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How To Use Google Search Console: A Beginner’s Guide

Do you know how your real estate website is performing, what keywords you rank for and whether you have any technical issues? If you don’t, it’s time to set up your Google Search Console account. Google offers several free tools to collect data and analyse your website performance. Search Console is one of them, just like Google Analytics. Everyone with a website should be using these tools, as they provide you with valuable insights for your business. 

Tools like Google Search Console can seem a little daunting when you first set them up. We’ve created this easy, step-by-step guide to help you get started and make the most out of it.

What is Google Search Console?

First things first: what exactly is Google Search Console (GSC)? Before we can convince you it’s essential to set your GSC up, it’s important you understand how valuable it is. 

Google Search Console offers tools to make sure your website is performing well in Google search and tools to help you track and analyse your traffic. In addition to that, it alerts you of issues and provides you with recommendations to fix them. 

Because GSC lets you measure your site’s traffic and see your keyword performance, it’s an excellent tool for SEO purposes. The data can help you discover new ranking opportunities, boost existing performance and learn how people come to your website. 

Setting up your account 

To start using Google Search Console, you need to create an account. We’ll take you through the 3 easy steps. 

  1. Visit search.google.com/search-console and click on ‘Start now’. Make sure you log in with your Google Business account.
  1. You will now see the option to select a property type. You can use your domain, or a URL prefix. Use domain

Enter your domain name (e.g. youragency.com.au) – do not add the www. or https:// etc. 

Click on continue

  1. You’ll now need to verify your ownership over the domain. This setup method (domain) requires you to use your DNS record.

At ‘Instructions for’, open the dropdown menu and select your DNS provider (e.g. GoDaddy). 

Click on Start Verification and follow the instructions provided on the screen.

Alternatively, you can keep the instructions for Any DNS provider and follow the instructions provided by Google. Login to your domain name provider, copy the text provided by Google and paste it into the DNS configuration for your domain. 

Click on Verify once you have completed this step.

That’s all! You should now see a success message and Google Search Console will start collecting data for your website. 

What can you use Google Search Console for? 

Now you’ve set up your account, let’s dive a bit deeper into what you can use Google Search Console for. As it is quite a powerful platform with lots of different features, we’ll only go into the most important ones for you here.

Using Google Search Console for traffic 

For most real estate businesses (and any other business), the most-used resource in the platform is the Performance report. This section provides your business with important information on your organic search performance. 

The report shows you metrics about organic traffic that comes to your website, split to each individual URL. It gives you details on the following: 

Impressions:
Average CTR:

This metric stands for the click-through rate. You calculate the average CTR by dividing the number of clicks through the number of impressions. 

Average Position:

Your average position is the numerical order in which Google displays your URL in search results. This is an average, because generally your position will fluctuate. Google also uses personalisation and localisation to adjust search results, so you won’t always show up in the same position for everyone. 

These metrics provide you with valuable insights as to how you are ranking for certain keywords, which keywords offer the best click-through rates, how many people visit your website through Google search and what search terms they use. This information will help you fine-tune your SEO strategies and help you research new keyword opportunities. 

Do you have high-value keywords with lots of impressions, but a low CTR? In this case, it’s worth checking if your meta title and meta data are well written. Your meta title and description are the title and little snippet users see in Google’s search results:

If you have keywords with low impressions and very few clicks, this could mean your website is not appearing for these searches. It may be worth adjusting your content and aiming for other, better performing keywords.

Using Google Search Console for your technical site health 

In addition to the statistical data in the Performance report to help you with your marketing strategies, GSC can help you determine your website’s site health. Google Search Console makes sure your site’s presence in Google is unharmed and that there are no errors that could damage your rankings. 

If GSC finds any errors, they will notify you via email along with recommendations on how to fix these issues.  

There are various reports available that will help you determine your site’s health and find any issues: 

The Index Coverage Report 

The Index Coverage Report allows you to see how well covered your site is in the Google index. It shows you how many pages are in the index of Google, how many pages aren’t and what errors and warnings there are. 

Errors may be caused when a redirect doesn’t seem to work properly, or when there are broken code or error pages in your theme. 

When you click on the error, you can analyse the issue and see what specific URL is affected. Once you’ve fixed it, you can click on Validate fix so Google will test the URL again. 

We recommend you check this page regularly for errors (Google will also send you a notification when they find one) and resolve them as quickly as possible. Too many errors could send a signal of low quality to Google, which can negatively affect your search result performance. 

URL Inspection 

The URL Inspection tool is designed to help you analyse individual URLs. You can enter a specific URL from your website and check whether it’s indexed, when and how it was crawled, and more. If Google is not able to crawl your page properly, you may see a number of errors.

You can click on URL inspection in the left-bar menu or directly insert your URL in the top search bar. 

This is a great tool to diagnose issues or to request indexing if you have made recent changes that Google hasn’t picked up on yet. 

We’ve included two example screenshots below: the first URL has been indexed and does not have any issues, the second URL has not been indexed by Google yet.

The below example shows the result for a page that has not been indexed – you can request indexing via clicking on ‘Request Indexing’. 

Sitemaps 

A XML sitemap is a roadmap to all important pages and posts on your website. You can use the sitemap section in Google Search Console to submit your sitemap. This will allow Google to more easily and quickly crawl your site’s pages. Google actually encourages you to submit your sitemap to help with crawling of your website. 

If you have a new sitemap for your website, you should submit it here. You’ll be able to see how many new URLs are discovered by Google, as well as any errors that occurred. 

There are many free online tools available to help you automatically generate a XML sitemap, such as xml-sitemaps.com

TIP: Make sure you double-check your sitemap includes the URLs you want to be indexed by Google. If you’re not linking anywhere on your website to these specific pages, the URL may not appear on your sitemap as the tools and Google may have difficulty crawling them. 

Mobile Usability

The Mobile Usability report provides you with information about the mobile friendliness and potential issues on your website. You will see a list with any pages that have problems when viewed on a mobile device. 

If your pages have no issues with mobile friendliness, they will be listed as ‘Valid’. Any pages that do have errors are listed under the ‘Error’ tab. Make sure you review your errors and fix them where necessary – having a mobile friendly website is incredibly important to appear in (mobile) Google search results. 

These are just some of the many valuable reports and tools available within Google Search Console. To make the most out of your online presence and to ensure your website is free from issues that could cause trouble with Google search results, make sure you set up your Search Console today.

Need help getting started? 

If you need help setting up your Google Search Console and other digital accounts, make sure you check out our Digital Basics package. This is a basic setup package where we set up all your required online accounts and tools for a small fee. 

If you need more help or are looking for a digital marketing agency to do the hard work for you, book a no-obligation, free consultation with our expert team today via the button below.