Search Console: How to Rock your Search Results for Free
Google is pretty tight-lipped about their algorithms that decide who comes out on top and who gets left at the bottom of the pile.
Could you do a quick search on Google yourself? Sure. But your results wouldn’t be accurate. Users see individualized results based on things like their location and what they’ve searched for in the past. It’s just not possible to see exactly what your customers see through a simple Google search of your business.
So how do you know how you’re doing and, more importantly, how to get better?
That’s where Search Console comes in.
What Is Google Search Console?
Formerly called Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), Google Search Console is a tool offered by the King of Search (AKA Google) to help business owners, webmasters, site administrators, and others monitor your position on search rankings. It also helps you target specific ways of improving your website to get better rankings.
Armed with Search Console, you can learn things like:
- What search terms are your webpages showing up for?
- What is the click through rate on the terms you are ranking for?
- Do you have HTML improvements to make?
- Are there broken pages on your site with 404 errors and other error types?
The answer to each of these questions is critical for improving your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization as well as your user experience.
Why Every Small Business Should Be on Search Console
As a business owner, you’re busy. Tracking your SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) at all might seem like a daunting task heaped onto an already full plate. Especially when you learn that different search engines rank things a little differently.
More than 6.5 billion searches are made on the internet each day. More than 4.4 of those are on Google, the industry leader. Other engines, such as Bing, Yahoo, and others, generally follow the giant’s example when it comes to search algorithms. That means a site optimized for Google search is likely to do well on other engines, too.
If you choose one search engine to fine-tune your site to, make it Google.
The other reason to use Search Console? It’s completely free. Google wants you to create an awesome website that users will find valuable and easy to use.
How to Get Started
There’s a lot you can do on Search Console, but first you’ll need to get yourself set up.
Add Your Site
Step one is easy. Simply start a Search Console account here if you haven’t already. Then type your site into the form and hit “Add a Property”. Next, Google will ask you to verify that the site is yours to ensure it’s not giving out valuable secrets to just anybody. Thanks Google!
Verify Your Site
There are several ways to prove to Google that you own the site you’ve just added. If you already have Google Analytics or Tag Manager set up, you can use those. Otherwise, you’ll need to sign into your domain name provider account (such as GoDaddy, BlueHost, etc.) or add some code to your site that tells Google you have access to it on the back end. Don’t be intimidated by the term code. If you add blog content to your site, adding the verification code is just as simple.
For WordPress users, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to verify your site. You can also use a number of other plugins that allow you to add code to the head section of your site. Your website designer should be able to help you with this step, if you need it.
Submit Your Sitemap
Once you are verified the first thing you want to do is submit your XML sitemap. If your host is built on a WordPress site, getting this URL is pretty straight forward. Open your website an in the URL window type “YourURL.com/sitemap.xml”. You should open up a webpage with a list of URLs. This isn’t a pretty page nor should it be. This page guided the search spiders through your site; they are the only ones (and SEOs) who see this page. If your get a 404 error with the above URL try “Your URL.com/sitmap-index.xml”. If neither of these provide you with your XML sitemap reach out to your webmaster and request they send you a link for the XML sitemap.
Now that you know where your XML sitemap it go to Search Console. Click on Crawl, and then Sitemaps. Choose Add/Test Sitemap in the top right corner. Add the details after the /. Finally click Submit. Reload the page and you will see the sitemap listed. Check back in a few days to make sure there aren’t any errors showing up in the Issues column.
Your Search Console Experience Begins
You can accomplish a whole host of tasks beyond simply tracking your search performance. Using Data Highlighter you can help Google show your business’ name, address, and phone number better. If you host events, this tool will help those stand out in the SERP as well. Is your site truly mobile friendly, Search Console will let you know what areas may need tweaking. Quickly see what site link to yours (that Google has found), as well as the terms that are linked and what content gets the most links.
Search Console is a great tool that can be set up and verified in less than fifteen minutes. Even if you don’t plan on using it right now, you want to have it installed on your site. It will collect data so that when you have the time or the team they can start making changes right away rather than waiting for data.
Need help improving your search results or getting started on Search Console? cThru media can help. Contact us today to learn how!