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11 Feb

Getting to Know Google Search Console

Do you want to gain a better insight into how your website is appearing in Google Search results?

Whilst your first thought might be to check Google Analytics, Google Search Console is actually the best place to look for information on performance, links, coverage and more. It also has useful tools such as the new Removals feature, which allows you to temporarily block URLs from appearing on Google. Google Analytics, on the other hand, gives you lots of data on how people are interacting with your website, as well as who is clicking on it.

We’ve made a list of the five key features of Google Search Console to help you get to know how to use the tools and data that it provides.

1. Performance

The Performance report on Google Search Console provides useful data on the website’s performance in search results over a selected period of time, including:

  • Total number of clicks – how many times people clicked on a link to your website
  • Total number of impressions – how many times people saw your website appear in Google search results
  • Average CTR (Click Through Rate) – the average percentage of people who clicked on your website, this is calculated by the total clicks divided by impressions
  • Average position – your average ranking position on the search result pages (1-10 would be page 1 of Google search results, 11-20 page 2 and so on)

This data, shown on a graph like the one below, can help you determine how well your website is performing from one month to the next, so you can see if any changes that you have made to your website have helped to improve your CTR, average position or another metric.

gsc performance screenshot

The second half of the Performance page gives you an overview of the queries that people used to find your website. This can be useful for seeing how your keywords are performing as it tells you how many clicks and impressions different search queries have received over the time period you are viewing. You can also find useful information on the most popular pages that users clicked on, the countries they accessed the website from and the devices they used.

To make the most of this data, it’s worth checking Google Search Console regularly to see if any changes that you make to the website, or any new SEO strategies that you use, are making a difference to how the site is appearing in Google search results. However, there are a number of factors that can affect how the website appears in Google so you should keep that in mind when viewing the data.

2. URL inspection

The URL inspection tool in Google Search Console is useful to help Google detect changes to pages on your website. If you enter the URL of your website or any particular page on the site, the tool will show you:

  • If the URL is on Google or not – in the first box, you can ‘request indexing’ on the page that you submitted, and Google will recrawl the URL
  • Coverage – this will tell you if the site is submitted or indexed, and when the last crawl was
  • Enhancements – this will tell you if your page is mobile-friendly, and let you know if Google has found any rich results in your property

The results page will look a little like this:

gsc url inspection

At Dolia, we use the URL inspection tool when updating metadata, adding or editing content, or publishing new pages on our clients’ websites. This helps Google to pick up the changes we have made a little faster than it would have organically so that we can start to see the results sooner.

3. Coverage & Sitemaps

The Sitemaps page on Google Search Console allows you to submit your website’s sitemap to Google so it can discover URLs and work out which pages to display in search results. Your sitemap is what Google uses to produce your Coverage report.

The Coverage report provides information on which pages have been indexed and lists the URLs which Googlebot encountered issues with when it last crawled your site. Here's an example of a Coverage graph from Google Search Console:

gsc coverage screenshot

This is what the four categories mean:

  • Error – the page isn’t indexed; this could be because the page responded with a 404 error or Googlebot has encountered a crawl issue
  • Valid with warnings – the page is indexed but has issues, for example the page has recently been blocked by robots.txt
  • Valid – the page is indexed - hooray!
  • Excluded – the page isn’t indexed because Google has followed rules on the site such as ‘noindex’ tags or found that this is a duplicate page

In the 'Details' section below this, the errors and warnings are explained and you can click on these to find out the specific pages that are affected. This data is useful because you can quickly and easily identify issues on your website and look into resolving them.

4. URL Removals

Google has recently launched a new URL removal tool in Google Search Console that allows you to temporarily block URLs from showing in search results. If you click 'New Request', this box will pop up:

gsc removals

You can submit requests to temporarily remove a URL, which will hide it from Google Search results for about six months and clear the current search snippet and cached page. Alternatively, you can request to only clear the cached URL until the page is crawled again.

In addition to this, the Removals report displays information on URLs with outdated content and safesearch filtering requests. The tool also allows you to track the status of the page removal requests that you submit, so you know if it is processing, approved or expired. The URL removal tool is useful because it not only allows you to quickly remove content from Google search results, it gives you an insight into why content has been removed.

5. Links

The Links report, near the bottom of the Google Search Console menu, is another useful source of information. You can view data on the number of external and internal links to your website, as well as:

  • Top linked pages (internal & external)
  • Top linking sites (external)
  • Top linking text (external)

For those who don't know, external links are inbound links from other websites to your own. Google Search Console gives a list of the sites that have linked to your website, so you should find any directories that your site is listed on here. It will also provide information on the text that they used to link to your site. Internal links, on the other hand, are links that you (or your website developer) have added, and Google Search Console provides information on the most linked pages on your website.

There is still so much more data on Google Search Console that you can use to find out more about your website, but we can’t cover it all here so why don’t you explore it for yourself? I hope this article has helped you get to know Google Search Console a bit better…

Dolia provides a range of SEO services to our clients to help them boost their rankings in Google Search results. If you’re interested in improving your website’s performance, get in touch to find out how we can help.

Emily

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