This article talks about all that you need to know about how to use the Search Console.
Who Should now Use the Search Console ?
Anyone with a website! From generalist to specialist, from newbie to advanced, Search Console can help you.
- A business owner who delegates. Even if you don’t think you know how to use Search Console, you should be aware of it and become familiar with the basics. You might hire your webmaster or a marketing specialist to help you set up your website with Search Console. In that case, you can work with that person to ensure you have access and control to all of the reports for your website. In addition, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about how your site is performing in search results so you can make important business decisions about your site.
- SEO specialist or marketer. As someone focused on online marketing, Search Console will help you monitor your website traffic, optimize your ranking, and make informed decisions about the appearance of your site’s search results. You can use the information in the Search Console to influence technical decisions for the website and do sophisticated marketing analysis in conjunction with other Google tools like Analytics, Google Trends, and AdWords.
- Site Administrator. As a site admin, you care about the healthy operation of your site. Search Console lets you easily monitor and in some cases resolve server errors, site load issues, and security issues like hacking and malware. You can also use it to ensure any site maintenance or adjustments you make happen smoothly with respect to search performance.
- Web Developer. If you are creating the actual markup and/or code for your site, Search Console helps you monitor and resolve common issues with markup, such as errors in structured data.
- App Developer. If you own an app, you want to see how mobile users find your app using Google Search. Search Console can help you integrate your app seamlessly with the website world.
Google Search Console
1. Verify as site owner (when no other site owners exist). Follow Google’s site verification process by acting as site owner e.g. uploading an HTML file to your site.
2. Ask a colleague to be added (when a site owner already exists). Find out who is the site owner and ask them to grant you Google Search Console access to a website.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing offers a similar product to the Search Console called Bing Webmaster Tools. Follow a similar process to the above.
The following is text is borrowed from the Google Search Console help pages and you can find a link in the references below.
Verify your site ownership
What is verification?
Verification is the process of proving that you own the site or app that you claim to own. We need to confirm ownership because once you are verified for a site or app you have access to its private Google Search data, which can affect how Google Search crawls it.
Verification associates a specific user with a specific property. Every Search Console property requires at least one verified owner, though it can have more.
Note that you could add any site or app as a property to Search Console, but until you verify ownership of it (or an owner grants you rights on it) you can’t use it in Search Console. For example, you could add www.wikipedia.org as a property to your Search Console account, but you wouldn’t be able to access it until a Wikipedia developer helped you prove ownership (or a Wikipedia Search Console property owner added you as a user to the Search Console property).
Verify a website
1. Either add a new site (see link in references) or click Manage Property > Verify this property on the Search Console home page next to the existing property that you want to verify.
2. Choose one of the verification methods listed below and follow the instructions. Not all verification methods are available for all properties; the verification page will list which methods are available and recommended for your site.
Verification methods include (more detail in the link in the references section):
- HTML file upload
- Domain name provider
- HTML tag
- Google Analytics tracking code
- Google tag manager container snippet
- Google sites
Multiple people can add and verify a site separately, using the same or different methods. If you use the same method, just be sure that you don’t overwrite any verification tokens of any other owners.
Crawlability optimization steps
- Minimise site errors
- Use redirect wisely
- Create and submit to date XML sitemap
- Minimise duplicate content
- Check for indexed pages
Minimize site errors: Site and URL errors can restrict access to useful pages and if too frequent, can lower the overall trust of a domain. In Google Search Console, you can find Site and URL errors under Crawl à Crawl Errors. This example shows a very high number of Not Found URL errors, so further investigations need to be made so the appropriate fixes can be put in place.
Use redirects wisely: if a URL has changed, redirects can be used to take the user or search engine to the right place and preserve the page’s trust and reputation, while avoiding URL errors.
There are three main types of redirects:
- 301, “Moved Permanently”—recommended for SEO. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which passes between 90-99% of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page. 301 refers to the HTTP status code for this type of redirect. In most instances, the 301 redirect is the best method for implementing redirects on a website.
- 302, “Found” or “Moved Temporarily“. Some of Google’s employees have indicated that there are cases where 301s and 302s may be treated similarly, but our evidence suggests that the safest way to ensure search engines and browsers of all kinds give full credit is to use a 301 when permanently redirecting URLs
- Meta Refresh. Meta refreshes are a type of redirect executed on the page level rather than the server level. They are usually slower, and not a recommended SEO technique. They are most commonly associated with a five-second countdown with the text “If you are not redirected in five seconds, click here.” Meta refreshes do pass some link juice but are not recommended as an SEO tactic due to poor usability and the loss of link juice passed.
The most recommended redirect is the 301 redirect as this is thought to pass the most amount of reputation.
The majority of Content Management Systems (CMSs) allow non-technical people to implement redirects. WordPress is a popular CMS and the simplest way to create a redirect is by installing a redirect plugin. For some CMSs, you may need to get help from a technical person to help implement redirects.
1. Create your sitemap:
The most commonly used sitemap is the XML sitemap. This is designed for search engines, rather than people, and is one file that contains a collection or all of your web pages. While search engines predominately crawl web pages by following links from one web page to another, they also use XML sitemap for discovering pages. Most CMSs will automatically create an XML sitemap but you need to make sure this has been enabled.
If one exists, you can often find your XML sitemap at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
What is a Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.
Why use Search Console?
Monitor your site’s performance in Google Search results:
- Make sure that Google can access your content
- Submit new content for crawling and remove content you don’t want to be shown in search results
- Create and monitor the content that delivers visually engaging search results
- Maintain your site with minimal disruption to search performance
- Monitor and resolve malware or spam issues so your site stays clean
- Discover how Google Search—and the world—sees your site:
- Which queries caused your site to appear in search results?
- Did some queries result in more traffic to your site than others?
- Are your product prices, company contact info, or events highlighted in rich search results?
- Which sites are linking to your website?
- Is your mobile site performing well for visitors searching on mobile?
- Submit your sitemap to Google:
There are two different ways to make your sitemap available to Google:
1.Submit your XML sitemap via Google Search Console – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/sitemap-list
2.Insert the following line anywhere in your robots.txt file, specifying the path to your sitemap: Sitemap: http://example.com/sitemap_location.xml. Be very careful when making changes to the robots.txt file and always check with an expert if you are unsure as you can accidentally de-index useful pages.
Once you have submitted your XML sitemap to Google, you’ll be updated on how many of the submitted pages have been indexed. Your goal is to get all your useful pages indexed and aim for 95%+ of all pages. The example screenshot only has 12% of the submitted pages indexed which is not good and would need further investigation.
While a small amount of duplicate content is ok, search engines prefer unique content and may choose to not index content that it considers duplicate. Duplicate content can be identified through:
1.HTML improvements in Google Search Console where duplicate pages will be highlighted if they exist.
2. Copying an extract of text found (e.g. 10 words or so) in a web page and pasting it in quotes into a search engine. If multiple pages are shown in a search engine, this may be a sign of duplicate content. For each web page checked, you can repeat this process three times.
If you want to view what a webpage looked like the last time Google visited it and also when it happened, you can check Google’s cache of the page and this is the version stored in its index.
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