What is it?
If you head on over to the Google Search Console page, you’ll notice that this is a free too. It’s a tool used by the search engine to understand how your website is laid out, the structure, who is visiting it and from where and also alerts you as to whether you have any indexing issues with your website. It’s also the place where you can create a sitemap of your website, so Google knows exactly how many pages there are on your website. If you’ve just set up your website, it’s absolutely crucial to get your website registered as a ‘property’ within Google Search Console. You also need to have this set up should you want to set up Google Analytics as the two work together harmoniously.
Adding your website to Google Search Console
As we’ve touched upon already, it’s essential to get your site listed on Google Search Console. It isn’t an overly complicated process which we’ll run through now. First, you’re going to want to log into your search console account. This can be done with any Google Account that you have, it doesn’t have to be one specifically linked to the website. Next, you’ll see a page that says ‘Welcome to Search Console’ and a box that has a text field and a button that says ‘Add Property’.
In this text field is where you’re going to want to type in your website name and then click ‘Add Property’. Each property represents a different domain so if you have www.joebloggs.co.uk and also www.joeblogs.com for example, you would have to add both of these website as different properties. Once you’ve clicked add property, it’s all done! It really was that simple to add your website to search console.
Verifying your website
Now that you’ve added your website to Search Console, next, you’re going to need to verify your website. This is so that Google knows that it is a legitimate website and that you have some form of ownership and/or link to the website in question. There are a few ways in which you can verify your website…
The first is to add a HTML tag. If you’re the developer of the website or familiar with coding, this may be your preferred method. To do it this way, go to your dashboard and select ‘Manage Property’. Next, click the ‘Alternate Methods’ tab and ensure the ‘HTML tag’ option is selected, next, go ahead and click verify. Next, you’ll be given the code you need to insert into the <HEAD> tag of your website’s homepage. It doesn’t matter hugely where this is placed as long as it’s between <HEAD> and </HEAD>
If you’re not very technical, don’t worry, there are other ways to verify your website. An easier way is through your domain name provider. This again is under the ‘Alternate Methods’ tab and comes under the option of ‘Domain Name Provider’. This option may also be more preferable if you’re website is quite large. Next, you’ll be asked to choose your domain name provider. The steps that follow will allow you to verify that you own the website through your domain provider.
Finally, if you use Google Tag Manger, verifying your website through this method is probably the easiest way. If you don’t currently use Google Tag Manager, don’t worry, we’ll come on to that in another topic. ‘Google Tag Manager’ should fall under the ‘Recommended Methods’ rather than the alternate ones. Then it just simply looks to see if Google Tag Manager is installed, if it is, you’re all verified.
Adding a sitemap to Google Search Console
As we’ve mentioned already, a sitemap is a key bit of information that helps search engines, like Google, understand your site. It’s shows how your website is organised and what content is on offer to the website. The reason providing a sitemap to Google is so important is that then it doesn’t have as hard a job understanding what your websites about. This means that it can more readily show your website in search results.
You’ll be able to generate a sitemap by going to your Search Console Dashboard. Next, on the left, you’ll see an option for ‘Crawl’, select this, and then go to ‘Sitemaps’. Here you’ll see a button to ‘Add/Test Sitemap’. In this new button, you’ll see that your website is already pre-populated. Next to this in the text field, type in ‘/system/feeds/sitemap’, and click ‘Submit Sitemap’. It’s as easy as that, your sitemap is now submitted.
Made some significant changes to your website?
Google Search Console is not only useful for when you’re first setting up your website, but ongoing it presents itself with uses. For example, if you’ve made huge changes to your website, it’s probably best to keep Google informed of these changes. To let them know of any changes, go ahead and select ‘Fetch As Google’. You can find this by navigating down the left-hand menu and selecting this option.
If you’ve made changes to the entire website, leave the text box blank following your website address on the next page, if it’s a particular page you’ve made changes to, enter the address of that page in the box and click ‘Fetch’.
A few last points
By now you should have successfully registered and verified your website with Google Search Console. In addition to this, you may also have submitted your sitemap and performed a crawl on your website. When you perform the crawl, it may come back with errors that need addressing on your website.
To see if any errors were found during the crawl, go to your dashboard. Once on the dashboard, go to Crawl and then to Crawl Errors. Any errors that are found will be listed here and the exact errors in question can vary wildly. It will also inform you of which pages in particular are effected.
Hopefully this guide has both simply and comprehensively nurtured you through what Google Search Console is and why it’s so useful for your website and for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in general.