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Google Search Console is a must for any business hoping to get more website traffic from search engines. Not sure what Google Search Console is and why you should use it? Read our Google Search Console blog first.
If you have a website, then you ought to know about Google Search Console. Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, this free software is like a dashboard of instruments that let you manage your site. Seriously, unless you prefer running your online business blindfolded, getting this set up should be any webmaster’s SEO priority.
In this article, you learn step-by-step how to set up a Google Search Console account.
Search Console is free software provided by Google that reveals information you can’t find anywhere else about your own website. Google Search Console used to be called Google Webmaster Tools. They changed the name to make the tools sound less technical and more inclusive.
For any search engine optimization project we undertake, we make sure Google Search Console is set up. Google’s tools work for apps, as well, so app developers also benefit from the data.
These webmaster tools tell you how the search engine sees your site, straight from the horse’s mouth. Here you can see site errors, check for broken pages, confirm site indexing, and more.
Plus, this is where you pick up any messages sent directly from Google. Whether it’s a malware warning, a detected hack on your site, or a notice that you’ve been dealt a manual penalty — the search engine alerts you through Google Search Console.
In addition, these tools show you how people interact with your site in search results. It’s like a private keyhole letting you spy on your website’s behavior in the larger world of search. For example, you can see data such as:
- What search terms your site shows up for in Google search (Yes, you can see keywords here!)
- Your average site rankings in search results for those keywords
- How many users are clicking on your site’s listing in Google results
You may have set up Google Tag Manager for your site already. While there’s some overlap between the two products, they work best hand-in-hand to give you a more complete picture of your website traffic. For monitoring your SEO efforts and maintaining your website, set up Google Search Console as your primary tool.
Start by Signing In to Google
Google wants to connect the dots between your website (or app) and you, so first you must log in to your Google account. You can sign in through Gmail or anywhere you have a Google account.
If you don’t have a Google account, you must set one up. Go to Google.com and click Sign in. Then choose Create an account and complete the form. (Bonus: You now have access to Gmail and all other Google applications.)
Set Up Google Search Console
- Go to Google Search Console.
- First you will need to log in. If you have Google Analytics, log in using the same details as you use to access your Analytics account. Alternatively you can log in with a Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you will have to create one before you can continue.
- Once you have successfully logged in, click the “Add A Property” button at the top of the page.
- Enter the URL of your website, then click continue.
- Next you’ll be asked to verify that you own the website in one of four ways:
- If you have access to the root of your website you can upload a html file.
- If you manage your hosting yourself, you can verify via your hosting provider.
- If you use Google Tag Manager, you can verify via Google Tags.
- Or, by far the quickest and easiest method, verify ownership via your Google Analytics Tracking ID.
- If you already have a Google Analytics Tracking ID installed, and we would highly recommend that you do, then setting up Google Search Console is very easy. Simply click the Verify button, and that’s it!
Method 1: Google Analytics
If you’ve set up Google Analytics for your website AND you have “administrator” permissions, you can verify your site ownership instantly. This is the preferred method of SEOs and webmasters alike because it’s usually the easiest one. Here’s what to do:
- Choose the “Google Analytics” option.
- Click the Verify button. That’s the whole procedure. You’re ready to use Google Search Console!
If you DO NOT have Google Analytics, there are three methods to verify your site ownership. Read on to decide which will be the easiest verification method for you.
Method 2: HTML Tag
If you have access to edit your site’s HTML code, choose the “HTML tag” option.
Copy the text line that Google displays in the shaded box (beginning with <meta name=). Now open your home page in your preferred website editor and paste that text into the Head section (near the top) of your home page. This creates a new meta tag. Save your changes in the editor program.
Next, back in the Google Search Console setup page, click the Verify button. That’s it!
Method 3: Domain name provider
If you cannot use the first two methods, try the “Domain name provider” option.
From the drop-down list, choose the company where you registered your domain name. Then follow the instructions Google gives you, which vary. When you’re finished, click the Verify button.
Method 4: Google Tag Manager
The last option for verifying your website works for people who have a Google Tag Manager account (and the “manage” permission). If that’s you, choose the fourth radio button and click the Verify button.
Once you’re set up, Google Search Console isn’t initially very exciting. You have to wait about a week before any useful data shows up, however something you can do straight away is submit an XML Sitemap. This helps Google to find content on your site and index it more quickly.
Before you can submit a sitemap, you will need to create one. If you use WordPress, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin which will automatically generate XML site maps for your site content.
Alternatively, there are many tools online that will create a sitemap for you, which you then need to upload to the root of your website. Once your sitemap is live and created on your website, then you can go to the sitemaps section of the Google Search Console and click “Add your sitemap”.
Get Started Using Google Search Console
Once Google verifies your site or app ownership, you can log in and start using your newly set up Google Search Console. Keep in mind that data takes time to collect, so it may be a few days before your new account has data worth looking at. This is an excellent time to take care of a basic but important search engine optimization task: creating a sitemap that will help Google find and index your pages faster.
To access the tools, go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. Sign in, then click the name of the website or app you set up in Google Search Console. Once inside, explore the left-hand menu to try out the many tools and reports. Here are some Google Help resources to help get you started:
- Refine your personal and site settings – You can customize the way you set up your Google Search Console account. For instance, if your site operates in different countries, or if you have multiple domain versions, here’s where you define your preferred settings (find out more).
- Set up app indexing and more – App developers can use Google Search Console to add deep linking to their apps (which allows app pages to show up in users’ mobile search results), link up their app with a website, handle any crawl errors and more.
- Master the Search Analytics report – Among the dozens of powerful features set up for Google Search Console, we have to highlight one. The Search Analytics report, which has replaced the old Search Queries from Google Webmaster Tools days, is a powerful tool in any comprehensive search engine optimization campaign. This is where you’ll find out which web pages rank for which search terms and much, much more. Open the tool by clicking Search Traffic > Search Analytics (for more guidance, read the help article).