If you have a website of any type, setting up a Google Search Console account (previously known as Google Webmasters) is a must.
Much like having a broken down car, sometimes it is difficult to diagnose issues with a website unless we take a glimpse under the hood. Seeing a significant drop in search engine ranking or having a challenging time finding your business website on Google?
You might want to take a look at what Google has to say about your website. Formerly known as Google Webmasters, Google Search Console gives us in depth look at what could be happening with your site.
Let’s take a look at the different components of the Google Search Console.
Google Dashboard Tab:
This is your main Google Search Console Screen. Any urgent issues that is preventing the ability for a higher Google ranking will be displayed in this section. These include categories based on: Crawl errors, Search Analytics, and site maps.
Crawl Errors are very important because Google has to be able to access all areas of your website to determine your search engine ranking. You will need to have a robots.txt file to help Google crawl your website, however make sure that your admin information is protected from being crawled.
Search Analytics shows information about the number of times your website has appeared in search results. While sitemaps serves as a “directory“ for your website and where you can access different types of information within your website.
In this tab, you will be provided with important messages or actions you should take to prevent any negative consequences in search engine ranking. Also, messages that include tips on improving your site will also be displayed here.
Search Appearances Tab:
As the title suggests, “search appearances” deals with how you your website is presented in the search results. On a typical google search results page, you will normally see a website link and a short description of the website underneath the link, this is called structured data. Structured data can be enhanced to help with user experience by using “rich cards”. An example of rich cards are events, where additional data including images, cooking time, ingredients list etc. are used to provide extra details on the recipe.
If you are providing reviews or listing events on your site, make your website distinct with the “data highlighter”. The data highlighter goes through your website and you can highlight the different components in your website such as: the title, author, image, category, and average rating.
Additionally in this tab, suggested HTML improvements to your website are shown. Examples of HTML improvements can be issues with the title tag, meta tag, or different forms of media sources that cannot be indexed (images, videos, etc.).
Finally in the Search Appearances tab, we have the sitelinks tab and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) tab. Sitelinks are links that are added to the description of your website where different pages of your website are shown. Normally Google chooses to create sitelinks for your website on the search results page, if you are in good standing with them.
With a growing number of mobile users that are accessing websites, the AMP feature was designed to have pages optimized for fast loading on mobile devices. Making websites mobile friendly is crucial in SEO.
Search Traffic Tab:
Search traffic tracks how your visitors are landing on your website through external sources and answers questions about:
- Where are your users geographically located?
- Are they using mobile devices to enter the website?
- Whom is linking to you the most?
- Which pieces of content is being linked to the most?
- Which keywords are being used to find your website?
Manual actions is definitely a tab that website owners may want to attention to. Google almost always warns you of dangerous issues that puts your site in jeopardy. In general avoid black hat SEO tactics such as cloaking. Content related issues such as: being overly spammy and flimsy/irrelevant content also negatively affect your website ranking.
Most atrocious of them all, any website security issues will get you dinged by Google and affect your trust among present and future website visitors.
Google Index Tab:
If you want to find out how much percentage of your website that Google has crawled, here would be the best part to find that answer. Note that some website owners may decide to have some “blocked resources” that disrupts crawling on certain pages. As mentioned beforehand, one reason to do this is to protect your admin information.
Furthermore in this section, a list of content keywords are generated to give you an idea of how often each keyword in mentioned in the pages of your of your website. From this information, if a blog writer decides to create a SEO blog and it clearly shows that they’ve used the keyword “SEO” only once throughout their website. They may choose to incorporate more “SEO” keywords into their content.
At the very end of Google Index tab, there is a ”Remove URL” category, to be used only for certain emergency situations. If for example, one of your pages is leaking sensitive information, you can remove the URL and make sure the public does not see any sensitive information.
There a number of reasons that your website can not be crawled by Google:
- You manually block them from certain parts of your website
- DNS issues (Domain Name Server)
- Server Issues
Supplemental crawl stats such as crawl time can also give insight into how fast or slow your page is taking to load. Another neat feature within this tab is the “Fetch As Google” feature, where you can find out how Google sees your website among different devices like mobile vs. desktop.
We have briefly mentioned the robots.txt file above, and inside the “Crawl” tab there is a “robots.txt file tester” that displays the contents of the robots.txt file. Let’s say you wanted to block a resource, you can test here if your resource was actually blocked.
Towards the end of the Crawl tab, you are given the chance to submit a sitemap. Additionally, there is also the “URL Parameters” section that allows to manipulate the web address/URL to increase search engine visibility. This is another area which should be attempted with expertise because there is a chance of breaking your links on your website, if not handled properly.
Security Issues Tab
Having security issues on your websites, is almost a surefire way to increase the rate at which users do not enter your website. Any major security issues will be presented here, so that you have a chance to fix them before losing any more potential traffic to your site.
Additional Notes About Google Search Console
For immediate information regarding issues with your website, you can go to Settings and choose “Search Console Preferences” and click “enable email notifications”. This allows you to be immediately notified in your email if any issues occur with your site. You also have the option of choosing how often you want Google to crawl your website, by going to Settings-> Site Settings.
Please note that Google sees two different versions of your website. One version starts with “www” in front of you website address, and the second version is the non-www, version of your website. Select which version you want in “Site Settings”. If you are not sure which version to choose, WPBeginner provides recommendations on the right version for your site.
Hopefully these are enough resources to get you going on trying to get up there on Google’s favorites list. But there are more resources on the Google Search Console that can help with creating your own websites and resources to boost your business rankings on Google.
If you do not use any other programs, please make sure to use Google Search Console. Google has created this Search Console to help you improve your presence and Google directly controls your ranking on their search engine. So making sure that you are addressing all major problems on your website so that you have long term growth and traffic on the Google’s search engine.