Why You Need Google Search Console

Google Search Console

Last week Google announced that they have rebranded the long established Google Webmaster Tools to become Google Search Console. For ten years, Google has been constantly improving both their tools and metrics with the overall goal of creating a tool set that is both integrated and easy to use.

Now, however, Google has decided to modernise the name to attract a wider audience as they believe the concept of the ‘webmaster’ is not reflective of the average website user anymore. Google wants to reach a new audience including SEO experts, hobbyists, developers, designers and marketers.

The rebranding should become more attractive to those who might not consider themselves to be webmasters but could still benefit from some of the services which Webmaster Tools and now Search Console have to offer.

Google Console helps users understand how Google crawls, analyses and indexes your website

The currently noticeable change is that ‘Search Queries’ has become ‘Search Analytics’ it gives you insights into the organic traffic from Google. You can see popular queries, pages, countries and devices.

An Overview of how Google Search Console functionality and how it can assist you:

  • Structured data showing what was found for site pages, including errors and a download report enabling you to easily address and fix issues.
  • Data highlighter which enables you to point and click to easily implement structured markup.
  • HTML improvements will show you meta-issues, in particular, duplicate descriptions and titles.
  • Links to your site will give you a snapshot of linking domains, anchor text and most-linked-to pages, you can also use the download function for further analysis.
  • Internal links can help improve a site just like external links, this report shows you what pages are getting the most popular internally linked pages.
  • Manual actions is an area that you always want to be empty, if there is a message in here then you need to look at rectifying quickly.  This could be caused by spammy backlinks, hacked pages, cloaking and manipulating redirects.
  • International targeting is used to help Google identify the language and geographical targeting of each page which is done using  hreflang markup should be used.
  • Mobile usability will let you know whether or not your site is optimised for mobiles by displaying any errors together with an overview of the affected pages.
  • Index status displays the number of pages added to Google’s index, showing URLs that Googlebot can access.
  • Content keywords shows the most important and frequently used keywords of your website in the Content Keywords report.
  • Blocked resources showing a list of all pages blocked by robots.txt rules.
  • Remove URLs can be used to remove a page from Google’s index. Begin by blocking the page via the robots meta tag or robots.txt file to ensure the URL is correctly disallowed before creating a removal request.
  • Crawl errors found while Googlebot crawled the pages of your website are displayed on the Crawl Errors report page, which are subdivided by desktop, smartphone and feature phone.
  • Crawl stats shows three graphs including the number of pages crawled; kilobytes downloaded, and time spent downloading, all in the last 90 days.
  • Fetch as Google can be used to test crawling and rendering for URLs. ‘Fetch’ can be used to check the response code, while for ‘Fetch and Render,’ Google will crawl and display your web page as your audience would see it in a browser.
  • Robots.txt tester is used to test new robots.txt markup and to check for errors in your setup.
  • Sitemaps can be used to test and submit XML sitemaps, it can inform Google of the location of your Sitemap to monitor the amount of submitted and indexed pages.
  • URL parameters allow you to add parameters and indicate if it changes the page content which the user sees.
  • Security issues gives you information on how to solve issues such as that of being hacked.

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Google’s Michael Fink says the new branding for Webmaster Tools will be rolling out in the coming weeks so be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Jump onboard…

These tools are fantastic for helping anyone looking after their company website to diagnose and make their content more visible in search results.  This is not about hard to read techy info, this is critical data for your web presence.  Search Console can help you see how Google views your site and help optimise performance in search results. Any business with an online presence should certainly take advantage of this free tool set.

Just go to g.co/SearchConsole and get involved!

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