Google Search Console: Your Ultimate Guide
Google Search Console, GSC, is a powerful, free SEO tool that helps you monitor and troubleshoot and provides structured data on your website’s appearance in the search results.
Learn more about Google Search Console, how to set it up, using it to optimize your SEO, and the features it provides.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Seach Console is a free website tool that helps you to track the search performance of your website.
It gives you valuable insights from your account, meaning that it allows you to understand the parts of your website that need improvement.
It was formally known as Google Webmasters and provided Google search results.
Moreover, Google Webmaster Tools helps you to identify issues with your site and can even let you know if it has been infected with malware. Checking each and every aspect of your website is often a technical part.
This involves increasing the number of crawl errors that need to be fixed and thus, optimize your site.
This can also involve giving a specific keyword more attention because your ranking might be decreasing.
Other than this kind of data, you will get notifications via e-mail when the tools notice new errors.
With the help of these notifications, you can quickly fix the issues or errors to optimize your website and site search.
This is the reason, why website owners should learn how to use it.
Setting up your Google Search Console
In this section, we will look at the procedure through with you can use Google Search Console.
In this step, you will learn how to add your website to GSC to make sure your site settings are good to go.
So let’s get started.
The following are the steps you should follow to getting started with Google Search Console, GSC.
1#: Add your Site to GSC
In this step, lob into the Google Search Console and click on ‘Add Property’.
Then copy and paste your URL into the ‘Domain’ field.
In the next step, it will ask you to verify your website.
There are 7 steps to verify your website, however, the following are the 3 easiest ways to do so:
- HTML file: Upload your HTML file to your website
- HTML code Snippet: Simply upload a small snippet of the code or HTML tag to the section of your homepage’s code
- CNAME or TXT record: This is where you add a special CNAME or TXT record to your domain settings
After completing this step, move to the second step.
2#: Setting your Target Country or Location
Google makes sure to find out your target country or location and they make sure to look at the following data:
- Your ccTLD
- Address on your website
- Server location
- The country you are getting backlinks from
- Language of your content
Thus, now you will have to set your target country inside the GSC.
Click on the ‘country’ tab and check the ‘target users in’ box.
After this, select your target country from the drop-down box and you are all set to go.
3#: Linking Google Analytics to Search Console
In 2013, Google Switched all searches to HTTPS.
With this news, keyword data vanished from Google Analytics and instead, we saw the following:
The Solution? You can get it all back by linking Google Analytics with your Google Seach Console Account.
Follow the steps:
1. Open up your Google Analytics and Click on ‘Admin’ at the bottom of the left menu.
2. Click on the ‘property settings’
3. Scroll down and click on ‘adjust search console’
4. Click on ‘Add’ and ‘Save’ your settings.
After this, click on ‘Landing Pages’ and click data as follows:
Impression, click, CTR and position data by country or your location:
But most importantly, view your keyword data as:
You’ve got everything for your keyword data
4#: Checking for Security Issues
Lastly, check to see if you have got any security issues. This is because certain issues like these can hurt your SEO.
To do that, click on ‘Security Issues’
Google will give you the following notification:
It is worth noting, that most of the time, you will have no security issues, but what’s the harm in checking anyway.
5#: Add a Sitemap
If you already have a sitemap then you do not need to submit it to Google, however, if you are running an e-commerce website with thousands of pages, then sitemap is the key.
Either way, it is beneficial for you to submit a sitemap.
You can do it by creating a sitemap.
If you are using WordPress, with a Yoast Plugin, then you already have one.
However, if you do not have one yet, then set the XML sitemaps settings to ‘On’ which is present under ‘general/features’
Then, click on the ‘see XML sitemap; link and this will take you to sitemap:
But if you do not use Yoast, then go to your site.com/sitemap.xml.
If you have a sitemap, it will be there, however, if not, then you will have to create one.
Follow these steps to do so.
Grab your sitemap URLs and hit the ‘sitemaps’ button as:
Paste your URL and click ‘submit. And there you go.
Now, let’s move to The process of Optimizing your Technical SEO with GSC.
Here, we will discuss the techniques you can use to optimize your technical SOE.
When you fix these SEO problems, you will get higher rankings and more traffic.
Here’s how to do it.
Google Search Console offers a lot of features to help you spot and fix technical SEO issues.
Let’s get started with it.
Index Coverage Report to Fix and Find Problems
If every feature of your website is set up right, Google will find your page and quickly add it to their index.
However, when things are not OK, then you will have to FIX them if you want Google to index all of your pages.
This is where the index report comes in.
Index Coverage Report
Index coverage report allows you to know which pages from your website are in Google’s index.
It also allows you to know about the technical issues your website might have that are preventing them from getting indexed.
Moreover, it is part of the new GSC and can be complicated.
How to Find Errors with Index Coverage Report
On the top of the Index Coverage report, you will see the following 4 tabs:
- 1. Error
- 2. Valid with warning
- 3. Valid
- 4. Excluded
For now, let us focus on the error tab.
As you can see in the following example, it shows 54 errors and that the number has changed over time.
Moreover, when you scroll down, you can see deets on each of these errors.
These are the definitions of the errors:
The submitted URL is Soft 404
This means that your page is ‘not found’, however, delivered an incorrect status code in the header.
There is a redirect for this page (301/302), however, it is not working.
URL not Found
This means that your page was not found and the server returned the correct HTTP status code, 404.
Submitted URL has crawl issues
It could mean a lot of things and you will have to visit the page to understand what is wrong.
Also, when you click on the error status, you will see a list of pages with a particular problem.
404 errors are easy to fix, so let’s begin with those:
Click on the URL which opens up a side panel with 4 options as follows:
However, visit the URL with a browser first.
In this way, you can double check that the page is really down.
After confirming it, pop your URL into the URL inspection field and you will see:
After doing so, the Googlebot will rush to your page.
You have 2 ways to fix it.
1. Leave it and Google with deindex this page.
2. Or you can redirect the 404 pages to a similar product page, category page, or blog post.
Fixing ‘soft 404’ Errors
Now, let us see the solution to fix your soft 404 errors.
For this, go back again and click the URLs with errors as follows:
Visit each URL in your browser and look at what it says.
Now check what Google can access the page OK, and again use the URL inspection tool as:
This time, click on the ‘test live URL button’, which will send Googlebot to the page.
Moreover, it allows you to see what Googlebot sees.
This time, Googlebot found the page as:
Next, move to the ‘view tested page’ and then the ‘screenshot’ tab.
As you can see, it looks almost the same as visitors see them.
Move to the ‘More info tab’ and check for page resources that Google was not able to load.
In some cases, there is a good reason to block certain resources, however, in some cases, it can lead to soft 404 errors.
After making sure your indexing scores are done, click on ‘Request indexing’:
This will tell Google to index the page and the next time, Googlebot stops by, the page should get indexed.
Fixing other Problems
You can use the exact procedure as the above one.
- Load up the page in your browser
- Add the URL into ‘URL inspection’
- Read on the specific issues
- Fix them
With this, you can fix crawl errors, redirect errors, and server errors.
Note, With a little hard work, you can fix any errors with the Coverage Report
Fixing Warning in the Coverage Report
If you want your website to be optimized for SOE< then you should fix warning signs as well.
For this, click on the ‘Valid with Warning’ tab in the Coverage Report.
You will see one warning: “indexed, through blocked by robot.txt’.
This is telling you that your page is blocked by robots.txt, thus, instead of clicking on ‘Fetch As Google’, click on ‘Test Rotots.txt Blocking’.
This will take you to the robots.txt tester in the old Search Console.
This is because robots.txt is blocking your page.
How to fix them?
You have 2 options:
Either you can ass the ‘noindex, follow’ tag to the page and unblock it or get rid of the page.
Using URL Removal Tool
This feature is a quick and easy way to remove pages from Google’s index.
However, you will have to use the old GSC to use this procedure.
Expand the ‘legacy tools and report’ tab in the new GSC and click on ‘removals’ that will take you to the old GSC.
Then, you can paste the URL you want to remove as:
You can also double-check the URL you entered, and then click ‘submit request’ as:
Note that this feature is only active for 90 days, and after it, Googlebot will attempt to reach the page.
Checking Indexed Pages for Possible Issues
Now, we will move to the ‘Valid’tabb. which tells you how many pages have been indexed by Google:
Look for 2 things here
First: Unexpected drop or increase of the indexed pages.
This could be the sign of:
- A bunch of pages is blocking Googlebot
- Or you added a noindex tag by mistake
Second: An unexpectedly high number of Indexed Pages.
Making sure that the Excluded Stuff remains Excluded
There is definitely a good reason, why search engines block indexing a page.
This may be due to the login page or page contains duplicate content.
Or it can either be due to low quality.
However, you might wanna make sure that Google does not exclude pages that you want to be indexed.
Consider the following example:
This one shows a lot of excluded pages as:
It will also show you the reason that why each page is excluded from Google’s index as:
So the reasons are:
Page with Redirect
This means that the page is redirecting to another URL, which is fine.
Alternate page with canonical Tage
Google has found an alternative page somewhere else.
This can mean a number of things and you will have to investigate it.
Crawled but not Indexed
These are pages that are crawled by Google however, they are not indexed.
It could mean that your page is not good enough to have a higher ranking or any ranking.
Submitted URL not selected as Canonical
It could mean that your page has the same content as another one, thus, Google thinks that another URL is better.
Thus, if you have duplicate content, add the noindex meta robots.
Blocked by robots.txt
Robots.txt is blocking Google from crawling to your page.
However, make sure to double-check these errors to make sure what you are blocking is meant to be blocked.
Duplicate Page without canonical tag
Your page is a part of duplicate pages and does not include a canonical URL.
Excluded by ‘noindex’ tag
The noindex tag is doing its job.
Google has crawled your page, however, not included them in its index.
Thus, you can say that it is quite an impressive tool
In this section. we will focus on some really cool features of Google Search Console.
First, we will learn how to use the Search Console to fix your issues and then the easiest and fasted ways for an excellent SEO.
Let’s dig right into them.
Add Internal Links to Power up your Pages
Internal links are very important for your pages.
However, most people do not consider them as an important part.
How to use Google Search Console to overcome this problem?
Google search console shows an exact number of pages that need internal links. To do so, click on ‘links’ in the GSC sidebar.
For instance, consider the following example:
When you click on ‘links’ it shows you the number of internal links pointing to every page on your site.
Moreover, you can find exact pages that internally link to a specific page.
By just clicking on the URLs of the ‘internal links’ section:
Thus, you will get a list of all internal links pointing to that specific page.
The mobile usability tab shows you the usability of your mobile website or specific mobile pages.
As mobile or smartphone traffic is increasing all around the world, you should check it regularly.
However, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you will have an increase in bounce rate.
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages: lightning-fast mobile pages.
If you have set up an AMP for your pages, you might also want to check for errors in GSC.
This will help you to see the valid AMP pages, and the possible warnings and errors:
It lists the issues in the chart below and you can click on each one of them to see the warning and URL issues.
Just like in the Index section of GSC. you can validate your fix if you are fixing an issue.
Although it is in its experimental stages, however, it can give you a report on how fast is your webpage speed.
Additionally, it also shows the pages that are facing issues from fast loading.
This data is based on the Chrome UX report. You can learn more about website speed test here.
Benefits of GSC
Google Search Console features many different benefits that will help to improve your website.
It provides various tools that help to boost your website’s success.
Read on to learn about the benefits of Google Search Console.
The benefits of using Google Search Console are as follows:
- Helps to improve your website’s search appearance
- Makes HTML improvements
- Increases organic search traffic
- Helps to monitor link reports
- Monitor’s URLs that you want to be indexed
- Website crawlibility
- Notify issues
In this guide, we have tried to cover all the basic points and procedures to make sure that you use Google Search Console Effectively.
We would love to have a comment from you and learn which strategy you will use to improve your SEO and search engine rankings.