Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) has always been an essential tool for search marketing, but it became more important after the introduction of “not provided” search terms in Google Analytics in 2011.
This move marked a big change in the world of search engine optimisation as previously search engine success could be precisely measured, right down to the number of click-throughs and conversions from individual search terms.
Although not a replacement for detailed search query data, Google has added some tools into Google Search Console that help fill the gap left by “not provided”, along with some other useful features for businesses interested in increasing their traffic from search engines. If that’s you, here are three reasons to use Google Search Console…
1. To analyse search traffic
Even though you can no longer see exact search terms on Google Analytics, Google Search Console shows you the search terms that your site showed up for in Google search results, the average position and the number of clicks through to your site.
To view, go to “Search Analytics” under “Search Traffic” in your Google Search Console account. There are a number of options for filtering this data, and this information can help you make a number of valuable improvements to your website. Just a few examples:
- Getting a high position and lots of views but no click-throughs for a phrase? Consider updating your page title and meta description to make it more compelling.
- Low position or not appearing at all for certain phrases? Investigate how you can make improvements, such as creating better content and optimising your page.
- Particular search term driving a lot of traffic? Make sure the page they land on (use the page filter to narrow this down) is optimised for people using that particular search term. For example, if your page is ranking well for “Buy red shorts”, check there’s an easy path to buy red shorts from the page they land on.
2. To improve search appearance
The “Search appearance” section offers several ways to adjust how your website appears in Google’s results pages, including the ability to:
- Add additional data. If your website contains specific types of content – like events or reviews – you can quickly and easily add this information to your search listings using the data highlighter.
- Identify HTML improvements. Go to “Html improvements” to see if there are any recommended updates to your titles or descriptions, such as missing or duplicate meta descriptions, which can negatively impact your site in search.
- Remove site links. In the “Remove site links” area you can demote site links you don’t want appearing in your search results.
3. To submit your site map
A basic component of Google Search Console is the ability to add a site map. Adding an xml sitemap allows you to submit your pages directly to Google, rather than relying on Google’s search spiders to crawl and index your site. This could help your site get indexed quicker and more pages get indexed, which is especially useful if your site is new.
You can also upload a robots.txt file, to tell Google which pages you don’t want them to crawl and index, for instance your admin login pages.
How to set up
If you already have Google Analytics on your website, it is a fast and easy process to add and verify your website on Google Search Console.
You can also view your search analytics data within Google Analytics, to do this, navigate to “Search Engine Optimisation” under “Acquisition” in Google Analytics, and follow the instructions to link your Google Search Console account to your Google Analytics account.
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