How to Use Google Search Console
In this post you will learn the basics of Google Search Console. It was formerly called Google Webmaster Tools and is a completely free tool.
Why is it such an important search engine optimization tool you must have and why do you need to use it?
To access your Google Search Console, first make sure you’re logged in to any of your Google accounts like Gmail.
If when you’re through with reading this you feel you’ve learned something new, please post it in the comment box at the end of the post. I’ll reply your comment in 12 – 24 hours. Alternatively you can contact me on the contact us page if you need more help.
In our introduction to Google search console, we will look at the following topics:
You’ll learn how to read the search console data. I’ll show you that it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
If you follow this step by step tutorial closely, you should be able to set up your Google search console as we go.
The New Google Search Console
Google search console recently made some changes, literally like a few days ago, in terms of how to set a up a new site. So I’m really excited to share this update too with you.
Features of Google Search Console
Once you have search console all set up for your site, and you let it mature for a week or so, it will show what keywords your site is ranking for. That’s pretty awesome!
It also shows what position each keyword is on average and then it shows how many times your site has been shown in Google for that keyword. Cool, isn’t it?
The search console also shows how many clicks from search each keyword has.
In other words, as people are coming from Google search and visiting your site with their desktop or mobile devices, it tells you how many times they have clicked that keyword.
The console also allows you to submit all your posts and pages to Google just so that they know that they all exist, using the console’s sitemap feature. You can use this feature to announce your new page or post to Google.
This means every time you write a new blog post, you can go inside search console and let Google know about it. However, having a sitemap of your website indexed inside the console makes this action unnecessary.
Also know that you don’t have to wait until you have so much contents in your posts or pages before you create your sitemap. Even with a few lines of posts or pages, you can create and submit your sitemap.
Fetch As Google = Url Inspection
If you’re not sure if a post or page on your site is on Google, you can use this feature called Url Inspection (formerly called Fetch As Google).
So if you want to find out if a url was submitted to Google or not, just type it inside the long search bar near the top of the page and press the enter/return key on your keyboard.
Google will check your data (url) if it exists in its index. If your url has indeed been indexed by Google, you will receive the response “URL is on Google”.
If your url has not been indexed, you get the response “URL is not on Google”.
This may happen for instance if you purposely exclude a page/post (such as an unimportant page of your site, or if you accidentally left it out when you were creating your website sitemap.
If the latter is the case just click on the TEST LIVE button to confirm availability of the url. A window will pop up showing “Testing live URL”. See the screenshot below.
When the testing is done, you will get a response like shown in the screenshot below if your url is confirmed absent on Google.
After showing the above error screen, Google will tell you they will try to index your url soon. So you do not need to re-submit it a second time.
From my experience it takes only Google a couple of days to index a url. In this example, I purposely did not submit my Privacy page to Google in my sitemap because it’s not an important page (offers little or no value to my site visitors).
It is on your website that such pages may be important but certainly not inside the search console.
Who is Linking to My Website?
Google search console also shows you who is linking to your website (backlinks), for example, if you’ve made any kind of effort you go out to comment on other people’s websites like blogs.
And within the comment form you leave your website address, you can see on the console if those other people’s websites are linking back to you or not.
If they are linking to you, this will help your awesome content to rank higher on Google search engine ( search engine optimization ).
Does My Site Have “Issues”?
The console also shows you if your site has any indexing or security “issues” as seen by Google. Now I put the word issues in quotes because I’m using it very loosely.
The reason is that the issues may be some false positives. Okay, before I forget, I’m going to mention something here about the way Google sees issues.
For example, I’ve been getting a couple messages from some of my subscribers saying…
“oh, I’ve been getting this error message from search console called no index. It says, my categories are no index” or “my tags are no index”.
Well, I tell them that’s okay because we don’t want categories and tags to be indexed. The reason is there’s no real relevant content in any of them.
For example, a category like https://prominentaffiliate.com/category/start-course/week-1/ is just a directory of some of my posts, and is the same thing with tags like https://prominentaffiliate.com/tag/seo-tutorial/.
Unfortunately, Google search console isn’t smart enough to say, oh, okay, that’s a category or oh, okay that’s a tag. It just gives you that warning (a false positive) because it’s just a robot.
So keep it in mind from now on that it’s okay you don’t want categories and tags indexed. Later in this post you will see how to detect and rectify other types of issues like security.