Google Search Console is the new name for Google Webmaster Tools.
If you are starting off with a new website, logging into and getting familiar with your site’s Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics is crucial.
Google Search Console will tell you if your site is being found ok by Google and if Google is able to list it for the right search terms. Google Analytics will tell you what people do on your site once they have found it.
Search Console has 4 main menus:
- Search Appearance – How your site is listed in Google Search Results
- Search Traffic – How many clicks your site is receiving and which pages get the most traffic
- Google Index – Google’s list of sites – are you in it? Are all of your site’s pages in it?
- Crawl – Googlebots crawl your site to pick up errors such as ‘File Not Found’ pages
Get Started With Search Console
1. To get started with Search Console – first you need to log in. If you don’t already have a Google account, then simply click ‘Create Account’ and follow the steps laid out.
Then go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools
And then click ‘Add Property’ to add your site URL.
2. Next you need to ‘verify’ your site.
Google will offer you a recommended method and alternate methods of verification – the main ones involve uploading a HTML file or a HTML tag to the code of your website.
If you are not confident with proceeding on this it may be best to ask your website designer. However if your site is built on WordPress or Squarepress – they make this process easier for you with a section to simply copy and paste in your Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) HTML tag under Settings. On WordPress it is generally under Settings / SEO and on Squarespace it can be found under Settings/Advanced/Code Injection.
Linking Google Analytics and Search Console
Google Analytics and Search Console have some similar reports but their focus is different – having both tools linked will integrate the data from both sources to provide you with additional reports. You will be able to see Search Console data in your Analytics reports and Search Console will link directly to associated reports in Google Analytics.
To do this go to the settings cog at the top right of the Search Console page and click ‘Google Analytics Property’.
*NB ensure you are logged into the right Google profile to do this.
Submitting a Sitemap
With a site built on a platform like WordPress – typically the website builder has automatically sent the sitemap to Google to be indexed. Check whether this is the case with your site. If not you will need to submit your sitemap to Google to ensure that all the pages of the site are Indexed. This can be found under Crawl / Sitemaps.
Sitemaps will bring up a box with ‘Add/Test Sitemap’. Click this and it will bring up a box with your site url followed by a blank box. Type “system/feeds/sitemap” in that box and hit “Submit sitemap.” That’s it.
That’s all the main first steps covered – now you can go through the sections and familiarise yourself with them and note any warnings or listed errors. For example check the Crawl Errors report for 404’s on your site, or go to Other Resources / PageSpeed Insights to check your site’s load time on Mobile and Desktop.
Sign up to our newsletter for more helpful how to guides like this one.