Updated: Dec 21, 2019
As a proactive business owner, you often find yourself looking for new tools to improve your company website. Over the years, you’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on software and apps that don’t always give you the return on investment you need. You might also feel wary of any app that promises no-cost services. Still, there are some free platforms you should consider. Google Search Console is one of many provided by the world’s most popular search engine.
The tech giant has positioned itself as an ally for small business owners all around the world. From Google AdWords to Google Analytics, there are many products available for you to give your business a boost. If you already use Google Analytics, you may wonder where the console fits into the bigger picture. You probably also want to know how this benefits your business.
WHAT IS GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE?
At first glance, GSC closely resembles Google Analytics. Some people might even say it looks like a watered-down version. This is not actually the case, however. If you used Google Analytics before, then you know it provides detailed information about website traffic. It tells you how many people use your website, who they are, where they came from and even what times of each day they are most active.
In contrast, Google Search Console provides information on current website SEO performance and how to improve it. Without this information from GSC or some other source, it would be impossible to find out what areas to work on to boost search rankings.
GSC offers some specific tools to help you evaluate your website:
· URL inspection
· Security and manual actions
· Mobile usability
HOW DO GSC TOOLS SUPPORT BUSINESS OWNERS?
The list above is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the tools available in Google Search Console. To better understand how these tools may help boost your business, it’s important to look at each one individually. Note that Google continually updates its console, but these features were available at the time of writing.
Overview As the name suggests, the overview gives you a snapshot of your website’s performance. It includes your total web search clicks, index coverage and general enhancements. Note that “enhancements” is just the name Google gives to the core tools in its console.
This Google Search Console tool provides the most SEO-specific information of all the available options. It shares everything from your average click-through-rates per impression to a list of the most common search engine queries that bring people to your website. One of the most telling numbers here is the average position. Use it to get an idea of the average ranking position of your website in search results.
URL Inspection Did you update an old page and want Google to index it immediately? Or do you suspect that Google may have missed a particular URL? Enter it into the prompt box provided and Google will tell you if it’s indexed or not. If it isn’t, you can request immediate indexing.
Index Google Search Console’s indexing feature provides two tools: coverage and sitemaps. Check to see how many of your website links Google indexed and how many it did not. If the number of non-indexed pages alarms you, feel free to check the table to see which ones got excluded. Use the sitemaps feature to improve automatic indexing.
This is currently in beta or experimental mode, but consider it a feature likely to last. Google has not been quiet about the importance of speed to a website’s search engine performance, especially for mobile queries. Forbes estimates that decreasing the time it takes to load your page by just one second could grow conversation rates by 2%.
Speed is also closely tied to mobile usability. Forbes reports that by the end of 2019, more than 86% of the world’s internet users will use their mobile devices to access websites. The mobile usability tool from Google Search Console helps you identify issues that may make your website less user-friendly, such as content wider than the screen or too-small text.
AMP This tool also gets tied to mobile usability. It shows you which AMP-rendered mobile webpages get shown in search results and which ones do not. Your customers tend to get the AMP version of a website if they click on a link from social media while using their phones.
This shows errors and warnings Google Search Console found or generated while bots crawled your website. Note that Google uses breadcrumb trails to categorize and rank pages that form part of a hierarchy. For example, “Services” may sit at the top of a hierarchy, but then you have different types of services on pages forming a subset under this header.
Here, Google shows you how well your product schema performs. Search Engine Land explains that this is important if you have an online store hosted on your website. Not only does Google identify potential problems, but it also guides you through the process of resolving them.
Sitelinks Searchbox Want to know if Google is unable to read certain rich content on your websites, such as job postings or recipes? This is where you’ll find that information in Google Search Console. It tells you how many links are valid, how many have warnings and how many have errors.
Security and Manual Actions
When working to improve the SEO on your website, beware of black hat practices. If a human being reviews your websites and believes you’re trying to manipulate the search index or otherwise disregard Google’s webmaster guidelines, you get issued a manual action here. The good news is, Google tells you how to fix it. The security aspect of this tool checks for vulnerabilities on your website or signs that malware infected it.
Links If you have a strong link-building focus in your SEO strategy, this tool helps you monitor your results. It tells you what pages get linked to the most, both from external websites and within your own website. This also lets you know what the top linking sites are as well as the most common link text on external websites that refer readers to yours.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE BEST OF GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE TOOLS?
Even if you’re not a marketing and SEO expert, there’s no denying that GSC provides you with a good starting point. If you decide to hire out this work to an agency in the near future, you can still gain a better understanding of SEO, how it works and what those professionals are trying to improve.
1. Create Your Account
The only way to access the console is to set up your account. The process is fairly simple. Just click the link and then “Start Now” to get the ball rolling. If you already have a Google Analytics profile, sign in under the Gmail account linked to it. Google Search Console may pull from that information and automatically create your account. If not, follow the guidelines to verify site ownership.
2. Fix All Errors Once you have your account set up, Google begins to notify you when you have an error. However, it may not point out errors it believes you already saw in the console, so always check that you have none there to rectify. If you do, follow Google’s instructions to resolve the issue. If you have no errors at all, then congratulations. You’ve done well so far!
3. Validate Your Fixes After you fix your errors, remember to validate this with Google Search Console. Sometimes, Google validates the fix almost immediately. Other times, it schedules this for a later date. If you successfully fixed an error, Google lets you know. A little-known secret among some web admins is that occasionally Google glitches and the error is false. When this happens, validating is all you need to do to fix it. This is as easy as clicking a button.
4. Monitor Average Position Your ideal goal is to rank in the top three results every time for any search result. No website can rank this highly for all their keywords, but you should aim for an average position that gets you on the first page. Consider that Google loads 10 results per page, so an average position of 10 or less is what you should shoot for.
5. Index Updated Pages When you update a webpage, don’t wait for Google’s bots to catch on, especially if the information is time-sensitive. Use the URL inspection tool to ensure Google Search Console always has the most updated information about your company. This reduces confusion when customers click on web search results and get information that conflicts with the preview.
6. Partner With Top Linking Sites Take a look at the websites identified as the common ones to link to you. Check the website to see if the overall message and brand complements your company’s. If yes, consider partnering with them for continued promotions and links. They’re already doing it anyway, so this is a lot easier than approaching perfect strangers with the same proposal.
NEED SOME HELP?
For some business owners, Google Search Console is a wonderful addition to their toolbox to simplify the SEO process. In other instances, adding yet another way to evaluate your website makes marketing and SEO seem complicated. This could mean it’s time to transfer those responsibilities to a partner to help you improve website traffic and conversion rates.
Contact Spin Markket + Digital and let us do the heavy lifting while providing you the online resources and education of just what your digital footprint looks like. Call 515-302-8026 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org