The evolution in the world of search engine optimization has brought about the invention of many useful new search marketing tools, and Google’s Search Console, (which replaces Google Webmaster Tools), is one of the most important advancements within that world in recent times. This essential tool, not only fills in the gaps left by Google Analytics, it compliments that excellent tool very well and it provides website owners with more useful features for increasing their traffic from search engines in three essential ways.
By Analysing Your Search Traffic
Google Search Console can show you the search terms that your website showed up for, its average position, as well as the number of clicks through to your site, in its “Search Analytics” section, under “Search Traffic”.
By Helping you to Improve Your Search Appearance
The “Search Appearance” section on your Google Search Console dashboard provides you with the ability to adjust how your website appears by allowing you to add additional data to search listings, like events etc., using a data highlighter.
In this section you can also identify HTML improvements in the “HTML Improvements” section where recommended updates may be shown for your information and action such as changes to titles or the removal of duplicate headings.
The section listed in “Search Appearance” marked “Remove Site Links” allows you to demote site links that you do not want appearing in your search results.
By Allowing you to Easily Create and add Your Website’s Sitemap
Adding a sitemap from within your Google Search console will allow you to submit your pages directly to Google, rather than relying on Googlebot (Google’s Web Crawler), to crawl and index your website. For the pages that you don’t want Google to crawl you can upload a robots.txt file.
For these three reasons alone, it’s worth adding and verifying your websites on the Google Search Console. The following guide should help you.
Let’s Get Started
The Google Search Console is a free service for webmasters and website owners so no need to worry about subscriptions. It will bring you more insight about visitors to your websites too, such as number of traffic, who is visiting your website from mobile devices, or desktop computers, and most importantly, it will help you discover and fix website errors. If you already have Google Analytics you will find the process of adding and verifying your website on Google Search Console easy. If not, the following steps should get you started.
Log in to Google Search Console
Click the red button marked “Add Property.”
Enter your website’s URL, (website address), in the text box presented and then click “Add Property.”
Your website is now added to your Google Search Console account. Your next step is to verify the website you have just added. You can verify your site using the following methods, choose the one that suits you:-
By adding an HTML Tag
To do this, select the “Manage Property” button in your Google Search Console, then click “Verify this property.” Click on to the “Alternative Methods” tab and then select “HTML tag”. Doing so will provide you with the HTML verification code that you need to add to your website’s home page. Copy the code then paste it into the <HEAD> section of your HTML code. Save and publish your code then return to your Google Search Console and click the “Verify” button. Google will immediately check your site’s code and present you with a screen letting you know it has been verified. If errors are found, it will let you know.
By Uploading an HTML File From Your Website’s Root Directory
To do this, select “Manage Site” in your Google Search Console account and then click “Verify this site,” and in the “Alternative Methods” tab, choose “HTML file Upload.” Once you select this method you will be requested to download and HTML file. Download it then upload this file to the specified location, then go back to your Google Search Console and click “Verify”, to have Google verify your website. This HTML file must never be removed otherwise your site will no longer be verified.
By Domain Name Provider
Your domain name provider is the company who originally provided you with your website’s name. Using this method will verify your website and also prove you are the owner of it. To use this method of verification, click the “Manage Site” button located in your Google Search Console dashboard and then select “Verify this Site.” Look in the “Alternative Method” tab and select “Domain Name Provider”. A list of providers will be presented to you. If yours is not listed, choose “Other” and you will be instructed to create a DNS TXT record for your provider. If DNS TXT is unacceptable to your provider, then you can create a CNAME record instead.
By Adding Google Analytics code
You may already use Google Analytics to monitor your website’s visitors. If so, check that your Google Analytics code is already in the <HEAD> section of your home page’s code. If not, move it to there. Next, on your Google Search Console dashboard, select “Manage Site”, then “Verify this site,” and select “Google Analytics tracking code” from the “Alternative methods” tab. A window will present you with a few points to check and after checking all are correct, click, “Verifiy.”
By Using the Google Tag Manager
Another easy method to use if you already use Google Tag Manager for your website – when using this method, first check that your Google Tag Manager code is situated immediately before your website’s <Body> tag. Then, in your Google Search Console dashboard, select “Manage Site,” then “Verify this site,” and check “Google Tag manager” in the “Alternative Methods” tab. You will be presented with a screen saying your site has been verified.
You can make Google’s job far easier by submitting or adding a Sitemap of your website. Sitemap files provide search engines and web crawlers with a lot of important information about how your site is organized, the type of content you have on it, as well as information about your images and other media content and metadata.
To create and submit a sitemap in your Google Search Console, simply select the site you want it for and in the left hand side menu, click the option “Crawl.” Beneath that option you will see “Sitemaps.” Click on “Sitemaps” and then click the red button marked ADD/TEST SITEMAP. Google will present you with a window that has a text box on it. Type into the textbox “system/feeds/sitemap” and then click “Submit sitemap,” that’s it! You’ve submitted your Sitemap to Google.
Other Search Engines and Web Crawlers
As well as Google, another major web crawler and search engine indexer is Bing. If you already have a Microsoft account (formerly a Windows Live ID), you can open up a free Bing Webmasters Tools account. Here too, you will be asked to add and verify your websites using similar methods to the above, and it is worth doing if you want your website to be found on the Web.