Formerly branded as Google Webmaster Tools, GSC is a free web-based analytics tool offered to webmasters that provides insight into a website's performance on Google.

How to Set Up and Use Google Search Console (GSC) With Your Website

Formerly branded as Google Webmaster Tools, GSC is a free web-based analytics tool offered to webmasters that provides insight into a website's performance on Google.
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Lori Ballen is a member of the Amazon Associates Program and earns money from qualifying purchases. Posts contain affiliate links that benefit Lori as well.

Formerly branded as Google Webmaster Tools, GSC is a free web-based analytics tool offered to webmasters that provides insight into a website’s performance on Google. 

Accounting for over 92 percent of all internet-based searches, Google is the world’s most popular search engine. 

It has pulled away from its competitors, including Bing and Yahoo, to become the go-to search engine for over 1 billion users. 

As a webmaster, you can capitalize on Google’s unprecedented popularity by using Google Search Console (GSC).

What Is GSC?

Formerly branded as Google Webmaster Tools, GSC is a free web-based analytics tool offered to webmasters that provides insight into a website’s performance on Google. 

After adding and verifying your website, GSC will display metrics about your website’s historical performance on the search engine.

The tool also includes features to modify or enhance your website’s visibility on Google, but its primary function is performance reporting.


How to Use GSC

Aside from being free and easy to access, it offers the most accurate data about how well your website performs on Google. 

Other analytics tools can track the number of visitors who found your website through Google, some of which can track the search queries performed by these users. 

None, however, offer the same level of accuracy and detail as GSC.

Since Google’s servers power GSC, it offers the most accurate and detailed view of your website’s performance on Google. 

Not all webmasters will benefit from using GSC. But if your digital marketing goals include high search rankings on Google, you’ll achieve greater success by using GSC.


Add Your Website

To get started with GSC, visit search.google.com/search-console while logged in to your primary Google account. You don’t need to create a separate Google account for GSC. 

Instead, you can use any existing Google account, such as a Gmail or YouTube account.

On the GSC homepage, click the drop-down menu in the upper-left corner below the “Google Search Console” header and choose “+ Add property.” Under the “Domain” property type, enter your website’s domain, such as example.com, and click “Continue.”

Verify Your Website

GSC won’t collect or display performance data about your website until you verify ownership of it. 

After you’ve added your website to GSC, you’ll need to verify it by adding a unique text record to the domain. Just copy the text record from GSC, log in to your account at the registrar where your domain was registered, and add the record through the DNS management interface. 

Once Google has confirmed the presence of the text record in your website’s domain, GSC will begin to display performance data.


Navigate the GSC Interface

GSC offers a relatively simple interface consisting of about a dozen tabs, some of which are under a drop-down menu on the left-hand sidebar. 

To view performance metrics about your website, though, you must first select your site. Click the same drop-down menu that you clicked to verify your website. Rather than clicking “+ Add property,” though, choose your website from the list.

You should now see a few graphs featuring visualized data about your website’s traffic and coverage on Google. 

The “Performance” graph at the top shows how many visitors found your website through Google over the past three months, whereas the “Coverage” graph shows how valid and invalid web pages Google encountered during this time frame. 

You can return to this section of GSC at any time by clicking the “Overview” tab.

Clicking the “Performance” tab in GSC will reveal even more information about your website’s performance on the world’s most popular search engine. 

While the “Overview” tab only shows how many visitors your website attracted through Google, the “Performance” tab delves deeper by revealing total impressions, click-through rate (CTR), keywords for which your website ranks, the position of those rankings and more.

On the “Performance” tab, you can also see which web pages on your website generate the most clicks or impressions by clicking the “Pages” button below the graph. 

And if you want to view performance data for a period other than the default three months, click the “Date” button above the graph and choose your desired date range.


Add a Sitemap

You can provide Google with a sitemap of your website using GSC. After creating a sitemap and uploading it to your website, click the “Sitemaps” tab in GSC. 

Next, enter the URL where the sitemap is located but without your website’s domain. Assuming you uploaded the sitemap to your website’s root directory and named it “sitemap,” the URL should be “sitemap.xml.”


Check Mobile Usability

Statistics show nearly 60 percent of all Google searches are performed on a mobile device. To ensure these mobile visitors can access and use your website, click the “Mobile Usability” tab in GSC. 

You should then see a graph showing the total number of mobile-friendly web pages and the total number of web pages with mobile-usability errors encountered by Google.

If a web page contains a mobile-usability error, you’ll need to fix it. 

Otherwise, Google won’t rank the web page high in its mobile index.


Check Manual Actions

In addition to mobile usability, you can use GSC to check whether your website has received manual actions. 

Keep in mind; a manual action isn’t the same as a drop in your website’s search rankings. Google’s algorithm continually shuffles the search results by raising and lowering websites’ search rankings. 

A manual action refers to a penalty imposed on a website for one or more violations of Google’s guidelines. Manual actions can affect specific pages, or they can affect your entire site.

To see if a manual action restricts your website’s ability to rank on Google, click the “Manual actions” tab in GSC. If Google has imposed a penalty, GSC will provide details about the specific violation that triggered it.

Manual actions in GSC are often triggered by the following: 

  • Excessive link exchanges 
  • Unnatural backlinks 
  • Cloaking 
  • Thin content 
  • Spam 
  • Keyword stuffing 
  • Improper use of structured data 

Does GSC Work for Bing?

Unfortunately, GSC only provides data on your website’s performance in Google’s search results. 

It doesn’t reveal how well your website performs on Bing. With that said, Microsoft offers a similar tool to measure and optimize your website’s performance on Bing. 

You can access it by visiting bing.com/webmaster, and like with GSC; you must add and verify your website to receive performance data.

Learning the mechanics of any new SEO takes time, and GSC is no exception. 

Once you’re familiar with navigating the free web-based tool, you can take advantage of its superior reporting features.


About Lori Ballen

I teach bloggers how to grow their blog, and make money through multiple streams of income. From affiliate marketing, to building courses, I share 7 income stream strategies through blogging.

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