Search Console: Why Google’s Webmaster Tool is Crucial for SEO

Search Console: Why Google’s Webmaster Tool is Crucial for SEO

If you’ve been working hard to keep your SEO strategy strong and up to date, then you definitely need to be taking advantage of Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. Search Console is Google’s resource to provide website owners with critical technical and search engine information that will ensure their website is running properly, as well as help maximize SEO potential.

This includes everything from sitemaps to HTML improvements, website usability to understanding search data, and more. It is also a way that you can communicate with Google without having a direct contact at Google. If your primary goal is to get the most out of your SEO, and analyze your website’s performance on Google, then here’s a quick breakdown of the Search Console resources you should utilize the most.

Sitemap

Google has gotten increasingly more adept at effectively crawling through nearly any type of website, meaning less work for a site owner, but creating and submitting a sitemap through Search Console helps Google better crawl and categorize your site so they can index the pages of your website with ease. There are many 3rd party tools that will help you create the sitemap file such as Screaming Frog, or if your website is built on WordPress, use the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin which will auto-generate an organized sitemap file for you.

Crawl

Crawl errors are a major problem for websites. If search robots can’t crawl through a website quickly or efficiently, it could negatively impact your SEO because they can prevent your page from appearing in search results. The crawl error reporting is one of the best and most important features on Search Console.

Under Crawl >> Crawl errors, you can see all of the errors that the Google bots detected while periodically crawling your site. The most common issues are due to site setup specifications (aka user error), which are easy to fix, but they can have a pretty disastrous effect on your SEO success if they go unresolved. Performance and speed issues are also common, as well as broken links. Keeping up to date with crawl errors is key in order to keep your site working in top form.

Fetch and Render as Google

“Fetch as Google” is a great tool in Search Console that breaks down the crawling and rendering process on your site. This is huge, because if you’re using any custom CSS on your website’s platform, Fetch can outline the issues, and show where and how Google reads the issues on your site, giving you a key insight into how to fix the problem. If you’re playing around with new templates or working on making your site more responsive, Fetch and render can be an invaluable resource for heading off any potential problems during a website revamp or just usual maintenance.

Search Queries

Although Google has started be more restrained in terms of access to keyword data, Search Queries in “Search Analytics” can still provide valuable information as to how visitors are finding your site. The “Impressions” function indicates what keywords led to your site showing up in SERP pages, and how often. This is an incredibly valuable insight, because it can help you track user behavior, and can help you improve your keyword strategy much more effectively. Oftentimes, some of the keywords that have led to your site’s appearance are not ones that you would have expected, allowing you to retool your SEO strategy to get more bang for your buck.

Linking

The “Links to Your Site” tool provides a list of links that link back to your site. Again, it may surprise you where much of your linking comes from, and it can help you to retool your SEO strategy. The only caveat is that it is not a full, comprehensive list – although there are many 3rd party tools such as Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs that can give your more exact data.

Site Messages

This is how Google communicates with you. Usually, the messages you receive are fairly mundane, periodical updates about the changes to your site, such as account access or domain changes. Occasionally Google will notify you if you are being penalized for illicit activities, which hopefully will never happen if you follow the rules. But if you’re looking for any critical information from Google, this is the place to find it in Search Console.

Search Console is still updating and improving. And as we all know, Google is never really done tinkering around with its own programs. If you’re looking to learn the whole scope of Search Console, Google has their rundown available here. But this quick overview covers most of the broad strokes of the program’s capabilities. If you’re a site owner looking to improve your SEO, this is the most obvious and crucial place to start.

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Ed Carr

Copywriter

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