Knowing in detail how Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) works has become a necessity for many of us if we have a website.
This tool is excellent because it offers us a wide variety of functions to monitor and improve our website. However, on many occasions, we are not clear about the aspects that we should optimize on our website or blog to make it friendly in the eyes of Google.
I’ve put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide with up-to-date information on how to use Google Search Console features and reports. So don’t stop reading!
How does Google see my website?
One of the main questions that every website owner should ask themselves if they want to improve their ranking on the Internet is: How does Google see my website?
In other words, beyond an elaborate visual design and the excellent choice of keywords used in the content, certain technical and usability factors require attention if the objective is to improve SEO.
Therefore, Google Search Console would be the primary option to know how the search engine sees the entire operation of our entire site to apply the necessary actions.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console account is a free service that allows webmasters (website administrators), content creators, and SEO consultants to monitor their pages’ performance, visibility, and indexing status in the Google search results in a list.
Among the features of this platform, previously called Google Webmaster Tools, you can find various tools and resources that allow us to discover how the search engine sees and values our site’s technical quality and user experience.
In short, Google Search Console allows us to monitor our URLs’ technical health and performance in the Google index. Among those resources that stand out is the ability to provide helpful information on the indexing status, the crawl data, and much more.
With these reports, you will know if:
- The search engine can easily access your URLs and how to make them more accessible.
- Correctly understand your pages and what you are trying to position with them.
- There is something wrong with your SEO on the Page.
- The site contains malware or has been hacked.
- Visitors arrive through keywords.
- The average position of a keyword
What is Google Search Console for?
Mainly Google Search Console is used to fix errors, optimize elements that improve the ranking of websites in search engines, and even implement a strategy.
Among other functions offered by this platform, we have:
- Establish a sitemap of the website.
- Check the statistics about the Google bot when accessing a specific site; it also allows to adapt the frequency of crawling.
- Prepare a list of external or internal pages that link to the website.
- Access an API to change, remove or add ads. Can also apply these measures to scan list errors.
- Choose a preferred domain. This determines how will display the web URL in the SERP(search engines results page).
- Check and write a robots.txt file to find out which pages are being accidentally blocked by this file.
- Generate a list with the links that Googlebot has had problems tracking.
This includes the Google bot’s error when entering the corresponding URLs.
A Webmaster, do you need the Search Console tool if you use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics focuses on your visitors, knowing how they get to your pages and what they do on them.
Without a doubt, Google Analytics is an essential tool to optimize your site’s traffic, but it does not replace Google Search Console; rather, it complements it.
Google Search Console shows what the search engine knows about your pages and how it “sees” them.
This information is much more valuable than it may seem at first glance.
How does Google Search Console work? Mega Walkthrough
Google Search Console has a long list of tools, reports, and other resources available to its users, but what can I do with each of them?
Many things. As we will see below, a series of actions are possible in each platform section.
1. How to create and verify an account in Search Console?
Let’s start by entering the Google Search Console platform; you can join the forum using a Gmail account or other Google service.
If you don’t have a Gmail account, click “Create account” and then “For me” to start the signup process.
Next, you will be redirected to a form that you must complete with your data.
Then choose an address for your email, enter a password and click on “ Next.”
Once the above is done, they will ask you for additional information such as phone number, gender, and date of birth.
Fill in all the fields and click “ Next.”
Finally, you agree to the privacy terms and conditions of service to access Google Search Console.
To do this, click on the “ I accept ” button.
Add your Google Analytics property or properties.
If this is your first time on this platform or you’ve just created an account on Search Console, you’ll see the welcome page where you’ll be asked for the type of property you’ll be working with; in other words, add your site address ( domain ).
Something significant and that not everyone knows is that for Google, your domain name provider
with and without “WWW” or with and without “HTTPS” are different things.
That is, “http://example.com” and “http://www.example.com” or “https://example.com” and “https://www.example.com” will have different metrics, and Google will take them as two separate sites link.
It will count the domain with “www” as a subdomain.
And if you do not add these subdomains, you will be losing information that can be very valuable.
So, before continuing, add all the subdomains you have.
It is possible that in your case, it is “www,” but maybe you have some subdomain like “https://blog.example.com,” “https://example.com/en/” or even “HTTPS: //example.com.”
Also, remember to put the full URL with ⇒ HTTPS://
once you select the option of your choice, enter the URL of your website and click on “ Continue.”
Verify your properties.
Now it’s time to prove to Google that you have permission to access or own the website. In this case, we must perform one of the property verification methods:
Verify Domain Ownership Using DNS Record
- Log in to your web domain name provider account (for example, Godaddy, Namecheap, etc.).
- Enter the DNS record editor, then add the Google-supplied TXT record in the checkbox.
- Once you’ve done these steps, go back to Search Console and click “ Verify.”
Verify domain ownership by uploading an HTML file upload.
- Download the HTML file provided by Google on the verification screen.
- Access your hosting and upload the HTML file to your website.
That is one of the recommended methods due to its easy execution and low complexity.
Check the property using an HTML tag.
- First, copy the label supplied by the property checkbox.
- Go to your website’s home page and place it in the meta tag.
Go back to Google Search Console and click the “ Verify ” button to finish the process.
Verify ownership using Google Tag Manager
- Assuming you have an active Google Tag Manager account on your website, go to the “ Other verification methods ” section and choose “ Google Tag Manager.”
- Click on “ Verify ” so that the system automatically verifies the ID of the container.
Verify the property using Google Analytics
- If your website has the Analytics.js or gtag.js snippets, go to the “ Other verification methods ” section and select “ Google Analytics.”
- Click on the “ Verify ” button for the system to verify Google analytics tracking code. Remember that the code must be located in the <Head> tag.
After completing our property verification process, it will take up to 24 hours for Google to supply the data, so it is advisable to wait some time before analyzing the data from Search Console.
2. Google Search Console Overview
When we have a verified property, the “ General Description ” section will automatically appear on the main screen of the Search Console.
In this section, you can see all the reports and graphs generated by the platform based on the data collected from your site.
This view is perfect for being aware of the status of your website with just a glance. In addition, it informs us of irregularities that may occur as coverage errors or decreased performance.
As you can see, in the General Description section, there are graphs and reports; these reports are the following:
Site’s Search Performance Report
This report provides information related to the Google results in which your site appears, the number of clicks obtained, and the percentage of CTR.
Here, you will find detailed information on your website’s indexing status.
All the data related to the user experience offered by your website is collected here.
In this report will be proposals for improvement by Google.
If you want more detailed information on any report, click on “ Full Report,” You will be redirected to a page dedicated to that report.
3. Performance report
Search Console allows you to check your site’s performance in 3 types of reports: Discover, Google News, and Search Results.
Keep in mind that the data provided by these reports is not in real-time; it will show only the data of the last 3 months.
If you want to carry out a long-term evolution analysis, I recommend exporting the data in an Excel document, Google Sheets, or a CSV file.
Let’s see what those performance reports are:
It is the Google Search Console report in which you can know the health status of your website in the SERPs, among other data such as the number of impressions, the average CTR, the average position, and the countries where it has the most visits. And the results in which it appears and many more.
If you click on “ Search type ” at the top of the graph, a box will appear to filter and compare the data by type of search (web, videos, news, images), date, query (keywords that you want), country, devices or via any URL on your site.
When comparing the data obtained from our website with the data obtained from the images, the graph on the performance screen will change based on the information collected by Google Search Console.
And at the bottom of the graph, you will find a table detailing a variety of previously selected metrics.
This data will be organized in the tabs “Queries,” “Pages,” “Countries,” “Devices,” “Appearance in Searches,” and “Dates.”
Google News Performance
The Google News Performance Report is responsible for collecting data on the web site’s performance on news.google.com and the News apps on both Android and iOS.
This report is exclusive to websites that appear in Google News. And similar to the search performance report, it includes metrics for total impressions, average CTR, and total clicks.
On the other hand, this report organizes the metrics by date, country, device, and page. It also has the option to filter and compare results.
This type of report is only available for those websites that appear on Google’s Discover list.
Therefore, it may not appear in the reports section of your Google Search Console.
The Discover performance report is responsible for collecting your websites’ data in Discover.
This results list appears as cards on the Google mobile home page or the Android app.
All data collected and metrics used in this report are similar to the items analyzed in the search performance report.
The only point that changes is the “ Average Position ” metric because there is no such thing as positioning in the Discover results in a list.
4. URL Inspection tool
This is one of the most valuable tools that Search Console has.
It is possible to check the current status of a URL of your website against Google; it also indicates if the website has errors, is indexed, or is crawlable.
To use the URL inspection tool, you simply have to click on “ URL Inspection ” in the side panel of Google Search Console or type the URL directly in the search bar located at the top.
Each section of the report generated by the URL inspection tool is linked to other words, such as coverage and improvement.
If the URL is indexed or published in Google results, you can click “ Test published URL ” to see the web from the searcher’s perspective.
Another important point of the URL inspection tool is the “ Request indexing ” button. This button is ideal for re-indexing the web page or indexing it if Google still doesn’t crawl it.
5. Google Index Status
In the Index section, GSC currently has three reports ( Coverage, URL Removal, and Sitemaps ). If Indexing errors then reports are used to check the crawling and indexing of your websites.
Index Coverage Report
This report reflects the current indexing pages status of all URLs that Googlebot has visited on your property. It also takes into account the visit attempts in the URLs.
In the diagram generated by the Coverage Report, you will find the number of errors on the page, the valid or warning URLs, and the excluded pages.
And if you go to the bottom, you can see the “ Details ” section, which groups the URLs based on their status, the number of errors, or performance.
The coverage report can help you:
- Check for crawl errors.
- Detect crawling problems.
- Track significant declines in the number of indexed pages.
- Check the evolution of impressions to know the impact of mistakes on the visibility of the web.
This is another of the reports in the Search Console Index section.
It is possible to send your page’s web map or sitemap, where all the relevant URLs that you want Google to see are contained.
In this way, you make it easier for Google to locate the elements of your site so that it can crawl it without problems, achieving indexation in the SERPs.
You can check if your website has a sitemap from the “Sitemaps” report. If not, you can easily create one in XML Sitemaps.
Although having a Sitemap “is not mandatory,” it is necessary for certain situations :
For example, if your website has complicated navigation, dynamic pages that prevent Google from navigating to certain pages, or if your website is very complex or large and needs to be fully indexed.
Having a sitemap is always good for Google to more easily understand the unique content of your websites, such as images or videos.
When you add a new URL to a sitemap, it usually takes Google 24-72 hours to read the submitted sitemap and then crawl the URLs to index them.
This is a Search Console free tool with 3 functionalities that I explain below.
1. temporary withdrawals
Temporary removals are temporarily used to remove your pages or images from Google results.
Additionally, it shows you the previous requests and their data in a table, such as a date and current status of the request.
If you have requested the temporary removal of a URL by mistake, you can click on the button with three dots on the request and click on “ Cancel Request.”
This withdrawal lasts about 6 months once your request is accepted; however, if Google crawls and indexes it, it could show it again in searches after elapsed.
2. outdated content
The outdated content tab shows all requests made in the last 6 months by other users.
These requests are primarily intended to direct Google to update or remove a search result for a web page or image with outdated or no longer available information.
3. Safe Search Filter
The utility of the “ Secure Search Filter ” focuses on supplying all the requests made by other users who consider that the content of your web page is not adequate.
Therefore, they intend to inform Google so that it excludes said content from the Google search results.
6. Website experience
In this section, we have the reports related to the user experience on your website.
These reports collect data such as the loading speed of the sites and their correct operation on mobile devices and monitor that the web pages meet the quality standards for the user.
Here you can see a summary of the good or bad user experience on the pages of your website only when they are visited through mobile devices. The indicators analyzed in this report are:
- Web Core Vitals metrics.
- Mobile usability.
- Navigation security.
- Ad experience.
Google takes user experience on the page when assigning search engine rankings, especially on mobile. For this reason, this report is of the utmost importance.
Main Web Metrics
The Core Web Metrics report, also known as the Core Web Vitals report, is in charge of estimating the performance of the indexed URLs based on the web page’s stability and loading speed.
Here the data for desktop and mobile devices is evaluated in divided sections to determine if they can be marked as “Fast Pages” based on their loading time on said devices.
The states obtained in this report can be: “Fair,” “Good,” or “Needs improvement.”
On the other hand, the Top Web Metrics report uses the following parameters in its evaluations:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This parameter calculates the rendering time of the most significant element displayed once the page loads (long paragraph of text, an image, among other factors).
- First Input Delay (FID)
This factor measures how long it takes for the page to respond when the user first interacts with it, for example, when clicking on a link.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
It is a type of score that increases progressively based on the number of times the design of the visual elements loaded along with the web page changes.
The more changes there are, the higher the score and, therefore, the worse the rating.
This section shows how many pages are not fully mobile-friendly with the type of error to fix.
Simply click on each of the errors, and it will tell you which page or pages they are located on.
You can also click on each of the errors to analyze what is happening in those URLs and validate after correcting.
As in other Search Console reports, at the bottom of the Mobile Usability section, you will have the “ Details ” section reporting visible errors on your website related to mobile usabilities, such as:
- Text too small to be read from a mobile device.
- Buttons or elements very close to each other where to click.
- Page content exceeds the width available on mobile devices.
The mobile is the means most used by people in front of the computer in terms of Internet browsing. As a result, Google increasingly tries to offer better-optimized results to users who use this type of device.
This is reason enough to take this requirement seriously. If you plan on reaching a site rank higher in mobile results, remember that it is vital for almost any business.
Some of the recent GSC reports are located in the “ Improvements ” section.
Where can we find:
Browsing Paths collect search analytics issues on your website with troubleshooting assistance.
On the other hand, these routes inform about the position that your pages occupy in the website’s hierarchy, which is excellent for knowing the site’s structure and being able to navigate more efficiently.
In this report, in the “ Improvements ” section, you will be able to observe the warnings and inconveniences related to the search box in a graph.
The three metrics in this box are: Failed, Passed with Warning, and Passed.
Its meaning is as follows:
It tells us that Google cannot process the structured data of these rich results due to a critical error.
- Valid with warning
It appears when some optional or unimportant fields are missing from our rich result.
However, these results will still be able to be displayed in the search engine, but without all its functions.
All the enriched results will be without errors, with their optional fields duly completed and valid data.
Rich Snippets Report
An extraordinary result sometimes comes up in the Google SERPs, known as enriched Google search results.
These results are displayed when you enter the necessary information in the structured data.
In this section, you will only find reports of rich results that Google has been able to read matching one of the 30 supported structured data types :
Mark the pages that have or offer products indicating the article’s price, availability, reviews, images, and other details.
Indicate the date, place, and start time, among other aspects of the event.
- how to
Highlights the steps to follow to carry out a task, for example, how to make a report.
Mark the image as a logo in graphics generated by Google.
Establishes a list of common questions with answers related to the page’s theme.
- question page
Bookmark pages that have questions and answers from users.
- Job offer
Indicate the position, type, working day, and place of the job offers.
- Data verification
To point out statements of other users.
Now, if we use Google’s instructions to create Structured Data How to, our website should generate a rich snippet similar to this:
8. Security and manual actions
This section of GSC is exclusively designed to collect security data and check if your websites are safe for you and your users.
In the Google Search Console Manual Actions report, you will find a table with the manual actions that your website has or has had.
These penalties are made directly by a reviewer who felt that the website did not follow the webmaster’s guidelines.
If you have any penalties in your report, you can click them to learn why the URLs affected by the penalty were penalized and what steps you need to take to fix the issues.
And once you correct everything, you can request a review detailing the changes you have made to solve it.
Afterward, a reviewer will validate the website; will remove the penalty if everything is in order. This process can take several days, weeks, and even months.
” Security issues “
The security issue report is responsible for informing you when Google finds a problem related to the security of your website and if it represents a potential danger to you or your users.
Suppose the website continues to have problems in this report. It will undoubtedly negatively affect the web positioning and the user experience on the pages and lower the website’s reputation for harming visitors.
If a security vulnerability is detected, you can obtain more information about the cause, the affected web pages, and Google’s indications to solve this report’s “ More information ” button.
Once resolved, you can request a security review detailing all the changes made in a report.
This way, a reviewer will validate the changes and notify you if they were approved. This process may take a couple of days.
9. Links Report
The link report provides a wealth of data from your internal and external linking.
Within this subsection are specific details of external links to your website. This way, you can know if your backlinks are of quality. You can obtain information by clicking on “ More information ”:
To know the URLs with the most links on external pages, you can consult the “ Most linked pages from external pages” table, where they will order according to the page’s number of links.
If you click on any URL in the list, a table will appear with additional details related to the external sites with the most links to that page.
On the other hand, to find out which anchor texts are the most used to reach your page, you can consult the “ Most frequent link text ” in the “ Links ” section.
In the other subsection of Links, you will find reports and further details of your site’s links to your website pages. Come on, information on how you have structured your internal linking.
They are generally ordered from highest to lowest based on the number of linked pages.
Also, if you click on any of the URLs, you will see a table with detailed information on all the internal pages of your website that connect to the selected page.
10. Google Search Console Settings
When you enter the “ Settings ” section in Search Console, you will see options such as crawl statistics, the “About” section, and property settings.
This section tells you if the property is duly verified. Additionally, it shows which method you used to complete the verification.
However, if you haven’t yet verified ownership, Google will recommend a verification method and provide steps to complete the process quickly.
With the help of the Crawl Statistics, you will be able to observe the number of crawls that Google performs on your website. On the other hand, the graph considers aspects such as the response time or if the website has any problem in responding.
In “ Host status,” the tracking requests of each subdomain contained in the domain of your property are stored.
It also reports details such as robots.txt information, server connectivity status, and specific aspects of DNS resolution.
In “ Associations,” we can associate the GSC property with other services, such as Google Analytics, Ads, YouTube, Play Store, or Assistant applications.
You have to click on “ Associate ” to start the association process with the service you want to follow the instructions provided by the system.
” Change of address “
From “ Change of address,” you can tell Google that you updated your website’s domain.
For example, you went from olddomain.com to newdomain.com.
Google places in this section the robot (or main crawler) that it uses to read your website and, later, index it.
If for any reason, you wish to remove a property, you can do so from the “ About ” section.
11. Legacy tools and reports
Old tools and reports are still active because the Google Search Console team hasn’t found an ideal replacement for them yet.
The old tools available are:
URL Parameters Tool
From this tool, you can notify Google if a parameter in the URL modifies the content of your website, for example, that the “page” parameter reorders the content of the page.
This tool tells us if the “hreflang” tag is active on our website. In addition to whether there is a problem with the possibility of giving priority to countries that we consider relevant.
” Posts “
This feature brings together all messages sent to your properties in one place.
Checking for new issues and getting information about updates or tips to boost your site’s visibility on Google is possible without leaving the home page.
It is a section that brings together several tools to support the improvement of the quality of user experience or the structure of your website. Since the last update, these tools are available in Web tools:
1st. Test Tools
It is an option with a series of tools to verify and manage structured data; these tools are:
- The structured data testing tool.
- The structured data markup helper.
- The email markup checker
2nd. Ad Experience Report
This report makes it easy to identify if your ads don’t meet the standards determined by better ads.
3rd. Misleading Experiences Report
Cases of abusive experiences that mislead site visitors are shown here.
4th. Fake Notifications Report
Like deceptive experiences, deceptive notifications are designed to trick users who visit the website.
5th. Another resource
The other tools to optimize or analyze the performance of your website are located in this section. The devices are Google Ads, Analytics, Google My Business, Pagespeed Insights, Merchant Center, and Google Domain.
As you can see, Google Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools) is a handy tool to correct and improve many aspects of your website.
Thanks to your various reports, we can work on achieving the ideal page model in the eyes of Google, earning their approval with an excellent position in their Google search index.
Apply everything you’ve learned in this article, remember to keep testing, and never stop researching because Search Console is constantly being updated. This way, you will keep your knowledge up to date.