The optimal performance of your website should be a priority to you as a website owner. Google understands this and has some tools you can use to keep your website healthy at all times. Google Search Console (GSC) has a range of powerful features that many webmasters underrate. Some webmasters only use GSC when they want to submit their URLs for quick crawling and indexing. It can do a lot more than that. In this blog, we’ll explore eight Google Search Console features and how they can boost the performance of your website.
Google Search Console is a search analytics tool Google created to help you monitor and track the performance of your pages on Google search results. It works differently from other Web analytics tools like Oribi and Google Analytics. Once it's set up it provides powerful insights including highlighting crawl errors, showing keywords that drive traffic to your pages, and your average position on search results. We’ll start by looking at how to set up GSC:
The process is pretty simple and straightforward. Create a Google account, log in, and go to Google Search Console. You will see the “Add A Property" button at the top of the page. Add your website URL and tap continue. At this point, you have to verify your website. This is for security reasons, and for Google to be sure that the website you want to add on GSC is yours. You can verify your website in four ways:
In my experience, Google Analytics is the easiest. Verifying your website is just a click of a button if you have GA set up and the tracking ID installed on your site. Your Google account for Google Search Console and Google Analytics must be the same. Once you enter your URL exactly as it appears online, tap continues. Google Search Console will automatically verify your site with Google Analytics. This is because Google Analytics tracking ID is already on your site. Let’s now look at the eight Google Search Console Features that can significantly boost the performance of your website.
Once you submit your URL to GSC, and it’s been indexed, it begins to generate reports about your site. The performance tab is where you can track, and monitor these reports. You can find this at the top left corner of your GSC dashboard. There you see the following metrics for that particular URL: Total Clicks, Total Impression, Average CTR, and Average Position. Another metric the performance tab shows you are Queries. These are keywords users searched before landing on your page.
It also shows you the country people are visiting your site from, which devices were used to perform the search, and the dates such searches were performed. It also tracks all pages submitted to GSC over a period. Having knowledge of these key metrics will give you a good idea of how your pages are performing on Google.
For example, the Queries will tell if you have targeted the right keywords during your keyword research. It gives you the opportunity to add keywords that drive traffic to your page but aren’t in your content. The outcome of all this can be an increase in traffic and keyword ranking.
This stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s one of the ranking factors used by Google. Many websites and blogs are optimised for it. This is because most people who are using Google are using it on their smartphones and Google wants to provide the best possible experience for mobile users. According to Statista the number of people searching on their mobile phones in the United States hit 211 million in 2020. If your pages are AMP optimised and you use GSC, this feature helps you to check how effective this is. You will see any errors that may have occurred during the crawling process.
On your GSC dashboard, this feature appears in the left-hand corner. Select any URL you have added to GSC, and check for AMP issues. Tap on issues - if there are any - to see what they are. An example of an AMP issue could be an image size that’s smaller than the recommended size. This is useful to know. Your ranking and traffic on Google can drop if you have pages with AMP issues. Hence the need to both fix them and validate that you have fixed them.
This is a feature many website owners know little or nothing about. Manual action is where you are given details of where Google has penalised your site for violating webmaster guidelines - not something you want to see. This could be unnatural links, keyword stuffing, or any other type of black hat SEO practice. You might think this is unlikely but it’s important you check the manual action tab frequently to make sure you haven’t inadvertently broken the rules.
This is where you get notified of any security issue on your website so that you can take measures to prevent any harm to your website. According to Google, security issues on GSC fall into two categories: Social Engineering and Hacking. Under hacking, there are three types of security issues:
Alternatively, Social Engineering highlights security issues such as deceptive ads or deceptive content.
For obvious reasons search engines like Google are focused on providing the best user experience for mobile users which is why there is a mobile usability feature on GSC. This feature detects usability issues on your mobile pages. Examples of mobile usability issues could be:
Obviously, any mobile usability issues must be resolved to make your pages mobile-friendly and increase the mobile traffic to your website.
This feature is often underrated. Some webmasters see it as just a feature that allows them to submit their URLs to GSC. URL Inspection can do more than that. Google sometimes doesn't index your web page immediately after you submit it so you should use this tool to ensure all your pages have been indexed properly.
When you update your page with fresh content, you should use the URL Inspection feature to re-submit the page to Google so it is correctly indexed. In addition, you can use this feature to view a crawled page in HTML, view its HTTP response status and content type.
You can contact the Google Search Console team using the Submit Feedback feature. If you want to, you can include a screenshot by ticking the "include screenshot button" to help the GSC team understand the issue you are looking at. While this is useful, bear in mind that this isn’t an avenue to ask for help or support. Remember also not to include sensitive information when providing feedback.
This feature provides a link report for your site. You get a detailed picture of links on your site and other websites that have linked back to you. This gives you an opportunity to add more value to pages that aren't getting links from other websites. In addition, you see the total number of external and internal links on your website, plus your top linking pages. When other websites link to pages on your site, it boosts the Page Rank of such a page leading to an increase in referral traffic.
If you are not already using Google Search Console we hope this gives you an insight into what it can do. If you are using GSC we hope we have highlighted some features that you might have been overlooking. Do continue to explore GSC - it can make a real difference to the performance of your website.
by Chuks Chukwuemeka | 07 Feb 22
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