Getting started with Search Console
Search Console, formerly Webmaster tools, is another software program to help you boost the visibility of your website. You can set up Google Search Console on your own, for free.
There are a number of reasons why you should sign up for Search Console.
- It’s Free and easy to install
- Index your site quicker and keep track of the index status of each page
- See where you can make HTML improvements
- View search Analytics
- See other websites linking to your site
- View crawl errors and stats
Google will walk you through the set up process pretty thoroughly but I’ll just briefly go over it anyways.
How to set up Google Search Console
If you’ve been following along step by step, you’ll have a Google account and will have Google analytics set up. Maybe you have a Google account but don’t have Analytics set up yet, that is fine, you can continue with the Search Console set up. If you don’t have a Google account, you will need to create one.
Also, make sure you have the Yoast SEO plugin for your WordPress site. It will help with the website verification and submitting your sitemap, which I go over soon.
Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools and log into your Google account. It will bring you to the Search Console Welcome page.
You will need to type in your website URL and then click “add a property”.
Verifying your site ownership
You’ll be asked to verify the ownership of your domain with a recommended method or alternative methods. You can choose, but it’s easiest to go with the “HTML tag” under “alternative methods”.
Copy the code snippet and go to your WordPress dashboard. In the left sidebar, go to “SEO” – “Dashboard” – “Webmaster tools” and paste your code where it says “Google Search Console”. I don’t bother with Bing and Yandex for now because Google makes up the majority of the search volume.
Go back to Search Console and click “Verify”. You should get a note right away saying “Congratulations, you have successfully verified your ownership of http://yoursite.com/.”
It’s a good idea to add both variations of your domain (yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com). Go to the Search Console home page and click “add a property” and go through the process again.
Submitting your XML sitemap to Google
Before I go any further, I’ll give you a heads up, If you don’t have any content, you might just receive a 404 error response from Yoast when you go to receive your sitemap.
In your WordPress dashboard again, go to “SEO” – “XML Sitemaps”. In “General”, you’ll see a button that says “XML Sitemap”. It will open a new page with your available sitemaps. Copy the extensions of the sitemaps you want indexed (post-sitemap.xml , page-sitemap.xml).
Go to your Search Console account and go to “crawl” – “sitemaps” – “add/ test sitemap” and paste in the extension and click “submit”. As soon as you refresh the page, you should see them.
There will be a graph for each sitemap that displays the number of pages or posts submitted vs the number indexed. The number indexed will be 0 at first. At least give it a few days and check back.
Add the sitemaps to the other variation of your property.
An overview of your dashboard
Your Search Console dashboard will show you an overview of any crawl errors, website analytics and URLs submitted vs indexed.
In the left sidebar, go to “Search Appearance” – “HTML improvements” to get a list of where you can improve upon your site’s HTML. You might get a note saying “We didn’t detect any content issues with your site.” Obviously this is a good thing.
If you go to “Search Traffic” – “Search Analytics”, you can view your total number of recent clicks, total impressions, average CTR (click through rate) and average position in Google search for a number of keywords. Lower down on the page you can check out your position for each specific keyword.
Underneath “Search Analytics” in the left sidebar, click “Links to your site” and you’ll see how many links you have pointing to your site and where they are all coming from.
Under “Google index”, you can check your “Index status” to see how many pages or posts you have indexed.
Under “Crawl”, you can check your crawl errors and crawl stats. Go to “Fetch as Google” and you can see what any of your pages look like to Google bots vs what they look like to you and I.
Go to “Sitemaps” for a better overview of your submitted and indexed pages and posts and to submit any other sitemaps or resubmit any existing ones. To submit a new one just click “add/test sitemap” in the top right corner and add the URL extension. To resubmit an existing one, select the checkbox next to the sitemap and click “Resubmit”. You might want to do this if you add any posts or pages to a site after submitting the sitemap. Those are the basics on how to set up Google Search Console and how to use the main features. I hope this helps you! Once you go through the process you’ll see how easy it is.