Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a free web analysis tool offered by Google. With the tool both websites and apps can be analyzed and monitored. Alongside central information on on page and off page factors, users can also receive notifications about unnatural links, if their website has been hacked or the condition of the registered website or app via the Search Console.
From Google Webmaster Tools to Modern Analysis Tool
Very early on Google’s search engine gave its users the opportunity to analyze sites for free. The Google Webmaster Tools allowed central on and off page aspects of a website to be analyzed and checked. On May 20, 2015, the Webmaster Tools were not only officially renamed Google Search Console, but in fact,00 an additional expansion of the services took place, which predominantly includes search analysis.
A reason for the renaming to Google Search Console was given by Google that many beginners or small website operators were put off using the tool due to the “webmaster” description.
It is important for Google that webmasters and SEOs use the free analysis tool. Because, on the one hand, this increases the likelihood of a well-optimized website, which improves the quality of search results. On the other hand, the console offers the opportunity for Google to directly contact site operators if there are problems with the website.
Components of the Search Console
- Dashboard: Here users quickly receive all the central data on search analysis, sitemaps and crawling errors. Furthermore, the dashboard displays all the latest notifications of the console.
- Display in search: A bit hidden here but in this section you find analyses of meta information as well as the checking of AMP websites, structured data, rich cards and the Data Highlighter.
- Search queries: This tool offers precise data on click rates, rankings and impressions in the SERP. Furthermore, the tools for analysis of internal linking as well as incoming backlinks are summarized here. Webmasters can also find information on international orientation, link warnings and mobile friendliness.
- Google Index: The indexation status of a website can be found here. The section also includes a tool for the temporary removal of URLs from the index and an analysis tool on resources, which are blocked by robots.txt.
- Crawling: In this segment users have the opportunity to call up errors as well as statistics. Furthermore, robots.txt as well as sitemap.xml can be tested there. Also, sites can be called up as the Googlebot sees them. And URLs can also be sent directly to the Google Index via this tool.
Requirements for use of the Search Console
In order to use the Search Console users require a valid Google account. Logging into this takes place by entering the right e-mail address and password. After this entire website, subdomains, directories, individual subpages or apps can be registered in the console.
To ensure the corresponding functions are available, the site must first be confirmed. Google offers various methods for this. This allows the website to be confirmed with the help of a valid Analytics account. The uploading of your own HTML file to the server is also possible. A safer method is also the insertion of a meta element into the <head> area of the site.
Alongside these common procedures, there are also further alternatives such as the confirmation of ownership via the domain name provider or the Google Tag Manager.
After successful confirmation of the website the data from Search Console can be linked to the data of Google Analytics, allowing the analysis options to be expanded.
The most important functions of the Google Search Console
With the Google Search Console many different aspects of a website can be analyzed, checked and monitored. One of the functions offered is central for search engine optimization:
- HTML improvements: This analysis tool is located in the “Display in search” area. It allows webmasters to check the length of the title and description. Furthermore, the Search Console offers information about duplicate meta descriptions and meta titles. The results can be directly exported as a CSV file and can be used for the onpage optimization of the website.
- Data Highlighter: The Data Highlighter is a useful alternative to the display of structured data. Users can use it to mark individual areas in the front end of a website and add corresponding tags. Google then checks further sites in order to create a universal model for the site. If the Highlighter is used, a display of the source code with markup is not mandatory.
- Search analysis: With search analysis Google offers real ranking data on relevant keywords of the website. The data can be segmented according to the region and by mobile/desktop. Furthermore, CTR and impressions can be read. Based on this data, for example, snippets can be optimized. At the same time, the ranking development offers information on possible penalties or filters. However, only data from the past 90 days is displayed. This allows the results to be exported via CSV.
- Links to your website: This is where Google lists the most important links to the homepage as well as to relevant subpages. These links can then be more precisely manually analyzed with further tools regarding their quality for offpage optimization.
- Internal links: Rankings and visitor streams can be controlled with internal linking. The Search Console offers important data on quantity and the link targets of the internal linking.
- Indexation status: The curve with the indexation status of the website offers an indication of possible indexation problems. It should be continuous and, after the expansion of the website, point upwards.
- Crawling errors: SEOs can find possible 404 or soft 404 errors here, which can influence the usability of the site. They should be repaired as quickly as possible.
- Crawling statistics: These statistics show how often Google crawls the site and what data quantities are downloaded in doing so. A lower activity can, for example, indicate that the website has not been completely crawled for a longer period of time and content in the index may be obsolete.
- Retrieval as if by Google: This tool allows sites to be called up as the Googlebot sees them. In this way not only are possible problems made visible, but the displayed URLs can be sent directly to the Google Index. The sending of a URL and all subpages linked to it to the Index is also possible. This function is, for example, important in the event of major content adjustments on a website or after a penalty, so that the new content can be reindexed as quickly as possible.
- URL parameters: In order to optimize the crawl budget of the Googlebot, URL parameters can be excluded here. This can, for example, be filter parameters in online shops.
Use (almost) a must
By the way: It is not necessary to have concerns about Search Console, at least from a data protection point of view in Germany. Since the data that can be found there is also retrieved by the search engine – and cannot be personalized. This is why webmasters who are worried about Google Analytics can also use Search Console. And they should do so: since that is the only place where you can find out which keywords are ranking and how many users get to which subpages. These statistics on crawling and indexation are important key figures for even the non-technical website administrators.
Equally, that Google can make contact with a website operator via the Search Console is not to be underestimated. This not only applies to penalties but also if a search result is excluded for copyright reasons or in other very unusual situations. No website operator should really do without this.