Google Search Console is the latest version of the Google Search Console historical tool, the Webmaster Tools, a free tool allowing webmasters to consult or act on the indexing of their site by Google Search Console. This console facilitates the optimization of natural referencing thanks to the data it collects and analyzes, and the “official” services it provides.
Google Search Console, SEO tool par excellence
Today, in the field of SEO, it is impossible to do without this tool! Web professionals are aware of its usefulness for analyzing the visibility of their site on Google Search Console, and also use it to send requests to Google Search Console as to the behavior.
They would like it to adopt on their site. Recently, the Search Console has been given a facelift and offers its users a new, simpler, and more graphical interface.
Using Google Search Console for the first time
Like Google Analytics, Search Console once installed collects data from a site continuously. It allows you to retroactively access the data recorded, going back to the date of creation of the property (that is to say the site analyzed).
You can study and compare data over longer or shorter periods (1 week, 1 month, 1 year, etc.), depending on your data history.
Create an account and add your own site for analysis
To set up the start of Search Console scans for your site, you must first sign in to Google Search Console. Click on “Add a property” (red button in the old version of the interface and link accessible in the drop-down menu in the new one).
Enter the URL of the site you want to add to your analysis on the platform. Don’t forget the final “/”. So far, nothing could be simpler, and everyone could do the same.
But precisely to prevent anyone from accessing your website statistics and ensuring that you are the administrator, the Google Search Console requires verification.
It consists in proving to Google Search Console that you have access to the confidential data of the website (its host, server, Analytics – which itself requires to have affixed a code on the site…).
Checking your administrator status before accessing data
Search Console offers you several verification methods. The method recommended by Google Search Console is to upload an HTML file to the website. This action necessarily requires being able to edit the website code, which is enough to show Google that you own it.
However, if you find this method time-consuming or too complex, you can opt for other methods:
Add an HTML meta tag to the home page of your site.
This addition must be permanent, do not remove the code once the verification has been established! If Google Search Console doesn’t detect the tag, it sends information about any errors to Search Console.
The contact of your domain name provider: it is then your host who certifies your ownership of the site, as well as any subdomains and directories associated with it.
Choose your provider from a list and follow the instructions to create a DNS TXT or CNAME file.
If you have already linked your site to the Google Search Console Analytics statistics interface, the process is simplified,
Because you have then inserted a code into your site that the Search Console can also detect. To do this, you must have linked your Google Analytics and Search Console interfaces to the same Google Search Console account.
Likewise, never delete the Analytics code, otherwise, the data collection will stop!
Likewise, if you are a Google Search Console Tag Manager user, your verification is easier. However, be sure to activate the “View, Modify and Manage” parameter in your GTM account.
Link Google Analytics to Google Search Console
Google Analytics and Search Console were designed as complementary tools. Where Google Analytics offers you precise information on visits, the profile of Internet users, their geographical location, their device, their behavior, etc.,
The Search Console rather focuses on the security and compliance of the website, its performance in search results… Although both centered around users, they do not approach information from the same angle.
But having to switch from one tool to another can be a drag and Google Search Console knows it. This is the reason why he proposes to link the two tools and to link the two properties…
From the Google Analytics Administrator interface, go to “Property Settings” and click on the“Configure Search Console” button in the list of options. The tool then offers you a list of properties linked to your account and you just have to choose one of the corresponding sites.
Statistical data and analyzes enabled by Search Console
For an SEO agency, perhaps the most important feature of Search Console is providing organic queries: the keywords that posted the site in the TOP 100 SERPs and generated clicks, so visits.
Thanks to this listing of the keywords that position the site, the SEO can feed an SEO audit (on-site or semantics) and identify the most strategic keywords, those that are in the top 30 and only need ” a little help to get back to the first page…
The importance of this function must however be qualified because these data are not exhaustive: they only represent a small sample of searches by site users, those who are not logged in to the Google Search Console account. Indeed, all Internet users browsing by being identified on their Google account benefit from the protection of their personal data, and the Search Console does not provide access to their visit behavior.
Most of the organic keywords that were typed into the Google search bar and allowed to lead to the site are therefore unknown.
Another useful feature is Google’s crawler visit report to the site, the “Crawl” section, or the new “Index Coverage” tab.
These data highlight the number of pages of the site that Google indexes, and the pages that it excludes from the results (due to server errors, 404 pages not found, duplicate pages, canonical tag errors, etc.).
The overview of the distribution between the indexed pages and the pages in error allows getting an idea of the overall perception that Google has of the site in question. Then, thanks to the detail of these pages, the SEO expert can take targeted actions on the site: set up 301 redirects, add internal links, personalize his canonical URLs, etc.
Search Console is also a site analysis interface from a user perspective: it offers HTML improvement reports, AMP page error reports and mobile usability, and structured data analysis (making it possible to display rich snippets in Google SERPs). It thus makes it possible to alert the webmaster or the SEO on the perception of the site by Internet users, from the Google Search Console results page to their navigation inside the site and points the finger at elements that could penalize him.
Search Console services to act on the indexing of its site
Submit a sitemap
The XML sitemap providesGoogle Search Console with information on the structure of your site to facilitate its exploration: the list of URLs that you want to see indexed (pages and media), any indications on the metadata, the frequency of content updates, etc.
The sitemap constitutes for Google an alternative to the traditional crawl which consists in navigating and following all the links from the Home page of a site. If the presence of an URL in the sitemap of the site does not guarantee its indexing, it makes it possible to optimize its visibility and its exploration for the engine.
Search Console offers sitemap addition and testing functionality for your site. In the old version of the console, this function is accessible via the “Exploration> Sitemaps” tab, in the new version a “Sitemaps” tab is already clearly visible in the menu.
To test or add a sitemap for your site – this is one way of declaring it to Google Search Console – you must have created a sitemap file in XML format and placed it at the root of your site, on the server. You just have to enter its URL in the console.
Thanks to this tool, Google allows you to send messages and information in turn.
Act on the Google crawl
Search Console allows you to request the removal of a URL from the Google index. If one of your pages is indexed and is present in the SERPs or is likely to be and you do not want it (confidential data, no SEO interest …), you can request its deletion in the section “Index Google> Url to delete ”.
But this option remains temporary: Google recommends different methods to permanently block content from its bot.
The mention “no-index” in the meta robots tag of the page, protects the server files by password, places the URL in the robots.txt file at the root of the site …
The console also offers another tool for testing your robots.txt file and ensuring the consistency of the instructions given by this file.
Enter the code contained in the file directly inside the console, via the section “Exploration> Text tool of robots.txt file” and this will tell you if there are errors.
The Search Console also offers you an option to decrease the frequency of crawling of the site by the Googlebot.
This can be useful when the numerous requests sent by the robot slow down the site server. To do this, click on the Settings icon at the top right, and check the “Limit the exploration frequency” option in the “Exploration frequency” section.
Please note, this modification is only valid for 90 days. Take advantage of this period to optimize your server and be able to switch back to the optimal crawl frequency, recommended by Google.
Before deciding to index or deindex a content, however, it can be useful to analyze the way that Google has to explore it, understand what it sees there, in what order… The Search Console offers a function consisting of making you crawl a page like the Google robot.
To do this, go to the “Exploration> Explore like Google” section and configure the robot you want. For example, if your property (your site version) registered in the console is a mobile site, choose the mobile crawler.
Then, select the “Explore and display” option to display the HTTP response of the page and present it by calling and running all its resources (images, scripts, etc.).
You can thus identify the difference between the vision of an Internet user and the vision of the Google robot, and become aware of the resources it accesses or not.
The Search Console also gives you to see the inbound links of your site: your backlinks. They can influence the perception that Google has of your site and therefore the positioning of your pages through the intervention of PageRank, included in the Google site ranking algorithm.
Therefore, a site can be the victim of downgrading attempts by malicious competitors sending it many poor quality links or simply be the target of many “spammy” links. If your attempts to remove those negative backlinks have failed, Search Console offers you a last resort, which should be used with caution.
The process consists of 2 steps: download the list of links that point to your site, from the “Search traffic> Links to your site” section. Under the first table “Who references your site the most through links” click on “More”.
Click the “Download more sample links” button. Identify in this file the URLs that you want to disavow. Then create a text file (whose extension must be .txt) encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII and only list inside the URLs to disavow (1 link per line).
You can insert comments, not taken into account if your line begins with the symbol #. You can also disavow all links from a particular domain in one command, by writing “domain: example.com”.
Finally, go to the Search Console link disallowance tool. Select your website again from the list offered, click on “Disavow links” and upload your file.
The Search Console is therefore definitely a very useful tool for any self-respecting webmaster and SEO!