under the Queries dimension tab.

Under the Queries dimension tab, the report displays the SEO keywords (or queries) that users entered into Google’s search box.

A query appears in the queries report if:

  • Your web page appeared in Google’s search engines results pages (SERP) when a user searched the keyword.
  • Your web page appeared in Google’s SERP when a user searched the keyword, and received at least 1 click.
GSC Performance Report - All 1000 Rows

Under the Queries tab, the Performance report can display up to 1,000 unique search queries.

Pages

Under Pages, your pages that have appeared in Google’s SERP (when user searched your keywords) in the last 3 months are displayed.

Countries

Under Countries, it shows the SEO traffic performance of your website by different countries.

Devices

Under Devices, the data is split in:

  • Desktop
  • Mobile
  • Tablet

An example when using the Performance report in Google Search Console

Under the Queries tab, you can get the Performance report to display only keywords that your website has ranked in Google’s first page i.e. top 10 organic positions.

GSC Performance Report - Filter Position Filter

To achieve this, use the filter feature of the Performance report.

GSC Performance Report - Filter Positions Top 10

Set Filter by Position to Smaller than 10.1.

GSC Performance Report - Filter Top 10 Positions Keywords

The Performance report now displays 148 keywords of your website that were ranked within the top 10 positions of SEO i.e. Google’s first page SERP.

URL Inspection

You can submit your website URL (or one of your web page URLs) to the URL Inspection in Google Search Console.

The URL Inspection tool will:

  • Check if your website URL can be crawled by Googlebot (i.e. Google’s web spider).
  • Tell you if the website URL is already in Google’s index.
URL Inspection - Inspect Any URL

For example, submit the following web page URL to the URL Inspection tool:

https://www.gordonchoi.com/google-search-console/

The URL Inspection will check if this URL is crawlable by Googlebot, and will let you know if the URL is within Google’s index.

Indexed requested - Google Search Console

If the website URL is not in Google’s index, you can submit the URL to Google (i.e. request for indexing).

URL Indexed in Google

After half a day, you can use the Site: command to check on Google, if your website URL is already indexed in Google, and shows up in Google’s SERP.

Coverage

Under Coverage, it shows 4 types of reports:

  • Error
  • Valid with warnings
  • Valid
  • Excluded

If your web pages appear in these types of reports, you will not have to take any actions:

  • Error
  • Valid with warnings

Sitemaps

Under the Sitemaps section, you may add a sitemap of your website.

Add a Sitemap - Google Search Console

If you have created a sitemap of your website in XML format, submit the sitemap through Google Search Console.

With a sitemap, it makes it easier for Googlebot to crawl (or discover) your new web pages.

Removals

If you have web pages on your website that you do not want to appear in Google SERP, you can submit the web pages to Google for removal.

Core Web Vitals

Under the Core Web Vitals section (formerly known as Speed), Google Search Console shows the slow loading web page URLs that are found on your website.

The slow loading web page URLs are reported for when loading with different device types:

  • Desktop computers
  • Mobile phones

You can optimize the loading speed of your web pages based on the reports under the Speed section.

Mobile Usability

Under Mobile Usability, you can find out which of your web pages are not mobile-friendly for users browsing / visiting websites with their mobile phones.

Two types of web pages are reported:

  • Error
  • Valid

You can take actions to fix issues in mobile usability according to the reports.

Sitelinks Searchbox

You can check if your website meets the requirements to display a search box under your listing within Google’s search results pages.

Videos

Under the Videos section, Google Search Console displays 3 types of data in the reports:

  • Error
  • Valid with warnings
  • Valid

The reports are for webmasters / website owners who have added structured data to annotate/markup videos that are embedded on their sites.

Manual Actions

This section shows if your website has received manual actions from Google e.g. penalties.

Security Issues

This section shows if your site has security issues.

Links

Provides information on backlinks, internal links, etc. For example, which websites currently have backlinks pointing to your site.

Settings

Under Settings, Google Search Console provides the following information.

  • Which user is the owner of this Google Search Console account
  • Which user has the administrator rights
  • Type of Googlebot (web crawler) e.g. Google Smartphone
  • Date when the property was added

Web Page Crawl Errors

You can take actions below through the tools in Google Search Console.

URL Inspection

With the URL Inspection tool, you can:

  • Check if any one of your web page URL is already in Google’s index.
  • Submit your web page URL to Google, if the web page is not in Google’s index.

Coverage

Under Coverage:

  • Find out why some of your web pages are not indexed by Google.
  • Check which web page URLs have returned 404 status code.
  • Check which web page URLs have returned other errors.
  • Export the web page URLs to files in CSV format, and later take actions to fix the errors.

Manage Multiple Websites

If you own multiple website, add and verify all your websites using the same methods that we have mentioned in this Google Search Console tutorial, and you can then manage all your websites in one Google Search Console account.

If you are not the owner of your client’s website, you can ask your client to grant you access rights of his/her site. Then you will be able to access the Google Search Console data of your client’s site.

Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console

If you have already installed and/or set up Google Analytics on your website, you can now link the 2 accounts:

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics

After linking the two accounts, you can view the SEO traffic reports in your Google Analytics account. The SEO traffic data is the data under the Dimensions tabs including Queries, Pages, etc.

Log in to your Google Analytics account.

If you have more than one websites set up in your Google Analytics account, select the correct account and property.

In this example, our Account is www.gordonchoi.com, and Property is www.gordonchoi.com.

Select Admin (from the left side menu).

Select Property Settings.

While on the Property Settings page, scroll down the page, click Search Console, and click the Adjust Search Console button.

Click the Add link.

Find the www.gordonchoi.com website (Property) from the list, and check it.

Click the Save button.

Now your Google Search Console account and Google Analytics account are linked.

Google Analytics Search Query Report Example

Now you can view the Performance report of Google Search Console in your Google Analytics account.

In your Google Analytics account, select Acquisition (from the left side menu).

Click Search Console.

Select Queries (on the left side menu), and the SEO keywords will appear in the report.

Under the Queries report, the metrics are Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Average Positions.

Refer to Install Google Analytics on WordPress, if you have not set up GA on your website (or web pages).

Google Webmaster Tools and Google Webmaster Central Blog

In the past, Google Search Console used to be officially called Google Webmaster Tools.

For many years, Google Webmaster Central Blog has always been Google’s official SEO blog that provides the latest information on:

  • The new features and/or tools that are available in Google Search Console
  • The updates to Google’s search algorithms

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/

Conclusions

Google Search Console is a free SEO tool that you must set up before optimizing your website for higher organic search rankings.

With Google Search Console, you can add your website, verify your site, and make use of the data that is provided in your Google Search Console account.

As a free SEO tool for webmaster and/or website owners, Google Search Console gives feedback to webmasters about their websites.

The data includes SEO traffic reports (with queries, pages, countries, devices, and more), web page crawl errors, mobile usability, Core Web Vitals (including loading speed of pages), links reports, etc.

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