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What Is Google Search Console: A Beginner's Guide

Are you a digital marketer, website owner, or SEO professional who wants to gain better insight into how your site appears in search engine results?

Google Search Console can offer valuable insights that help you understand how your entire site is performing and give actionable tips for improvement.

But what exactly is Google Search Console (GSC), and how do you get started with it?

This beginner’s guide will explain the basics of GSC, outline its key features, and show you how to start using GSC on your own website.

If you want to learn more about improving your site’s presence through Google’s powerful platform, keep reading!

What Is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console, also known as GSC, is a free web service offered by Google that provides essential tools and reports to help website owners, digital marketers, and SEO professionals better understand and optimize their website’s performance in Google’s search results.

This powerful platform serves as a bridge of communication between site administrators and Google’s search engine, offering valuable insights and data that can lead to enhanced visibility, increased organic traffic, and improved user experience.

Plus, the platform has some amazing tools and features:

  • Performance report: To see how your website is performing in Google search results.
  • URL inspection tool: To check the indexing status of individual web pages (indexed pages) on your site.
  • Sitemap management: To submit and monitor your website’s sitemaps.
  • Coverage report: To monitor crawling and other website issues.

Plus, a bunch of other handy features. (More on this later, but let’s first see how to get started with Google Search Console.)

How To Get Started With Google Search Console?

The first step to getting started with GSC and harnessing its full potential begins with setting up your Google Search Console account.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create A Google Account

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a Google Account to access Google Search Console. Visit accounts.google.com and click on “Create account” to set up your Google Account.

Tip: Always have a separate Google account for business.

  1. Navigate To Google Search Console

Once you have your Google Account, go to the Google Search Console website (search.google.com/search-console) and sign in using your credentials.

  1. Add Your Property

To start using GSC for your website, you need to add it as a property. Click on the “+ Add Property” button and enter your website’s URL. Choose the preferred version of your site (http, https, www, or non-www) and click “Continue.”

  1. Verify Site Ownership

After adding your property, you’ll need to verify that you are the website owner or have access to its data.

Google offers several verification methods, such as uploading an HTML file to your website, adding a meta tag to your site’s header, or verifying via your Google Analytics account. Choose the method that suits you best and follow the provided instructions.

Once your website ownership is verified, you’ll get a confirmation message like this:

However, it is normal to get an “Ownership verification failure” message the first time you try a new website’s verification.

Don’t panic if you get the same message. DNS changes usually take a few hours (48 hrs at max) to update, so wait for a couple of hours to check again — it’d be done soon!

That’s it. This is how you get a GSC account!

But what if you’re not the website owner? How will you access Google Search Console data?

How To Use Google Search Console?

There are two ways you can use and access Google Search Console.

You can either be the “owner” or a “user.”

An owner has complete control over the account. They can change settings, view and export data, add or remove users, and use all available features.

A user, on the other hand, has limited permissions.

  • Full user – can view all data and take actions
  • Restricted user – can view limited data and take limited actions
  • Associate – can’t directly view the GSC data but can act on your behalf based on the type of association.

So, before adding a user to Google Search Console, study and decide what kind of access you want them to have.

Now let’s study some of its features to understand how to use Google Search Console to improve your website’s visibility and performance.

Key Features Of Google Search Console

Google Search Console reports tell you all about your website performance and any prevalent errors.

Here are a few ways you can use GSC:

  1. Performance Report

One of the core features of Google Search Console is the Performance report. It gives you a comprehensive overview of how your website is performing in Google search results.

How? By showing you the following essential metrics:

Clicks: The number of times your website was clicked.

Impressions: The number of times your website was shown among other search results on Google.

Click-through rate: Percentage of people who saw your website and clicked through to browse your website further.

Average Position: The average ranking a particular keyword or page got on Google search results (during the timeframe you selected to view).

All of this data helps you identify which keywords and pages are driving the most traffic to your site and which ones need better optimization.

  1. URL Inspection Tool

This tool allows you to inspect specific URLs. You can compare your live website URL (page) with what Google has indexed and find out if there’s anything missing or not indexed.

Plus, you can find more information like technical errors, when a URL or page was crawled, how it looks at the time of crawling, etc.

This helps you understand how Google sees and interprets your content. Also, when there are any issues with indexing, the inspection tool will provide insights and suggestions to fix them, ensuring your pages are visible to searchers.

  1. Sitemaps Management

A “sitemap” is a website’s structure represented in a file – an XML file, to be precise.
It is essentially a list of all pages on your site, which helps search engines understand how to crawl and index it.

Google Search Console allows you to upload sitemaps for your website (or its sections) and monitor their status. Plus, you can also check any errors with the pages listed in them — such as missing images or broken links — and fix them.

Sitemaps are great for large websites with plenty of pages and content because it makes it easier for Google to crawl them and increase their search appearance.

  1. Index Coverage Report

The Coverage report offers a comprehensive overview of how Google is indexing your website. It shows you the indexed pages, which ones have issues, and why certain pages might not be indexed.

This information is invaluable for identifying and resolving crawling and indexing errors.

  1. Mobile Usability Report

With the increasing emphasis on mobile-friendly websites, the Mobile Usability report in GSC is crucial.

It highlights any mobile usability issues on your site, such as mobile-unfriendly fonts or small tap targets, which could negatively impact the user experience on mobile devices.
How can you find mobile usability issues?

Simple. Under the “Enhancements” tab, click “Mobile Usability.”

You’ll see any possible errors on the right side. Click on the error to see details and find out the affected page URL.

  1. Links and Backlink Data

Google Search Console provides data on the links that point to your website (external backlinks).

Since backlinks are one of the strongest ranking factors, it’s important that you identify high-quality links and disavow any harmful ones.

Thankfully, GSC lets you recognize all of them.

You can view the links report on the left sidebar.

It’ll show you stats related to both the external and internal links on the website, including:

  • number of links
  • top linked pages
  • top websites linking to you
  • most common anchors

Overall, the links report helps you understand your website’s internal and external links and their quality.

  1. Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics that measure crucial aspects of web page loading, interactivity, and visual stability.

These are like the secret ingredients that make your website’s user experience go from “meh” to “wow” in the eyes of both visitors and Google.

But what are these magical Core Web Vitals?

Let’s see:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP):

This fancy term might sound intimidating, but it’s simply all about speed!

LCP tells us how long it takes for the largest piece of content on your page (like an image or a video) to load and become visible to your visitors.

  1. First Input Delay (FID):

FID is all about how quickly your website responds when someone interacts with it, like clicking a button or a link.

  1. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):

Imagine reading an article, and suddenly, an image pops up, shoving the text you were reading out of sight. Talk about frustration!

CLS is all about the stability of your page layout while it loads.

Why are these Core Web Vitals so important? Well, Google cares about user happiness, and they know that folks love speedy, smooth, and stable websites.

So, go to your GSC dashboard and find Core Web Vitals under the “Experience” tab to see if your website passes the Core Web Vitals test or not.

These are some of the most important features and reports you’ll find on Google Search Console.

Besides these, you can see shopping reports, track security events (like hacking attempts), and resolve penalties with manual actions depending on how proficient you’re with Google Search Console.

With that said, let’s address a common question: “Is Google Search Console the same as Google Analytics?”

Google Search Console Vs. Google Analytics

While they both sound like they could be the best buddies in Google’s world, they’re entirely different tools.

We’ve covered this in detail in “Google Search Console vs. Google Analytics: Complete Comparison And Guide.” Still, here’s a summary of the differences between the two.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is like your website’s personal health monitor. It provides valuable insights into how your site is performing on Google’s search results page.

You get to see things like which keywords are bringing visitors to your site, how often your pages are shown in search results, and if there are any pesky errors that need fixing.

It’s all about website management and optimization, giving you the tools to become the ultimate SEO champ.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another powerful web analytics tool, but it’s different from Google Search Console. Besides providing valuable data and insights about website performance, it also helps you understand how visitors interact with your content.

It tracks website traffic, audience demographics, content engagement, and conversion metrics, helping you optimize your online presence and improve user experience.

So, what does it mean?

This means both of these tools have their own features and benefits. One is not better than the other.

So, learn to use these invaluable SEO tools and optimize your website for both users and search engines.

Feeling a bit unsure about navigating the data-driven world of GSC and GA?

Fret not! Mongoose Media is here to lend a helping hand. Our team of marketing and SEO experts is well-versed in the intricacies of GSC and GA, ready to extract meaningful insights that propel your digital triumphs.

Take the first step toward reaching your goals – get in touch with us today! Let’s collaborate and watch your online presence soar to new heights.

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