A Comprehensive Guide to getting Started on Google Search Console (in 2020)

What exactly does Google Search Console (GSC) do? GSC is capable of doing a myriad of things. It is a system that offers you tips, tricks, and a list of to-do’s for improving your site’s performance in the Google search engine. It scours technical issues; monitors your AMP results; improves structured data; finds your top search queries and SEO pages; and tells you how to improve your SEO results. 

GSC (known as Google Webmaster Tools) is an absolutely free platform for anyone with a website. It helps you analyze all your data perfectly. So, it should be said that GSC is just one of the many tools out there.

I mean just look at the 8 points in the infographic below: 

The beautiful things Google Search Console can do…

Enough with the compliments piled on GSC. On with the business of setting up the goods to do some serious work. 

Disclaimer

Here is a disclaimer: GSC has a huge list of tools and reports that can be used, and it would be impossible to go through it all in one blog post. 

The reports you require and how you would use GSC would depend on whether you are a small business owner, having multiple websites, and if you are an SEO professional. 

This blogpost will offer you a concise and easy-to-follow instructions in setting up GSC, and how to use the URL Inspection Tool.

Add your Site to GSC

Google Search Console screenshot

1. Firstly, sign into your Google business account if it’s a business website.

2. Secondly, click over to Google Webmaster Tools.

3. Then, click “Add a property.”

4. After that, go to the drop-down menu, and choose “Website” and enter the URL of your site. Ensure you’re using the exact URL in the browser bar.

5. Then, click “Continue.”

6. Pick a way to verify you own your website. HTML file upload, domain name provider, HTML tag, GA tracking code, or GTM container snippet are all effective. There are actually 7 ways to do this process of verification.

7. If your site supports both http:// and https:// make sure that you add both as separate sites. You must also add each domain at this point.

A Simple Introduction to Metrics & Dimensions on GSC

These reports are divided into Search and Discover on GSC. However, yet for the sake of time and space, let’s focus on Search. Search is also the most popular; and, one that is commonly used. 

There are two types of terms that are important when considering the GSC. They are known as Metrics and Dimensions. The former includes Impressions, Clicks Average, Click Through Rate, and Average Position. The latter can be defined as attributes of your data – who did what? What exactly happened? 

The Performance Report console consists of the Chart, the Table, and the Future Bar.

Performance Report -Google Search Console
Performance Report -Google Search Console

The above screenshot shows the Chart. You can add or remove the Metric by simply clicking it. 

Another view of the Performance Report - Google Search Console
Another view of the Performance Report – Google Search Console

Remember that changing the Metrics will affect the Table as well. You can choose the Features you want by simply clicking New shown in the above screenshot. The dropdown menu will show: Query, Page, Country, Device, and Search Appearance.

There’re a few things that you need to consider when it comes to analyzing your data. Low Click Through Rate, Missing Search Queries, Missing Pages, and Branded Search Querie are what’s on the table.

There are many reports based on SEO that you can tap into via GSC; and here are 7 important ones to get you started.

Google’s URL Inspection Tool

Google’s URL Inspection Tool (in essence a debugging tool) was rolled out in 2018.

This tool will assist you:

  1. to find the current index status, 
  2. to test a live URL, 
  3. send a request to Google to crawl a page, 
  4. and to view data about a page’s loaded resources.
A screenshot of URL Inspection - Google Search Console
A screenshot of URL Inspection – Google Search Console 

There are 4 uses when it comes to this tool, but we will limit ourselves to 2.

See the current index status of a URL

View the detailed Google Index information about a URL on your property.

To view the current index status, you need to do is run the URL Inspection tool.

  1. Open URL Inspection tool.
  2. Enter the complete URL to inspect. 
  3. The URL must be in the current property, not outside. 
  4. You can inspect URLs (AMP and non-AMP). The tool gives data on the AMP or non-AMP version of the page.
  5. If the page has alternate/duplicate versions, the report provides information about the canonical version, if the canonical version is in a property that you own.
  6. Read how to understand the results.
  7. Optionally run an ‘indexability test’ on the live URL.
  8. Optionally request indexing for the URL.

Inspect a live URL

Test a live URL in your property to see whether it is capable of being indexed by Google. This will run a test against the live page for information similar to the indexed URL.

To test a live URL for any indexing errors:

  1. Examine the indexed URL. Please note that the page must be accessible from the internet minus any login details.
  2. Click Test live URL on the index results page.
  3. To understand what you’re looking at, read understanding the live test results.
  4. By selecting Google Index or Live Test on the page, you can switch between the live test results and the indexed results.
  5. To rerun a live test, select the Reload button on the page.
  6. To view details about the page, including a screenshot and HTTP response headers, select View crawled page.

And to Conclude…

GSC knows it all!

You can now truly be the captain of your ship. Ensure that you take the right decisions to analyze how much you can improve and achieve the right goals.

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