Webmaster tools, as the name indicates is a collection of tools for webmasters, site owners and bloggers. These free tool will help to monitor and improve the performance of a website in search engines. Almost all search engines offer webmaster tools platform. Google Webmaster Tools offers various utilities to help submitting your site to Google search engine and improving your site’s visibility in the search result. Google changed the name of Webmaster Tools account to Google Search Console and rearranged interface. In this guide, we will explain the features based on the new Search Console account.
Why You Need Google Search Console?
Whether you are a business site owner or running a blog for advertising, first and important thing you should do is to start using Google Search Console.
- Search Console improves the visibility of your site in Google search results. Hence, the chance of getting more organic visits increases multifold, once your site is visible to more audience.
- This helps you to get more revenue from the advertising programs like AdSense as well as more sales in case if your site is an ecommerce site.
- Find various crawl errors and fix them so that Googlebot can crawl and index your pages.
- Get information on spam and security violation and take corrective actions if required.
Adding Your Site in Google Search Console
The first step is to signup for Google Search Console using your Google account. In order to use all the features, you need to add and verify your sites successfully with Google. Before that you need to understand the access URL of your site. A site can have the following four versions:
You can either submit only one version where all your content is available or use domain property to include all subdomains. We recommend you to first add Google Analytics tag on your site. This will help the ownership verification process simple in Search Console account.
- After creating your account, login to Google Search Console.
- Click on the “Search property” box showing on top left corner and then select “Add Property” option.
- You will see two options for adding your site – domain and URL prefix. Use “URL prefix” and enter the correct site URL.
- You site will be verified automatically based on the Google Analytics tags installed previously.
URL prefix is useful when you have only one subdomain on your site. If you have multiple subdomains then you should use “Domain” option for submitting as a property and verify with DNS records. Checkout this article on how to verify GoDaddy domain in Google Search Console. If you have any Blogger or Google sites, they will be automatically visible as verified sites.
Features of Google Search Console
Google Search Console offer various features under the below sections:
- Overview – this is like a dashboard to get quick overview of your site’s status Performance and URL inspection – these are the important tools to get overview and performance of your site in Google search.
- Performance – get the performance details like total clicks, impressions, average CTR and average search position of your site.
- URL inspection – submit new and changed content to Google using this tool.
- Google Index – you find coverage (status of indexed pages and errors), submit Sitemap containing all your page URLs and temporarily remove pages from Google search results.
- Experience – This is a new section cover Core Web Vitals, page experience and mobile usability issues.
- Enhancements – this section shows the status of structured data present on your site like breadcrumbs, review snippets, AMP pages, FAQ, How-to and other schemas.
- Security & manual actions – check whether your site has any security issues and flagged for spam by Google team.
- Legacy tools and reports – tools migrated from old Webmaster Tools account, probably removed in near future.
- Links – find number of internal and external link details.
- Settings – check account settings that includes few useful options like finding crawl details.
- Message – click on the bell icon on top right corner to view the notifications received on your account. You will also receive emails whenever there is a new notification.
It will be quite exhaustive to explain all features in details. Below are some important functions you should understand when using Google Search Console.
1. International Targeting
You can tell Google to improve your search result for the particular geography by setting “International Targeting”. You can set this option by navigating to “Legacy tools and reports > International Targeting” and go to the country tab. Learn more about Geographic target setting here.
2. Sitemap Submission
Sitemaps is a XML file tells Google about the way pages are organized in your site. XML Sitemap submission makes sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process. There are various Sitemap generator tools available on the Web. Also most of the free website builder tools like Weebly automatically create a Sitemap of your website.
You can submit your Sitemaps to Google under “Crawl > Sitemaps”. Learn more about submitting your Sitemap to Google. On new beta interface, simply click on the ‘Sitemaps’ section and submit your XML Sitemap. Ensure the status is showing as “Success” after processing. Remember, Google needs many days to process your Sitemap for the first time. After the first crawl, Google will crawl your site everyday and check for changes based on Sitemap links.
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3. Search Performance
Most important feature of the Search Console is analyzing your site traffic based on the clicks and impressions. This helps you to clearly understand what keyword brings more visitors to your site and the average search results position of your site for that keyword. Based on this you can optimize your site’s keywords and improve the search ranking. you can access the Search Analytics under “Search Traffic” section.
4. URL Inspection Tool
Whenever you change the title, meta description and content of a page on your site, it will take some time for Google to crawl and index the modified content. This is the reason, you may notice Google’s search results and search preview shows different content. The crawling time may vary from few days to a month in some cases. If you have dynamic content on your site you can submit your modified pages to Google when the content changes instead of waiting for many days for automatic crawling by Google.
Click on “URL inspection” menu from the sidebar or directly enter the URL in the search box showing on top middle and press enter key.
After fetching the page, you can submit for indexing so that Google search engine will index your new content and shows in the search results. Learn more about URL inspection tool.
5. Integration with Analytics
Integrate Google Analytics with Webmaster Tools to get source of traffic and which browser and operating system is used to view your sites. This will help you to optimize your sites accordingly to improve the ad performance and increase revenue from AdSense.
6. Monitoring and Fixing Crawl Errors
Another important use of Search Console is to monitor different crawl errors. This will help you to understand the reason for pages not showing on the search and fix them appropriately. You can view the status under “Coverage” section and Google shows all index coverage issues which you need to monitor and fix.
7. Structured Data
The “Enhancements” section shows all structured data tools along with AMP tool. Here you can check structured data and HTML improvements error and fix them on your site.
8. Page Experience
With page speed and Core Web Vitals are formally part of Google search algorithm, you find the passed and failed URLs for page experience under this section. You can get the sample URLs for each cases so that you can use URL inspection tool to analyze the source code. You have to improve the page loading time and user experience in order to pass the Core Web Vitals and improve the site’s ranking.
Each function in Search Console help site owners to monitor corresponding errors and fix them on the site. We have explained important sections generally used by a normal site owner. Also we recommend to focus on content creation rather than analyzing unnecessary tools in Search Console. For example, Google will use the Sitemap and crawl the new page once in a day