Do I need Search Console? Yes: better detection of organic traffic and problems
What is Google Search Console?
Search Console is a free Google tool that measures and tracks your website’s search traffic, ranking, and performance over time. Search Console is free and accessible to anyone with a Google administrator account. Create a free Google account here.
Although Search Console is designed for Google’s search engine, the tool’s error tracking and other built-in features are invaluable for better performance on Bing or Yahoo.
Why use Google Search Console?
The Search Console is one of the most useful tools available on the market for small business owners. For those on a budget, this is an accessible tool to optimize your website for better organic search traffic and reduce user friction.
Not only is Search Console ideal as a centralized place for site owners to review content performance, including metrics such as impressions, clicks, rankings, and search queries, but the report of Tool coverage collects information, including site errors and mobile performance.
To detect an error or malicious content
Important site issues are detected through Google Search Console. The coverage report identifies issues impacting your overall ranking. Problems like 404s, messages to users that a page is no longer live or accessible, are not easy to spot on their own. The coverage report lists all pages that host errors or front-end malware content with clear descriptions of the problem and how to fix it for a better user experience.
Check out the coverage report below for TheMarBlog.com:
If you click on any of the detailed descriptions, you will find a list of affected URLs as well as a timeline of how long those pages have been affected.
To improve performance and content development, Search Console identifies different ways that online visitors actually get to your website. The tool performance report visualizes the number of impressions, clicks, average click-through rate, and position in search queries, pages, countries, devices, and search appearance.
Below is the performance report of TheMarBlog.com:
The performance report uses the Queries view by default.
For other views, click the tabs at the top of the page like Pages.
How to set up Google Search Console
Before setting up a Search Console account, you will need the following:
- A secure HTTPS website (recommended) or an HTTP website (KeyCDN explains the difference)
- A Google account with administrator access (the Google support page helps you get set up)
Steps to set up your account
- Go to the main page of Google Search Console and click on Start Now
2. Log into your Google account
3. Click Add a property
4. Choose the configuration under Domain (recommended) or URL Prefix and follow the steps. A description of the differences is explained later in this article.
5. Submit your review request
You have finished!
In a few days, the data will show up under your Search Console property. Note that for some websites it may take several weeks before you see performance metrics, so be patient.
For troubleshooting or developer support, you can always visit the Search Console help page or visit the community page to view old tickets submitted by other users with the same issue.
Differences between domain and URL prefix configuration
When adding a new property, you have the choice of setting up a domain (recommended) or a URL prefix. The differences between each option relate to the steps you take to validate your website as well as the areas of your website that are crawled in Search Console.
You can read more about how Search Console allocates each verification requirement on the webmaster support page.
This option is the simpler of the two, however, using the URL prefix will only follow site links starting with the beginning part of the URL you include.
For example, if your website is http://example.com/, Search Console will collect all category pages or blogs starting with http: // example / com /. Links from sites that do not begin with this prefix will not be captured by Search Console.
In the URL prefix, Search Console captures the following:
- ✔ http://example.com/dresses/1234
The advantages of this option include the ease of setup and the ability to easily link the property to a Google Analytics account. The downsides include the obviously limited nature of the segments of your website included or excluded from the tool. This option is only ideal for websites that have the same prefix naming convention for all category pages on their website.
If you have an eCommerce site with subdomains, separate support pages, or a separate mobile site, you can use the domain ownership configuration option to avoid having to include multiple properties in one. account.
While this option is the more involved of the two, it is the most comprehensive in how Search Console crawls your site. Domain setup will pull data across your entire domain, including main category pages, support pages, blogs, subcategory pages, and unique mobile versions of your website.
For example, if you have the example.com website, Search Console will crawl all the pages that exist under that property on your web server.
In the domain, Search Console will capture the following:
- ✔ http://example.com/dresses/1234
- ✔ https://example.com/dresses/1234
- ✔ http://www.example.com/dresses/1234
- ✔ http://support.m.example.com/dresses/1234
The advantages of this option include the completeness of the search crawl. By using this option, you will avoid the possibility of missing critical information from a key component of your website, just because it was built differently from your other pages.
The downsides include the more complex verification nature of the setup process. This method requires you to log into your web hosting account and confirm DNS through several steps that Google describes in its DNS verification page. Alternatively, if you have a developer or development team on your team, you can ask them to complete the process instead.