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How to Use Google Search Console for SEO

By Valerie DiCarlo on Feb 9, 2017

6 Ways Google Search Console Can Help Your SEO

Google Search Console can help your SEO the way that a regular doctor's check up can help your health: it catches problems early and it optimizes the basics easily. What makes Google Search Console better than a doctor’s visit, you ask? Google Search Console is free! (And needles are never involved.)

This blog will help you understand what Google Search Console is and how you can integrate it into your regular routine of optimizing your SEO. 

So what is Google Search Console?

Essentially, Google Search Console, which was previously known as Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), is a (free) tool provided by Google to help provide data on your website that you can use to strengthen the SEO of your website. It’s the main source of communication between website owners and Google.

Here are six basic ways it can help you with your website properties:

1. Google Search Console can make your content look better in searches. (Search Appearance)

Through the Structured Data, Rich Card and Data Highlighter reports, you can see how your information is showing up in search results and make changes in the coding to make it look better. Some options are limited by the content on your page (if it’s a review or a recipe, for example), but if your content meets the requirements, it’s a good move.

For example, if you are posting a recipe or movie review, you can make ratings, calorie counts or other tidbits of information show up in the result itself. The better your results look, the more clicks you get, the more traffic search engines send your way.

It also helps you identify issues and improvements you can make in your HTML (HTML Improvements) and increase the mobile-friendliness of your site (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

The more seamlessly your site operates (especially with mobile devises!) the more organic traffic your site will get. 

2.  Google Search Console can help you identify and optimize your search traffic. (Search Traffic)

The Search Traffic section can:

  • Help you drill down into the details of keywords (Search Traffic -> Search Analytics). In this report, you can look at what keywords bring the most traffic and impressions. You can also see the geographic location of the search, device used to search and the type of content (web, video or image) that the keyword was used to find. Even better, all this information can be compared by date! By digging into this information you can see what content you should replicate (because it’s getting so much traffic from keywords) and what content you should adjust to make more relevant to your audience.
  • Analyze links (Search Traffic -> Links to your site). This report can show you the total links, source of the most links, and most linked content. Once you have this information, you can eliminate any links from sources that spam or use blackhat SEO. Getting rid of these links will strengthen your own SEO. You can also find what links to your site are relevant and helpful. Identifying these links may give you ideas about how to find more links like these!
  • Troubleshoot any problems with mobile usage (Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability). After looking at this report, you can make adjustments to have the best mobile experience possible. A big boon for your SEO.

3. Google Search Console can make sure all of your great content has been seen by Google and any harmful content is fixed. (Google Index)

At the end of the day, you want to make sure that Google knows about all your great content. If you’ve just had a site update, Google Index is a helpful tool to check indexing status and identify any pages that are blocked so that you can detect/manage any issues with Google being able to index your site. Other helpful elements in this section of the tool:

  • Detecting/Managing any site variants that should (or should not) be blocked to Googlebot (Block Resources)
  • Hiding URLs that you don’t want the whole world to see (Remove URLs)

4. Google Search Console can help you find errors, register updates and make sure that users see the pages they’re supposed to see (and don’t see the pages they’re not supposed to see). (Crawl)

As a perfectionist, Crawl is one of my favorite features of Google Search Console because it helps you make sure that everything is perfect. Some of the cool things it does include:

  • Find crawl errors (404 errors, server errors, URLs pointing to nonexistent pages) that effect your SEO if not managed (Crawl -> Crawl Errors). 
  • Use Fetch as Google to crawl new or updated pages so that Google knows about all the great and relevant content you post as soon as it’s up (Crawl -> Fetch as Google).
  • Make sure the pages you want hidden are hidden (for example, a landing page that’s attached to an email or marketing campaign, but shouldn’t be seen or found in search results) by using the Robots.txt Tester report. 
  • Submit and manage your XML sitemap for getting the search engines to crawl all the pages you want them to index in their search results pages.

5. Google Search Console is THE place where Google will communicate with site owners if there are security issues with your site. (Security)

Issues like malware detection or site hacks will be prominently communicated, as well as how to request a review on how to lift the browser warnings Google adds to your site listing in the search results pages – once your site is clean and secure.

6. Other Resources in Search Console will help you with additional testing tools, as well as Google listing resources for your business (e.g. Google My Business and Merchant Center). (Other Resources)

Not only will you be able to test your structured data markup to detect or fix errors, but you have a one-stop place to manage your business listings and add your products to the Google Merchant Center. Like in Google Analytics, you can also monitor site speed (PageSpeed Insights) and get recommendations to remedy any site speed issues.

Conclusion

Basically, using Google Search Console is as good for your website as eating an apple a day is for your health. You are using a free tool for solid, regular maintenance on your website, so that your business is at the top of its SEO game.