A Closer Look At Google Search Console
Using Google’s Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) well can help you improve the overall performance of your website. It’s an essential part of any SEO’s toolbox and best of all, it’s still free. There is a whole range of features and metrics in there to help you improve your SEO strategy and tactics.
If you’re new to GSC some of these features may seem a little alien to you, but there is nothing difficult about them and you will soon see the benefits of delving deeper into Google Search Console. These are just a few of the many features and tools available in the suite.
Structured data highlighter
The structured data highlighter makes semantic markup like Schema easier to manage on your website. Pages using Schema have been found to perform up to four times better in search results, yet websites have been very slow to adopt the semantic markup library – which gives you a large window of opportunity to get ahead early.
You can find HTML Improvement under the Search Appearance section in GSC, where you will find a number of tools to debug and optimise your web code. You can track down duplicate links, missing title tags and optimise meta descriptions – as well as any non-indexable content you may have on your site.
Reorder your sitelinks in SERPS
NB: THIS FEATURE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE (UPDATED DEC 3RD 2017) – If Google decides your website is just what users are looking for, it sometimes displays sitelinks underneath your listing. You can’t choose whether Google shows these links, but you can change the order if you think a reshuffle can improve your click through rate. You can do this under the Search Appearance section by clicking on the Sitelinks options and choosing to demote a link to move it down the list.
Fetch as Google
Fetch as Google lets you see how the search engine sees and reads your website, with insights into server response, crawl request time, HTML code and visible content. This not only helps you pinpoint any issues Google has with crawling your site and any odd behaviour in your search presence – but it’s an essential tool should your site get hacked.
Fetch as Google – now in colour
Fetch as Google is an incredibly useful option in Google Search Console that allows you see how Googlebots view your web pages. This means you can troubleshoot your site to better optimise performance, submit pages for indexing when you make drastic changes to content and track down any pages causing problems if your site gets hacked by malware.
Essentially, you are looking at an SEO debugging tool that helps you single out core issues with content and HTML markup. Google just made this process a whole lot easier too – by adding colour-coded markup to the Fecth as Google feature. This may not sound like much, but anyone who works with code will tell you how much easier it is to spot markup errors when HTML is display in colour-coded syntax.
Google has started sending notifications to webmasters who redirect mobile users to the homepage of their website instead of taking them to the page they are looking for. This generally happens when there is a mobile version of a website and the default action is to redirect any URLs of that site to the homepage for mobile devices. Which means smartphone users can click on a blog post or service page via Google – only to be redirected to the ‘mobile-friendly’ homepage.
This is very bad from a user experience perspective and you should keep well away from redirecting users, unless it is completely necessary. Redirecting to a mobile version of the same page users are looking for is acceptable – although separate mobile sites come with their own list of pros and cons you need to consider.
Why you need to be using Google Search Console
If you take your SEO and online marketing strategy seriously, you should already be using Google Search Console. If that’s not the case then now is the time to start and there are a number of features that you can use right away to help improve the performance of your website – for both users and search engines.
For starters you get access to author stats, which gives you insights into how your blog posts and published content are performing. You can also control the crawl rate to determine how often Googlebots crawl your site, use the structured data highlighter to make Schema markup easier and better optimise your HTML.
This is just a small list of the features available and we’ll be taking a closer look at how to use Google Search Console to improve your website very shortly.
There’s plenty more in Google Search Console
This is just a small collection of the features at your disposal under Google Search Console and the more time you spend on familiarising yourself with the platform, the more you’ll wonder how you ever got by without out it.
There are a number of tutorials, guides and articles out there to help you get more from Google Search Consoleand this is one of those platforms you can never know too well. So read up, experiment as much as you can and don’t forget to get in touch if you need a helping hand.
Move It Marketing are a boutique digital marketing agency with a love for organic search (and in particular technical SEO). We don’t dilute our efforts by working with a large number of clients, and provide a granular service with attention to detail. If you have experienced problems with SEO on your site, get in touch and we will take a look with a view to providing you with an initial mini technical SEO audit free of charge.