Google Search Console: a complete overview

Google Search Console: a complete overview

May 9, 2016 2:02 pm

The Search Console (or Google Webmaster Tools because it was recognized) is a totally free and indispensably helpful service provided by Google to all site owners.

Although you definitely don’t should be signed as much as Search Console in an effort to be crawled and listed by Google, it could actually undoubtedly assist with optimising your website and its content material for search.

Search Console Dashboard

Search Console is the place you possibly can monitor your website’s efficiency, determine points, submit content material for crawling, take away content material you don’t need listed, view the search queries that introduced guests to your website, monitor backlinks… there’s tons of excellent stuff right here.

Perhaps most significantly although, Search Console is the place Google will talk with it is best to something go fallacious (crawling errors, guide penalties, improve in 404 pages, malware detected, and so forth.)

If you don’t have a Search Console account, then you need to get one now. You might discover that you simply gained’t really need a number of the different fancier, costlier instruments that primarily do the identical factor.

To get began, all you want is a Google signal-in, which you in all probability have already got in the event you repeatedly use Google or Gmail, and go to Search Console.

Then comply with this whole information which can take you thru each device and have, as clearly and concisely as attainable.

Please observe: we revealed a information to the previous Webmaster Tools service, written by Simon Heseltine, again in 2014. This is an up to date, rewritten model that displays the modifications and updates to Search Console since, however a lot of the credit score ought to go to Simon for laying the unique groundwork.

Quick Links:

  • Add a property
  • Verification
  • Dashboard
  • Settings
    • Search Console Preferences
    • Site Settings
    • Change of Address
    • Google Analytics Property
    • Users & Property Owners
    • Verification Details
    • Associates
  • Messages
  • Search Appearance
    • Structured Data
    • Data Highlighter
    • HTML Improvements
    • Sitelinks
    • Accelerated Mobile Pages
  • Search Traffic
    • Search Analytics
    • Links to Your Site
    • Internal Links
    • Manual Actions
    • International Targeting
    • Mobile Usability
  • Google Index
    • Index Status
    • Content Keywords
    • Blocked Resources
    • Remove URLS
  • Crawl
    • Crawl Errors
    • Crawl Stats
    • Fetch as Google
    • robots.txt Tester
    • Sitemaps
    • URL Parameters
  • Security Issues
  • Other Resources

Add a property

If you haven’t already, you’ll have to add your website to Search Console.

Just click on on the large pink Add a Property button, then add your URL to the pop-up field.

add property in search console


Before Search Console can entry your website, you must show to Google that you simply’re a licensed webmaster. You don’t have be in cost, however you do want permission from whoever is.

There are 5 strategies of verification for Search Console There’s no actual choice as to which technique you employ, though Google does give prominence to its ‘really helpful technique’…

B) The HTML file add: Google offers you with a HTML verification file that it is advisable add to the basis listing of your website. Once you’ve finished that, you simply click on on the offered URL, hit the confirm button and also you’ll have full entry to Search Console knowledge for the location.

verify your site in search console

There are additionally 4 various strategies if the above doesn’t go well with…

alternate methods of uploading to Search ConsoleP) HTML tag: this supplies you with a meta tag that must be inserted within the <head> part of your homepage, earlier than the primary <physique> part.

If you make any additional updates to the HTML of your homepage, be certain that the tag continues to be in place, in any other case your verification shall be revoked. If this does occur, you’ll simply should undergo the method once more.

O) Domain Name Provider: right here you’re introduced with a drop down record of area registrars or identify suppliers, then Google provides you with a step-by-step information for inserting a TXT document to your DNS configuration.

A) Google Analytics: assuming you’re utilizing Google Analytics and your Google account is identical one you’re utilizing for Search Console, then you possibly can confirm the location this manner, so long as the GA code is within the <head> part of your home page (and stays there), and you’ve got ‘edit’ permission.

H) Google Tag Manager: this feature permits you to use your personal Google Tag Manager account to confirm your website, offering you’re utilizing the ‘container snippet’ and you’ve got ‘handle’ permission.

Now that you simply’re verified, you’ll be capable of see your website on the Home display. (As properly as any websites you’re additionally a webmaster for). Here you’ll be able to entry the location, add one other property and see what number of unread messages you’ve acquired from Google.

Search Console Home

should you click on in your website, you’ll be taken to its personal distinctive Dashboard.

For the needs of the next stroll-throughs, I’ll be utilizing my very own website Methods Unsound, which suggests you possibly can see all of the issues I want to repair and optimise in my very own venture.


Here’s the place you possibly can entry your whole website’s knowledge, modify your settings and see what number of unread messages you have got.

Search Console Dashboard

The left-hand Dashboard Menu is the place you possibly can navigate to all of the reviews and instruments at your disposal.

The three visualisations introduced on the Dashboard itself (Crawl Errors, Search Analytics, and Sitemaps) are fast glimpses at your common website well being and crawlability. These act as brief-cuts to reviews discovered within the left-hand menu, so we’ll cowl these as we stroll-by means of the instruments.

Also word that Google might talk a message immediately on the dashboard, if it’s deemed essential sufficient to be pulled out of your Messages. As you’ll be able to see I have errors on my AMP pages that want fixing, however we’ll take a look at this once we get to the Dashboard Menu part additional down.

First let’s check out settings…


Clicking on the gear icon within the prime proper nook offers you entry to quite a lot of easy instruments, preferences and admin options.

search console preferences

Search Console Preferences

This is just the place you’ll be able to set your e-mail preferences. Google guarantees to not spam you with incessant emails so it’s greatest to choose-in.

Search Console Preferences - email

Site Settings

Here’s the place you possibly can set your most popular area and crawl price.

site settings

  • Preferred area let’s you set which model of your website you’d like listed and whether or not your website exhibits up in search outcomes with the www prefix or with out it. Links might level to your website utilizing or, however selecting a choice right here will set how the URL is displayed in search.Google states that: “If you don’t specify a most popular area, we might deal with the www and non-www variations of the area as separate references to separate pages” thus cannibalising your search visibility.
  • Crawl price allows you to decelerate the speed that Googlebots crawls your website. You solely want to do that in case you’re having server points and crawling is certainly chargeable for slowing down the velocity of your server. Google has fairly refined algorithms to ensure your website isn’t hit by Googlebots too typically, so this can be a uncommon prevalence.

Change of Address

This is the place you inform Google for those who’ve migrated your whole website to a brand new area.

Search Console Change of Address

Once your new website is reside and also you’ve completely 301 redirected the content material out of your previous website to the brand new one, you possibly can add the brand new website to Search Console (following the Add a Property directions from earlier). You can then examine the 301 redirects work correctly, verify all of your verification strategies are nonetheless intact on each previous and new websites, then submit your change of handle.

This will assist Google index your new website faster, fairly than in case you simply left the Googlebots to detect all of your 301 redirects on their very own accord.

Google Analytics Property

If you need to see Search Console knowledge in Google Analytics, you need to use this software to affiliate a website together with your GA account and hyperlink it immediately together with your reviews.

Search Console Google Analytics Property

If you don’t have Google Analytics, there’s a hyperlink on the backside of the web page to arrange a brand new account.

Users & Property Owners

Here you’ll be able to see all of the approved customers of the Search Console account, and their degree of entry.

Search Console Users and Property Owners

You can add new customers right here and set their permission degree.

  • Anyone listed as an Owner may have permission to entry each report and gear in Search Console.
  • Full permission customers can do all the things besides add customers, hyperlink a GA account, and inform Google of a change of handle.
  • Those with Restricted permission have the identical restrictions as Full permission customers plus they solely have restricted viewing capabilities on knowledge reminiscent of crawl errors and malware infections. Also they can’t submit sitemaps, URLs, reconsideration requests or request URL removals.

Verification Details

This allows you to see the all of the customers of your Search Console account, their private e mail addresses and the way they have been verified (together with all unsuccessful makes an attempt.)

Search Console verification details

You can unverify people right here (offering you’re the proprietor).


Another Google platform, corresponding to a M+ or AdWords, may be related (or related) together with your website by way of Search Console. should you permit this affiliation request, it’ll grant them capabilities particular to the platform they are associating with you.

Here’s an instance direct from Google: “Associating a cellular app with an internet site tells Google Search to point out search outcome hyperlinks that time to the app slightly than the web site when applicable.”

If you add an affiliate, they gained’t have the ability to see any knowledge in Search Console, however they will do issues like publish apps or extensions to the Chrome Web Store on behalf of your website.

Search Console associates

Here’s the place you’ll discover all of your stories and instruments out there within the Search Console.

Search Console Dashboard menu

Let’s take a look at every choice one-by-one.


Here’s the place Google communicates with site owners.

Search Console All Messages

Again, you gained’t get spammed right here as Google guarantees to not bombard you with greater than a few messages a month. You do want to concentrate if you do obtain one although as that is the place you’ll be told in case your website’s well being is compromised.

This could be something from an increase in 404 pages, to points with crawling your website, or much more critical issues like your website being contaminated with malware.

Search Appearance

If you click on on the ? icon to the proper of ‘Search Appearance’ a useful pop-up will seem. Search Appearance Overview breaks down and explains every aspect of the search engine outcomes web page (SERP).

Search appearance Dashboard

By clicking on every particular person factor, an additional field of data will seem telling you the way to optimise that component to affect click on-by way of, and the place to seek out additional optimisation steerage inside Search Console.

Search Console Dashboard explainer

Structured Data

Structured knowledge is a approach for a webmaster so as to add info to their website that informs Google concerning the context of any given webpage and the way it ought to seem in search outcomes.

For instance, you’ll be able to add star scores, calorie counts, pictures or buyer scores to your webpage’s structured knowledge and these might seem within the snippets of search outcomes.

captain america civil war review rich snippet

The Structured Data part in Search Console accommodates details about all of the structured knowledge parts Google has situated in your website, whether or not from Schema markup or different microformats.

structured data in search console

It may even present you any errors it has discovered whereas crawling your structured knowledge. If you click on on the person ‘Data Types’ it should present you precisely which URLs include that specific markup and when it was detected.

If you click on one of many URLs listed, you possibly can see an extra breakdown of the info, in addition to a software to point out precisely the way it appears in reside search outcomes. Just click on on ‘Test Live Data’ and it’ll fetch and validate the URL utilizing Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Search Console Structured Data test

Data Highlighter

Data Highlighter is an alternative choice to including structured knowledge to your HTML. As the explainer video under says, it’s some extent and click on software the place you’ll be able to add any webpage then spotlight numerous parts to inform Google the way you need that web page to seem in search outcomes.

There’s no have to implement any code on the web site itself and you may set the Data Highlighter so it tags comparable pages for you mechanically.

To start, click on on the large purple ‘Start Highlighting’ button…

Search Console Data Highlighter

Then enter the URL you want to markup…

Search Console Data Highlighter upload

Then begin highlighting and tagging…

structured data highlighter

After you hit publish, Google will take your added structured knowledge under consideration as soon as it has recrawled your website. You may also take away any structured knowledge by clicking ‘Unpublish’ on the identical web page should you change your thoughts.

HTML Improvements

This is the place Search Console will advocate any enhancements to your meta descriptions and title tags, in addition to informing you of any non-indexable content material.

Search Console HTML Improvements

This is a really useful, straightforward-to-use function that provides you optimisation suggestions which you could motion instantly.

For occasion, if I click on on the ‘Short meta descriptions’ hyperlink, I’ll have the ability to see the 14 URLs and their respective meta descriptions. I can then go into every considered one of these pages in my very own CMS and add lengthier, extra pertinent textual content.

Search Console HTML Improvements meta descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions ought to be distinctive for every web page and fall inside sure character lengths, so for the needs of each consumer expertise and retaining Google knowledgeable about your website, this can be a worthwhile report.


Sitelinks are the subcategories that seem beneath the primary URL once you seek for a model or a writer.

sitelinks example

Sadly you possibly can’t specify to Google which classes you need highlighted right here, however when you’re fashionable sufficient and your website’s structure is strong sufficient then these will happen organically.

However within the Sitelinks part of Search Console, you’ll be able to inform Google to take away a webpage that you simply DON’T want to be included as a sitelink in your search outcomes.

Search Console Sitelinks

Accelerated Mobile Pages

This is a model new device, as Google’s AMP programme has solely been obtainable since earlier this yr. AMP is a method for site owners to serve quick-loading, stripped down webpages particularly to cellular customers. Site velocity and cellular friendliness are thought-about rating alerts so this is a vital function, though some SEOs are sluggish to undertake it.

As you possibly can see from the report under, we’ve simply began introducing AMP to our webpages and making a little bit of a hash of it…

Search Console Accelerated Mobile Pages report

Accelerated Mobile Pages allows you to see all of the pages in your website with AMP carried out and which of them have errors. If you click on on the error, you’ll be able to see an inventory of your URLs with errors. Then by clicking on the URL, you may be really helpful a repair by Google.

Search Console Accelerated Mobile Pages fix

Clearly we now have some customized JavaScript points on our website that want addressing. If you click on on the ‘Open Page’ button, you possibly can see precisely how your AMP content material seems on cellular.

Search Traffic

Search Analytics

Search Analytics tells you ways a lot visitors you get from search, revealing clicks and impressions delivered on SERPs. It will even work out your click on-by way of fee (CTR) and reveal your common natural place for every web page.

And right here’s the *actually* great things… it’s also possible to see the queries that searchers are utilizing to be able to be served your website’s content material.

Search Console Search Analytics

The knowledge for that is collected in a different way from Google Analytics, so don’t anticipate it to tally, nevertheless what this function is actually helpful for is seeing which key phrases and phrases are driving visitors to your website, in addition to particular person visitors-producing pages.

You can toggle between quite a lot of choices, filters and date-ranges. I extremely advocate taking a look at Impressions and CTR, to see which pages are producing excessive visibility however low click on-by way of fee. Perhaps all these pages want is a tweak of a meta-description or some structured knowledge?

Links to Your Site

Here’s the place you possibly can see the domains that hyperlink to your website and its content material probably the most, in addition to your most linked webpages.

Search Console Links to Your Site

This isn’t an exhaustive record, however a great indicator of the place your content material is appreciated sufficient to be linked. Clicking on the URLs on the suitable hand-aspect will present the place they’re being linked to individually.

Internal Links

Here is the place you possibly can see how typically every web page in your website has been internally linked. Clicking on every ‘Target web page’ will present an inventory of URLs the place the interior hyperlink happens.

Search Console Internal Links

There is a restrict to what number of ‘Target pages’ Search Console will present you, however when you have a small variety of pages you’ll be able to reverse the type order and see which goal pages have zero inner hyperlinks. You can then go into your website and provides these pages an inner hyperlink, or redirect them to some place else in the event that they’re previous legacy pages.

Manual Actions

This is the place Google will inform you if it has administered a guide motion to your website or particular webpage.

GWT Manual Actions

Google will supply any suggestions so that you can act upon right here, and will provide you with the prospect to resubmit your website for reconsideration after you’ve fastened any issues.

Here’s a information to what Google will probably offer you a guide penalty for and how one can keep away from it.

International Targeting

Here you’ll be able to goal an viewers based mostly on language and nation.

Search Console International Targeting

  • Country: If you might have a impartial prime-degree area (.com or .org), geotargeting helps Google decide how your website seems in search outcomes, notably for geographic queries. Just decide your chosen nation from the drop-down menu. If you don’t need your website related to any nation, choose ‘Unlisted’.
  • Language: If you handle an internet site for customers talking a special language, you want to ensure that search outcomes show the right model of your pages. To do that, insert hreflang tags in your website’s HTML, as that is what Google makes use of to match a consumer’s language choice to the correct model of your pages. Or alternatively you need to use sitemaps to submit language and regional options on your pages.

Mobile usability

As cellular has overtaken desktop for searches this yr, clearly your website needs to be cellular-pleasant, in any other case you’re offering a poor consumer expertise to probably half your guests.

This report tells you of any points your website has with cellular usability. And you’ll actually need to be seeing the next message, as Google explicitly states you’ll in any other case be demoted.

Search Console Mobile Usability

Possible errors that might be highlighted by Search Console right here embrace:

  • Flash utilization: cellular browsers don’t render Flash-based mostly content material, so don’t use it.
  • Viewport not configured: guests to your website use quite a lot of units with differing display sizes so your pages ought to specify a viewport utilizing the meta viewport tag.
  • Fixed-width viewport: viewports fastened to a pixel-measurement width will flag up errors. Responsive design ought to assist clear up this.
  • Content not sized to viewport: if a consumer has to scroll horizontally to see phrases and pictures, this can come up as an error.
  • Small font measurement: in case your font measurement is just too small to be legible and requires cellular customers to ‘pinch to zoom’ it will must be modified.
  • Touch parts too shut: tappable buttons which are too shut collectively is usually a nightmare for cellular guests making an attempt to navigate your website.
  • Interstitial utilization: Google will penalise you when you’re utilizing a full-display interstitial pop-as much as promote an app when a consumer visits your cellular website.

Google Index

Index Status

This lets you understand how many pages of your web site are presently included in Google’s index.

Search Console Index Status

You can shortly see any worrying developments from the final yr (for example that little dip in May 2015), in addition to any pages which were blocked by robots or eliminated.

Content Keywords

Here you possibly can see the most typical key phrases discovered by the Googlebots as they final crawled your website.

Search Console Content Keywords

If you click on on every key phrase, you’ll be capable of see the opposite synonyms discovered for that key phrase, in addition to the variety of occurrences.

As Simon Heseltine suggests, look out for sudden, unrelated key phrases displaying up because it’s a sign your website might have been hacked and hidden key phrases have been injected into your pages.

Blocked assets

This part lets you recognize of any pictures, CSS, JavaScript or different assets in your website that’s blocked to Googlebots.

Search Console Blocked Resources

These are listed by host-identify, then by particular pages, which you’ll be able to comply with steps to diagnose and resolve.

Remove URLs

Where primarily you can also make your content material disappear from Google.

remove urls search console

This solely acts as a short lived repair, however by the point you’ve executed this and both deleted your offending webpage or 301 redirected it elsewhere, there theoretically ought to not be a document of it.

Just enter the URL then choose whether or not you need it faraway from the search outcomes and the cache, simply from the cache or if you need a whole listing eliminated.

Be warned: this request can take between two to 12 hours to be processed.


Crawl Errors

This report exhibits all of the errors that Google has discovered when crawling your website during the last ninety days.

Search Console Crawl Errors

Site errors: the highest half of the display exhibits three tabs, the place in case you click on on every you possibly can see any previous issues together with your DNS, your server connectivity or whether or not a crawl needed to be postponed. (Google will postpone a crawl slightly than danger crawling URLs you don’t need listed).

URL errors: the underside half of the display exhibits URL errors for desktop, smartphone and have telephone (a telephone that may entry the web, however doesn’t have the superior options of a smartphone).

You’ll probably see stories for the next on all three system varieties:

  • Server error: Google can’t entry your website as a result of the server is just too sluggish to reply, or as a result of your website is obstructing Google.
  • Soft 404: this happens when your server returns an actual web page for a URL that doesn’t truly exist in your website. You ought to substitute these pages with 404 (Not discovered) or a 410 (Gone) return codes.
  • Not discovered: these are all of your 404 pages that happen when a Googlebot makes an attempt to go to a web page that doesn’t exist (since you deleted it or renamed it with out redirecting the previous URL, and so on.) Generally 404 pages are superb and gained’t hurt your rankings, so solely take note of those associated to excessive-rating content material.

Crawl Stats

This part exhibits the progress of Googlebots crawling your website within the final ninety days.

Search Console Crawl Stats

You can see how briskly your pages are being crawled, kilobytes downloaded per day and common time spent downloading pages in your website.

Spikes are completely regular, and there’s not very a lot you are able to do about them. But should you see a sustained drop in any of those charts then it may be value investigating to see what’s dragging it down.

Fetch as Google

Here you possibly can verify how any web page in your web site is seen by Google as soon as its been been crawled.

You can even submit these webpages for indexing. You might discover this can be a faster solution to be crawled and listed then when you have been to let Google discover the web page routinely.

Search Console Fetch as Google

  • When you ‘Fetch’ a web page, Google will simulate a crawl and you may shortly verify any community connectivity issues or safety points together with your website.
  • ‘Fetch and Render’ does the identical because the above, however it additionally enables you to verify how the web page itself seems on cellular or desktop, together with all assets on the web page (comparable to pictures and scripts) and can let you understand if any of those are blocked to Googlebots.

Remember the crawler is supposed to see the identical web page because the customer would, so this can be a good strategy to get a direct on-web page comparability.

If the web page is efficiently fetched and rendered, you possibly can submit it to the index. You are allowed 500 webpage fetches per week, however you’ll be able to solely submit a webppage and have Google crawl ALL the pages linked inside it, 10 occasions per month.

robots.txt Editor

A robots.txt file positioned inside the root of your website, is the place you’ll be able to specify pages you don’t need crawled by search engines. Typically that is used since you don’t need your server overwhelmed by Googlebots, notably if you would like them to disregard script or type information, or if you would like sure photographs to not seem in Google Image Search.

Here is the place you’ll be able to edit your robots.txt and verify for errors. The backside of the web page reveals your errors and warnings.

robots.txt editor search console


Sitemaps are hosted on the server of your web site they usually principally inform search engines of each web page of your website, together with any new ones added. It’s a great way to let Google higher crawl and perceive your web site.

Here’s the place you possibly can entry all the details about any sitemaps both submitted manually or discovered by Search Console. The blue bar represents pages or pictures submitted, the purple bar represents precise pages and pictures listed.

sitemaps search console

You can check a sitemap by clicking the ‘Add/Test sitemap’ button, and if it’s legitimate you’ll be able to then add it to Search Console.

URL Parameters

As Simon Heseltine has beforehand commented, this part isn’t used a lot anymore because the introduction of canonical tags.

However you need to use URL Parameters if, as an example, you should inform Google to differentiate between pages focused to totally different nations. These preferences can encourage Google to crawl a most popular model of your URL or forestall Google from crawling duplicate content material in your website.

URL parameters

Security Issues

Although any safety points might be communicated with you within the Messages part and on the Dashboard display, right here’s the place you possibly can verify on issues in additional element.

Search Console Security Issues

There’s additionally loads of accessible info right here about how one can repair your website if it’s been hacked or been contaminated with malware.

Other Resources

Here’s the place you possibly can entry all of the instruments offered by Google, outdoors of Search Console. Including the Structured Data Testing Tool and Markup Helper, which we went into higher element about in earlier sections.

Search Console Other Resources

Other useful assets listed here are the Google My Business Center, the place you should use to enhance your corporation’s native search visibility and the PageSpeed Insights software, which can inform you precisely how nicely your website is acting on cellular and desktop when it comes to loading time, and tips on how to repair any points.

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