Google Search Console (formally known as Google Webmaster Tools) is an all-in-one management tool that helps you monitor your website performance and SEO efforts.
At first glance, the tool may look intimidating to use, but in the next 3 minutes I’m going to show you 4 easy ways to get started with Google Search Console (GSC).
What you're about to read
Adding a website sitemap
A sitemap is a roadmap of your website that Google crawls to index your pages in its search engine. To create your own sitemap, download either the SEO Yoast or Google XML Sitemaps plugin on WordPress.
Both will automatically create your website a sitemap once you activate the plugin. Depending on the plugin used, your sitemap URL will look like this:
Once you login to your Google Search Console, select your website from the dashboard and in the left hand bar select Crawl > Sitemaps and then the ADD/TEST SITEMAP:
You’ll be asked to enter your website’s sitemap and hit the submit button once complete.
Once you submit your sitemap, within a few days (sometimes instantly) Google will crawl your sitemap and index your website accordingly in their search engine.
Prioritise your website for local searchers
If you’re a local business and do all your transactions in a single country, you can adjust how Google prioritises your website by giving it greater relevance when searches are made from the UK, and less relevance from other parts of the world.
To do this you need to head to Search Traffic > International Targeting and set your site’s domain targeting to the country of your choosing:
Select a single country if you only want to target a single location or leave the option empty if you wish to target globally.
Mobile usability checks
With more than half of all online users coming from mobile devices, your website must be optimised for mobile users. Websites that aren’t optimised for Google are placed much lower in mobile searches and you will likely lose more than 50% of total website traffic as a result.
Google Search Console has a mobile usability section if you visit Search Traffic > MobileUsability:
In the image above it tells me that one of my web pages has mobile usability issues and even states the issues. It’s very likely that as a direct result Google will rank this page a lot lower in mobile searches. Check your mobile usability to see if you have pages that are causing issues and remedy them.
Get more people to your website by optimising pages
For me personally, the greatest feature Google Search Console has it showing you how many clicks, impressions, click-through rate and the position my web pages are on Google.
You can find these stats by going to Search Traffic > Search Analytics:
From this data you can increase the length of content on pages that are lower in the searches, create better meta descriptions on pages that receive low click-throughs and decide to target (or avoid) more keywords based on their success.
Being able to interpret this data and making minor changes on pages has seen some of my websites see a 20% jump in traffic within weeks.
Google Search Console is a great tool for you to understand more about your website and it’s online search presence in Google. You’ll be able to know what keywords Google matches your business with, whether your website has had any Google penalties and most of all, allows you to learn and improve your website all by yourself.
If you don’t have a Google Search Console account you can make one by following this link.
Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2015 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites.
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