Here’s our guide to Google Search Console for WordPress, including how to install and use this free SEO tool.
What is Google Search Console used for?
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) offers specific tools to help website owners monitor and maintain their search presence and rankings.
It’s different from Google Analytics, which helps you learn more about your users, including who they are, how they found you, and how they interact with your website.
Both of these free tools are essential for anyone who is maintaining a website. The Search Console should definitely be included in your SEO strategy.
How to Install Google Search Console onto your WordPress site
Firstly, visit the Google Search Console website and click on the ‘Start Now’ button. Select the “+ Add property” option.
With the new Domain option, you only need to add the domain name without www or subdomains. This option tracks everything connected to that domain.
With the ‘old’ URL prefix option, you have to add the correct URL, so with ‘HTTPS’ if you have an HTTPS website and with or without ‘www’. Note: Google considers an HTTP and HTTPS as two different protocols. It also considers https://www.example.com and https://example.com as two different websites.
In addition, you will need to prove that you are the owner of the website, and there are several ways to verify your ownership.
Another option is to install the Google Site Kit plugin, which handles Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Speed. This can make setup very easy.
Google Search Console Notifications
Once the Search Console is set up, you may start receiving email notifications: these will alert you to areas of your site that need fixing or could be improved.
These alerts might be anything, from URLs that became unavailable, to missing data, to mobile usability issues, to recommendations on how to improve your structured data.
Although these notifications can help identify problems, it’s important to note that some of the warnings can actually be for very minor issues. They should be fixed, but are often a much lower priority compared to other site improvements.
Using Google Search Console for WordPress for SEO
Our friends over at Yoast recently published a great article called How to use Google Search Console: a beginner’s guide. We have summarized the key points for you below.
Google Search Console is structured around various sections, which keep expanding as Google adds more.
URL Inspection Tool
This tool gives you insights into every URL on your website. It provides information about structured data, details on when and how Google last crawled the page, any errors, and whether it is eligible for rich results.
The performance tab is where you can find details on which keywords and pages your sites rank for, and which need more attention and optimization. These results can be sorted by clicks, impressions, average CTR or average position.
This section displays everything that you need to see how Google is indexing and displaying pages on your site. It includes how many pages are in the index since the last update, and if there are any errors that have prevented Google from indexing the site correctly.
If you’re concerned about site speed and UX (user experience), check out the Experience tab. It will show any issues that are affecting pages and how Google is grading your website for page experience. This section also includes an area that focuses on mobile responsiveness – which is super important these days.
If your WordPress site also has a store, you will see useful information in the Shopping tab. This includes any missing fields, rich results settings, and Google Merchant listings.
The Enhancements tab displays insights and improvements that could lead to rich results. This is particularly useful if you have structured data on your site.
In this tab you will find any notifications about security issues. Also look out for any Manual Actions, as these may mean your site is being penalized by Google. These can include spam, unnatural (or bought) links to and from your site, or that your site has been hacked.
Google Search Console for WordPress - Conclusion
Although the Google Search Console dashboard may seem overwhelming at first, you will soon find it an important tool within your SEO strategy.
However, even if you fix a few issues at a time (always remembering to click the “Validate Fix” button afterwards), it will help with your overall site health and prominence on Google.