Everything You Need To Know About Google Search Console - and How to Get It Set Up - Quickly and Painlessly!Mar 13, 2023
If you’ve braved Google Analytics, and quickly left, wondering what on earth to do with all that data, then Google Console might be a less overwhelming place to start.
Today I’m going to take you on a tour of how to set up Google Search Console (GSC), Google’s free website analytics tool, and show you how you can use it.
Basically, I'm going to show you everything you need to know about Google Search Console.
We’ll look at…
- What is Google Search Console?
- How does Google Console Work?
- How to create a Google Console account and get yourself set up.
- A quick look at Google Search Console vs Google Analytics.
- What Google Search Console isn’t - G-Suite Console, Google Admin Console, Google Cloud Console…
- How to use Google Console to find the most helpful data.
- What to do if there is no, or not enough data available?
Prefer A Video?
Ok, so let’s get stuck in.
First, what is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free analytics tool that lets you monitor your website’s performance in Google.
You can look at all sorts of stats and information about your website’s ranking and learn how to optimise your pages to make sure your website is in the best condition for Google searches.
You’ll also find lots of information on page speed, mobile suitability, security and errors so it’s a perfect tool for optimising your website.
How does Google Console Work?
Google Search Console collects all the information Google has on how your website is being crawled, indexed and shown to the people who are looking for the kind of information you prived.
It packages up all this data and provides you with lots of different reports that help you monitor and analyse your website’s performance.
How to create a Google Console account and get yourself set up.
The first thing you need to do is head over to the Google Search Console website and sign in with your Google account (try and use the same one you use for Google Analytics).
Then click on the “Add Property” button and verify that the site is yours. If you’re already set up on Google Analytics, the verification process should happen automatically.
Then, once your site is verified, you need to add your site map. You can find it by entering your domain into your browser with the sitemap.xml extension.
Here’s an example…www.sbsmith.com/sitemap.xml.
You don’t NEED to add your sitemap to Google Console, but it’s much better if you do.
Once you’ve got your sitemap URL, go over to “Sitemaps” which you’ll find in the Index section on the left-hand side of the dashboard.
Add your sitemap URL to Add a new sitemap, click OK and you should get a message saying it’s been a success - and you’re all ready to go!
Just remember, it might take Google a while to crawl your new sitemap so don’t expect to see data straight away.
Google Search Console vs Google Analytics
Put really simply, Google Search Console and Google Analytics measure different things.
Google Search Console
As you’ll be picking up by now, Google Console is all about your site’s performance from Google’s point of view. It tells you if all your pages are being crawled, what searches are leading people to your site, whether there are any broken links, and if your website is properly set up for the search engines, and lots more.
Google Analytics will tell you about visitors to your site, where they come from, how many visits you’ve had, and how long they’ve spent on your website. It will also tell you what they’ve done whilst they’ve visited your site and what content they’ve spent time looking at.
It’s a massive oversimplification but essentially, Search Console is about your website, and Analytics is about your visitors.
And while we’re talking about other things that sound a bit like Google Console, let me clear up what Google Search Console isn’t.
What Google Search Console Isn’t!
As fabulous as all these tools are, Google Search Console is NOT…
The G-Suite Console is now called Google Workspace. It’s a whole collection of cloud-based apps and services to help you run your business and includes things like Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, Sheets, Slides, etc.
Google Admin Console
The Google Admin console is where you manage all your Google Workspace services. From the Admin console you can manage user accounts, configure admin settings, monitor workspace usage and create groups, and so on.
Google Cloud Console
The Google Cloud Console provides you with amazing but pretty techy computing services like
data storage, data analytics and machine learning. Not something you need to know any more about in this context, other than it’s not the Google (Search) Console!
How to Use Google Console
There are TONNES of information waiting for you inside the Google Search Console but sometimes it can all be a bit overwhelming, so I want to take you through the 6 most powerful sections of Google Console and how to use the information.
1. Google Console Overview
The first thing you see when you log in to your Google Search Console is your Overview Page.
Now, without wishing to state the bleedin’ obvious, it kind of gives you an overview of all the other pages. Sorry, nothing more to say about this page, other than it’s super helpful as the where you navigate to all the other sections of the console!
From your Overview, click on Performance on the left-hand side page. This is a great page that tells you how well your site is performing. You’ll be able to see how all your blogging and SEO activities are helping boost your website’s performance.
But that’s not all. The performance page shows you the top questions people were asking that led to them visiting your website.
It also shows you what pages on your website are performing best, as well as what countries your visitors are from and what device they’re using to access your site.
This is gold in terms of content creation and choosing the best channels for your marketing efforts.
Coverage shows you all the data about the URLs Google has tried to index on your website and gives you information on any problems they’ve had.
It’s important that your pages are indexed as this is how Google’s spiders pick up all the information it needs so Google can decide how to rank your website. Super important if you’re looking for a spot on page 1.
No indexing - no ranking!
The spiders ignore pages they think are duplicate, or non-canonical or those you’ve set up as no-index pages so don’t worry if the report you see shows fewer pages than are on your website.
You’ll also see how many URLs are disallowed from being crawled by spiders on your website by your robots.txt file.
Being aware of all this is great as far as helping you optimise your website for SEO, so don’t ignore this data.
4. Core Website Vitals
Core Website Vitals is a report that shows you some really important data including a set of page speed, page usability, and visual stability.
These are really important ranking factors just now, so don’t ignore them!
You’ll get a score - Good, Needs Improvement or Poor - so keep an eye on things you need to fix.
5. Mobile Usability
Mobile Usability shows you if your website’s pages are all up to scratch with what Google wants to see.
You’ll get warnings if your text size is too small if your page layout isn’t quite right or even if clickable elements on your page are too close to each other when they’re seen on a mobile.
Google is super hot on mobile usability, so make sure you fix any errors you find to improve your users’ experience and in turn, your rankings.
A super helpful report on GSC!
Google Search Console shows you ALL your backlinks (external links) and your internal links.
A great place to keep on track of your links and you can download your links too.
Also, you can see what links are most popular, as well as what sites are working hardest for you.
What to do if there is no, or not enough, data available in Google Console?
So, we’ve had a look at the most helpful elements of Google Search Console and you’ll see how helpful it is for keeping your website in great health and tracking your progress.
But, sometimes, you’ll see a message on reports saying there is “no” or “not enough” data to allow Google to give you the data you want to see.
This can be for 2 reasons:
- Your website is brand new or you’ve just verified your domain. If this is the case Google’s spiders won’t have had a chance to index anything and also, traffic levels to your site are likely to be low.
- You’ve just not got enough traffic. It’s not that there’s an error with your website, or with Google console; you just haven’t got enough people visiting you, YET!
How To Add A User To Google Search Console
If you’re working with an SEO expert or a website designer, they might need access to your Google Search Console.
If you want to add a user to your Google Search Console, here’s what you need to do…
- Open up Google Search Console.
- Go to settings and click on Users and Permissions.
- Click Add User.
You’ll be given a few options to choose from:
Has full control over properties in Search Console. Owners can add and remove other users, configure settings, view all data, and use all tools. A property must have at least one verified owner, or no users will have access to the property.
Has view rights to all data and can take some actions.
Has simple view rights on most data.
Chose the one that is best for you, and you’re done!
You’re ready to get analysing!
So now you know how to use Google Search Console, and you’ve got yourself all set up, you’re ready to get stuck in and find out how your website is doing.
Just follow the instructions and see what Google’s got to tell you.
And make sure you fix anything that’s holding your website back from ranking as well as it could be.
And if you need any help with Google Analytics, why don't you read my guide to setting up Google Analytics?
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