Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service for web masters (website administrators) very focused on the positioning of the web in Google search results and possible related problems (404 errors, non-indexed pages, etc.).
Google searches are the biggest source of web hits out there . Therefore, except in very exceptional cases, for every webmaster the presence of their site in Google results is an absolute priority.
Although it is not necessary to register in the Search Console for the site to be included in Google search results, using this tool is essential to optimize the positioning of your website in these results.
In addition, as is the case with the information from Google Analytics , this tool offers a lot of very useful information that allows you to better understand what is happening on your website and thus make much more accurate decisions.
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What is the Google Search Console for?
Although I have already defined the basic utility of Google Search Console above, this remains a bit abstract, if we do not delve a little deeper. So I am going to review its specific functionalities, with special attention to those that, in my personal experience, have been most important to me.
Manage the presence in the Google index
The mother of the lamb in this matter is indexing : if you want to appear in Google’s search results you have to be in its index . Therefore, this is the first thing we have to talk about here.
Google is supposed to crawl all the websites in the world and will also find yours and index it. But the truth is that there may be problems that prevent it without you realizing it, without indications beyond not appearing anywhere in the results.
Therefore, the first thing is to ensure, by submitting a sitemap to the Search Console, your presence in the Google index. You can do this automatically with the Yoast SEO plugin :
Once this is done, you will see which pages of your site are indexed, which ones have problems and why, etc.
Although in practice, the most important use of this part for me has been to be able to “force” indexing by inspecting URLs.
Keep in mind that many days, sometimes weeks, pass between one visit and another from Google to refresh the content of a page in its index. However, it is often critical for you that the changes in the title of a page are reflected as soon as possible in the search results or that new content appears immediately.
This is where, by forcing indexing with the URL inspection functionality, you get the page or pages in question to be updated in a few hours.
Performance in Search results
Now, in my personal experience, if there is one Google Search Console (hereinafter referred to as GSC) tool that has stood out head and shoulders above all others, it’s Search Result Performance .
With this tool you can carry out a very complete analysis of the behavior of your website in the search results (searches in which it appears, in what positions, etc.), as well as the behavior and profile of the users (countries of origin, rate of clicks on your pages, etc.).
Here alone, we can barely scratch the surface of what is possible to do, but you can see, for example, an analysis of a specific page and some of the most important specific searches that during the last 28 days have brought traffic to this page. page:
As you can see in the image, the information is very complete: we can see how many times this page has appeared in the search results (impressions), how many times it has received a click (clicks) and with it its CTR (click through rate) and the average position it has occupied (position).
Although only 3 specific searches are visible in the screenshot above, 1000 searches were output (the maximum that GSC supports in this list), just for this page.
This information gives a lot of room to work on it and improve the results of your website; allows, for example:
- Check that our pages really position themselves in the searches that interest us (the public that we are interested in attracting).
- Find opportunities to take better advantage of certain powerful searches (due to their volume), for which the content can be worked on more so that it is positioned better or that are ideas to even create specific content.
- Detect content cannibalization problems . This occurs when more than one page competes for the same search on Google, which usually greatly harms the position in Google of the pages involved.
- Etc., etc.
Analysis of internal and external links
As you probably know more than enough by now, the links to a page are one of the most important factors in determining the page’s position in Google results.
Google Search Console allows you to see those links, both external (other websites to yours) and internal (between pages of the same website). You can see which pages are linked, from which other pages and you also have a view by domain, with a ranking by number of links to your website from each domain.
Site problem detection
On a website it is inevitable that problems arise that must be addressed. Many of these problems are detected by the GSC itself.
In addition, you can be proactively notified of this with alerts when Google detects indexing problems on your website, due to spam or for other reasons.
Google Search Console vs Google Analytics. What differences are there?
If you know Google Analytics well, after reading the previous paragraphs, you are probably already clear about the differences between the two tools.
If you do not know Google Analytics or you do not know it well, you should immediately remedy this with the following post because it is a tool that is at least as important as Google Search Console:
But, in short, the big difference between Google Search Console and Google Analytics is that the GSC focuses entirely on the aspects of your website related to Google searches, while Google Analytics analyzes the visits, their profile and their behavior .
There is a small % of overlapping information in both tools, but most of the information you will only find in one place.
For example: In Google Analytics you will not find information about links to your site, however, in the GSC you will not find information about details of the user profile that visits you (age range, demographic origin, etc.).
This separation of functions, however, is somewhat relative because it is possible to integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics .
How does the Google Search Console work?
Just like Google Analytics, Google Search Console is a free cloud service that needs to be connected to your website, for which you need a Google account.
In this case, it is Google who is giving you access to the data about your website that already appears in its database and, for this, what it asks you to do is simply verify that you are really the owner of the website in question.
For this, GSC has different verification methods . The ideal will depend on your personal preferences and the type of website you have.
How to connect Google Search Console with WordPress
Once again, if you use WordPress, things are simplified thanks to plugins.
Here the popular Yoast SEO (which I recommend you use anyway for SEO) has a specific section for this integration:
Here you simply click on the link to the Search Console that you can see in the image, which will take you directly to the corresponding GSC section where you will obtain that code to fill in the corresponding GSC box. With that it is done.
Integrate Google Search Console in any other website
Whether you have WordPress or not, you can use any of the generic methods, for example downloading a verification file .
This is done with a single file that the GSC generates when you register, so that you can put it in the root directory of your website. Once this step is done, the GSC will try to find it.
If it finds it, it assumes that only by being the real owner have you been able to put it there and therefore have proven that you are indeed the owner.
How to use the Google Search Console
Google Search Console has enough meat for an entire course; Therefore, in this post I am only going to explain what this tool is about, I cannot and do not intend to cover all its functionality.
However, as always, you can find good free material on YouTube with which you can perfectly learn to use this tool.
For this occasion I have opted for this tutorial, which begins by explaining the integration process that I have explained above and then makes a first review of the functionalities of this powerful tool: