Google Search Console is a powerful way to gain insights about your MSP website and improve your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s a free way to understand your pages in a completely new way.
The Google Search Console will help your MSP attract more viewers, traffic, conversions and customers. In this guide, learn more about how Google Search Console works, how to integrate it into your website and how to best use the reports and data it provides.
“This mega-powerful tool is one of Google’s gems. … It packs a punch,” notes SEO expert Neil Patel. “It’s one of the most comprehensive free website resources out there.”
What Is Google Search Console?
The console began as Google Webmaster Tools and is now used frequently by web developers, designers, domain owners, digital marketers and SEO consultants. It offers detailed insights into your website and the visitors who look at the site. It allows users to understand:
- The volume of traffic
- What visitors are searching for on your site
- The platform visitors use (desktop or mobile) to reach your site
- What’s attracting visitors
Google Search Console allows you to take an even deeper dive, letting you design sitemaps, find and repair errors, and examine file integrity.
What Are the Core Benefits of Google Search Console?
When you use Google Search Console, you’ll immediately gain insights into what’s working and what needs to be improved on your site. Here are some of the benefits:
- Keyword Optimization. The tool gives you a window into the keywords and phrases that people use to get to your website. This information helps optimize the content on your site to respond to important keywords.
- Deeper Insights. The console helps you understand more about how your site is perceived in the world by answering the following questions:
- What queries result in your site showing up in search results?
- What queries were driving the most traffic to your site?
- Is your company’s contact information, events and prices for products or services appearing in search results?
- Search Engine Visibility. By embedding code in your website, you tell Google you’re online.
- Improved Cybersecurity. Learn from the console about ways to protect your website from malware and spam attacks.
- Update Awareness. As you make improvements to your website by fixing broken links and coding problems, console tools help you make updates in a way that Google’s search algorithms use an accurate, updated version of your site with all the improvements included.
- Mobile-First Compliance. Google has moved to a mobile-first model of ranking sites. The console gives you a better idea of where there are issues and noncompliance with accelerated mobile pages (AMP) guidelines that boost your search ranking.
- Mobile Friendliness. Slow page loading pages can be the kiss of death among impatient mobile users. If there’s an issue with your loading speed or a glitch in your code, the console gives you the steps to take to make your site friendlier to mobile users.
- Backlink Analysis. Google uses backlinks — the number of websites that are linking back to your site — as a measure of how popular your site is and how worthy your MSP site is for citation. The console gives you an overview of sites that are linking to yours, giving you a clear understanding of what’s driving your popularity.
- Improved Content. Your website alone is not enough to drive better Google search results. As Google notes, you need to go “beyond the standard blue link” with rich results. Rich results are pieces of content such as cards, snippets images or carousels that appear at the very top of a results page and include star ratings, reviews and directory information. The console helps you identify these elements and improve their use.
- Better Indexing. If you do nothing, when you make changes to your website, it can take weeks or months for the improvements to be reflected in Google Search Index results. By using Google Search Console, not only can you make edits to your website, but you can ensure those changes are indexed by the search engine immediately.
What Are the First Steps to Using Google Search Console?
The first steps for using Google Search Console are to add the tool to your site and have it verified by Google. These steps demonstrate that you are the site’s owner or authorized user. It’s a way to protect the detailed information about your site and limiting access to the right users.
Step One: Access the Console
Begin by logging in to your Google account or creating a new one for use with the site. Then access the console main page.
Add your website properties using one of two choices — a domain-wide set of pages or individual URLs for a given web address.
Step Two: Verify Your Website
You have several options for verifying your ownership of the website.
- Add an HTML Tag: When you enter your site into the console, you’ll receive a small HTML tag. Open your site’s homepage code and add the tag to the <head> section. Then navigate back to the console and click on Verify.
- Use Yoast Plugin. If your site is built on WordPress, the Yoast plugin is a great SEO tool. Once you activate Yoast, go to the console page and click the “Alternate methods” tab to get the necessary code. Follow directions to embed and verify.
- Upload HTML file. Click on the “Manage this site” tab and click on the “HTML file upload” or “Other verification methods” option. You’ll be instructed to download an HTML file from your site and upload it to the console for verification.
- Use Google Tag Manager. The tag manager is part of the console and can be used to verify your site.
- Establish Domain Ownership. If you choose the domain option above, you can log in to your domain name provider and copy a TXT snippet into the DNS configuration to verify.
How Does Google Search Console Differ from Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is focused on traffic — how many visitors you have, the platform or app they’re using, the geographic location of visitors, time spent on your site and the most-searched keywords.
Google Search Console provides a deeper dive under the hood of your website by identifying issues related to search, modifications you need to make, presence of malware, links and keyword usage. Together, they give you a broad picture of your site.
How Do We Use Google Search Console?
There are four core functions that help console help your website.
- Sitemaps. A sitemap acts as a blueprint that helps Google bots crawl your site. It shows how your site is organized. You can build a sitemap easily using various third-party apps, then add the URL of your sitemap to the console.
- Robots.txt File. Minor adjustments to your robots.txt file can add a major boost to your SEO. By establishing which pages are and are not to be crawled, you can guide search bots on how to read your site. The Crawl tab of the console shows you errors and statistics on crawling your site and lets you make changes to and test the robots.txt file.
- Fetch as Google. Keeping up to speed with changes to pages and tags … and getting those changes recorded and updated within Google … is a time-consuming task. IN the Crawl section of the console, you can use Fetch as Google to enter in a modified URL and click on the “Request indexing” button to see your options. These steps allow Google bots to index the changes, which should be reflected in search results within days.
- Error Correction. Google Search Console is a troubleshooting guide for your site. The Crawl Errors tab shows you any page errors that bots encountered when indexing, including when the page was last crawled, when the error was identified and a brief explanation.
As a free and powerful tool for website analytics, Google Search Console is a must-have for your MSP. At Ulistic, we help MSPs improve their marketing, content and websites. Grade your MSP website now at http://www.ulistic.com.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.