What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free Google service, which reports data for your website for loads of different metrics for Organic Google traffic. Traffic data includes device type, location, queries, average position, click through rate, number of impressions and more.
Additionally, GSC reports indexing data, technical issues, slow pages and detected structured data, including reporting structured data errors. You can also see any links to your site in GSC, and it is used to alert you to manual actions if you happened to be given one.
Simply put, Google Search Console is a hugely powerful, free tool with a wealth of search data. If you’re not already taking advantage of it, you probably should be!
How to Implement Google Search Console
In order to access GSC data, you need to verify that you either own the site or have authorization from the site owner to access this data.
Log into Google Search Console (or create an account if you don’t already have one), and hit ‘Add Property’, which you’ll find under the ‘Search property’ drop down in the top left-hand corner. Enter your site’s details and you’ve set up Google Search Console! You may have noticed that you have the option to add a domain property or a URL prefix property. URL prefix properties are slightly easier to verify (there are a few ways to verify a URL prefix property). Domain properties can be trickier to implement, but they have loads of benefits. We recommend you set up both. To find out a bit more about domain properties, their benefits, and how to set them up, try this article.
In this article, we’re going to look at how to set up URL prefix properties.
The next step is to verify that you are a site owner (or have authorization). There are a few different ways to do this;
- Google Analytics – you must already be using Google Analytics, be using the asynchronous tracking code, and this must be in the <head> section of your pages for this to work. If you have all of this in place, verifying your ownership in GSC is really straightforward.
- HTML Tag – copy the code provided and paste it into the <head> section of your homepage’s code (this may need help from your developer, depending on what access and ability you have)
- HTML File Upload – upload the file provided to the root of your site. Again, this may need help from your developer.
- Domain Name Provider – You will need access to your domain name provider account in order to use this method (if you can use this method, you can also set up a Domain property, which is great news). Select this option from the list, and then follow the instructions for your particular domain name provider to either create a DNS TXT record or a CNAME record (it’s mainly just copying and pasting in this case).
- Google Tag Manager – You will need to already be using Google Tag Manager in order for this method to work. Search Console will search your site for the GTM code, once it’s found it, you’ll be able to hit ‘Verify’.
If you use Google Analytics or Tag Manager, don’t remove the code snippets from your site. Removing snippets will leave your site unverified.