Last week I was talking in front of a room full of small business owners about digital marketing. 90% of those sitting in the room have a business website, most of them however never heard about Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools)
In my opinion, EVERYBODY needs to use Google Search Console. I feel so strongly about your need to connect with this tool that I’m writing another blog post about the topic.
It gives you direct communication with Google
The number one reason you should care is that if you do not connect your website to the search console, Google does not know who the website owner is and you may end up missing very important messages.
Connecting your site to GSC opens up a line of communication between you and the biggest search engine on the web. Once your account is set up, Google can send you direct messages regarding any health or performance-related issues on your site.
To see what I mean, take a look at these real life examples I’ve seen over the years, and consider how you would react to these warnings:
“Warning: Social engineering content detected on your site”
Sound scary? It should!
What this message actually meant is that Google detected malware on the website. It also means that the website has been blacklisted and won’t be shown on search results until the issue is resolved.
It’s important to note that site was actually monitored for malware by security firm Sucuri. But in this case, Sucuri did not detect the problem — Google did.
Warning: Unnatural links found
Another scary one.
This message means that Google believes you’ve used some shady tactics to rank up high in searches
This is not only a warning — you MUST take action to fix the problem ASAP. Google penalizes sites by making it so they don’t show up in search results until the problematic links are disconnected and Google re-evaluates the site.
It can take several months to fix the issue, by finding the problem areas, unwinding from questionable websites that are linking to your site, and appealing to Google. You may discover that what will be keeping you up at night for weeks on end took someone just one day to build a shortcut to the top of search results.
“Warning: nonsecure collection of passwords”
If you collect payments through your site, this is not something you want to see.
This fairly new warning has business owners scrambling to switch to an HTTPS URL. Anyone who was paying attention through the console could react quickly and appease the Google gods. You don’t want to give customers any double about the security of your site — which will happen if your site does not follow Google’s protocol and your customers go to your site through Chrome.
The next time Google has a warning like this, you want to be informed as soon as possible.
Google Search Console helps you optimize your site content.
One of the most powerful features of GSC is the “search queries” area. Here, you can access detailed data surrounding your site’s search performance and keywords.
Though it’s not as exhaustive as Google Analytics, it does give you a pretty long list of keywords and phrases that your site is currently ranking for. Then, beside each keyword, you’ll see:
- Impressions– This is the number of times your site showed up in search results for a certain keyword or phrase. If you notice that impressions are particularly low – especially for an important, high-level keyword – that could be a sign that it’s time to make some SEO changes. Update your content, start blogging, or change up your page titles. If impressions are high, then that means you’re on the right track. Keep making small edits until your numbers are where you want them. (Note: sometimes you’ll see keywords that aren’t really related to your business. Though these can provide some insight into your customers’ minds, most can simply be ignored.)
- Clicks –This is the number of times an impression turned into a click – meaning a user actually went through to your website. Often, if your clicks are low, you can turn them around simply by re-vamping your page titles and meta descriptions. Make them more relatable to your content – and the searchers’ needs – and this will usually do the trick.
- Average position –This is the highest position your site ranks for a particular keyword. Generally, a 1-10 position is great (it means you’re on page 1), and anything below that means there’s room for improvement. Consider better optimizing your content, blogging or using social media to promote your site.
Once you’ve analyzed this data and made your on-site changes, you can come back to the same queries section and click “with change.” It will automatically show you how the numbers of changed since you last checked in.
It helps you improve your coverage in the Google index.
Sitemaps are crucial to getting your pages indexed on Google. (And if they’re not indexed, they won’t show up in search results). While you could just post a sitemap on your website and hope Google’s spiders find it, the truth is that’s not always guaranteed to work.
With Google Search Console, you can actually upload an XML sitemap directly, giving Google a guide map of sorts to navigating and crawling your website. It tells them which pages are important, which ones to index and when to crawl them, and it can make a huge impact on your search results in the long run.
If you don’t know how to create a sitemap, don’t fret. If you’re on WordPress, all it takes is a simple plug-in, and you’ll have an up-to-date sitemap in minutes. Just copy the URL, submit it to Google, and you’re good to go.
It lets you connect locally.
If your business serves only customers in a specific location, then Google Search Console is a must – especially if you don’t want to waste your hard-earned time or money. In the Site Configuration/Settings area, you can set geographic limits on who sees your site in search results.
Without these settings in place, your site could be showing up for people all over the world – people who have no way of purchasing from you or doing business with your brand. By setting a geographic location, you’re increasing the number of qualified leads who see your site, and you have a higher chance of getting a customer or sale out of the deal as well.
Integrate Google Search Console Today
If you haven’t integrated Google Search Console into your site, get moving today. This free tool not only make managing your website easier and more streamlined, but it can also make it more profitable in the long run. Have questions? Want to learn more? Contact Spot On Digital Marketing today.