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How to use Google Search Console

Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site's presence in Google Search results. It offers a wealth of information and tools for website owners, SEO professionals, and developers. For some great stats on Core Web Vitals please read my post: Core Web Vitals: Impact on User Experience and Business Metrics and I am covering the new Interaction to Next Paint (INP) here: Google Search Console: A New Era with Interaction to Next Paint (INP)


The Importance of Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a crucial tool for anyone looking to boost their website's organic traffic. It's not just a tool, but a bridge between your website and Google's search engine. Here's why it's so important:

  • Insights into Google's View of Your Site: Google Search Console provides a unique perspective - how Google's search bots see your site. This is invaluable because it helps you understand what Google considers important on your site, which pages it's indexing, and which it's not. This information can guide your SEO strategy and help you make changes that align with Google's algorithms.

  • Identifying and Fixing Technical Errors: Websites are complex, and technical errors are inevitable. These errors can range from broken links and 404 errors to issues with robots.txt files and sitemaps. Google Search Console identifies these errors and provides recommendations on how to fix them, ensuring your site remains user-friendly and accessible to Google's search bots.

  • Sitemap Submission: A sitemap is like a roadmap of your website that helps Google's bots navigate your site and understand its structure. Google Search Console allows you to submit your sitemap directly, ensuring that Google can easily find and index all of your site's pages.

  • Understanding Your Audience: Google Search Console provides data on the keywords users are typing into Google to find your site. This includes information on click-through rates (CTR) and impressions for each keyword. This data is invaluable for understanding what your audience is interested in and tailoring your content to meet their needs.

  • Monitoring Backlinks: Backlinks, or links from other websites to your site, are a key factor in SEO. Google Search Console allows you to monitor your site's backlink profile, showing you which sites are linking to you, which pages they're linking to, and how your backlink profile changes over time.

  • Mobile Usability: With the rise of mobile browsing, it's more important than ever to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. Google Search Console includes a Mobile Usability report that identifies any issues that might affect your site's performance on mobile devices.

Google Search Console is your direct line of communication with Google. It provides a wealth of information and tools that can help you improve your site's SEO, fix technical issues, understand your audience, and ultimately increase your site's organic traffic. It's a must-have tool for any website owner, SEO professional, or digital marketer.


Navigating the Google Search Console Dashboard


Overview Tab

The Overview tab provides a snapshot of your site's performance, including total clicks, total impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position in Google search results.


Performance Tab

The Performance tab offers a more detailed view of your site's search performance. Here, you can see which queries are driving traffic to your site, which pages are most popular, and how your site performs on different devices.


Diving Deep into the Performance Tab

The Performance tab in Google Search Console is a treasure trove of data about your website's search performance. It provides a comprehensive view of how your site is performing in Google's search results, which can guide your SEO strategy and help you make data-driven decisions. Here's a detailed look at what you can find in the Performance tab:

  • Search Results Report: This is the main report you'll see when you open the Performance tab. It provides data on four key metrics: Total Clicks, Total Impressions, Average Click-Through Rate (CTR), and Average Position.

    • Total Clicks: This shows the total number of times users clicked through to your site from Google's search results. A higher number of clicks generally indicates that your site is ranking well for certain keywords and that your title tags and meta descriptions are enticing users to click on your site.

    • Total Impressions: This is the total number of times your site appeared in Google's search results. If you have a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks, it might indicate that your site is ranking well but your title tags and meta descriptions aren't compelling enough to drive clicks.

    • Average CTR: This is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click. It's calculated by dividing total clicks by total impressions. A higher CTR indicates that a higher proportion of users who see your site in the search results are clicking through to your site.

    • Average Position: This shows the average ranking position of your site in Google's search results. The lower the number, the higher your site ranks. If your average position is high, it might indicate that you need to optimize your site for SEO to improve its ranking.

  • Queries Report: This report shows the search queries that are driving traffic to your site. You can see the total clicks, total impressions, average CTR, and average position for each query. This data can help you understand what users are searching for when they find your site, which can guide your keyword strategy and content creation.


  • Pages Report: This report shows the performance of individual pages on your site. You can see which pages are driving the most traffic, which have the highest CTR, and which are ranking the best. This can help you identify your top-performing pages and understand what you're doing right on those pages.

  • Countries Report: This report shows the countries where your users are located. This can help you understand your global reach and identify opportunities for international SEO.

  • Devices Report: This report shows how your site performs on different devices, such as desktop, mobile, and tablet. With the rise of mobile browsing, it's important to ensure your site is performing well on all devices.

  • Search Appearance Report: This report shows how features like rich results, AMP, and others affect your site's performance.

The Performance tab is a powerful tool for understanding your site's search performance. By diving deep into its reports, you can gain valuable insights that can guide your SEO strategy and help you improve your site's visibility in Google's search results.

Interpreting Data in the Performance Tab for Queries and Pages

The Performance tab in Google Search Console provides a wealth of data on how your site is performing for specific queries and pages. Understanding this data can help you optimize your site for better search performance. Let's delve into how to read and interpret this data:

  • Queries Report: This report shows the search queries that are driving traffic to your site. For each query, you'll see four key metrics:

    • Total Clicks: The total number of times users clicked on your site in the search results for that query. If a query has a high number of clicks, it means that your site is effectively answering the user's search intent for that query.

    • Total Impressions: The total number of times your site appeared in the search results for that query. A high number of impressions with low clicks could indicate that your site's meta description or title tag isn't compelling enough to entice users to click.

    • Average CTR: The percentage of impressions that resulted in a click for that query. A high CTR means that a high proportion of users who see your site in the search results for that query are clicking through to your site.

    • Average Position: The average ranking position of your site in the search results for that query. A lower number means a higher ranking. If a query has a high average position (i.e., a low ranking), it could indicate that your site's content isn't as relevant or high-quality as it could be for that query. Please Note: Keep in mind that Google will show search results based on your data. Your previous searches, online behavior influence dramtatically what the search result pages will look like. Many of my clients keep using their own default browser to search for their own terms and/or competitors and wonder why their results are different. Either use a professional tool or a privacy browser like Epic that deletes all cookies and collection, so you always get a neutral view of things.


  • Pages Report: This report shows the performance of individual pages on your site. For each page, you'll see the same four metrics as in the Queries report. Here's how to interpret them:

    • Total Clicks: The total number of times users clicked on that page in the search results. A high number of clicks indicates that the page is effectively attracting users from the search results.

    • Total Impressions: The total number of times that page appeared in the search results. A high number of impressions with low clicks could indicate that the page's meta description or title tag isn't compelling enough to entice users to click.

    • Average CTR: The percentage of impressions that resulted in a click for that page. A high CTR means that a high proportion of users who see that page in the search results are clicking through to it.

    • Average Position: The average ranking position of that page in the search results. A lower number means a higher ranking. If a page has a high average position (i.e., a low ranking), it could indicate that the page's content isn't as relevant or high-quality as it could be.


By understanding the data in the Queries and Pages reports, you can draw conclusions about your site's performance and identify areas for improvement. For example, if a page has a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks, you might need to improve the page's title tag or meta description to make it more enticing. If a query has a high average position, you might need to improve your site's content for that query to improve its ranking.


URL Inspection Tool


The URL Inspection tool allows you to check a specific URL on your site to see if it's been indexed by Google and if there are any issues with it.

How to use the URL Inspection Tool

The URL Inspection tool is a powerful feature of Google Search Console that provides detailed information about a specific URL on your site. It allows you to see how Google views a particular page, which can be invaluable for troubleshooting and optimizing your site's SEO. Here's a closer look at the URL Inspection tool:

What Data Can You See?

When you enter a URL into the URL Inspection tool, it provides a wealth of information about that URL:

  • URL is on Google: This tells you whether the URL is in Google's index, meaning it can appear in search results. If the URL isn't on Google, the tool will provide a reason, such as 'Crawl Anomaly' or 'Page with redirect'.

  • Coverage: This section provides details about the URL's crawl status. It tells you when the URL was last crawled, the crawl status (like 'Crawl Allowed'), and any crawl errors.

  • Enhancements: This section provides information about any special features that Google could identify on the page, such as structured data like FAQs or AMP. HTML Markup: This section shows the HTML title and meta description that Google has chosen for the page.


Using the URL Inspection tool is straightforward. Simply log in to Google Search Console, select your property (website), and enter the URL you want to inspect in the search bar at the top of the page. The tool will then fetch the URL and provide a report.


How to Use It to Improve Your Website SEO Performance?


The URL Inspection tool can be a valuable tool for improving your website's SEO performance:


  • Identify Indexing Issues: If a URL isn't on Google, the URL Inspection tool can help you understand why. You can then address the issue to ensure the URL can be indexed and appear in search results.

  • Fix Crawl Errors: If the tool identifies any crawl errors, you can fix them to ensure Google can effectively crawl and index the URL.

  • Optimize HTML Markup: The tool shows the HTML title and meta description that Google has chosen for the page. If these aren't optimal, you can update them to better reflect the page's content and entice users to click on your page in the search results.

  • Leverage Enhancements: If the tool identifies any enhancements like structured data or AMP on the page, you can ensure they're implemented correctly to take full advantage of these features.


The URL Inspection tool provides a detailed view of how Google sees a specific URL on your site. By understanding and acting on this information, you can optimize each page on your site for better visibility and performance in Google's search results.


Coverage Report

The Coverage report shows which pages on your site are indexed and which are not. It also identifies any indexing errors that might be preventing Google from crawling your pages.


Understanding the Coverage Report

The Coverage report in Google Search Console provides crucial information about the indexing status of the pages on your website. It helps you understand which pages Google is able to index and which it isn't, along with the reasons why. This information can be instrumental in improving your website's SEO performance.


What Information Can You See?


The Coverage report is divided into several sections, each providing different insights:

  • Error: This section lists the pages that Google couldn't index due to some errors. It also provides the reasons for these errors, such as 'Submitted URL blocked by robots.txt', 'Submitted URL marked ‘noindex’', or 'Crawl anomaly'.

  • Valid with warnings: This section lists the pages that Google has indexed but with some issues. These issues might not prevent Google from indexing the page, but they could affect how the page appears in search results.

  • Valid: This section lists all the pages that Google has successfully indexed without any issues.

  • Excluded: This section lists the pages that Google has deliberately excluded from its index. There could be several reasons for this, such as 'Blocked by robots.txt', 'Duplicate without user-selected canonical', or 'Crawled - currently not indexed'.


How to Use the Information to Improve Your SEO Ranking?

The Coverage report can be a valuable tool for improving your website's SEO ranking:


  • Fix Errors: If the Coverage report identifies any errors that are preventing Google from indexing certain pages, you should prioritize fixing these. This could involve updating your robots.txt file, removing 'noindex' tags, or addressing other crawl issues.

  • Address Warnings: If there are pages with warnings, it's worth investigating these issues and fixing them where possible. While these issues might not prevent Google from indexing the pages, they could affect how the pages appear in search results.

  • Review Excluded Pages: If there are pages that Google has excluded from its index, review these to ensure that this is intentional. If there are pages that you want to be indexed but are being excluded, you'll need to address the reasons why they're being excluded.

  • Monitor Valid Pages: Keep an eye on the pages that Google is successfully indexing. If the number of valid pages decreases, it could indicate a new issue that needs to be addressed.

In essence, the Coverage report provides a comprehensive view of your website's indexing status. By understanding and acting on this information, you can ensure that Google is able to index all of the pages that you want to appear in search results, which can improve your website's visibility and SEO ranking.


Sitemaps Report

The Sitemaps report allows you to submit a sitemap to help Google better understand the structure of your site and find new pages. Sitemaps typically get automatically generated by your web sites platform e.g. Squarespace, Wordpress or Shopify and inform the search engines like Google and Bing when new content has been added to your site. In order for that to work you need to submit your sitemap in the Google Search Console property when you set-it up and periodically check on it to make sure there are no issues.



Mobile Usability Report

The Mobile Usability report identifies any issues that might affect your site's usability on mobile devices.


The Importance of the Mobile Usability Report

The Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console is a crucial tool for understanding how your website performs on mobile devices. With the rise of mobile browsing, it's more important than ever to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. Here's why this report is so important:


Google's Mobile-First Indexing

In recent years, Google has moved towards mobile-first indexing. This means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking. Previously, Google's index primarily used the desktop version of a website's content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user's query.

The shift towards mobile-first indexing reflects the fact that the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device. Therefore, it's crucial that your website is optimized for mobile users.


Understanding the Mobile Usability Report

The Mobile Usability report provides information about any issues that might affect your site's usability on mobile devices. These issues might include:


  • Viewport not set: This means that your site's pages aren't specifying a viewport property, which is necessary for your pages to render correctly on different devices.

  • Clickable elements too close together: This means that buttons and links on your site are too close together, which can make it difficult for mobile users to tap the desired element.

  • Text too small to read: This means that the font size on your site is too small for mobile users to read without zooming in.


Each of these issues can negatively impact a mobile user's experience on your site, which can in turn affect your site's ranking in Google's search results.


The Mobile Usability report is a crucial tool for ensuring your site is optimized for mobile users, which is key for SEO in the era of mobile-first indexing. By understanding and acting on the information in this report, you can improve your site's mobile usability, which can in turn improve your site's visibility and ranking in Google's search results.


Using Google Search Console for SEO


Identifying Crawling Issues

Google Search Console can help you identify and fix any issues that might prevent Google from crawling and indexing your site. This is crucial for SEO, as your site needs to be indexed to appear in search results.


Checking Keyword Rankings

Google Search Console allows you to see which keywords your site is ranking for. This can help you understand what your audience is searching for and tailor your content accordingly.


Analyzing Backlinks

Backlinks are a key factor in SEO, and Google Search Console allows you to see who is linking to your site. This can help you identify potential link-building opportunities.


Google Search Console is a powerful tool for anyone looking to improve their website's performance in Google search. By understanding and utilizing its features, you can gain valuable insights into your site's performance, identify and fix issues, and optimize your SEO strategy.


FAQ for Google Search Console


What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google that helps website owners, SEO professionals, and developers monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot their site's presence in Google Search results.


Why is Google Search Console important for improving website traffic?

Google Search Console is essential for boosting organic traffic to your website. It provides insights into how Google's search bots perceive your site, helps identify and fix technical errors, allows you to submit your sitemap for easy indexing, provides data on user keywords and audience insights, and helps monitor backlinks and mobile usability.


How can Google Search Console help with identifying technical errors on a website?

Google Search Console can identify and provide recommendations for fixing various technical errors on your website, including broken links, 404 errors, issues with robots.txt files, and sitemap problems. By addressing these errors, you ensure that your site remains user-friendly and accessible to Google's search bots.


What information does the Performance tab in Google Search Console provide?

The Performance tab offers a detailed view of your website's search performance. It provides data on total clicks, total impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position in Google search results. Additionally, it offers reports on search queries, individual page performance, countries, and devices.


How does the URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console help improve SEO?

The URL Inspection tool allows you to check a specific URL on your website to see if it's indexed by Google and detect any issues. It helps identify indexing problems, crawl errors, and provides insights into HTML markup. By using this tool, you can address indexing issues, fix crawl errors, optimize HTML markup, and leverage enhancements to improve your website's SEO performance.


What does the Coverage report in Google Search Console provide?

The Coverage report in Google Search Console offers crucial information about the indexing status of your website's pages. It indicates which pages are indexed, which pages have errors preventing indexing, pages with warnings, and pages deliberately excluded from the index. This report helps you identify and fix indexing errors, address warnings, review excluded pages, and monitor the status of valid pages.


How can the Sitemaps report in Google Search Console be helpful?

The Sitemaps report allows you to submit a sitemap of your website to Google, which helps the search engine understand your site's structure and discover new pages. By regularly submitting and checking your sitemap in Google Search Console, you can ensure that new content is indexed promptly and there are no issues with the sitemap.


What is the significance of the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console?

The Mobile Usability report is vital for understanding how your website performs on mobile devices, especially with Google's mobile-first indexing approach. It identifies usability issues such as viewport problems, clickable elements being too close, and small text size. By addressing these issues, you can improve your site's mobile usability, which positively impacts your SEO ranking.


How can Google Search Console be used for SEO purposes?

Google Search Console offers several features that can enhance your SEO efforts. It helps identify crawling issues that may hinder indexing, allows you to check keyword rankings to understand user search intents, and provides insights into backlinks, aiding in link-building strategies. Utilizing Google Search Console's features enables you to gain valuable insights, fix issues, and optimize your overall SEO strategy.



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