The best Guide to Google Search Console in 2021

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At any given time, I have GSC open in two to 10 dividers. It’s helpful on the macro and tiny level — each when I need to see how many impressions HubSpot is gaining month over month or figure out what’s occurred to a high-traffic blog post that suddenly dropped. → Download Now: SEO Starter Pack [Free Kit]

I’m a content strategist on HubSpot’s SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION team, which means GSC is particularly useful to me personally. But anyone who’s got a web site can and should dip their toes in these waters. According to Google, whether you’re a business owner, SEO professional, marketer, site supervisor, web developer, or app creator, Lookup Console will come in handy.

I remember the very first time I opened GSC — and it was overwhelming. There were a lot of labels I didn’t understand (index coverage?!? ), hidden filters, and confusing graphs. Of course , the more I used it, the less confusing it became.

But if you would like to skip the learning contour (and why wouldn’t you), good news: I am going to reveal almost everything I’ve learned about how to use Google Search Console just like a pro.

This guide covers:

  • Adding your website to Google Search Console
  • Creating owners, users, and permissions
  • Publishing a sitemap
  • Understanding dimensions and metrics
  • Adding filters
  • Using GSC (24 use cases)

Initial things first. In case you haven’t already signed up for GSC, it’s time for you to do so.

Google Webmaster Tools.

  • Click “Add a property. ”
  • Choose “Website” through the drop-down menu and enter the URL of your web site. Make sure you’re using the exact URL that will appears in the internet browser bar.
  • Click “Continue. ”
  • Pick a way to confirm you own your website (HTML file upload, domain name provider, HTML tag, GA tracking program code, or GTM pot snippet).
  • In case your site supports both http:// and https://, add both as separate sites. You must also add each site (for example, hubspot. com, blog. hubspot. com, and www.hubspot.com).
  • Google begins tracking data for your property as soon as you add it to GSC — even before it’s verified you’re the site owner.

    Verifying Your Site on GSC

    Because GSC gives you entry to confidential information about a website or app’s functionality (plus influence more than how Google crawls that site or app! ), you have to verify you own that site or application first.

    Verification gives a specific consumer control over a specific house. You must have at least one validated owner per GSC property.

    Furthermore, note that verifying your home doesn’t affect PageRank or its overall performance in Google search. Naturally , you can use GSC data to strategize how to rank higher — but simply adding your website to GSC won’t automatically create your rankings increase.

    GSC Verification Methods

    1. CODE file upload: Upload a verification CODE file to a particular location of your internet site.
    2. Domain name provider: Sign into your domain name registrar (like GoDaddy, eNom, or networksolutions. com), and confirm your site directly from GSC or add a DNS TXT or CNAME record.
    3. CODE tag: Add a < meta> tag towards the < HEAD> portion of a specific page’s HTML code.
    4. Google Analytics tracking code: Duplicate the GA tracking code that you make use of on your site. (you actually need “edit” authorization in GA with this option. )
    5. Google Tag Supervisor container snippet program code: Copy the GTM container snippet program code associated with your site. (You need View, Modify, and Manage container-level permissions in GTM for this option. )

    Google-hosted websites, including Blogger plus Sites pages, are automatically verified.

    URL Versions: WWW Domain or Not?

    True or even false: hubspot. com and www.hubspot.com are the same domain name.

    The answer? False! Each domain represents a different server; all those URLs might seem very similar, but from the technical perspective, they’re two unique domains.

    However , if you type “hubspot. com” into your browser pub, you’ll land at “www.hubspot.com”. What is this sorcery?

    HubSpot has chosen “www.hubspot.com” as the preferred, or canonical, domain. That means we have told Google we would like all of our URLs displayed in search as “www.hubspot.com/……”. And when third events link to our web pages, those URLs should be treated as “www.hubspot.com/……” as well.

    example of SERP with URL highlighted to demonstrate URL version

    If you don’t tell GSC which domain you prefer, Google may treat the www and non-www versions of your domain as separate — splitting all those web page views, backlinks, plus engagement into two. Not good.

    (At this time you should also setup a 301 refocus from your non-preferred domain name to your preferred one particular, if you haven’t currently. )

    adding and eliminating owners and users in Search Console.

    There’s a third role: an associate. You can connect a Google Analytics property with a Research Console account — which will let you find GSC data in GA reports. You may also access GA reports in two sections of Search Console: hyperlinks to your site, plus Sitelinks.

    A GA property can simply be associated with a single GSC site, plus vice versa. Should you be an owner from the GA property, follow these instructions in order to associate it with the GSC site.

    GSC sitemaps tool.

    GSC Sitemaps Report

    After Google provides processed and indexed your sitemap, it will appear in the Sitemaps report. You’ll be able to see when Google last read your own sitemap and how several URLs it’s listed.

    SEO tools is ranking #2 for “SEO software” and #4 intended for “keyword tools. ” The average position with this URL would be a few (assuming we were rating for literally absolutely nothing else).

    What is CTR?

    CTR, or click-through price, is equal to Ticks divided by Thoughts, multiplied by a hundred. If our post shows up in 20 searches, and creates 10 clicks, the CTR would be 50 percent.

    color theory 101 blog post is getting more impressions from image lookup than web (although the latter is still producing more clicks! ).

    google search console web vs image impressions

    Day Range

    GSC now offers sixteen months of data (up from 90 days). You can pick from a variety of pre-set routines or set a custom range.

    google search console date range selector

    As with search type, you can also compare two date ranges in the “Compare” tab.

    Queries, Web page, Country, Device, Lookup Appearance

    Click “New” next to the particular Date filter to include up to five other types of filters: issue, page, country, device, and search look.

    google search console performance - new next to the date filter

    These filters can be split; for instance, if I desired to see data pertaining to SEO-related queries showing up on mobile lookup, I’d add a filtration system for queries containing “SEO” on mobile phones. If I only wished to limit the results even more to posts for the Marketing Blog, I’d add another filtration system for Pages that contains the URL “blog. hubspot. com/marketing”.

    You can get very particular here — I recommend playing around with different combos of filters so you see what’s possible.

    Index Coverage Survey

    The catalog coverage report teaches you the status of each page Google has tried to index on the site. Using this statement, you can diagnose any indexing issues. Every page is designated one of four statuses:

    1. Mistake: The particular page couldn’t end up being indexed.
    2. Warning: The page can be indexed but includes a problem.
    3. Excluded: The page is definitely an alternate page along with content duplicate with a canonical page. Because of this, it has been purposefully ruled out while the canonical web page has been found plus indexed.

    Posted Sitemaps

    In this field, you can make your sitemap available to Google and see its status.

    google search console submitted sitemaps

    optimize your own existing pages, this number should raise. (As always, you can find exceptions — maybe you decided to target some high conversion key phrases rather than a lot of average conversion ones, are focusing on other channels, etc . )

    6. Monitor average position over time.

    Average position isn’t that useful on a macro level. Most people are concerned when it goes up — but that’s shortsighted. If a page or set of pages starts ranking for extra keywords, average placement usually increases; all things considered, unless you’re rank for the exact same place or better otherwise you existing keywords, your own “average” will get bigger.

    Don’t spend too much attention to this particular metric.

    google search console average position

    7. Identify your highest-ranking pages.

    1. Click Performance.
    2. Click the “Page” tab.
    3. Change the time range to “Last 28 days. ” (You want the latest, accurate snapshot of the pages. )
    4. Make sure “Average position” is selected.
    5. Click the small upward arrow next to “Position” to sort from smallest (good) in order to highest (bad).
    6. Click Performance.
    7. Click the “Page” tab.
    8. Change the day range to “Last 28 days. ” (You want an up-to-date, accurate snapshot of your pages. )
    9. Make sure “Average position” is selected.
    10. Click the small downward arrow next to “Position” to sort through highest (bad) in order to lowest (good).

    Because you’re taking a look at average position simply by URL, that number could be the mean of all of that page’s rankings. Put simply, if it’s position for two keywords, it might be #1 for a high-volume query and #43 for a low-volume 1 — but the typical will still be 22.

    With that in mind, don’t assess the success or failure of a web page by “average position” alone.

    almost eight. Identify your lowest-ranking pages

    The actual same steps that you would to identify your own highest-ranking pages, except this time, toggle the small upward arrow close to “Position” to sort from highest (bad) to smallest (good).

    9. Identify ranking increases and decreases.

    1. Click Performance.
    2. Click on the “Query” tab.
    3. Click “Date range” to change the schedules, then choose the “Compare” tab.
    4. Select two equivalent time periods, then click “Apply. ”

    At this point, you can look at the data in GSC, or foreign trade it. For an in-depth analysis, I highly recommend the second — it’ll make your life less difficult.

    To do so, click on the downward arrow under “Search Appearance, ” then download this as a CSV file or export it to Google Sheets.

    download csv in google search console

    After you have this data within spreadsheet form, you can include a column for your position differences (Last 28 days Place – Previous 28 days Position), then sort by dimension.

    If the distinction is positive, your blog has moved on with that query. In case it’s negative, you have dropped.

    10. Identify your highest-traffic queries.

    1. Click Performance.
    2. Click the “Query” tab.
    3. Click “Date range” to choose a time period.
    4. Make sure “Total clicks” is selected.
    5. Click the little downward arrow next to “Clicks” to type from highest to lowest.

    Knowing which queries pull in the most search traffic is definitely useful. Think about optimizing the rating pages for conversion, periodically updating all of them so they maintain their particular rankings, putting paid promotion behind them, using them to link to lower-ranked (but just as or even more important) relevant webpages, and so on.

    eleven. Compare your site’s search performance throughout desktop, mobile, plus tablet.

    1. Click Performance.
    2. Go to the “Devices” tab.
    3. Make sure “Total clicks, ” “Total thoughts, ” “Average CTR, ” and “Average Position” are selected.
    4. Compare your performance across desktop, mobile, and tablet.

    12. Compare your site’s search functionality across different countries.

    1. Click Efficiency.
    2. Go to the “Countries” tab.
    3. Make certain “Total clicks, ” “Total impressions, ” “Average CTR, ” and “Average Position” are selected.
    4. Compare your performance across nations.

    13. Learn how many of your own pages have been listed.

    1. Start at “Overview. ”
    2. Scroll down to the Catalog coverage summary.
    3. Look at the “Valid pages” count.
    index coverage in google search console

    14. Learn which usually pages haven’t already been indexed and the reason why.

    1. Go to Overview > Index insurance.
    2. Scroll down to the Details box to understand which Errors are causing indexing issues and how frequent these are.
    3. Double-click upon any Error kind to see the affected web page URLs.

    fifteen. Monitor total number associated with indexed pages plus indexing errors.

    1. Go to Overview > Index coverage.
    2. Make sure “Error”, “Valid with warnings”, “Valid”, and “Excluded” are selected.
    index coverage drilldown in google search console

    The total number of indexed pages on your web site should typically go up over time as you:

    • Publish new blogs, create new getting pages, add extra site pages, etc .
    • Fix indexing errors

    In case indexing errors go up significantly, a change to your site template could be to blame (because a big set of pages are already impacted at once). Alternatively, you may have posted a sitemap with URLs Google can not crawl (because associated with ‘noindex’ directives, robots. txt, password-protected web pages, etc . ).

    If the total number of indexed pages in your site drops with no proportional increase in mistakes, it’s possible you’re blocking access to existing URLs.

    In fact, try to diagnose the problem by looking at your ruled out pages and searching for clues.

    sixteen. Identify mobile functionality issues.

    1. Click on Mobile Usability.
    2. Make sure “Error” will be selected.
    3. Scroll down to the Details container to learn which Errors are causing cellular usability issues and how frequent they are.
    4. Double-click on any Error type to find the affected page Web addresses.
    mobile usability in google search console

    17. Learn how many overall backlinks your site offers.

    1. Click Links.
    2. Open the Top linked pages survey.
    3. Look at the container labeled “Total external links. ”
    4. Click the downward gazelle next to “Incoming links” to sort through highest to lowest backlinks.
    top linked pages externally in google search console

    Every backlink is really a signal to Search engines that your content will be trustworthy and helpful. In general, the more back links the better! Of course , high quality matters — one particular link from a high-authority site is much more important than two hyperlinks from low-authority sites. To see which websites are linking to a specific page, just double-click that LINK in the report.

    18. Identify which usually URLs have the most backlinks.

    1. Click on Links.
    2. Open the Top linked webpages report.
    3. Click on the downward arrow next to “Incoming links” to sort from best to lowest backlinks.

    If you want to assist a page rank higher, adding a link from a web page with a ton of backlinks is a good bet. Those backlinks give that URL a lot of page authority — which it can then pass on to another page on your site having a link.

    top sites linking to this page in google search console

    19. Identify which usually sites link to the most.

    1. Click Links.
    2. Scroll down to “Top backlinking sites” > “More. ”

    Understanding your top referring domains is incredibly useful for promotion — I’d recommend beginning with these sites whenever you do a link-building campaign. (Just make sure to use a tool like Moz, SEMrush, or Arel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hrefs to filter out the low-authority types first. )

    These may also be good candidates for comarketing campaigns or social networking partnerships.

    20. Identify the most popular text for external links.

    1. Click Links.
    2. Scroll right down to “Top linking text” > “More. ”

    Anchor text must be as descriptive and specific as possible — and best situation scenario, include your keyword. If you find websites backlinking to your pages but using anchor text like “Click here” “Learn more”, “Check it out”, etc ., think about sending an email asking them to update the web link.

    21. Determine which pages have the most internal links.

    1. Click Hyperlinks.
    2. Scroll down to “Top linked pages” > “More. ”

    It’s regular for some URLs to have more inbound links. For instance , if you run an ecommerce site, each product page within your “Skirts” category may link back to the particular “Skirts” overview page. That’s a good thing: This tells Google your top-level URLs would be the most important (which helps them rank higher).

    However , the heavily skewed hyperlink distribution ratio is not ideal. If a small percentage of your URLS are getting way more hyperlinks than the rest, it’ll be difficult for that 95% to receive lookup traffic — you are not passing enough authority to them.

    Here’s what a seriously skewed distribution seems like:

    average number of follow inlinks by percentile of urls line graphe

    The perfect spread looks like this:

    average number of follow inlinks by percentile of urls line graph

    Make use of GSC’s link data to learn how your links are distributed and if you need to focus on making your link distribution more clean.

    22. Find out how many total internal links your site offers.

    1. Click Links.
    2. Scroll down to “Top linked pages” > “More. ”
    3. Look at the container labeled “Total internal links. ”

    23. Find plus fix AMP mistakes.

    1. Click AMP.
    2. Make sure “Error” is selected.
    3. Scroll down to the particular “Details” box to find out which types of problems you have and how regular they are.

    Google recommends fixing mistakes before looking at the particular pages in the “Valid with warnings” category. By default, errors are usually ranked by severity, frequency, and whether you’ve addressed all of them.

    24. See Google how Search engines views a LINK.

    1. Click the white-colored magnifying glass at the top of the page.
    2. Your page URL. (Make sure it belongs to the property you’re currently viewing. )
    url inspection in google search console

    Here’s ways to interpret the results. When the URL is on Google, that means it’s found and can appear in search.

    That doesn’t mean it will — if it is been marked because spam or you’ve removed or temporarily blocked the content, it won’t appear. Search engines the URL; if this shows up, searchers can find it.

    Open up the Index insurance card to learn more in regards to the URL’s presence on Google, including which sitemaps point to this WEB ADDRESS, the referring web page that led Online search engine bots to this URL, the last time Googlebot crawled this URL, whether or not you’ve allowed Online search engine spiders to crawl this URL, whether Online search engine spiders actually could fetch this URL, regardless of whether this page disallows indexing, the canonical WEB LINK you’ve set with this page, and the LINK Google has chosen as the canonical for this page.

    The Enhancements section provides you with information on:

    • The AMP version of this page, if it is available, and any AMP-specific issues
    • Position for job publishing and/or recipe structured data

    Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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