Google Search Console: The Beginner’s Guide
In a single day, Google processes more than five billion searches. While your website won’t appear in every online search, it’s essential to track your site’s ranking and performance in search results that matter to your business and your bottom line.
With Google Search Console, it’s easy (and free) to monitor your performance on Google.
What is Google Search Console, though, and how do you use Google Search Console? You’re in luck because this mini-guide answers these questions — and it includes an additional FAQ to help your team get started.
Start learning how to set up Google Search Console (and use it) now or contact our team for some professional help!
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free web service (provided by Google and previously called Google Webmaster Tools) that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your website’s presence in search results on Google.
Anyone, from a web developer to a business owner, can use Google Search Console.
How can you use Google Search Console?
What does Google Search Console do for your team, though? Google Search Console helps you:
- Confirm that Google can find, crawl, and index your site
- Request that Google crawl and re-index your website or a specific page
- Resolve crawling and indexing issues
- Troubleshoot common issues, like mobile-friendliness and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
- Review security issues, manual site actions, and more
- Discover which websites link to yours
- See how often your site appears in Google search results
- Check which searches or search results include your website
- View which search results drive traffic to your site
Depending on your role, you may only use a few of these features.
For example, a business owner may use Google Search Console to confirm that Google knows their site exists and to see how their website performs in search results. In comparison, an SEO specialist may review those features, plus resolve crawling and indexing issues, check backlink profiles, and more.
The advantage of Google Search Console is that anyone can use it.
Google designed the platform for every experience level and skillset. That means, whether you’re an SEO specialist, web developer, or business owner, you can use Google Search Console and get actual value from it.
How to set up Google Search Console
Are you ready to learn how to set up Google Search Console? It’s easy to get started with these five steps!
1. LOGIN TO GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
Begin using Google Search Console for your business by logging into the platform.
If you have a Google or Gmail account, Google will log you in automatically.
Depending on your business, you may want multiple people to have access to your Google Search Console information. If that’s the case, you can add team members later as owners or users of your site. You can also set different permission levels to match every person’s experience level and needs.
2. SELECT YOUR PROPERTY TYPE
Next, you need to choose your property type. You can choose from the two following options:
The domain property type will include both the HTTP and HTTPS protocol for your website, as well as all subdomains, like “www.” This property type offers the most convenient option because it recognizes multiple versions of your website.
As an example, Google Search Console will see the following URLs as matching:
If you select the domain property type, you will need to confirm ownership with a DNS record.
- URL prefix
The URL prefix property type will only include URLs under the specified address and protocol. That means if you enter, “https://www.example.com” as your URL, Google Search Console will not match “http://www.example.com” or “example.com” to that URL.
If you use the URL prefix property type, you can verify your ownership a few ways, including:
- Uploading an HTML file to your site
- Adding an HTML tag to a specific page
- Using your Google Analytics tracking code or Google Tag Manager container snippet
Depending on your digital marketing strategy, your company may prefer the URL prefix property type because it allows you to monitor and track different site segments. If you have a separate mobile site, for example, you may want to watch its performance separately.
3. VERIFY YOUR PROPERTY
After you select your property type and supply your URL, you must verify site ownership.
Your verification method will depend on your property type, which this helpful table breaks down:
|Verification Method||Property Type|
Upload a specific HTML file to your site
Insert an HTML tag to a specific page
Add a DNS record via your domain provider account
|URL prefix, Domain|
|Google Analytics tracking code
Submit your Google Analytics tracking code
|Google Tag Manager container snippet
Provide your Google Tag Manager container snippet code
Create a Google Site with your Google account for Google Search Console
Launch a Blogger site, using your Google account for Google Search Console
If you experience any errors when verifying site ownership, reference Google’s troubleshooting guide.
It’s essential to mention that your verification method must remain valid and active. If you add a DNS record or HTML tag, for example, you cannot delete that record or remove that tag after receiving verification.
Google periodically checks your verification method, so that information must be accessible.
4. VIEW YOUR PROPERTY
With your property ownership verified, you can start using Google Search Console!
If your company adds multiple properties, you can move between properties with the following steps:
- Select the hamburger menu on the left-hand side
- Choose the drop-down menu next to your URL
- Pick your property
Depending on the turnaround time for verification, your property may already have some data available. That’s because Google Search Console begins collecting data as soon as you add the property, versus after you complete verification.
If you don’t have any data available, take the time to explore Google Search Console.
5. ACCESS YOUR REPORTS
In Google Search Console, your team can access a wide range of features and reports, including:
Get a quick summary of your website or property. The Overview report covers manual actions, total website clicks, indexed pages, and more. It’s an excellent tool for finding big issues fast, as well as seeing your site’s overall performance.
Check the performance of your website in-depth with the Performance report. Your Performance report covers your site’s total number of impressions and clicks, as well as your average click-through rate (CTR) and position in search results. It also highlights user queries, devices, locations, and more.
- URL Inspection
In addition to these three core reports, you can also access the following reports:
- Coverage: Confirm the index status of your website and its pages with your Coverage report.
- Sitemaps: Submit and review uploaded sitemaps, as well as any sitemap errors.
- Mobile Usability: Check the mobile-friendliness of your indexed pages.
- AMP: Learn which AMP pages Google can and can’t index.
- Rich Result Status: Find crawlable and uncrawlable rich results on your pages.
- Manual Actions: Get a summary of manual actions against your site and potential fixes.
- Security Issues: Review any security issues on your site or pages.
- Links: View links to your site and specific pages, as well as the link anchor text.
If you’d like to compile data somewhere outside Google Search Console, you can export most reports.
How to use Google Search Console
Now that you know how to set up Google Search Console, explore how to use Google Search Console.
You can use Google Search Console a few ways, including to:
- Confirm page crawling and indexing
- Spot errors, like incorrect structured data, mobile display issues, slow page speed, and more
- Find queries that drive traffic to a page
- Monitor page appearances and positions in different search results
- Watch for site security issues
- Compare page performance over time
- And more
Start exploring the potential and uses of Google Search Console with the various reports available, like Performance and Mobile, now!
FAQs about Google Search Console
Do you have additional questions about using Google Search Console? Browse our FAQ:
1. When will I start to see site data in Google Search Console?
As soon as you submit your property to Google Search Console, it will begin collecting data. This data can range from whether Google can index your site to how many clicks a search result earns you. You cannot, however, access that data until you verify site ownership.
2. How often do I need to log in to Google Search Console?
While you can log in to your Google Search Console account every day, it’s not something Google recommends. Instead, Google advises that you check your property every month, at least. Your role may call for more proactive monitoring though, like every week.
3. How is Google Search Console different from Google Analytics?
Google Search Console and Google Analytics provide your business with valuable data about your website. You can even access your Google Search Console data in Google Analytics. What makes the platforms different, however, is how they look at that data.
Google Search Console looks at what happens before a user reaches your site, while Google Analytics analyzes what happens after they arrive on your site. With Google Search Console, you see how search engines impact your site, and with Google Analytics, you see how users interact with it.
4. How long does it take for Google Search Console to index a site?
If you request Google to crawl and index your site in Google Search Console, it can take a few days to a few weeks for that to happen. It’s also worth mentioning that resubmitting the same URL multiple times does not expedite the process.
5. Does using Google Search Console make Google crawl my site faster?
If you have a brand-new website, then using Google Search Console can help Google become aware of your site faster. Again, it may take Google a few weeks to crawl your site, but without submitting your site to Google Search Console, it could take even longer.
6. What is a good average position in Google Search Console?
The world features more than 600 million active websites, which makes this question difficult to answer. A “good” average position, which describes the average placement of your site in search results, depends on your industry, competitiveness for different searches, and more.
Your team will need to decide on what a “good” average position is for your company and your website. If you partner with a search engine optimization (SEO) agency, like WebFX, your dedicated account manager can provide more insight into your average position.
Get insider tips and tricks for Google Search Console!
Now that you know what Google Search Console is, plus how to set up Google Search Console, you can start using the platform to improve your rankings in search results and increase your website traffic. Get additional tips for how to make that happen by joining our Revenue Weekly newsletter!
If you’re looking for professional help when it comes to improving your search result rankings and website traffic, WebFX can help. Contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 to see how our SEO services can help your business dominate search results on Google and drive revenue.