Google Webmaster Tools is one of the most trusted weapons in the arsenal of SEO professionals all over the world. Recently, Google decided to rebrand the famous Webmaster Tools and named it “Google Search Console” to highlight the exact purpose of this tool. Whether you have just launched a website or own a successful online business, it always makes sense to leverage Google Search Console because it’s the most sophisticated way to know how Google is indexing your site.
Why Should I Use Search Console?
Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) can inform you about a lot of things and here are some of them:
- If you site has been hacked by someone or penalized by Google due to an algorithm update
- Shows the pages Google can’t index
- List of websites linking to your site (backlink profile)
- Detects the webpage with maximum internal links
- Organic search performance, including CTR and SERP rank
Once you install Google Search Console and log in, its plethora of features may confuse you initially. The dashboard is intuitive, but the menu at the left hand side of the display is extensive. In case you don’t know what to check out first, I have listed 4 features you must explore immediately. Each of these features offers critical data to understand your site’s performance and can help you modify your SEO strategies.
- Sitemaps: Go to “crawl” and you will find “sitemaps” under it. It will tell you whether you have submitted a XML sitemap or forgot it completely. XML sitemaps provide information about your website page layout and content to Google search bots. If you have submitted a sitemap, then Search Console will show the list of pages successfully crawled by Google and also if there are any errors in the sitemap.
- HTML Improvements: In order to view this report simply go to “search appearance” and then to “HTML improvements”. This report informs you about the web pages that need fresh title tags and Meta descriptions. Since you know the importance of these two factors behind SERP ranking and CTR, it requires immediate attention. It scrutinizes the web pages to find duplicate title text because sometimes multiple URL variations show the identical content. If your site is facing the same trouble, you need to rectify the error with the help of canonical tags or 301 redirects.
- Search Analytics: Go to “search traffic” and you will find “search analytics”. It shows your site’s performance in Google Search. Take a look at the “queries” as it shows the particular search terms people have used in Google Search to find your website. Note down the top keywords as well as the top pages in your site. Is the CTR rate good enough? Because if it’s not then you may need to write new title tags and Meta descriptions. If the pages you want to occupy top ranks are not performing well, you need to focus your SEO strategy on those pages. Take a look at the website’s performance by country in case you serve global clientele.
- Mobile Usability: You next stop is “mobile usability” under “search traffic”. Since the Mobilegeddon update, it’s mandatory for every website to be mobile friendly, unless you want to invite a penalty from Google. The “mobile usability” section will show you the web pages in your site not meeting the mobile usability standard of Google. If it says everything is fine, then you can expect great rank on both web and mobile SERP.
Don’t stop exploring Google Search Console once you check these four crucial features because there are many more resources and reports that can improve your SEO campaign. These features are fundamental and just the beginning of your journey to understand your site’s performance. Once you have a complete idea of how things work, you can take your site ahead of your competitors in the same niche.