Any webmaster or a digital marketer needs a powerful SEO tool to achieve the expected results. What tool is that? It is Google Search Console or GSC. Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, or GWT, GSC is a free service provided by Google for managing a website’s search functionality.
Google Search Console is a compilation of various reports and tools that assist in rectifying errors and making new strategies to optimize your SEO rankings in the SERPs.
It helps the SEO executives monitor and troubleshoot problems related to the website’s appearance in their search results. You can use it to fix technical errors, see backlinks, submit sitemaps, and a lot more.
1) How to set up Google Search Console?
All you need to do is first of all sign into Search Console with a Google account.
You will see a welcome message with two different options. On selecting the first one, you will be able to enter your domain or subdomain (without the http(s)://). Then you hit “Continue.”
What if you don’t want to add the entire domain?
According to Google “domain properties show data for all URLs under the domain name, including all protocols, subdomains, and paths.”
So if you want a full view of your website on the Search Console, yet want to restrict data to a specific URL path? (e.g., domain.com/blog) then you can use a URL prefix property instead.
It will add only URLs under a specified address and protocol. Here you can add both Domain and URL prefix properties for the same domain.
The next step will be to verify the domain in the search console. So before seeing data in Search Console, the first and foremost thing you need to do is to verify ownership.
Depending on the property type you added either: Domain property or URL prefix property.
Verification for Domain Property
- To verify Domain property hit the instructions dropdown and check whether your domain is registered with any of the listed providers.
- If yes, select the provider and hit the “Start verification” button. You will see an “Ownership Verified” message.
- If your registrar is not on the dropdown, select “Any DNS provider.”
- Then sign in to your account with your domain provider and select your domain. You then look for an option to manage DNS or Domain Name Servers.
- Choose to add a TXT record option, paste in the record from Search Console, then save it.
- You then go back to Search Console and hit “Verify.”
Verification for a URL prefix property
There are multiple ways on Google to do this.
The default recommended method is to upload an HTML file to your website. For a better approach, you may choose the Domain name provider option, then follow the instructions.
Adding a sitemap to Google Search Console
For the Search Console to work in favor of your business, add a site map to it.
Sitemaps tell Google where all the important content of your website is and how they can crawl that content. And so, site map submission to Google via Search Console is vital for every website.
Choose “Sitemaps” from the menu, paste the URL of your XML sitemap into the box labelled “Enter sitemap URL,” then click “Submit.
Now, all your vital content will be visible clearly to Google search results and hence will appear clearly in the SERPs to benefit your SEO ratings and make your site visible to the prospective clients searching for relevant information or services.
Adding a user to Google Search Console
- People with access to some or all the data in Search Console are known as users. There are three types of users:
- Owner: This type has full control over the property in Search Console, including the authority to add and remove other users. There are two types of owners as well, verified and delegated.
- Full user: This type has view rights to all data within the selected property and the power to take certain actions.
- Restricted user: This type of user has restricted view rights, which means they are unable to view all the data that is available.
- By default, when one verifies property in Search Console, they have owner privileges.
- So, to add another user, go to:
- Search Console > Choose a property > Settings > Users and permissions > Add user
- Type the new user email address and select either full or restricted access.
- If you need to revoke or change this access, just return here.
2) How to use Google Search Console to improve your SEO?
There are precise methods on how to use Google Search Console to improve your SEO. Here are some tips on how you can do it for your business.
Improve underperforming keywords rankings
These are keywords not yet ranking in higher positions in the SERPS. They are in the lower rankings because people click on the first five results. So, if you are ranking lower, there is tons of traffic that you are missing out on.
As per a survey, only 1.8% of searchers will click on your result if you are ranking on number eight. But as soon as you start ranking second, this rate goes up to almost 14%!!
How to find the under-ranking keywords?
For this, go to the “Search Results” report in GSC and toggle the average CTR and position data.
Go to the queries report and change the average ranking position filter to less than 8.1. next, you need to sort the results by average position in descending order.
From here, you have to skim the list for underperforming keywords.
After getting a list of keywords and spotting the potential for improvement, you may perform individual analysis of the page on which thesssxsxsxsssy are ranking and see if the position is boosted by improving the on-page SEO.
You can do so by adding relevant internal links, or getting backlinks, or increasing the page speed. Keyword optimization is a continuous process and needs time and patience for getting results.
Improve pages with high keyword rankings, yet low CTR
On average, any page ranking first in position gets 30% of total clicks. Some can perform better than average, or less even.
In such a case, find the pages performing lower than average and analyse the reasons for it. Then find out different ways to boost the CTR to attain more traffic.
For this go to the “Search results” report, and toggle the average CTR and position data. Now filter keywords with average rankings below 3.1. These will be the keywords already ranking in the top 3.
Sort this data by CTR in ascending order, then search for keywords with heavy impressions but below-average CTR.
Despite ranking in position three on average, the CTR is just 2.1% which should have been 3–5x higher than that as the search intent met.
On Googling the keyword, you may find out what is the cause for this. Some of the possible reasons can be, Google featuring some ad, or a featured snippet, or a video carousel at the top of the page.
There can be a “people also ask” box above the “traditional” rankings where you are. So as these SERP features take up so much space in the search results they most definitely steal your clicks as well.
The best SEO strategy here would be to optimize the page to win the featured snippet, which gets more than 8.5% of clicks on average.
Fixing sitemap issues
At times there may be issues with the submitted sitemaps. It may cause problems by confusing crawlers. It would waste resources and cause them to index the wrong URLs in some cases.
To check for issues related to the submitted sitemaps, go to the “Sitemaps” report, and click on the icon next to a sitemap, then click the “See index coverage” button.
You will now see a few tabs showing errors, warnings, valid URLs, and excluded ones. Try to find out what is causing the problem and solve it so that the issue gets resolved.
Find pages that need updating and pruning
Track existing pages and make sure they are well optimized by updating keywords and content on them.
Add internal links from existing blogs to your new pages. It will help new pages get indexed faster and transfer PageRank to the new page, which will help it rank higher in the SERPs.
Do not delete pages on the website without ensuring that they generate little or no organic traffic.
You may find this out by going to the “search results” report in the Search Console. Filter for the URL, and check the total number of clicks.
Learn which content types and topics get the most backlinks
Backlinks are important ranking factors as there is a clear connection between organic search traffic and backlinks.
And what type of content attracts backlinks? Check from your previously published content.
Go to the “Links” report, and click “More” under the “External links” sub-header.
Sort the report by “Linking sites” in descending order and you will find pages with the maximum backlinks from unique websites.
Google Search Console is a vital free tool that gives a lot of data and insights about a website.
Finding out where you rank in Google lets you know your competitors. You need to understand the competitive landscape to know where you fall short or what you need to do to improve rankings.
Getting your site registered on GSC is important. Equally vital is the submission of site maps and the verification of users.
But the most important part here is to use the derived information from Google Search Console to your benefit by making the required changes and amendments to the site.
This will improve your SEO results and get you tons of traffic in return.
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