Are you completely lost in Google tools for webmasters (or Google search console) and you are not sure why you need all these different sections?
Or you are just thinking about starting a blog, and you are just checking what the hell is Google Search Console?
In this case, I suggest you read my Start a Blog guide first.
In this post, I’ll explain each section in detail and I’ll give you tips on the most useful ones and how you can use them to your advantage to improve your SEO.
What Is Google Search Console (or Google tools for webmasters)?
Google tools for webmasters or Google search console is an essential tool for anyone who wants to improve their websites SEO or also known as search engine optimization. SEO is a semi-scientific approach to increase the traffic to a website by utilizing search engine results.
Basically, Google search console is a dashboard where you can see what keywords people use to come to your website from Google’s search results. It notifies you about errors with the pages and you’re able to get your website index quicker on Google. It will suggest improvements and it shows what external pages link to your website.
In the search console overview section, you will see a few useful charts.
- PERFORMANCE overview, where you can see how many clicks you have in Google search results during the last three months. It’s a great way to see the trend. And as long as the overall trend is going up you’re doing great.
- COVERAGE overview will tell you if you have any pages with errors and pages that are indexed properly will show up in green. Don’t worry if the number of pages in the search console is higher then the number of pages you have. These are not all pages because it counts category pages and some images as separate pages.
- ENHANCEMENTS overview, where you can see if there are any improvements that Google is suggesting you to do. Now let’s take a look at the most useful section of Google search console.
The performance section is divided into two parts:
- A graph of your Google search engine performance
- A list of keywords you are ranking for
In the graph section there are four options that you can see:
- Data on total clicks
- Total impressions or how many people saw a search result with your website
- Average CTR where 1 to 10 means your page is on the first page of Google and 11 to 20 is the second page on Google and so on. It’s basically a ratio between people who saw the result and click on it and an average position in Google search results.
- Average position where by default, you can see a three month period in the graph but you can easily change it by clicking on the three months filter. This graph is a great way to analyze your SEO trend. If the graph is rising steadily that’s a good sign, if it’s going down something is wrong.
Now let’s take a look at the second section of the performance tab this is where it really gets interesting and where you can learn a lot more about your SEO.
By default, you will see the most popular queries sorted by highest clicks you can also add more sections here by enabling them above the graph. Page table shows queries for pages, and what’s your most popular page. To dig deeper you can click on the pages tab and then select the page you want to dive into. It’ll show all the queries that are related to the chosen page.
URL Inspection Section
URL inspection section is where you can submit an URL for indexing a new page or update the existing page. Here you will also find any possible warning about page-specific issues that you might have.
If you have a new page that Google hasn’t indexed yet you will see a page saying that URL is not on Google and the whole page is full of unknowns and not applicable values.
If you want Google to index this to URL make sure you click on the request indexing. Google will test if it can index the page this might take some minutes. Once your page is indexed with Google you will see a page like this where it provides more information that everything is working correctly on your page.
If you have a page with an error you will see some extra information about that error and when you click on the error you will see more details about it.
The index tab is divided into two sections.
A section called coverage is where you can check which page and post have been indexed. You can filter what you see by choosing one of the boxes.
First one is pages with errors, where you will see if any of your pages have errors.
The second tab is valid with warnings and these are errors that you should fix but the page will still be indexed.
The third tab is valid. In this table, you will see all the valid URLs that Google has indexed on your website. If you click on submitted and indexed you can see all the URLs that have been indexed and when Google has fetched them last time. If you hover over any of these URLs you can also go directly to them or inspect them in more detail.
Sometimes pages end up with excluded status because your website is blocking Google from indexing them with the robots.txt file or nonindex meta tag. I know this sounds complicated but both of these just tell search engines to exclude the pages from their index.
You will have a lot of pages that are blocked on purpose because there are certain features that don’t need to be indexed. I’m not going to dive into each of the issues here but there is a Google support page that explains everything in details.
Sitemap section is really important when you first start with search console you should submit an XML sitemap here. An XML sitemap is a map of pages on your website. With Yoast plugin, you can automatically create a sitemap for your site.
Google checks your sitemap time-to-time automatically after you submitted it once. As long as you keep your sitemap file name the same it will pick up any changes to Google.
To submit a sitemap to Google simply add the URL of your website and add /sitemap.xml at the end. It should look like this:
The enhancement tab is divided into 3 sections.
Here you can find just a link to Page Insights.
Mobile Usability Section
The mobile usability section is just there to help you detect any issues that you might have with your mobile website. This section is a bit out of date as most websites respond to user screen size and automatically adjust the layout, but in case google detects some issues with your mobile website it will display them here.
AMP section is only useful to you if you have implemented accelerated mobile pages. AMP is supported by Google and you basically store your pages at Google so they can show them superfast to mobile users.
It requires special HTML code and has a lot of feature limitations compared to a normal website but it’s fast and super light.
Implementing it on WordPress is super easy with the AMP plugin. So AMP section is for accelerated mobile pages where you can see if everything is ok with your amp pages if you have them.
There is a hidden section under the enhancements tab that only appears if you have implemented structured data on your website.
Structured data is a small piece of code that provides additional detail about the content of the pages. Google wants this data to have a certain structure and it is essential if you want your website to have a chance to appear as a snippet.
Essentially these reports enable you to fix any issues with your structured data. Don’t worry this is an advanced topic and you can get into these much later when you have more traffic on your website.
Security And Manual Actions Tab
I hope you will never need a security and manual actions section because the manual actions section is a list of complaints by other users about your website in Google search. If you spam users or try to trick the Google algorithm your website might get a review by Google employee and if flagged your website will immediately rank lower in Google.
Security issues section, on the other hand, shows if there are serious issues with the security on your website. If Google detects that you have malware on the site or some suspicious files to download you will get notified about it and the details will show up here.
The links section is actually a pretty cool way to see how other websites link to your website, which page on your website gets the most link, and which pages have good internal linking. This is a great way to start with your backlink building which is an essential strategy to rank better on Google.
This section is divided into two columns and four sections.
The first column includes three reports related to external linking and the second column includes one report about internal links.
First, you can see the top link pages. To see the full report click on More button. On this page, you can see which pages are linked by other websites.
External link insights show the top domain that links to your website. This report is similar to the first report but you get to see which domain links to you. Again if you click on the More button you can see more details.
An interesting report is the top linking text report because you can see what words other websites use when linking to your website. So the text in the report is the anchor text. Anchor text is just the text that is in a link.
Similar to the first section is internal top link pages. It’s s an overview of the pages of your site that link to each other.
Internal linking is very important and you should use it where it makes sense.
The Settings section sounds more thorough than it actually is. All you can do here is either verify that you own a domain or give access to search console to other people.
You can add a user by clicking on the users and permissions at the top right corner. Click on add user button, enter the new user’s email and select the permission level.
Full means they can do everything that an admin can and restricted allows them to view reports but not to add new users. Then click on add and you will then see the new user in the user’s list.
To update the user in search console just click on the three dots next to the name.
Google search console is a comprehensive Google webmasters tool to keep track of their SEO traffic and keywords.
Pay attention to Google’s recommendations, follow their advice given in Google tools for webmasters and make sure that your site matches their requirements and expectations.
If you want to improve your SEO and start doing better on Google, you need to follow their rules. With Google tools for webmasters, in just a few minutes, you can start understanding your site from Google’s perspective.
Are you already using Google tools for webmasters to improve your site?
After 10 years of research, and experimentation, Anthony decided to start his own blog about affiliate marketing and making money online in general, named Badass Affiliate. His goal is to show you what it takes to successfully start an online business so you can provide a better life for you and your family.