A Helpful Guide to get started with Google Search Console
Consuunt helps entrepreneurs and professionals with their business projects and, nowadays, having an optimized Site has become (almost) as important as any other major traditional discipline such as Marketing or Strategy.
We have been using Google Search Console since the very beginning of our Website.
After this time, we have learnt how to “squeeze it” to the fullest.
- You can check this in our “SEO Diary” section: there we share all our results’ evolution, our SEO strategy, and much more.
We now want to share all of this with you in this useful and visual guide.
- Moreover, we’ll use our real data in order to give you a more practical guide.
Google Search Console Guide Index
0. What Google Search Console is and which data does it offer you.
1. Landing page.
- 4 Important variables and how often does Google Search Console updates the data.
- The most important section of all. Here you can find out:
- What people are looking for, when they find your Site.
- Your different publications’ Average position (ranking).
- In which countries your content is more popular.
- And much more.
- Errors and Warnings your publications may have.
- Very important section: If your site has lots of errors, your Rankings may get affected.
- Mobile Usability: You want your site to be Mobile friendly since Google uses it as an important ranking factor.
5. URL Inspection.
- If you want to send your URL one by one or updating a certain Page or Post you have recently modified.
- It allows you to send your Sitemap (a file with a map containing all your URLs) to Google.
7. Security and Manual actions.
8. Legacy Tools and reports.
- Here, you can check your Backlinks: Who is linking your Site, and which of your contents are being pointed out.
* As we mentioned before, we’ll give you a practical approach.
- We have realized that some sections have not been important to us so far: Therefore we won’t waste your time with a sterile explanation we are not sure about.
We’ll explain what we use in our day a day and how we use it.
0. What is Google Search Console?
First of all: What is Google Search Console?
You may have already realized how different are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Why are they so different?
While Google Analytics tells you how many people have entered your site, Google Search Console tells what Google users were looking for when the entered or saw your Site and how your pages show up at Google.
Google Search console gathers all the information related with your Site, offering you a “global picture” about your Site and how it is “behaving” at Google.
Among all the useful information it offers, you may find:
- Main Queries leading users to your Pages or Posts.
- Your different publications’ average ranking.
- Errors your Site has.
- Your Site speed (new feature).
- And much more.
0.1. What is Google Search Console useful for?
Google Search Console is extremely important for having feedback from your “users” and Google SERP.
By using it properly, you can:
- Address your users’ worries properly.
- By checking the Queries your Site is receiving.
- Discover how your different Posts or Pages evolve.
- Find out whether your Site is experiencing errors penalizing it or not.
As you may have already guessed, Google Search Console only gives you data about Organic Searches: users you received that were using Google SERP.
- You could receive 1.000 Pageviews from “Bing” one day and, Google Search Console wouldn’t notice about it.
- Google Analytics would do.
Summarizing: Knowing how many users your Site is receiving is very important (Google Analytics) but it is much more important to know what your users are interested about when they get to your site, and that is exactly what Google Search Console tells you.
Now, let’s get started:
1. Landing page
Once you have verified your ownership, you get to the main page:
Here you can check with a simple glance 4 interesting variables:
- How many Clicks your Site has received during the last 3 months.
- How many Errors have been detected on your Site.
- If the pages sent are Mobile-friendly.
- Your Site’s Speed (a new feature).
We’ll now explain all those sections and why they are important, but first:
1.1. How often does Google Search Console update its data?
On a regular basis, assuming you have been Posting regularly about the same Topics (not introducing any new and different section) Google Search Console updates the data with a delay of 2 days.
This period of time may vary depending on different factors.
* If you want to know more about it, visit our “How often does Google Search Console updates the data” Post.
- There, we explain in detail how much you should expect to wait in different scenarios.
2. Performance: Google Search Console's best Tool
This is the section where you want to be.
As you can see, you can check here:
- The Queries associated to your publications.
- Different Pages’ performance.
- Countries that visit your Site the most.
- The Devices employed by your users.
- Results by Dates.
Let’s explain them in more detail:
Here you can see:
- All the Queries your Site receives.
- How many Clicks you are receiving for each one of them.
- How you Rank for each Query.
Why is this important? How can you use this information?
If you see that your Users are looking for something you really didn’t talk about explicitly, you can create new content that satisfy your users’ needs.
* If you are interested about improving your SEO by using these Queries, visit our “How to improve your SEO by using your Google Search Console Queries” publication.
These Queries are the overall Queries your Site is receiving.
If you want to know which of your Pages receive each Query, you must visit the “Pages” section:
For us, this is the best sub-section of all.
Here you can find out the evolution of each of your pages and, the Queries associated to each one of them.
Finding out the Queries associated to one of your Pages - Example
Imagine that you published a new Page few days ago, and would like to know what your users are looking for when they find it.
For example, let’s analyze our “Value Chain“ page: What our users look for when the get to this page?
For finding this out, we:
- Enter our “Performance” section.
- Enter our “Pages” section.
- Select the Page we want to analyze: for this example, “Value Chain“.
- Select the “Queries ” option.
Here, you have all the information you want about the Queries associated to the Page you chose.
In this case, we can appreciate how interested our users are about the “McKinsey Value Chain”, for example.
- If we didn’t have enough traffic, we could talk more about it.
Track your Pages' evolution
Keeping track of your Pages is very important.
There is no need to highlight how useful this sub-section is for analyzing your different Pages’ ranking, their evolution and CTR.
Thanks to Google Search Console, you can analyze your Pages’ evolution with a simple glance.
Here we observe our “Value Chain” page CTR and Ranking evolution.
As you may have already realized, once you are within a certain Page, you can check the Countries, Devices, Search appearance or Dates for each Page you wanted to analyze.
- We’ll now explain briefly these sections from a global standpoint (not inside each Page) but it is be exactly the same.
This sub-section can be very interesting in case you want to target a certain Country/Market.
- For example: If you wanted to target the USA market, you could keep track of the countries visiting your Site the most.
- On the other hand, if your Website Sections aimed different countries, you could enter the Pages you wanted (see the previous section) and check the countries where these Pages were visited the most.
For us, this section is just curious.
We are “targeting” the whole world so; we don’t use this Tool very often.
Here, you can find out which Devices are using your users when entering your Site.
Why is this section useful?
Sometimes, depending on the WordPress template you choose, the side menu you use, the elements you employ in your Site… your Pages may not be as Visually appealing in the Mobile version as they are when shown in a Desktop.
If most of your users use a mobile Device, you should then start improving your site for that device rather than the Desktop version.
It is important to track the Device your users use the most, so you can optimize your Site’s appearance for the correct one.
You should visit this sub-section at least once a month.
2.5. Results by Date
This section is very useful for analyzing your data with Excel.
- With Excel, you’ll be able to add trend-lines, make some forecasts and set yourself Goals to accomplish.
* In our “6 months special” Post, we developed this analysis for estimating when we would receive 1.000 users per day.
But… How could you do this?
Analyzing your Google Search Console data with Excel
Let’s imagine that we want to analyze our Google Search Console data in detail in order to make some forecasts.
- We first enter the “Dates” sub-section.
- Now, we Click on the “Download” button, that is placed at the right.
- We have 2 options:
- Download a .csv file.
- Open Google Sheets.
Since our Google sheets didn’t work pretty good when adding trend lines, we opt for the .csv file option.
If this option doesn’t work for you, you have another option:
- Open Google sheets, copy the columns and paste them into your Excel program.
- Now, we replace the dates by numbers: They’ll represent the numbers of days.
For example, if you started your Website on 1st January, that will be your 1.
- Then, one month later will be 30… and so on.
This makes things much easier for forecasting your Clicks or Impressions.
- Sometimes, dates give errors in Excel, and the operations get a bit confusing.
- It is much easier to subtract a number, divide it by 30 for guessing the months (or 7 if you want weeks)… rather than looking at the dates.
- We now can do lots of things:
- Add trend lines with different exponentials.
- Obtain their equations and find out when we would reach a certain amount of users if you kept your current tendency.
- etc, etc.
In our 6 months Post, we forecasted our future Users, for example.
2.6. Search Appearance
With all the Tools available in Google Search Console and Chrome Inspection tool that allows you to visualize any page as if you were using the Device you want, we have not found utility to this tool.
We haven’t used it so far.
This is an important section where you can Track your Site’s errors.
In the “Details” window, you have a description about the errors and warnings found so far.
- We always check “All known pages”: even if your site has just 30 Pages, Google generates thousands of inter-linked or redirection pages, and lots of errors only take place here.
- You should be aware of them.
There is a bit of myth regarding Google’s errors policy.
If you have a terrible website with thousands of errors, of course, Google may penalize your ranking.
But, having some errors is not the end of the world.
We have experienced different errors, and our rankings have not been altered (at least, we noticed nothing).
* If you are interested about Google Search Console errors, we have 2 useful Posts:
- Explained all the errors we’ve experienced so far:
- Server error (5xx), “Soft 404”, “Noindex”…
- Shared how we solved each one of them.
- Showed our results (in the second Post).
Here, you have 2 main Pages (although you can see both of them at the “Overview” window):
- Mobile Usability.
4.1. Mobile Usability
As we mentioned before, for Google it is very important that your Site is Mobile-friendly.
- And so it should be for you.
Here you can check how many of your pages are “Mobile Friendly” easily.
We should mention that, if you use a good Responsive Theme (nowadays, practically all Themes are responsive) you should have no problem.
All our pages are mobile friendly, and we haven’t done anything special about it.
* We use KLEO Theme (not sponsored). If you are interested about it, visit “Our experience with KLEO Theme“.
This section analyzes your Site’s speed for Desktops and Mobiles (yes, they are different, very different).
Since Google added this new section just a few weeks ago, we still have little data.
However, as soon as we started receiving our first “Speed ” results, we realized that we had to make several improvements.
- We had lots of “FCP longer than 3s” Issues.
Google Search Console uses “PageSpeed Insights” results as its Speed reference, and it is very demanding.
- We had to forget about our previous GTmetrix reference since its results are always much better than those of PageSpeed.
Finally we improved our PageSpeed Insights results remarkably, and our FCP Issues started to disappear.
* We have published a whole new Page where we explain, step by step, everything we did in a simple way.
- We increased our PageSpeed Insights’ results from 66 (Desktop) and 29 (Mobile) to 93 (Desktop) and 68 (Mobile).
- Moreover, there we explain in detail what FCP is and how you can solve the “longer than 3s” issue.
- If you are interested about it, check our “Increase your Page Speed” Page.
Improve your Rankings by increasing the Speed of your Site
There is a lot of Myth regarding this Topic.
You should improve your Site’s speed in order to offer a more-engaging Website for your users.
- Not to mention that, the “cleaner” your Site is, the few chances of experiencing errors you’ll have.
But Google won’t magically improve your rankings.
- Maybe if your Speed were 10 (In PageSpeed Insights) and you increased it to 99, Google would improve your rankings in some way. However, do not expect “a miracle”…
5. URL Inspection
Even if you didn’t use this Tool, Google would find all your publications. All of them.
- We have several pages that we didn’t send to Google, and it found them pretty quickly.
Then… What is this tool used for?
Well, if you send your new publications’ URLs through this Tool, Google will find them quicker (at least, that is what we think).
- If you didn’t use it, Google may find your publication in a 3 days period or more or less (sometimes it takes just few hours).
Also, if you have recently updated one of your Pages, modifying substantially its content, you may want Google to re-analyze its content in order to rank it properly as soon as possible.
- By using this tool, you’ll reduce this “waiting” time.
One important thing you have to take into account is: When you request Google Search Console to Index your pages, it generates 2 Users and Pageviews in your Google Analytics for each URL you sent.
- So, if you are starting your site, you should discount these “artificially generated” Users and Pageviews.
This Tool allows you to send your Sitemap to Google Search Console easily.
You just have to write your Sitemap’s URL and that is all.
Is it necessary to create a Sitemap?
We sincerely don’t know.
We have done an extent research and we have found no evidence that it is useful for a simple Site such as ours.
However, since you can generate a Sitemap automatically in lots of different ways, we don’t see why not having one.
* In case you are interested in how we created our Sitemap , visit our “How to generate a Sitemap in just 1 step” Post.
7. Security and Manual actions
We haven’t experience any problem so far, so we’ll just tell you what we have read about it briefly.
7.1. Manual actions
If Google thinks you are doing something you shouldn’t (serious infringements, we suppose) they can “manually” penalize your site.
So, if you experience an important drastic traffic decrease, you should check this section.
7.2. Security issues
Here, Google will tell you whether they have found any security issue in your Site or not.
Again, we’ve never experienced any issue so far.
8. Legacy Tools and reports
This is another section we’ve never used.
We promised you a helpful practical guide and, since we have never used any of the Tools within this section, we won’t spend a single minute with it.
- Moreover, it seems that Google has not fully integrated these Tools with Google Search Console.
* If we find something useful in this section in the future, we’ll Update this “chapter”.
This is a very important section.
If there is one thing that surely improves your ranking is having good Backlinks.
- If one high-authority external Site links your content Google uses that as a good indicator.
On the other hand, if you receive lots of undesired Backlinks from “junk” sites, some people say that your ranking could also get affected (in a negative way, of course).
- After our research we have concluded that you should receive a massive amount of bad Backlinks (thousands) before you receive a “penalization” in your rankings.
In this section, you can easily check:
- The Backlinks you are receiving.
- Where they come from.
- So you can judge if they are good or bad Backlinks.
- Which of your content is being pointed out.
- Your internal Backlinks.
- Since Google automatically generates hundreds of internal Backlinks, don’t be surprised if you find thousands of internal Backlinks even if you barely added few of them.
9.1. What to do when you receive undesired Backlinks?
According to our experience, you’ll surely receive dozens of undesired strange Backlinks. Everybody does.
And the best you can do is Nothing.
All our worst Backlinks disappeared without us doing anything.
Google is aware of it so, unless you received literally thousands of “junk” Backlinks, you should do nothing about it.
- Moreover, Google discourages you from creating a “Disavow” file (we explained what it is in “this” publication) unless you have a very serious problem.
We’ve received 164 external bad Backlinks and our rankings had not been affected at all, so… don’t worry.
We'll keep updating this Guide
As you may have already realized, we have developed this guide by sharing with you how we use Google Search Console. Nothing more and nothing less.
We have shared with you our real practical experience and experiences vary over time so, as soon as we discover (or Google adds) a new interesting tool, we’ll update this guide.
- As soon as the new experimental “Speed” section collects data from our Site, we’ll tell you whether it is useful for us or not, and how we use it.