Google Search Console – Free Insight From Google
Sounds great doesn’t it. Free advice from Google. That is exactly what you get with Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools). The name change was probably introduced as part of a plan to demystify search and make good website structure accessible to everyone.
So What Is Google Search Console?
In the words of Google, it is:
“..a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results.”
It can provide you with insight on factors such as:
- The keywords your website is currently being found for;
- Areas of SEO best practice that Google feels you are contravening.
- How successful Google has been in ‘crawling’ your website – if Google can’t crawl it, people probably can’t find it.
- External links to your website – who is linking to you. Not all external links are good news. Make sure they are relevant links.
- Internal links on your website – these help Google understand the importance of content on your site.
- Keyword density across your website. If it is not your most important keywords near the top, think carefully about the content you are publishing. You may need to re-evaluate your content strategy.
As a small business owner, it is one of the many free tools from Google that can really help you to understand how your business is performing in the world of the search engines.
Getting Started With Google Search Console
- Create an account at https://www.google.com/webmasters/ (Make sure you enter your website with the full address including http:// or https://)
- Verify ownership of the website. There are a number of ways this can be done. Many of the major domain name providers now integrate with Search Console. Alternatively, you can use an existing Google Analytics account, Tag Manager account or place a file or tag on your website.
- Upload your website sitemap.xml URL – go to Crawl > Sitemaps and enter the address of the sitemap.
It will take Google a few days to fully index your website and start providing you with meaningful feedback. Check back regularly. Here are a few things to look for initially:
- Crawl > Sitemap: check for any ‘Issues’ that Google has identified. Don’t worry if Google hasn’t indexed every page immediately.
- Crawl > Crawl Errors: clicking on any listed errors will give you more information about them including how critical they may be.
- Search Appearance > HTML Improvements: If Google identifies any issues, consider addressing these via your website Content Management System. Common errors are missing image ‘Alt tags’ and duplicate meta titles or meta descriptions.
The last recommendation is to link your Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts. This is done from Google Analytics. Go to the ‘ADMIN’ tab, then ‘Property > Property Settings’ and scroll to the bottom of the page.