The Google Search Console is a free Google tool helping webmasters to analyze their search performance. In this article, we explain how to set up the Google Search Console, and how to use it to analyze your search performance.
With the Google Search Console, webmasters and SEOs have a practical tool at their disposal to monitor and analyze the vital website KPIs:
1. How to set up properties in the Google Search Console
2. Linking Google Search Console Data with other tools
3. Google Search Console Features
4. How to analyze your GSC data to its fullest potential
You can set up "Properties" in the Google Search Console. They can be:
To set up properties in the Google Search Console, you need the following:
For setting up a URL prefix property, you should use one of the following methods:
This is how to do it:
If you don't have a Google Account yet, you'll need to create one. Then log in to your Google account and log in to the Google Search Console. After clicking Sign Up, you can choose whether you want to set up a URL prefix property or a domain property:
Figure 1: Choose property
If you have chosen domain property, Google will ask you to confirm your ownership of the DNS record at your web host. The field that appears will look like this:
Figure 2: Set up domain property
Verification with a DNS record is the most common way to confirm the ownership of a domain. Such an entry is also made for example when a domain moves from one web host to another. This entry is a simple text line stored on the server.
It can look like this:
In order to store the DNS entry, you must be able to log in to your webhoster. On this page, there are instructions on how to confirm the site through the domain host for the largest web hosting providers. If you can't find your webhoster there, you can ask your hoster how to create a DNS record. With this method, it can take a while for the DNS record to be updated by the webhoster.
To complete the registration of your domain for the GSC, log back into the Search Console, open the property, and click on "Confirm" in the window that opens.
Webmasters have been able to create a domain property since February 2019. Google implemented this type of property in response to user requests. The main advantage is that the domain only has to be confirmed once, and then you can analyze and monitor different protocols as well as all subdomains associated with your domain via filters in the tool.
You have to be careful when assigning user rights with the domain property. For example, if you want to give a service provider access to a specific area of the website, you should create a separate property.
Once you have entered your subdomain in the registration, Google offers you four further options for confirming the property in addition to the DNS entry.
Figure 3: Different options for verifying properties in the Google Search Console
Confirmation via HTML file: This method is generally recommended by Google. Download an HTML file that will be created specifically for your property. Then upload the file to your website via FTP. To use this method, you need FTP access, and uploading the file is easy with programs like Filezilla. If you don't know how to upload an HTML file to the server via FTP, you can contact your web host or system administrator, who can do it for you.
Google also recommends not using this method if the property itself is redirected to another URL. In this case, you should use the meta tag method to verify.
Figure 4: Verify with html file
Verification via Google Analytics: In order to confirm your property via Google Analytics, you have to use the current gtag.js tracking code, which must be included in the property's section. It is also important that you have the necessary admin rights for the Google Analytics property. This is to prevent someone without sufficient permission from registering a property in the GSC.
Verification with Google Analytics is easy because you only have to click on the button "confirm" to analyze the GSC data. This eliminates the need to implement additional files or upload files. That's why we recommend Google Analytics confirmation if you don't have FTP access and/or don't know how to upload an HTML file.
Figure 5: Verify with Google Analytics
Meta tag verification: For this confirmation method, you copy and paste a meta tag into the source code header area of the homepage of your property.
To include meta tags, you need access to your templates. Where the template is stored depends on the your CMS or shop system. The main advantage of this method is that you only have to include the tag once.
Figure 6: Verify with meta tag
Confirmation with the Google Tag Manager: Similar to the set up with Google Analytics, setting up your property with Google Tag Manager involves confirming your property with just one click.
You can create up to 1,000 properties in the Google Search Console. Setting up multiple properties is especially useful for larger websites as keywords are limited to 1,000 per property.
To create new properties, simply click on "New Property" in the GSC dashboard. The confirmation then proceeds as described above.
After setting up properties in the Google Search Console, you can share the data with other Google services such as Google Analytics. It’s easy to connect Google Analytics with the Google Search Console. Make sure the properties correspond, then go to the admin interface in Google Analytics. Under "Product Link" you will find the Search Console under "All Products".
Figure 7: Link property with Google Analytics
For data regarding how users access your site via the SERPs, you can connect your GSC property with Google Ads. Go to your Google Ads account and click on "Tools". Under "Linked accounts", you have the option of connecting your Google Ads account with the GSC. It’s important that the property matches the website for which you are advertising via Google Ads.
Figure 8: Connect Google Search Console and Google Ads
You give up to 100 people reading and editing rights per property. This is particularly practical for agencies and small companies as every user involved with the project can collect and analyze the data. However, you should limit the number of users with extensive rights to avoid losing track of who has access to your website data.
How to invite more users:
When you have finished setting up Google Search Console, you can start using it to analyze and optimize your website’s search performance. One of the core features of the Google Search Console is the Performance Report, providing valuable data regarding your website’s search performance. You can access this via the dashboard by clicking on "Open Report" in the performance view.
Here you can determine clicks, impressions, CTR and position per query, URL, country and device. The four tabs are:
and "Average position"
Click on each tab to display the respective data. For example, if you just want to see impressions, click on "impression" so that it is highlighted, and deactivate the other tabs.
Figure 9: Performance report
The analysis period can be set individually. Set your desired date range by clicking on the "Date" button within the filter bar. Then you can choose a defined time frame, or set a customized time frame.
You can also see how your search performance has changed over time with the comparison feature. Click on "compare" and set the time frames that you want to compare.
Figure 10: set time frames
To analyze individual URLs in detail, click on the tab "Pages". You can then click on clicks, impressions, CTR or position and sort according to your chosen metric. To see which specific keywords rank for a certain URL, click on a URL of your choice, then click on queries.
This helps you see for which query your URL receives the most clicks and impressions, and for which query the URL ranks highly. This can help you decide what content to optimize, as you can focus on optimizing for the most successful search query. You can also use the list of queries as inspiration for how you can expand your content or as topic inspiration for new content.
Figure 11: Pages sorted by clicks
To analyze keywords in detail, click on the tab "queries". Then, click on an individual keyword to set a filter. Then click on "pages" to see which URLs rank for this keyword. This helps you to see which page gains the most traffic for a certain keyword, and can help you derive optimization measures, for example transfer content from low value URLs to high value URLs, and remove the pages that aren’t receiving traffic.
Figure 12: Queries sorted by impressions
Easily set filters for queries, clicks, impressions, CTR and position. For example, to see pages that rank on the first page of the Google SERPs, set a filter for position less than 10. URLs on page 1 have potential to be displayed in Google as a featured snippet, therefore you can work on optimizing the snippet.
To find out which pages are on the second page of the Google SERPs, set a filter to see all pages that rank between positions 10 and 20. These pages have high potential - a small amount of work could see them ranking on page 1. Filtering according to queries can help you easily analyze a subset of data regarding similar topics.
Figure 13: Set filter for results on the first page of the SERPs
Analyzing search performance per country can help you see if you are on track for your target markets. Click on the performance analysis on the tab "countries" to get an overview of your clicks, impressions, CTR and rankings in every country.
You can also set a filter for a country to analyze your entire search performance in one country, and you can compare your search performance in two different countries.
Figure 14: Compare different countries
Comparing mobile and desktop rankings can help you check whether your website performs as well in the mobile SERPs as it does in the desktop search. You get a global ranking comparison between your devices when you click on the tab "Devices" in the performance report.
Figure 15: See traffic on different devices
Exporting the data is very intuitive. In every analysis, you can see the download icon. When you click on this, a menu will open and you will be asked whether you want to export the data as an excel sheet or google sheets. When you use the Google Search Console, you are already logged in to your Google account, so if you click on Google sheets, the table will open immediately in a new window. This can then be exported or worked on directly.
Once you've set up the Google Search Console, you can link your GSC properties to Ryte projects to get even more analysis potential. Ryte Search Success imports GSC data with the Search Analytics API and displays it in a clear interface with advanced filtering and monitoring capabilities.
Dashboard with an overview of the weekly performance
The Dashboard in Search Success shows you your Search Success score, which gives you a good indication of the current status of your search performance. It also shows you changes compared to the previous week.
Figure 16: Search Success Dashboard
Efficient keyword monitoring with real Google data
With the keyword monitoring feature in Search Success, you can easily monitor the keywords that are important to your brand. Add keywords to your monitoring dashboard manually, upload a csv file, or add keywords from the Keyword Report. You can also set up keyword alerts to receive an email when a keyword of your choice drops or gains in clicks, impressions, CTR or ranking.
The keyword monitoring dashboard shows you how your keywords are performing, and how they compare to the previous week.
Figure 13: Keyword Monitoring with real Google data
Analyze your search performance in depth with the comprehensive reports in Search Success. You can analyze according to keywords, pages, changes, new keywords, lost keywords as well as distribution, directories, countries and devices. In each analysis level, you can analyze the subset of data you need by setting advanced filters.
Tip: Use the changes report to see explicitly how a Google Update has affected your Search Performance. Sort according to gained/lost clicks or impressions to see exactly which keywords have gained and lost traffic.
The Google Search Console is a vital tool for any webmaster for analyzing search performance, helping you to identify areas on your website that require improvement. In this guide, we explain how to set up and verify Google Search Console properties, as well as how you can utilize the reports to efficiently analyze and improve your website. With the advanced filtering and monitoring capabilities in Ryte Search Success, you can use your Google Search Console data to its fullest potential to ensure that your search performance is continuously improving, find easy low hanging fruits, and ensure that your traffic is not at risk with the next Google Update.
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Published on 05/05/2019 by Olivia Willson.
After studying at King’s College London, Olivia moved to Munich, where she joined the Ryte team in 2017. She is in charge of product marketing and CRO, and also helps out with SEO and content marketing. When she's not working, you can usually find her outside, either running around a track, or hiking up a mountain.
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