In today’s digitalized world, creating a website is one of the critical first steps in building a startup.
A properly-functioning, well-optimized website has great potential to improve the visibility of your company and its products through web traffic.
Therefore, search engine optimization is a priority for most businesses today. Everyone wants their site to appear ahead in (Google) search rankings in order to boost their credibility in the field.
Google Search Console: Introduction
If you want to enhance your site’s performance in Google Search rankings, the obvious way is to start from Google’s own official suite of tools for the purpose.
That’s the Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) and it is entirely free.
Google Search Console is mostly focused on the technical aspect of SEO; covering all the technical optimization steps leading to how sites appear in search results.
The appearance of your site in search results has a direct connection with your ranking as well as website traffic.
However, business owners and SEO strategy leaders can also benefit from the insights generated through the numerous reports in the Search Console. This enables them to take informed decisions that boost the traffic of the website.
Note that signing up for Search Console is not a prerequisite for a site to be indexed and appear in Google Search organic results. Instead, it is a tool for measuring the performance of your website in Google SERPs via analytics and debugging.
Some of the insights you can gain from Search Console include the following:
- Learn how Google crawls, indexes, and discovers web pages
- Fix errors Google finds when crawling your pages
- Submit updated content to the Google index
- Monitor search performance trends by queries, countries, pages, and more.
To help you keep track of the performance of your website and maintain its healthy operation according to Google standards, Search Console features various tools and reports. These help you to understand the various factors that affect your site’s appearance in search results and how you can improve.
For instance, tracking search traffic may help you understand which pages and queries attract the most traffic to your site. Likewise, the URL Inspection Tool can help you understand what errors are preventing the proper crawling and indexing of your site; fixing those errors may be all you need to significantly improve your ranking at any moment.
To use any of the features in Search Console, first, you need to verify ownership of your website.
There are various methods to do this. Following the initial verification though, Google regularly requests validation of your verification credentials.
What follows is an examination of the various tools and reports available in Google Search Console.
URL Inspection Tool
You can use the URL Inspection tool to:
- Make Google crawl a website or webpage and add it to its index. You may also recrawl a URL if you suspect or have just fixed some issues with its current index status. That applies too if you have otherwise made an update to the page.
- Inspect a page (Live URL test) to see if Google can index it at all or to determine why Google could not index a page.
- Access detailed information on the current index status to reveal any possible error or issues with APM, current property, structured data, and indexing in general.
- See how Googlebot renders a page to determine what’s wrong with it.
- Troubleshoot missing pages.
Note that the indexing of a webpage is only the first step. The URL Inspection tool shows the ‘URL is on Google’ alert when a page has been successfully indexed.
According to Google, this does not automatically mean that the page would begin to appear on Google Search results. If your page is indexed correctly and does not appear in search results, that means you need to upscale your adherence to Google’s quality guidelines.
That means shunning practices and techniques that attempt to trick the Googlebot into ranking your website. Such methods include plagiarism, cloaking, using irrelevant keywords, engaging in malicious behavior (viruses, trojans, phishing, etc.), creating sneaky redirects, and the likes.
By the way, a brief explanation of the Googlebot:
Before a web page can appear among Search results, Google crawls the web to search for newly-created pages and indexes them. The web crawler that performs the first function is commonly known as Googlebot. It includes both a desktop crawler (Googlebot Desktop) and a mobile crawler (Googlebot Smartphone).
You can find information on the crucial site performance metrics in the performance report section of Search Console. Performance Report is divided into two: Search and Discover. Recently, though, it added the new Page Experience Report.
Search is the commonly known Google Search, which allows users to enter queries and view results that provide the best answers to their question according to Google’s algorithm.
Unlike Search, Discover is automated and newer, too, only introduced in 2018. According to Google, it is a personalized content field of items that best match a user’s interests.
In the Search Console, metrics that are assessed in the Discover Performance Report are impressions (or views), clicks (shares not counted), and the average click-through rate (clicks per impressions).
The Search Performance Report, in addition to all the same metrics measured in the Discover Report (impressions, clicks, and average CTR), also estimates the average position (a chart of the topmost result from your site in Search) as well as position.
The Page Experience report bears more differences from the two reports explained above. For one, this report only applies to mobile. Google measures the user experience of each URL to determine the mobile search rankings. The specific metrics that are used in the Page Experience report are as follows:
- Core Web Vitals: measures the speed and performance of a web page
- Mobile usability
- Security issues
- HTTPS usage
- Ad experience: determines if the ads displayed are distracting or interrupting
Paying attention to Google Search Console reports and analysis can really help you to enhance the operation of your website for better search results performance.
Note that Search Console also keeps reports on the performance of your website’s landing pages as well as reports on search performance and user engagement per country, device type, and queries.
All these reports consolidate each other for a comprehensive understanding of the workings of your site and how to make it better. Although Search Console and its workings can be quite technical, you really don’t need coding skills to benefit from using any of the features.