Website optimization: review of Google Search Console
Table of Contents
Website optimization tools are very useful for businesses of all types, as they increase traffic by optimizing content and technical SEO of the website for ranking high on search engines. In addition, they also improve brand visibility and awareness to gain loyal customers.
They are particularly important for small business and startups because they offer the following advantages:
- Improve your website’s search appearance
- Make HTML improvements
- Increase organic search traffic
- Monitor link reports
- Understand Google’s index
- Crawl your website
- Receive website notifications
All these advantages can really give a boost to your website, which is often the main vehicle to make yourself and your business known when you start building your startup.
In this article, we will review one of the most used and known website optimization tools: Google Search Console. It is a free service made available by Google that allows you to manage and monitor the presence of a website in the Google Search Results – or on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) – as well as solve any problem, thus allowing to understand and improve the way Google sees the website.
Keep reading to find out how to use Google Search Console, its main features, who can use it, and much more!
Introduction to Google Search Console, a website optimization tool
You probably already know Google Search Console with the name of Google Webmaster Tools. Over the years, this tool has constantly improved and has become an indispensable website optimization tool for the effective management of a website.
There are several activities that you can carry out with this tool, such as:
- Verify that Google is able to crawl your website or blog.
- Check the correct indexing of the contents and request another one in case of updates or creation of unpublished content.
- Check Google Search traffic data for your website or blog, viewing traffic, user CTR (Click-through-Rate) and much more.
- Receive notifications if problems related to indexing, security, and spam are found.
- Reporting of websites that link to your website or blog.
- Fix problems related to AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), usability on mobile devices, and other search features.
These activities are shown as statistics and reports on the dashboard of the platform.
The main features of this website optimization tool
When you activate Google Search Console on your website, it starts collecting data which are then split and analysed, giving rise to a whole series of reports that can be very useful to understand if a particular website works well or if there are issues, what they are, and how to fix them.
The main reports that you can access with this tool are:
- Mobile device usability report: it allows you to understand whether a website is optimized to be used on mobile devices or not.
- Link report: it allows to identify links to a website and to individual pages, in addition to the anchor text that contains the links.
- Security problems report: it allows to identify the security problems of the website or of individual pages.
Who can use this website optimization tool
Although we said that this website optimization tool is particularly suitable for startups, it can be used by anyone who owns a website. Let’s make some examples:
- Business owners: usually this figure doesn’t use this tool by his own, but he should at least become familiar with it and know the basics to understand if the work of website optimization is going well.
- SEO specialists or marketers: a figure like this, focused on online marketing, can use this tool to monitor the website traffic, optimize rankings and make informed decisions about the appearance of the website’s search results.
- Website administrators: this figure is very focused on the website health and can therefore use this tool to easily monitor and resolve server errors, website load issued, and security issues.
- Web developers: this figure can take advantage of this tool to monitor and solve common issues with markup, such as errors in structured data.
How to get started on this website optimization tool
Before starting using Google Search Console, you will need to connect it with your website (WordPress or other CMS and so on). To carry out this process, there are some requirements to keep in mind:
- Having installed the latest version of Chrome/Firefox/Edge/Safari as a browser.
- Having a valid Google account.
Once you have verified that you have the necessary requirements, you can go to the official GSC website and click on the “Start Now” button. You will be prompted to enter your Google account credentials and, if activated, to perform the security procedures in several steps.
At this point, you will have the possibility to perform the following activities:
- Add a property
- Verify a property
- Remove a property
Let’s look at the activities of this website optimization tool in detail.
Add a property
After logging in, to add the property (i.e., the website or blog in question), you will need to enter the domain or URL in the appropriate box and click “Continue”.
You will then be prompted to verify the property, so that the Search Console can understand if you are really the administrator, manager, or owner of the domain.
Verify a property
There are different ways to verify a property with this website optimization tool, such as:
- Upload the verification HTML file provided by Google in the main root of your website or blog through an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client, like Filezilla.
- Insert atag in the HTML code of the homepage, modifying the related file based on the theme used on the website before the closing tag.
- Through the tracking code associated with the property, which is generated by Google Analytics.
- Through the code snippet generated by Google Tag Manager.
- Use a plugin, such as Site Kit by Google for WordPress, simply by connecting it to your Google account.
- Add a DNS (Domain Name System) record in the provider hosting the website or blog.
- Through other Google properties (Google Sites, Google Domains, Blogger).
Remove a property
If you want to remove a property, you can use different methods depending on the verification process you chose. For example, if you opted to upload the HTML file, you just need to remove it from the main root of the website. Instead, if you used a domain verification, you need to remove the verification entry from the domain host.
However, the easiest method that you can use regardless the verification process you used is using the “Settings” item in the dashboard menu and the clicking on “Remove properties”.
You will then be able to add the same property that you removed without verification again if it still has a verified owner.
Short tutorial on Google Search Console, one of the best website optimization tools
To have your web pages tracked by the Google Search Console, you will need an HTML tag to insert within your website. Only if this tag is inserted correctly, you will be able to really access the data on the positioning of all your web pages. Otherwise, the website optimization tool will not be able to provide you with analyses and reports on the health and positioning of all your web pages.
Therefore, GSC offers tools and reports that allow you to keep an eye on the traffic and performance of your website by monitoring search queries. Let’s find out which are these tools and reports:
- URL Inspection
- Core Web Vitals Report
- Usability on mobile devices
- Security and manual actions
With this tool, it is possible to force the indexing and crawling of a page, reporting to Google that a new one has been published or that changes have been made to existing content.
To do this, just enter the URL of the page in question in the appropriate box at the top of the dashboard and click on the hand lens icon to get a complete technical report of the resource.
It is a very interesting function of this website optimization tool that shows a graph containing the data of impressions, clicks, CTR and average position. Here it is possible to monitor the performance of the pages on the search results and analyse any web results, images, videos, or news, by selecting the relevant option from the “Search type” button and setting the reference period from the “Date” button.
By clicking on the “+ new” button, which is an additional search filter that return different data readings, you can choose to see the positioning by query, direct URL of the page, country, device, or aspect in search for each web page. In addition, you can also export the data by downloading it in a CSV file, in Excel format or on Google Sheets.
This function allows you to identify page indexing problems. In fact, the results for all the URLs of your property are shown, grouped by status and specific reason for the status. In addition, by clicking on a row in the detail table, you can view all URLs with the same status or reason an learn more about the problem.
These data are very useful for SEO experts, who can take cover and avoid annoying penalties by search engines. Moreover, in this section too it is possible to export the data by downloading it in a CSV file, in Excel format or on Google Sheets.
Inserting the sitemap is the easiest function of this website optimization tool from a SEO perspective. The purpose of this section is to show Google your website and make crawlers understand how it is structured, to be able to index it at its best.
To insert the sitemap, you simply need to create a file in .xml format that shows its structure, enter the URL of the sitemap created in the appropriate box and click on “Send”. At this point, a message will notify you if the operation was performed correctly or not. Depending on the complexity of the structure, it may be necessary to create multiple sitemaps.
Core Web Vitals Report
Core Web Vitals are the new ranking factors linked to the user’s positive browsing experience and mainly concern some website optimization values, such as speed, stability, and response time of the layout of a website. They have significant repercussions on SEO and are important for the user experience.
In the Google Search Console dashboard, there is an entire section on these indicators. In particular, the report summarized three metrics:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): it concerns the loading speed of the website’s content, which must be as low as possible.
- FID (First Input Delay): it is the time passed between the first user interaction and the moment in which the browser responds to that interaction.
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): it concerns visual stability and measures all layout changes that arrive suddenly.
This section shows the list of all hypertext links pointing to internal pages and all those coming from outside (backlinks), thus having an overview of the entire structure of your website and of the website that link to yours. You have the option to reject malicious links that could violate Google’s quality standards or come from pages that are inconsistent or with a low DA (Domain Authority), which are all elements that can affect the performance of the website.
Backlinks are very appreciated by Google, but they must come from authoritative websites. Therefore, relevance and authority are two fundamental factors for website optimization.
Usability on mobile devices
From this section you can solve any problem that may occur on mobile devices, such as the text that is too small, elements that are too close to each other or contents larger than the screen. All these problems are usually notified by Google Search Console via email.
Security and manual actions
This section is very important because it can verify if there has been a possible attack by some hacker that has compromised the security, if there is a danger to be attacked or if there has been some manual action on the part of a Google reviewer, who determined that the pages under consideration do not comply with the quality standards for webmasters.
Conclusions on website optimization tools and Google Search Console
We hope that this guide on website optimization tools and, more specifically, on Google Search Console was useful to understand which the most important features are to improve the performance of your website and the positioning of your webpages.
Be curious! Do not limit yourself and do not stop at our proposal of tools! Check out our article Software Discovery platforms: the top 9 for us to find the one that best suits your needs.