An Introduction to (The New) Search Console

Search Console is a great free tool from Google that gives website owners powerful insights into how their website is performing in search. While these types of tools can be intimidating at times, taking some time to learn them will pay off in the long run. In this video, I’ll give a brief introduction to the new look search console and share a few powerful ways it can help any webmaster execute SEO best practices.

Video Transcript:

Today we’re going to be talking about Search Console and how we can improve the performance of our website in search using the insights from Search Console. It’s a great tool that helps us see how we’re actually performing in the search results. This is where you’re going to get all that really nitty gritty SEO data that’s not in Google Analytics, so Search Console is one of my favorite tools. It’s a tool that I use daily and it gives us a lot of great insights, a lot of great information, and allows us to see how our website is working in search.

Google has made some major updates over the last couple of months, really the last 12 months or so, in Search Console so they still have the old version, but they also have a new beta version, which has a lot of cool information in it as well. What you want to do is go to or just Google Search Console. It’s also called Webmaster Tools, that’s what it was called, but Google is moving some things around as you can see and it’s back to Search Console here.

It’s going to give us some analytics. A lot of really cool content from search that’s going to allow us to see if we’ve got issues and really how Google sees our page. It’s going to give us some insights into that. This is the back end of Search Console. What you’re going to need to do first is to verify that you own the website. In order to do that, you would add your website to Search Console. Obviously, we’ve got a lot here. You would add a property. It would tell you the URL that you’re trying to claim and then you can verify that you own it through Google Analytics, Tag Manager. You could use a meta script tag where you just put it in there and Google would be able to verify, but you need to verify that you own the website before you’re going to see any of this data.

But Search Console is going to allow you to do a lot of really cool things, so on the overview page, it’s going to give us this really great overview report, which is going to see the total number of clicks right here since July 1st and we can dig in deeper into this report. It’s going to allow us to see the coverage; how many valid pages do we have on our site, how many pages that we have with errors, so we can know right away if we’ve got a page with errors.

It’s going to show us some enhancements here, like mobile usability. How’s our page working mobile and then AMP, if you’re using accelerated mobile pages, you’re going to be able to see those here as well. You’re going to see how many are valid and you notice here I’ve got some issues with my AMP, so I need to go in and check these out. They’ve got all these great links that just go right to the report that we can get a little bit more insight on.

In the left-hand side, we’re also going to see some navigation as well, so we can click performance. The performance tab is going to give us clicks and impressions and our click-through rate and our average position. Impressions is the amount of times your link has been seen in search. Your clicks is the amount of times it’s been clicked. Your average click-through rate is obviously how many times people have clicked in comparison to how many times they’ve seen your site.

For me, I really want to work on getting my click-through rate up because I don’t really like that it’s under 1%. I’d like to have it a lot higher than that, and then the average position tells us what we’re ranking for on average for all the different keywords. Now if we scroll down here, Google is going to give us things like queries. These are things that people have typed into the search engine and found our site and as we see here, taken some actions. History of web design, we’ve got 115 clicks on that. Why are smart goal is important? Pinterest SEO. Our brand names, infographic.

This is going to give you a list of keywords that people are using in the search results to find your site to interact with your site, and this is some really, really cool stuff here because this is all of those actionable keywords that we know people typed when they are finding our site. This can help you know if you’re on the right track, but it can also help you find out some of those pieces of content that your users are already finding interesting and engaging.

Now one thing that’s great about Search Console is we can actually go back quite a bit, so 16 months. We used to not have that much data, but we do now, which is really great so we can go back a lot further and we can compare dates and compare times and see what our trend is like. You can also see which pages here are ranking really well and driving the most traffic. You can see which countries are driving the most traffic, the types of devices that are being used, and your search appearance. AMP web light result, AMP article. There’s a lot of cool things that you can see using this tool.

I like to go in here to understand what keywords and what pages are doing really well for us. This also gives me, like I said, an indication of if we are driving the right types of traffic to our site, but the keyword is a pretty cool part of this. This is an area where we lost a lot of that keyword data, right, in Google Analytics, well they’re going to give you some of it back here in Search Console, which is great, so I highly recommend that you check out this and see what people are using to find you in search.

The next thing that we can look at is our URL inspection, so we can inspect any URL on my website. Let’s go here and hit enter, and Google is going to start retrieving some data from my site and on this URL we’re going to say yes, this URL is appearing right, it’s indexed, and it’s mobile friendly. This is really great stuff for us to see. We can request indexing of the page. We can do a lot of different things here, which is cool.

For some reason it’s saying that it’s not showing up in my sitemap, that’s something that I want to see and I want to understand why this specific page is being seen like this because I know that this site, this page’s index, is obviously my homepage, so it is in my sitemap, but there’s just something that they’re not getting quite right. This allows me to then go back and say okay yes, I do need to go and check this out, make sure that Google is attaching this all the right ways because as you can see here, it was crawled today at 6:14 PM. It was crawled successfully, so there’s a lot of cool things you can do. If you’re having an issue with a specific page or you want to know that your site is being indexed correctly, URL inspection is a great tool for that.

Now if we want to get some more information about the index, we just go to index and then we go to coverage. This is going to show us all the pages, all the pages that are valid, any pages that we would have a warning here, so there are a couple pages here that are blocked by Robots TXT. Now sometimes we want to block certain pages, like these RSS feeds. We don’t want these being indexed. They don’t need them to be indexed, and so they’re just going to let you know hey, there’s some warnings here, you might want to check these out. A very, very helpful thing.

Sitemaps. Your website’s sitemap has all of your URLs and all the discoverable URLs. You can go in here and see all the valid pages, anything that’s included, excluded in your site map. You should always submit a site map to Google. Any time you make a major change, submit a sitemap. It helps the crawlers understand the structure of your website. This is a great tool. Search Console is where you can talk directly to Google about your website, so whether you’re doing search or whether you’re doing content marketing or website development, if you want to be found on Google, use Search Console to make it easier for you to communicate the different aspects of your website to Google.

Now if we move down to enhancements, this is where we’re talking about the mobile side of search. Now Google has made a huge push into the mobile side of search. We know that over the last couple of years talking about the mobile index and the way that they’ve been really promoting the website and search around a mobile interface and the mobile usage of the websites today with people being so much on their smartphone.

Now in the B2B world, as you saw in mine a little bit earlier, your traffic is going to be largely web. That’s the way that it is. Business is still done on a PC, on a computer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be mobile available and that your site shouldn’t meet the mobile requirements. You need to make sure that your site is mobile friendly and if you’ve got any errors, that you fix those errors. If you have a blog, use AMP. Yeah, I’ve just got an AMP URL for ur blog link, so we just need to go and check those out and make sure that everything is running the way that it should and go through and validate this code with Google to make sure I can get rid of those errors. These aren’t going to kill me, but at the same time, they should be fixed because a clean site is a happy site and Google likes when your site is clean.

Moving down the list here, we can go to manual actions. A manual action is asking did you do something that Google didn’t like. Did you buy a bunch of links? Are you doing spammy SEO? Are you breaking the rules, the webmaster guidelines? They can take manual actions against your site. They can remove your site, they can block your site, they can penalize your site. If you had a manual action, you would see it in here. This is again, this is a way for you to communicate and understand how Google is interacting with you.

Links, this is something that they just started adding here into Search Console. It’s a pretty cool tool. This is going to track and rank the links and the external links. It shows which pages have the most links on your site. For me, it’s my homepage, which is probably most businesses and then the next one would be our blog page, and then we’ve got our SEO … Some of the SEO blogs or solution pages. We can go through, we can see what sites are linking to us the most. What anchor text is showing up the most. This is a really great feature for anybody who’s interested in understanding how their site is being linked to and that they want that information straight from Google.

Again, last week, the last video I did I talked about Lighthouse from Google, which is an SEO plugin that you can use in your Chrome browser. Well, a lot of people over the last couple years have talked and made these assumptions that their SEO is dead, that we don’t need it … All that kind of junk online. Google has continued to affirm the power of search and their investment in search and also their investment in SEO being done the right way. They understand that people want to optimize for search, so Google is going out of the way to give us really great tools for SEO. If you got questions, they have these great little highlights here.

This is a very new section of Search Console, adding it back in. This is stuff that we really haven’t had this much detail in this type of interface from Search Console, so if you’re interested in getting the most out of your link data, go in here and check it out, see what pages are being linked to the most, see how many sites are linking to them. You want to make sure that you have a lot of quality links from different sites and not just one site is giving you all the links.

This is cool because you can compare it against the other tools, see if they have the same amount of information that Google does. See which types of sites are linking to you. Are they good sites? Are they bad sites? Are they sites that you want linking to you? Some of the things that I’ll see, if you build a website, you don’t want to have tons of links from one site pointing to yours, so I might need to go through some of these and say hey, can you guys no follow some of those links? Typically, we do that when we build a site and we say this site is probably built … We ask the client if they can mention us on their site. Sometimes we’ll put it in a footer. We try not to do that because one, I just don’t think that’s the right thing to do, and two, you don’t want all those followed links pointing to your site from one website.

But this is a great tool, especially the anchor text too. It’s important for you to see. As you can see, Google is giving us some really cool information about Search Console. Now if you’ve not seen the new one, you’ll maybe see something that says hey, click here for beta. If you’re used to the old one, you can go back right now, go to the old version here. I really like the new setup. I think it’s really clean, really clear, and extremely helpful to webmasters.

This was a brief overview of Search Console, but if you have a question and you want to go deeper into a certain section, please let me know. Raise your hand by commenting below or sending me an e-mail. We’d love to connect with you on this and until next time, Happy Marketing.

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SMA Marketing Global Digital Marketing Agency Ryan Shelley Founder and CEO Headshot
Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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