SEO

Google Search Console for Beginners

Google Search Console for Beginners

Almost two years have passed since the new Google Search Console was launched in September 2018. During this time, it has been constantly updated and new features have been added. It is about time to take a closer look at the most important reports. In this guide, we will take you through one of the most important SEO tools available today: the Google Search Console.

Overview

Example of Google Search Console Overview Reports
Example of an Overview Report
  • The first thing you see on Google Search Console is the overview. This page features three reports on Performance, Coverage, and Enhancements. Each report can be clicked on for a more detailed view.
  • “Performance” within the overview shows you how many search clicks were generated in the last three months.
  • “Coverage”, categorized under “Index” and highlighted in the Overview section, warns you about any errors and issues found on your website.
  • “Enhancements” provides you with suggestions and recommendations on what you can do next to improve your website.

Performance

Search Results

The “Performance” tab is your place to go to if you want to learn more about your search results and see how often your website is displayed as well as the page for which a specific search terms ranks for.

Example of a Performance Report
Example of a Performance Report

To help you better understand how your site performs, you can visualize the following metrics:

  • Total Clicks
  • Total Impressions
  • Average CTR
  • Average Position

Furthermore, you can filter the results by search type.

Example of Search Types in Google Search Console
Overview of available search type filters

A new feature is the change of  the date range from previously max. 90 days to 16 months. Since September 2019 you can also see dates for the same day.

Screenshot of available date ranges
Overview of available date ranges

This report is useful when you are trying to find answers to questions such as:

  • How much traffic did my site get?
  • What are my top and trending search queries?
  • What are the  most successful pages on my site in Google search?

As you review the reports, keep in mind that Google began consolidating your site traffic on canonical URLs as early as spring 2019. For example, if you have a desktop and mobile version of your website, the report will show you the total traffic for both properties. See an example below (source):

How total clicks and impressions are calculated
How total clicks and impressions are calculated

Discover

Example of a Discover Report
An example of a performance report on discover

Discover is Google’s way of showing you content that might interest you, even if you are not actively searching. Previously called Google Feed, it was renamed in September 2018.

If your site has enough Discover data accumulated, you will see a report similar to Search Results for your Discover data only.

Index

Coverage

As the name suggests, the Index Coverage report informs you which pages have been indexed. At the bottom of the page you willl find the Crawl Errors report, which informs you about all errors and broken pages Google encountered when indexing your site.

Example Coverage Report
Example of a coverage report

Sitemaps

This report shows which sitemaps were submitted. You can also submit new sitemaps.

A sitemap tells Google which pages and files you think are important on your website, and also provides valuable information about these files: for example, when the page was last updated, how often the page was changed, and whether there are alternative language versions of a page.

Removals

Do you have a URL that you need to quickly remove from Google Search? Then go to the Removals report and send a new request.

Removals Report Screenshot

Remember, however, that the Removal Request only blocks the URL from appearing on Google Search. If you want to completely remove the URL from Google Search Console, follow these steps.

Enhancements

Under the tab “Enhancements” you will find all the necessary reports to check how your website performs in the real world.

Core Web Vitals (previously Speed)

Until recently, speed was one, if not the main focus when it came to user experience. The change of name shows that a website today must do more to satisfy users. Enter the Core Web Vitals and its three metrics that make up the new report:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
  • FID (First Input Delay)
  • CLS (Cumulative Shift Delay)

Without going into too much detail, these three metrics “capture important user-centric outcomes, are measurable, and have supporting lab diagnostic metric equivalents”.

Depending on how your pages score on these three metrics, you will see one of the following three status (Source):

  • Good
  • Needs Improvement
  • Poor
Metrics Table

Be sure to check this report over time to ensure that your site remains user friendly, especially after major site updates.

Mobile Usability

With Google’s mobile first index, this might as well be one of your most used reports.

Mobile Usability Report Example
Example of a Mobile Usability Report

It shows you how mobile-friendly your pages are and if there are any design or developmental issues.

Rich Results Reports

Rich format report examples

These reports vary depending on what type of structured data you have implemented on your website. Currently, there are 29 different categories of structured data that can be reported in Google Search Console. A full list can be found here.

Over the last few weeks we have seen a number of updates and additions to the structured data supported by Google. Among them are the COVID-19 announcements and recipes.

This report should be consulted from time to time to ensure that Google can still crawl your structured data.

Security & Manual Actions

Manual Actions

This report is best when it is empty. The only time you will find something in it is when Google has noticed a violation of its policies. In that case, you will receive a notification in the manual actions report.

Security Issues

This tab was added to the Search Console back in January 2019.

Hopefully it will never get to this point, but if your website is ever hacked or malware appears on it, the Security Issues report will inform you.

Conclusion

By now, you should have a better understanding of Google Search Console and be ready to start working on your site. If you have any questions or require professional assistance, we are happy to help.

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