What Is Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console To Submit Your Website To Google and Report On Google Search Performance

Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools pre-2015) is a free service, provided by Google, that lets you peek into some great information about your website. If you’re not using this right now – you should be! You can use it to submit your site to Google, report on how many people are finding your website from Google, where your pages are ranking on search engine results pages (SERP). Plus, you can view how many people visit on mobile devices versus desktop computers. Check it out!

Don’t miss an episode – listen on iTunes, Google Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher, Android Apps, or RSS!

YOU’LL LEARN

  • What is Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)
  • How to get your website into the Google Index faster using Google Search Console, so you can show up on search results ASAP
  • What does Google Search Console do for you
  • How often should you be reviewing Google Search Console
  • Instructions on how to setup your Google Search Console account
  • How to add your website(s) to the console for tracking and reporting
  • How to verify your website to prove that you own it
  • How to submit your sitemap to Google
  • Using the “Fetch as Google” feature to trigger your pages for indexing
  • How to see which pages you have in the Google Search Index
  • Access Google search data to see how many times your pages are shown on the Google search engine results page (SERP)
  • Access Google search data to see how many clicks you’re getting from Google SERP

Thanks for Listening!

Here is the transcription from Episode 15 What Is Google Search Console and How To Submit Your Website To Google With It;

Jesse: Hey, everyone. Jesse Dolan and Bob Brennan back with you for Local SEO Tactics, and
we’re coming at you this week, gonna get a little bit more technical. Last few weeks,
we’ve talked about some tactics and went through some tools, get into some strategies,
handling phone calls, and a little bit outside the SEO territory. Today we’re gonna dive
headfirst right back into a product everybody should be using.

If you have a website, if you’re trying to manage your SEO and you’re doing anything
with Google – which you should be – if you’re doing anything with SEO, you’re gonna
wanna use this. It’s called Google Search Console. Anybody who’s kind of been in the
marketing and digital world for a while, it used to be called Google Webmaster Tools.
It’s now called Google Search Console. It’s completely free and definitely a product that
you gotta get signed up with to manage your SEO and see what’s happening.

We’re gonna take a tour of it, kind of walk through some of the most important aspects
and areas that you’re gonna be using and checking out with it. But first, just kind of a
quick overview for what the heck is it, and why do you need it?

So, basically, when you make a website, you just make it. Just because you publish it and
it’s live and we can visit it doesn’t mean it’s automatically gonna get taken up by Google
and be exposed for the whole world to see. So what Google Search Console is is it’s kind
of a communication console between you and Google, to say, “Here’s my website or
websites.” You can have multiple websites.

This is where you would have a … How should I say? This is where you basically have a
dashboard for what are all your websites, what are all your properties, have you
submitted them to Google, what’s the current status in Google? We’ll walk through and
show you, there’s lots of cool things – even what kind of visibility are you getting in
Google, are they showing your pages, what pages are they showing, and all kinds of cool
stuff.

Completely free. You do have to verify that the websites that you’re putting in there,
that you own them. You can’t just plug any old website in there. So there’s gonna be a
little bit of technical how-to to get this hooked up so you can get this, but it’s gonna be
well worth the effort. Again, if you have a website, you definitely gotta be using this. It’s
gonna give you insight that you’re not gonna get anywhere else.

So, with that, let’s just talk about how to set up your account.

Bob: Quick question …

Jesse: Yeah.

Bob: … before we get in. How frequently are you looking at this tool …

Jesse: Yeah.

Bob: … and then can you give it advice, in terms of not overusing the tool? So, I mean, if
you’re driving a car, you don’t wanna be staring at your speedometer, going …

Jesse: Right.

Bob: … “Wow.” You know what I’m saying?

Jesse: Yeah, I think weekly, for sure, at least when you’re starting out. It kind of depends on
what you’re doing with your website.

Bob: Sure.

Jesse: If you’re actively making some changes and you’re adding pages, adding media, different
content, and you’re wanting to see what’s happening with it, then definitely weekly. You
could go more frequently, but there’s a bit of a lag. This is not necessarily like a real-time
tool.

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: There’s some aspects of it that may be more real-time than others, but, in general, I
would say probably weekly, and if your website has kind of plateaued for the amount of
content you’re putting on there or what you do with it, or you just don’t put a lot of
stuff on there each week, then definitely at least monthly. I wouldn’t go any less than
monthly. If you’re going farther than that, you’re kind of ignoring it.

Google’s rolling out algorithm updates kind of on a monthly basis here. Some are much
larger than others, and, at the very least, you’re gonna wanna be aware of what’s
happening on there. So if you catch something on the different news subscriptions you
might have or Twitter, whoever you’re following for what kind of updates are happening
in SEO world, if you catch wind of something or on Facebook or whatever, go here to
see if it’s impacting your website.

It’s something that you can’t overuse, like in a negative way, unless you are watching it
driving your car and you crash.

Bob: Right.

Jesse: But there’s no negative impact as it relates to your website and things like that. More
just a waste of time.

Bob: Sure. Okay.

Jesse: But if you’re super curious or if you have a really big website and you really are adding a
ton of pages and making a lot of changes, then checking it daily as sure as heck ain’t
gonna hurt you.

But I guess the rule of thumb, not to be too long on the answer, is if you start checking it
daily and there’s nothing changing, stop checking it daily and just kind of keep backing
up.

Bob: Move on.

Jesse: So, yeah, what was the other part of your question?

Bob: Just that overuse piece, in terms of, again, time waste.

Jesse: Yeah.

Bob: You know, a lot of times, we have tools, and we get excited about a tool, right? We’re
just staring at it …

Jesse: Sucked into using it.

Bob: Yeah, and you’re just like, “Okay, it’s not really” …

Jesse: Right.

Bob: “It’s not really productive to do that.” But it is a critical tool, just like your speedometer
or anything else. You just …

Jesse: Right.

Bob: It tells you the health of your site, but then, more importantly, like you were saying, it
isn’t 100% accurate. It has some lag time to it.

Jesse: Yeah, there’s some lag time, and even with that, it’s kind of known in the community
there’s certain aspects of it … I wouldn’t take this as gospel. This is a great dashboard,
like, let’s say, for your car, for a certain piece of information – your fuel tank in your car,
right? So you have … Basically, it’s divided up into quarters of your tank. It doesn’t get
more precise than that, ’cause you don’t need to know how many ounces …

Bob: Right.

Jesse: … of gasoline you have left. Kind of similar here. There are some things we’re gonna get
into. It shows you what pages, what your average page rank is, or maybe the exposure
it’s getting. Don’t take those numbers to the bank as an absolute stat. There’s other
tools we’ll get into in other episodes, like Google Analytics, which is another free tool.
You can go check that out.

This is kind of your 20,000-foot view for certain stats, but then other pieces of
information for … This is where Google’s gonna communicate to you maybe some
negative things, right? If there’s … They call them manual actions. If there’s some things
you have to do to your website that need to be corrected and fixed, something like that
is gonna be extremely explicit and specific. You’re gonna wanna pay attention to that.
But as you get into more of the stats for what kind of traffic exposure or page ranking
you’re getting, that you’re gonna wanna take as kind of more of a general guideline than
an absolute stat.

So hopefully that answers that. So where we’re gonna wanna go to get this is … This is,
again, a free account, and just like your Google My Business page – we talked before
about setting up with that – or Google Ad Words, if you’re gonna use the keyword
research tool, same thing. If you have an account with Google, whether it be a Gmail or
your private email, you’re gonna log in with that same account here.

So where you’re gonna wanna go is google.com/webmasters, and there’s gonna be a
green button for Google Search Console. Click on that, and you can either log in there, if
you’ve already set it up before. If, in the context we’re talking here, you’re gonna set it
up for the first time, there’s gonna be a link that says “Set up a new account.”

Now, at this point, your very next step is gonna be to add your property. It’s important
to note if your website is a secure website with SSL security – so it’s gonna be an https
website – that’s how you’re gonna wanna enter it in, because whatever you enter in
here, this is what you’re gonna be reporting on.

Enter that into your property, and now you’re gonna have to verify your website. So
they’re gonna present you with a couple options on how to do that. The easiest one that
we prefer, because we use WordPress for most of our websites, is to apply an HTML tag.
You’re gonna have … I think it’s three different options with radio buttons for you to
select which version are you gonna use to verify your website.

You can also use your Google Analytics account. If you already have one of those with
the Google Analytics code installed in your website, you can just use that to verify.
They’ll trust your authority on that. Or you can upload an HTML file to your website as
well.

But, again, if you’re using WordPress, the easiest is to just go ahead and grab that
verification code, put it into your website, come back to Google Search Console, click
the button that says “Verify.”

On all of these options, actually, they go out and check your website afterwards and
make sure that that code or that page or that element was installed on your website,
which then proves you’re the owner, because they gave you this code, you put it on
your website, you said “Verify,” now they’re checking it, and that’s how they close the
loop to make sure you’re not hijacking somebody else’s website or eavesdropping on
them.

So a couple hoops to jump through there to get set up, but, again, it’s completely free,
and this is information that you definitely need to be having. So go through those steps.
If you’re having any trouble, reach out to us. We can help you out.

So once you verify your website, the very next thing that you’re gonna wanna do is
enter in your sitemap. You’re gonna wanna go over to the right. You’re gonna see those
three options. Click on the one that says “Sitemaps,” and up in the top right corner,
you’re gonna see a big red button that says “Add/Test Sitemap.”

Click on that, and you can enter in your sitemap here. You can see you just paste in that
sitemap extension. It’s usually gonna be something like sitemap.xml or some other
similar format. Paste it in there, you can click “Submit,” and, from there, what you just
did is you just provided to Google, “Here’s all the pages on my website.”

So you’ve hooked into the search console, you’ve proved that it’s your website, and now
you’re giving them your sitemap, where your sitemap is listed.

So if you don’t know what a sitemap is, the next podcast episode, we’re gonna be diving
deep into that. Again, it’s kind of technical, but that’s definitely something you’re gonna
wanna have enabled on your website. That’s gonna be, basically, the index of all your
pages for Google. That’s how they’re gonna know what are all the pages on this site,
what should be crawling, what should be looking for. So you gotta submit that to
Google.

Otherwise you’re just kind of at their mercy for finding your pages, and you don’t wanna
do that. You wanna tell them, “Here’s all my pages on my website. Please take them and
put them into your search results.” If you don’t submit your sitemap, you’re really not
taking that last step.

So after you enter in your sitemap, it’s gonna take a couple days before your
information really sinks into Google. So don’t be sitting there, waiting to see all of a
sudden all these stats pop up. If you haven’t already submitted all this to Google, they’re
not tracking this. They don’t know they should be tracking this.

Now, if you get lucky, it’s gonna pop a little bit quicker, but I would expect maybe a day
or two. So check back and check it out, and then after that, you’re gonna have all these
stats going forward.

So now we’re gonna dive into what those stats areas are gonna be, which are the
important ones. Definitely challenge you to explore this entire console once you get it
up and running. Everything on there’s information that’s between you and Google, so
you’re gonna wanna be very intimate with all of it, but we’re gonna hit on kind of the
top-level ones, just to make sure everybody knows what you should be checking out.
Over on the left-hand side, you’re gonna see kind of the main areas that Google has
outlined. You’re gonna wanna go down to the “Crawl” section, and definitely, again, one
of the first things you wanna do here is do this “Fetch as Google,” which basically makes
Google go out, pulls your webpage, whatever page you’re gonna input in here. It pulls it
down into their index, and they look at it. Then they can spider your website from there.
So you’re kind of triggering it to say, “Not only here is my website and here’s my
sitemap, but go out and spider my website now.” You’re gonna wanna do this two
times. One, you’ll see there’s a dropdown here for desktop or mobile. You’re gonna
wanna do that once for each.

So your website’s gonna come up just this default homepage. If you want to submit a
specific page, go ahead and do that. I recommend everybody at least start with just your
homepage, and your homepage, they’re gonna spider that and connect to your other
pages from there. So you don’t have to do every individual page.

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: But if you had a subfold on your website that maybe wasn’t accessible by your
homepage or kind of detached, that’s where you’re gonna wanna enter that in here and
get that fetched as well. Again, do it for mobile and for desktop.

So for here, you just click the button that says “Fetch,” and then you’re gonna be
presented … It’ll be a little green check mark saying, “Okay, we fetched it.” Then there’s
another button that says “Request Indexing.” That’s where you trigger them to spider
and index your website. You’re gonna have to prove you’re not a robot, of course, like
always. Then you just do the same thing again for mobile.

So do that once for mobile, once for desktop. After that, you’ve submitted to Google.
You don’t really have to do anything else to let Google know that your pages are here
and your website is here. Now you just sit back and wait.

There’s a couple areas you can look at after this to see what’s happened and what the
trends are. In the same Crawl area, there’s a button that says “Sitemaps.” You’re gonna
wanna click on that, and this is gonna tell you how many pages Google has found on
your website. In this example here, you can see it’s 113 pages have been submitted, and
Google has accepted 80 of those into the index.

This number can go up and down. Don’t be afraid of that. There’s changes that they
make weekly, if not … I’m sorry. There’s changes that they make monthly, if not weekly,
in some instances. So you can see some fluctuation. That’s okay. I would say if you see a
big downturn, number one, check and make sure what’s happening with your website.
That’s … This is definitely an indicator that …

Bob: Right.

Jesse: … even though you have 113 pages, if this dropped down to five pages indexed, what
that means is there’s now only five pages in the Google index. So there’s only five pages
that are gonna get served up as results for any web search out there, right?

You’re gonna want more pages. The more pages, the better, in the index. That doesn’t
mean you wanna spam the system. You don’t wanna create 800 pages and have a lot of
duplicate content. Those won’t get indexed, right? So we’re not so much talking about
here the more pages, the better in general. The more pages you have indexed, though,
the better. Those are just more chances, more keywords, and more instances that
you’re in the Google search engine. So …

Bob: Is there a ratio that’s acceptable or …

Jesse: Yeah.

Bob: In this case, there’s 113 pages, 80 of which are indexed, so …

Jesse: Yeah, this one definitely needs a little attention. A couple weeks ago, Google came out
with an algorithm update, which kind of is more is … I’m sorry, less is more.

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: So this is one of those sites we’re gonna be attacking to pull off some of the content that
has no value, but I would say 80% is kind of our rule of thumb, because not every page
you’re gonna create is gonna get indexed in Google. It’s something you always should be
monitoring – What pages am I creating? What pages aren’t ranking at all?

If they’re not ranking, there are some things you can try to maybe tweak the content or,
again, resubmit it to try to get it indexed. But if it’s not ranking and it’s not getting
indexed, it’s just dead weight on your website. You wanna pull that down.

So that percentage isn’t so much a reflection on what’s Google doing. It’s kind of your
content quality. Is this page even relevant? ‘Cause it’s kind of like getting into the club. If
they don’t want you in there, they’re gonna say, “You’re not in.”

That’s, in this case, again, 80 of the pages were accepted, so what is that? What’s the
math on there? 33 pages weren’t accepted. Those 33 pages need to be analyzed for
quality, if they’re even relevant, and why they’re not getting indexed.

So there can be some legitimate reasons why we need to keep those pages and they’re
not getting indexed. We’re not gonna get into those. That’s pretty marginal stuff to …
Don’t wanna distract from the episode here.

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: But, as a rule, if you’re shooting in that 80% range, I think you’re gonna be in pretty
good shape. That’s just my opinion. Everybody’s kind of got their own recipe for that,
though.

In addition to webpages, you’re also gonna see another button here for images.
Everybody’s probably used Google Image search. Same concept here. All the images that
are on your website are getting submitted to Google, along with your webpages, and
this is gonna show you how many of those images are into the Google index for images –
so when you go to image search and you’re searching for whatever you’re calling your
files, you’re gonna see them there or not.

Under the Crawl area, there’s a section called Crawl Errors. If Google encounters any
kind of an error when they’re trying to crawl or spider your website, they’re gonna give
you an alert here. Something you’re gonna wanna pay attention to. If they can’t index a
page … I’m sorry. If they can’t crawl a page, they can’t index the page. So you’re gonna
wanna correct any actions there. They’ll tell you what’s going on.

Other area that’s definitely relevant is called Crawl Stats. This is gonna be pretty telling,
again, if there’s things, negative things, happening with your website. The bottom one is
probably, in my opinion, one of the most relevant. It’s how much time is spent
downloading a page, in milliseconds?

Sometimes, look, let’s say if you’re using WordPress, maybe you add a new plugin, or
maybe you’re using a plugin that’s not updated that often, for whatever reason,
sometimes some things can go haywire with your website, and that causes the pages to
download very slow.

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: That’s a bad thing, especially as Google’s pushing forward with the mobile-first. Pay
attention to this. If Google’s having a problem downloading your pages, you’ll see the
trends. It’s a 90-day graph. Definitely take action if you see that spiking up, that it’s a
large … if it’s a long time to download.

Now we’re gonna move up into the Search Traffic area. Under there, one of my favorite
spots is the Search Analytics. This tells you a lot of great information, and this is one of
those areas like we were talking earlier, where don’t trust this with your life. This is kind
of 20,000-foot view information. Very important information, but don’t get super, super
granular on each item here. It’s definitely something you wanna look at in more of a
broad spectrum.

So you can do some cool things here, like you can compare date ranges. Let’s just say 28
days vs. 28 days, so kind of this four weeks vs. the previous four weeks. There’s four
options up here. There’s Clicks. So that’s how many times … This is just through Google,
too. I don’t think we mentioned that earlier. All of these stats are just through Google,
right? So if somebody’s visiting your website on Bing, just typing in your website
directly, not going through Google search engine to get there, that’s not what we’re
looking at here.

Bob: Oh, okay.

Jesse: This is only when people have gone to Google, searched for something, and then how
your site is presented within that on Google’s page. So when we say “clicks,” that’s not
how many people have visited your website. That’s how many people have clicked on
your pages in Google search results. Right?

Same for Impressions. How many times has your page been shown – or pages, any
individual page, been shown to somebody when they’re scrolling through, looking at the
search results? Whether you’re on the first page or the third page, doesn’t matter. How
many times have your impression been shown on a page?

CTR stands for Click Through Rate – How many times are you shown an impression vs.
how many times do you get a click?

Then the last one is Position, which is kind of an aggregate of all your pages in the index
for what the average position is. This is usually a lot higher number, meaning a lower
position, than what your popular pages are gonna be. You could have a number of pages
dominant in the first, second, or third position, and you may see your position on this
report show 13 or 12.2 or 36.9.

Don’t be alarmed by that. That’s kind of an overall stat, but within there, they do show
you the individual pages as well. But on that top summary, it can be a little misleading,
so …

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: An area that hopefully you don’t have to get into too much here is this Manual Actions,
and that’s, without getting too deep into it, that’s when you’ve got some corrections to
do – Google has identified something very specific that you have to fix on your website.
If you ever have anything in this area, get on top of it real quick.

Bob: Are these things that penalize you, essentially?

Jesse: Yeah. Yeah, this is gonna be anything that’s gonna hurt your rankings.

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: Could be multiple things, but anything in here is something that’s gonna affect pages or
even your website in general, all pages. So if anything ever shows up in there, check it
out.

There’s also another area up in the Messages where they’re gonna communicate just
any general errors or things – again, usually things that are gonna have a negative
consequence …

Bob: Right.

Jesse: … ’cause Google doesn’t wanna make it tough for you to get indexed. They want to be
very clear with you about what pages are working, what pages are in the index and what
pages aren’t, and what’s preventing them from being in there, ’cause the more people
… the more pages that are submitted to Google, the more content, the more
information they have, and the more people keep going back there. So they want you to
be successful and get your pages into Google.

So any messages they’re communicating to you, investigate them. Don’t blow them off.

Bob: Right.

Jesse: They’re telling you for a reason. That’s probably about it.

There’s a couple other areas. Again, there’s a spot for security issues. There’s different
tools you can do and kind of different things to check your website. Explore all those.
Again, if Google’s giving you tools on how to optimize your website, how to understand
what is and isn’t working with your website, and what pages are or are not in their
index, use these tools.

Bob: Right.

Jesse: Everything in the left-hand column is gonna be versions of that, so explore them all. Get
intimate. Figure out what they do for you. Then you can make your own decisions on,
again, is it daily, weekly, monthly? How often are you gonna be doing these things?
Figure that out for yourself.

Something I definitely recommend is set up some kind of a calendar or checklist for
yourself, right? Maybe you’re gonna jump in here once a month. Make a note to
yourself, “What do I wanna check? What do I wanna look at?”

Google doesn’t save this information forever, so if you wanna maybe write down some
benchmarks for yourself, too, to just fall back on later so you have a reference point …

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: … go ahead and do that, too. That’s not a bad idea at all.

Bob: If you have any questions, make sure you drop us a line …

Jesse: Yeah.

Bob: … or shoot us an email, and we’ll be more than happy to answer it and try to get you
through it.

Jesse: All right. Thanks, everyone. That pretty much does it for this week, so …

Bob: Yep.

Jesse: … we’ll see you next week.

Bob: See you.

 

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