Google Search Console is a very powerful (and free!) tool to help keep your website health and to improve your SEO efforts.
If you look after your own website it’s probably THE most important thing for you to use – but so many people have never heard of it! If you don’t know why it’s so important check out my post here.
So I’m going to show you how to use Google Search Console to make your website be the very best it can be to Google. To cover everything in one post would make it a rather long one so I’m going to cover each section of Google Search Console separately over the next few weeks and here is part one!
When you first log into Google Search Console (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) the first thing you see is the Dashboard.
This shows you 4 key areas: New and Important, Crawl Errors, Search Analytics and Sitemaps, lets look at each one.
New & Important
The New & Important section shows you the most recent message that Google has sent you. This could be things like notifying you of new features, “how to” advice and any issues that they’ve found with your site.
Please note if an issue is super important (eg you’ve been hacked, had a manual action applied or there’s been an issue with indexing your site’s pages) then Google will email you directly so you don’t need to keep an eye on this every day!
If you have more than one unread message you will see a “View all” link under the date on the bottom right. Click on that and it will take you into the Messages section where you can see them all.
This shows you if Google has had any problems connecting to your site.
If you have a red cross in this section it means the Google couldn’t communicate with the DNS (Domain Name Server) or your server has no entry for your site.
There’s nothing you can do about this – but get in touch with your web hosting service ASAP!
A red cross means Google can’t access your site because your server is too slow to respond or because your site is blocking Google.
Again – this is a job for your web hosting service.
A robots.txt file tells Google what pages it can look at and more importantly what pages it can’t and if there is one on your website it will always look at that before looking at your pages.
You don’t always need one (eg if you want Google to list all your website’s pages) but if you do have one you need to make sure Google can access it.
One more for your web hosting team!
This gives you a very high level overview of all the URL’s (Universal Resource Locator – basically the web page address!) that Google has ever found on your site and if they can’t find them any more.
As you can see from the above image my site has 31 URL’s that Google couldn’t find and 1 “Other”. I’ll be covering URL errors in more detail in the Crawl section but as long as this number is relatively low compared to the number of pages in total on your site it’s OK.
Super simple this one! It shows you the total number of clicks (visits) to your website over the last 28 days.
A Sitemap is a file that lists all of your website pages which tells Google about the organisation of your websites content.
If you’ve submitted a sitemap to Google (again I’ll cover this in much more detail in a later section) this area will tell you how many URL’s were in it and how many of them Google has actually indexed (listed in their search results database).
Warnings are problems that Google has found when trying to match the info in your sitemap to what info they have in their database.
In a perfect world you want the submitted and indexed numbers to match (but who’s perfect right!).
If your numbers are massively different then there’s a problem with your site, we’ll also cover this in the Crawl section.
So there you have it – a super simple overview of the Google Search Console dashboard. ????
If you prefer some in person, hands on help with your Google Search Console then come along to my training course in Bristol. Tickets are just £15!