By Ryan Knighton
With Google’s Search Console getting a facelift soon, to join the likes of AdWords, it’s about time you started to check in on your website and recognise the benefits of using the console. The search console is a free tool from Google that gives you an insight into your site that Analytics doesn’t. It has a plethora of handy tools that all give you additional insight into your site, meaning you can fix issues quickly and continue to improve and move up the SERP’s or Search Engine Results Page.
This is one of the most prominent features of the search console, consider this as your personal inbox from Google. Here you will find updates from the search console (like news about the new design), as well as issues that have been found by their crawlers. These can be anything from coverage issues like servers errors on pages to problems with your structured data. Each message will detail what the problem is, and where you can find help to fix it. Not only this, but you will also get tips and tricks to help your site be more successful.
Search Appearance is all about how your website is performing in SERP’s. With a number of tools to help your site give more information to crawlers, and move your site in the right direction. From helping you understand what structured data is operating on your site (if you want to know more about that, check out our blog post on the impact structured data has on your site) to AMP and HTML improvements.
The structured data tools are there to help you understand what is working and where there are errors in your current structured data. But they also give you a tool to help you build it, called data highlighter. This is a point and click tool that allows you to build basic structured data using the predefined tags in the tool.
Under the search traffic section, there is a number of tools that all relate to where all your traffic is coming from. One of the most useful being an extensive list of all the search queries your site is being shown for, not necessarily just ones that create a click on your site. This can help you optimise your site for keywords you didn’t know you were ranking for.
Under this section, you can also view all the backlinks your site has. We all know the vital part that backlinks play in your SEO strategy, so knowing where you already have links can help you build more. This part of the console can also be linked to tools like SEMRush for backlink auditing. For some more tips and tricks to generate some backlinks, why not check out our video?
Another part of this section allows you to see any manual actions that Google may have placed on your site for any number of reasons. You will also receive messages about any manual actions but you can review them here and stay up-to-date with how close it is to being resolved.
There are also tools to help you evaluate your mobile usability, this is particularly useful if you couple it with Page Speed Insights and even international targeting. Where you can determine your sites language and even country, all to help users find the right version of your site.
These tools allow you to see statistics about your site and it’s status in Google’s index. Firstly you can easily see how many URLs within your site have been crawled and index, the graph on this tool gives you a visual representation of how many pages were indexed when. You can also see which URLs are being blocked for whatever reason, like a rule in the robots.txt. If you decide that a page on your site should be removed, you can request for it to be removed from SERPs temporarily until you can remove the page entirely from your site. This is super handy for a number of reasons, for example, a limited edition product on an e-commerce site.
This area of the search console can give you some very important information that you would otherwise miss out on. For example, any crawl errors that Google encounters on your site, whether this is a 404 error or some other problem, you can keep track of the problems and monitor them until they are resolved. You also get to see some interesting stats about what the crawlers are doing on your site, like how many pages they visit and how much information they are having to download and subsequently the time this takes them. This is great to help you estimate your crawl budget and to ensure you make the most of it.
Search console also gives you the ability to see your website just as Google will see it, which is really handy for understanding what exactly Google is indexing and where you can optimise. This area of the console is also where you can upload and test your sitemaps, to help crawlers navigate your site quickly and efficiently to save your crawl budget, as well as testing your robots.txt. This is really handy to help make sure you aren’t telling crawlers they can’t index the important parts of your site or that you’re letting them index bits they shouldn’t be doing. If you run a website that uses query parameters, you can also establish these in the search console to make sure Google understands what they do.
So, the search console is jam-packed full of information and tools that are all designed to help you better understand and evaluate your website’s performance. We have hopefully given you plenty of reasons to start using one of Google’s most underrated and underused tools, so you can take your site’s performance up to the next level.