Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.
Why Do You Need Google Search Console (GCS) For Your Website?
GSC is designed in a way to help you fully understand the way Google crawls websites, indexes and analyzes your website and makes decisions regarding search engine ranking. It is also an invaluable tool in regard to finding issues that can impact your rankings or user experience.
This is essentially a collection of resources and tools that assist website owners, web marketers, webmasters and SEO experts monitor the performance of a website in Google’s search index.
Some of the features you will find include information about:
- Technical status updates
- Search traffic
- Search appearance
- Crawl data
- Other educational resources
Helpful Tip: Even if you have never used Google Search Console in the past, it is not too late. The tools and resources can be implemented at any point and provide invaluable information about websites.
Verifying Your Website Ownership
Prior to accessing all the features of Google Search Console it is essential to verify that you own the domain that is being analyzed. There are a number of different verification methods that can be used, which include:
- Add the HTML tag to the <head> of the website
- Since in to the actual domain provider
- Use Google Analytics
- Utilize the Google Tag Manager
- Upload the HTML file
If you verify with more than one option, it will help to make your ownership much more resilient.
Helpful Tip: According to the Google Webmaster Help Forum It is a good idea to verify the www and the non-www version of the website’s URL. When you link as many of the versions as you can, it will guarantee that you see the issues. Once the website is linked, Google can crawl and create a report for it.
Google Search Appearance
Just as the name implies, the Search Appearance givers you information on how your website is actually seen in the search results. The appearance can be influenced by several factors and this can have an influence on your click-through rate.
There are endless features and tools offered here, which include the following:
- Structured data: Graph created showing the markup errors and other elements.
- Data highlighter: Point and click tool for implementing structured data.
- HTML improvements: Collects all the errors related to non-indexable content, titles and meta-descriptions.
- Sitelinks: Used for help with navigating the site.
There is no question that knowing where your visitors are coming from can be quite valuable. What domains are linking to your website and what does your internal link structure actually look like? You can find answers to these questions in the Search Traffic Section. Some of the tools and reports provided here include:
- Search analytics
- Links to your site
- Internal links
- Manual actions (ie website penalties)
- International targeting
- Mobile usability
Essentially, Google re-branded their Webmaster Tools in order to reflect the change that is occurring in regard to website development. The tools that are now available in the ‘Search Console’ are actually quite simple, but very useful when you are setting up a website that has recently been launched. Even after the website is established on the internet, using Search Console will help to optimize its performance in the search engines.