The practice of SEO is basically dedicated to one thing: making Google (and other search engines) favor your website. This involves jumping through a few hoops, some of which are tough to figure out without the right tools. That’s where Google Search Console comes in.
What is the Google Search Console?
Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) is “a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search Results.”
Search Console isn’t required for your website to appear in Google’s search results, but it makes it much easier to rank higher. It tells you which parts of your website can be fixed so it’s easier for Google to find and rank them.
The Key Components of Search Console
The Search Appearance section of Google Search Console gives information on what your website looks like when it shows up in Google results. You can see more information about important aspects of the search listing, such as:
- Meta description
- Rich snippets
Reading exactly what Google looks at makes it easier to optimize pages so they rank high in search engine results.
Other, more technical parts of the Search Appearance section analyze the presence of structured data on your website. Structured data is code that is written in a way that makes it easy for search engines to understand.
The Search Traffic section is less technical than Search Appearance. It gives more information about the overall SEO health of your website, such as:
- Search Analytics tells you how often your website appears in Google, which search terms it ranks for and how many clicks your listings get.
- Links to Your Site breaks down the other websites that link to your website, and the exact content to which they’re linking.
- Internal Links tells you which of your webpages receive the most links from other pages on your website.
- Manual Actions are penalties Google has placed upon your website. They should be addressed as soon as possible.
- International Targeting, which uses code to display your website in different languages based on the preferences of visitors. This is usually only used by companies that do business in multiple different countries.
- Mobile usability, which analyzes the overall mobile performance of your website and provides suggestions on how to fix glaring issues.
Search Traffic is arguably the most important component of Google Search Console, because it makes recommendations that can instantly improve your website’s SEO.
Predictably, Google Index gives insight into how your website is being indexed (or ranked) by the search engine. It contains three separate reports:
- Index Status, or how many of your website’s URLs are being indexed.
- Blocked Resources shows the pages that your website’s txt is blocking from Google.
- Remove URLs allows you to remove pages you don’t want to show up in Google search results.
Google finds your website through a “crawler” known as Googlebot. It follows the links of your website to understand what the webpages contain and how they should be indexed. This process is called “crawling.”
So, the Crawl section of Search Console gives data on how easy it is for Googlebot to crawl your website and what you can do to improve.
If Google deems your website unsafe for users to visit because of malware, you will see alerts in the Security Issues section. This may happen for websites that:
- Link to other websites that have malware
- Have harmful downloads that contain malware
- Have deceptive pages that trick users into downloading unwanted software
Remember, this is just a brief rundown of Google Search Console. Until you begin using it yourself, it’s difficult to fully understand how powerful it is in enhancing a website’s SEO.