Since Google is the number one search engine in the world, you naturally want to rank high in their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). These days, the first thing to do after setting up a new website is link it to the Google Search Console. You can do that by using our Google Search Console setup guide.
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What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools (they changed the name to make the tool sound less technical and more inclusive), is a free platform for anyone with a website.
It helps you to know how Google bots view your site, how they respond to your site, is your website indexed properly or not? If not, then how can you troubleshoot that particular problem; etc.
It gives you tons of information that’s crucial for effective SEO, things like what keywords your site ranks for, what position you rank in for those keywords, how often people are clicking your result after typing in specific queries, and what other sites have linked to your content.
If you have a website, then you ought to know about Google Search Console. No doubt your site is filled with quality content that’s both compelling and useful to your audience. But all that effort to create great content is wasted if your audience can’t find it, right? You can use Google Search Console to optimize articles and make sure they’re seen. Here you can see site errors, check for broken pages, confirm site indexing, and more.
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 behaviour 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!
How to set up Google search console for the first time?
If you’re new to Google Search Console, you’ll need to add and verify your site(s) before you can do anything else. Adding and verifying your site in Search Console proves to Google that you’re either the site’s owner, webmaster, or other authorized user. For that you’ll have to follow the following steps:
Start by signing in to Google
One of the millions of people already has a Google account. If you don’t, get one. If you do, then go to the Google Search Console page.
Now click or tap on Start now. This will open sign-in page:
- 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 up. 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 Property & Verify
Step 1: Add a search console property
Before you can start using Google Search Console you have to add something to track. Google calls this a property and it can be either a website or an Android app. For this tutorial, we’ll be working with websites.
Once you login into the Google Search console you will see this kind of page:
You can either add a complete domain like gauravtiwari.org (this will include all your subdomains) or you can only use individual URL prefixes. Please note that using https://gauravtiwari.org as URL prefix won’t count for other URL types like https://gauravtiwari.org, https://s.gauravtiwari.org etc. Most of the time, it is wise to go for Domain only.
Step 2: Verify your site
When you click on Continue button, a popup opens asking you to verify your property like this:
- Adding an HTML tag to your home page
- Signing into your domain name provider
- Verifying with your Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager account
Using HTML file upload
When you select HTML file upload, you get a file to upload to your hosting provider.
- Download the HTML file provided by Search Console.
- Upload it to your site’s root folder.
- Now click Verify in the search console dialog box.
- To stay verified, don’t remove the file, even after verification succeeds.
By adding HTML tags
There’s an easier way to add the HTML tag to your site. Choose the HTML tag option in Google Search Console, and then copy the code, then paste the code into the your site’s head section.
Then return to the Google Search Console dashboard and hit the “Verify” button. If verification works, you will see a big green check mark.
By Signing in to your domain name provider
Google Search console supports verification by one-click authorization with various domain name providers like GoDaddy, Name.com, IONOS etc.
If you bought the domain from Google Domains using the same Google account, your site will be automatically verified without any further verification.
You can also verify your site by verifying and connecting it with Google Analytics. Read the next steps.
Step 3: Connect search console to Google Analytics.
Connecting to Google Analytics is both ways useful – viz., verify your property and gather site stats.
This allows the two accounts to share information, providing even more data for you to analyze.
To do this, open Google Analytics, open the property name in the dashboard, go to property settings and look for Search console submenu. Now you can easily link your Analytics property with your search console property. See this guide in case you get stuck.
Step 4: Add sitemaps to Google search console
One key benefit of Search Console is that you can make sure Google is crawling your site properly and indexing all relevant pages.
- To do this, you need to add a sitemap in one of the formats supported by Google. Most people recommend an XML sitemap, which can also be submitted to other search engines.
- To submit a sitemap to Search Console, copy the sitemap URL.
- Now in Search console sidebar you will see a menu by the name of Sitemaps.
- Click on it. This will open a sitemap submission form. Enter your sitemap URL here.
Viola. You are all done. This whole process shouldn’t take more than 8 minutes, even if done by the longer options of verification.
Now, it’s time to explore Google Search Console in more detail to see what you can learn about your site’s search performance and how you can continue to improve it.
When you log in to Google Search Console, you’ll see a list of all the sites you added. The list includes messages relating to any recent issues Google has found with any of your sites.
Everyone should use it to improve their SEO. But don’t stop there, once you have an increased flow in traffic make sure you make the most of it by optimizing your site.