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What you need to know about Google Search Console

Google’s Webmaster Tools was recently replaced by Google Search Console, a free, must-have tool for any business our marketing owner who needs to be found online. Search Console gives you direct insight on what Google does (or perhaps, doesn’t) know about your website.

Once you learn to poke your way around the platform, you’ll find it’s not a terribly complicated tool and can provide great benchmark about how the search engine perceives your digital presence.

This is a crash course into Google Search Console and will include:

  • An introduction
  • Performance
  • Page Coverage
  • Sitemaps
  • Searchbox
  • Videos
  • Links
  • Issues

Introduction

Before you get started, you’ll need to sign up for a Google account (if you don’t have one already) and use that login to start a new Search Console account. Once you’ve done that you’ll be presented with the option to add a property (your website) and will have to verify that you own it. Google allows you to do that in a couple ways.

Once you’ve verified that you own the domain you want to track, you’ll be dropped into the platform on the Overview screen.

Performance

If you click down into the Performance tab, you’ll be presented with a neat chart that shows you the number of times your website was presented as a result in Google’s search, the times it was clicked, and on average where it ranked amongst others.

Below that chart, you’ll see the different queries you showed up in and you can use the tabs to dive in and see which audiences you’re being shown to. This is a great page to benchmark your current metrics and set goals on becoming more relevant and visible.

Coverage

Next, you’ll see the Coverage tab. This is where you can actually see which of your pages are indexed by Google, which have errors that prevent Google from selecting them as a search result, and which pages Google is purposefully ignoring (usually because of nofollow or noindex rules).

Sitemaps

If you’re not happy with your coverage and want Google to be aware of more of your website’s content, keep moving along to the Sitemaps tab.

This is where you tell Google where to find your website’s sitemap. A sitemap is essentially a list of your site’s different pages, rules about their priority, and whether or not Google should come back often to check for updates.

Searchbox

As you build more and more content on your site, it might become important for you to have a searchbox on Google. If so you’ll need to structure your website so Google is able to present that option to users. If done right, you might one day have something like this:

Videos

As video becomes more and more important, Google has also prioritized it’s visibility. The Video tab lets you see exactly which of your videos Google has successfully been able to index and make visible in search results.

Links

Perhaps one of the most infamous pages of Google’s Search Console is the Links tab. This shows you how different pages of your site are linked. While you can see your own internal linking between pages, the most viewed statistics here are typically Top linking sites which shows you 3rd party sites that are pointing to your site. Typically speaking, the more you see here, the better!

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Issues

And last but not least, click into the Manual Actions and Security Actions tabs. These two pages will show you if there’s anything you can be doing better to get listed on Google. Be sure to keep a close eye on these tabs and take any detected issues seriously. Search engines like Google can be critical aspects of your lead generation strategy and you’ll want to stay in their good graces.