There is an almost endless amount of SEO tools. Often, Google Search Console is skipped as a handy tool. Starting, but also established companies, are not sure what you can do with this free tool. Yet it is one of the most important data sources to keep an eye on your organic results. In addition, you can also gain a lot of insights from it. Below are some of the most useful reports and tools in Google Search Console.
1. Coverage (indexing) of your website
First, you need insight in your website in the search engines. In this report it will be visible if your sitemap(s) have been found and if there are errors indexing your website. Pages are categorised as followed:
- Pages with a redirect
- Not found (404)
- Server errors (5xx)
- Excluded by tag noindex
The report shows how Google sees your website, even if you do not agree. Errors that should not be there are easy to find and therefore also more easy to solve.
For each URL you can request how Google sees this page. You can see when the URL was last crawled and which device was used to crawl. When changes are made to a page, you will see whether the changes have been recognized, and it is very easy to request an indexing again if that is not the case. Even if you place new content on a new page, you can ensure that Google sees your page faster by requesting an indexing immediately.
With indexed pages you will also encounter optimizations at the bottom. These are suggestions that indicate what the page is currently suitable for. With the live testing of the page you will see what this will look like according to Google. Does it align with what it should be? Does it perform how you want it to perform? See the next step!
3. Performance: search results
Now that the basic structure of your website is in order and you know what data is being analyzed, it is time to monitor how your website is doing. Your performance in search results is arguably the most valuable report you need for your SEO. In this report you get, directly from the search engine, the most used keywords, most important pages, country and device of origin. Finally, you have a tab with the search format, here you can find whether people have come to your page via featured snippets (structured data). By properly analyzing, comparing and filtering, you arrive at your most important insights that form the basis of your next steps.
To give an example: apart from the expected keywords, you will also encounter keywords that you do not think of yourself. If you see that these keywords have a lot of impressions but few clicks and you are even in the top 10 on average, then your current meta data is not converting well enough. You can also come across keywords that often give you a featured snippet in the search results. Use this as inspiration and to test with.
4. Functionality: ease of use on phone
As you should know, the world is becoming increasingly mobile-first. More than 50% of the visitors to a website come from a smartphone, which we also see with our clients. This is also one of the reasons why Google prefers websites that are compatible with mobile. Google has created AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. These load on average about 4 times faster because no heavy programmed codes are needed.
Back to the report. Just like with the other reporting functionalities, you can see why a page is not user friendly on a smartphone. Your responsive design can reduce your content so that it is clearly visible on a phone, but this can also ensure that there are too many clickable elements next to each other.
Most important takeaways are the ease of use and therefore user experience of your website. Try to make your website work as pleasantly as possible.
5. Functionality: site vitality
After the website functionality for mobile phones is in order, you will also have to look at the site vitality. This report shows the loading speed of your website. Google has prepared “Core Web Vitals” that are analyzed in this report. For example, the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is only considered good if the largest block of text or the largest image on a page has been loaded within 2.5 seconds. The First Contentful Paint (FCP) is the opposite of this, which is the first visible element for the user. Ideally, your website will take a maximum of 1.8 seconds to do this. In addition to these two examples, there are other metrics that work together to arrive at a score. You guessed it, this score is also important to determine your position in the search engine. The figure should motivate you to improve this, as these figures in Google Search Console come directly from the user experience reports of Google Chrome. Meaning the data is based on actual user experiences.
Another way to view this report: https://pagespeed.web.dev/
6. Link reporting
Getting backlinks remains one of the most important factors to score well organically. With the right strategy you try to consistently collect qualitative links, but how do you keep an overview of the website that refers to you? Many SEO tools show different numbers of links. Using Google Search Console you will have the most reliable overview of what Google recognizes as a reference to your website. You can also analyze which pages are referred to the most and with which text that is done. In other words, you see which content is most interesting to link to.
It is easy to keep track of your outreach via this report. You can view your latest links via the export button at the top right. Some of the newest links should be able to be matched with your outreach, if none of your outreach is listed then you should think about using a different approach.
6. ‘Disavow tool’: a tool to reject links to you
With this tool you can reject links to your website. Why would you do that? As I said in the last paragraph, not all of your links will come from your outreach. Sometimes there is a reference that you do not want, it may be that this is a spamming link that has a bad influence on your website.
Hopefully you are now convinced of the importance of the insights that can be found in Google Search Console. Want to dive deeper or need some help? Please do not hesitate to contact us!