How to Use Google Search Console for SEO: The Basics

When it comes to your SEO strategy, one tool out of all the ones out there on the market that you need to take advantage of is Google Search Console. 

Not only is it free, but it can unveil a ton of data to help you ensure your website is performing properly and improve your SEO rankings. If you’re new to the tool and are unsure how to use it, here are some tried-and-true basics to help you as you get started.

Basic Google Search Console Features for Understanding the Performance of Your Website

Once you have Google Search Console set up, it’s in your best interest to go through these basic features that you can do to understand how your website is performing in organic search.

1. Find the keywords you’re ranking for

The “Performance” report in Google Search Console is where you’ll find data you need for a successful SEO strategy. One in which is the keywords your site is ranking for, which is within the “Queries” setting.

To find this once you’re logged in, click Performance and scroll to the bottom. The Queries tab will automatically be selected. You can then scroll and page through the list to see every keyword you show up in the search results for your entire website.

2. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

Thanks to Google’s “mobile-first” indexing, it’s vital that your website is as mobile-friendly as possible. Google Search Console allows you to see if there are any mobile page issues in the “Mobile Usability” report. If there is anything you need to fix, you’ll find out here.

3. See how users are interacting with your results 

Just above the performance report are four metrics you should keep an eye on:

  1. Total clicks: Displays the total number of times someone clicked on your search results during a certain timeframe.
  2. Total impressions: Displays the total number of times someone saw your results in search during a certain timeframe.
  3. Average click-through rate (CTR): Displays is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions, showcasing the average.
  4. Average position: Displays an average of your positions for every keyword you rank for. 

4. Submit a sitemap and pages for indexing

Those who have a sitemap that is consistently updated for their website should submit that same sitemap in Google Search Console so it’s easier for Google to crawl your site once new pages go live.

To do so:

  • Click Sitemaps
  • Enter the URL of your sitemap
  • Click Submit

It’s also in your best interest to submit pages for indexing within the “URL inspection” tool.

To submit a page for indexing:

  • Click URL inspection
  • Paste the URL of the page you want to submit into the search bar and wait for Google’s test to finish
  • Click Request Indexing if no errors are found

Keep in mind that it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for Google to process your request, crawl the submitted pages, and add them to its index.

5. Check for penalties

No one likes a penalty, especially in the form of a “manual action”, which means your site has violated Google’s guidelines.

This can result in your entire site getting removed from its index. These are usually caused by buying backlinks, publishing low-quality content, or keyword stuffing. To check to ensure your website doesn’t have penalties, click on the “Manual actions” report.

Back to Basics

As you get started using Google Search Console, go through these five basics to discover the ins and outs of this free tool. You never know what interesting data you’ll find as you learn your way around!

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