Google has strict ranking rules, but it also offers website owners a lot of useful tools to help them check that their sites perform well and are indexed correctly. One of these tools is the Google Search Console. It helps webmasters optimise their websites, identify and fix errors and find how well their SEO strategy works. In this article, we will show you how to use Google Search Console for SEO.
The First Step: Setting Up Google Search Console Account
To start using this tool, click here to access the Welcome screen for Google Search Console. Log in with your Google Analytics account, or create a new account if you are just beginning to use Google services. Type in the URL of your website in the Domain panel and verify it through the DNS provider.
Alternately, you can verify the ownership of your website using the Google Analytics tracking ID. In the Google Analytics main panel navigate to Admin -> Property settings -> Basic settings -> Tracking ID. Once you verify your account, you will be able to access the Google Search Console through the Google Analytics sidebar.
Let’s Get Started: Learn to Use Google Search Console for SEO
Google Search Console offers a collection of reports, analytical data, and alerts that help you check how your website works from the point of view of Google’s requirements for ranking.
In our opinion, these are the most useful tools and reports you should access continuously to monitor and improve the SEO of your website:
1. Top Keywords Your Website Ranks For
Is your keyword strategy working well? How can you know? The Google Search Console has the answer for these questions. In the main panel, click on Performance and then on the sub-menu option Queries.
You will get a list of the most frequently used keywords by users who reached your website. You can refine the search by selecting:
- Keywords per each page of your website
- From what countries you receive most website traffic
- What type of device was used in the search.
You should use Google Search Console for SEO in this way not only to find your top performing keywords, but also to identify keywords that you were not actively promoting in your strategy.
2. Find Out How Many Website Pages Are Indexed by Google
Google does not index by default an entire website. It goes on a page by page basis. In order to find out how many of them can be found on Google searches, go to the Coverage option in the Google Search Console. This function has four categories:
- Valid – the page is correctly indexed by Google
- Valid with warnings – the page is indexed, but you need to fix some issues on it
- Error – the page cannot be indexed
- Excluded – you specified in the code that the page should be excluded from indexing.
The “Error” and “Valid with warnings” categories also include the reasons why the respective web page is not indexed by Google. Thus, you know what you need to fix so that users can find all your web pages in Google searches.
3. Find Out if Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
If you use Google Search Console for SEO, you don’t have to look for other tools to check if your website is mobile friendly or not. You have the Mobile Usability option in the main panel and you will find out if there are any browsing errors, such as slow or incorrect loading.
The errors are displayed on a by page basis, just like in the case of Google indexing.
4. Discover the Type of Content that Attracts Most Backlinks
Backlinks help you increase the reputation of your website and, by consequence, its page rank. But what exactly are other websites linking to on your site? This is valuable information, because you can focus on the respective topic and create more valuable content, which will earn you other backlinks in the future.
In Google Search Console, click on the menu option Links and you will get a list of the web pages that have the highest backlink numbers. By analysing what these pages have in common, you will identify what other websites value most:
- How to articles
- In-depth thought pieces.
5. Identify Pages that Are Losing Organic Traffic
Organic traffic does not remain at a steady level over time. In some cases, you need to spruce up the content and add some new information to make it interesting to readers. In order to find out which pages are losing traction, go to Search results and select a date range between:
- Last 7 days
- Last 28 days
- Last 3 months
- Last 6 months.
For the sake of relevance, select a 6-month comparative analysis. In some cases, you may find that you can add a later edit section to bump up the respective page back in top organic search results.