Google Search Console is a free and powerful tool from Google to help you know how your website is seen to Google. Sadly, most businesses don’t know how to get the most of Google Search Console to improve web traffic. In this post, we are going to show how to get the most of it to improve your SEO and attract more visitors.
About Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool from Google to help websites to keep track and maintain the presence of their site in Google search results. It has vital marketing data to start tracking from first day itself. It also alerts about security issues, errors, and indexing issues which may affect search rankings of your website. All this information can be used in SEO strategy to improve your traffic.
Sadly, most of the businesses feel that just adding their site is enough. Well, there is so much more to do.
Adding Your Site to Google Search Console
It is very easy and takes only few minutes.
- First of all go to Google Search Console and click Start Now.
- Sign in with your Gmail account. Enter your website URL.
- According to Google HTTPS and HTTP are two different protocols. It means http://wpeasier.com and http://wpeasier.com are two different websites according to them.
- You have to ensure entering the right URL of your site. If you don’t know your website URL, simply login to your WordPress admin panel and enter Settings > General page. You can check the site address field to see your website URL.
- Once you enter the website address, click “Add Property” button to proceed. Next you will need to verify that you have your website. There are different ways in doing that. But HTML tag method is easiest one.
- Click on HTML tag to expand and copy the code inside.
- Next, install and activate the plugin “Insert Headers and Footers” on your WordPress.
- Go to “Settings > Insert Headers & Footers” after activation and paste the code that is copied in “Scripts in header” box.
- Click “Save” to store changes.
- Click on “Verify” button on Google Search Console settings.
- Now Google Search Console will look for HTML tag on your site code and show a success message.
Now you have added your site to Google Search Console. Visit the Google Search Console dashboard by clicking “Go to Property” link. If your website is not verified after adding code in the plugin “Insert Headers and Footer”, be sure to clear WordPress cache and try the above steps again.
Set up the Domain Name
URLs with and without www are two different pages for Google. Suppose you use your URL as https://www.example.com and someone links your URL as https://example.com, the link will go to different URL, not your URL. It could affect the performance of your site in search results as you have nothing to do with how others link to your site.
So, use your preferred domain setting to fix this in Google Search console. Switch to the older version by clicking on “Go to old version” from left column.
Now the search console will load older version. Click on Gear icon to set preferred domain and choose ‘Site Settings’.
It will show three different options for your domain on next screen. First option is that you don’t send preferred domain name. We don’t recommend trying it. You will see domain with and without www.
Choose one which you used when it comes to submit your URL to Google Search Console. It must be the same as you see in WordPress settings. Click on “Save” button to store settings. Now Google will use your domain when you follow site links when showing the same in search results.
Set Target Country
If you are going to target audiences in a particular country, you can tell Google apparently to target users in that country. Click “International Targeting” under “Search Traffic” menu on the old version of Google Search Console.
Go to Country tab and choose country you would like to target. By choosing a country, it doesn’t mean your site is not accessible in other countries. Google will still show the same if it is relevant to audiences in a different country in search results.
But setting a target country can give you a bit of SEO bump in local searches and Google understands your target audience. It will definitely help if you get to start your WordPress blog.
Add XML Sitemap
XML sitemap is the best way for site owners to speak with search engines on all the pages on their site. It also signals search engines which links on your site that is more important than others. By adding XML sitemap to your site, search engines can easily crawl on your site. Though it has nothing to do with search rankings, it can surely help search engines to index your content efficiently. You just have to install and turn on Yoast SEO plugin. It will generate XML sitemap and you can find it at URL which seems like – http://example.com/sitemap_index.xml.
Be sure to replace example.com with domain name of your site and submit it to Google Search console. Under the dashboard of Google Search console, click “Sitemaps” from the left column and past the last part of this URL. Save changes by clicking Submit.
Now, Google Search Console will check sitemap and use the same to improve website traffic.
Improve Mobile Usability with Search Console
Mobile devices are the source of over 63% of all the searches. This is why Google provides SEO bump to responsive websites which are listed in search results. You can easily examine a page with a Mobile Friendly test tool from Google. Search Console has Mobile Usability report which tells how your entire website stands in mobile performance. If you are getting errors on the page, these issues are going to affect website rankings in mobile search. It is also important to use mobile friendly WordPress theme to avoid usability issues due to poorly coded plugins and themes.