Google Search Console (GSC), previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a tool offered by Google for website owners or their representatives to gain insight as to how Google views their website. There are many things you can do with GSC besides monitor your site’s health including how the site works on mobile, and international targeting.
When you access GSC, you are presented with a menu of the services offered with the main categories of:
• Search Appearance
• Search Traffic
• Google Index
• Security Issues
Explaining all of these categories and their multiple features would be an enormous task, so instead I’ll concentrate only what I feel can offer you the best info on your website in the eyes of Google. If you want details on how to setup GSC and everything it offers, check out the Google Help Center here.
Under Search Appearance, you will find “HTML Improvements” which has numerous suggestions to make sure that your website complies with Google’s quality guidelines. The suggested improvements include problems with description tags, title tags and content that Google cannot access. For further info on the tags, you should talk to an SEO expert. As far as the pages that Google can not access, some of these may be intentionally created, but if they were not, you will be notified that those pages will not show up in Google searches.
Under Search Traffic, you can find “Search Analytics” which is similar to Google Analytics, but the BEST thing about it is that this is where you can actually see what keywords and keyword phrases people are using to find your website and how many times they visited your site. You can also find “Links to Your Site” here which is a partial listing of the websites that have links to your site and “Mobility Usability” which will let you know if their are issues with your website on mobile devices.
Google Index provides information on how many pages Google sees and will tell you about any pages or other resources that have been blocked from them. The other item here is “Remove URL’s” I highly recommend that you do not go anywhere near this unless you trill know what you are doing.
Crawl, provides probably the most information in all of GSC including “Crawl Errors” which includes any errors such as pages not found (404 error). “Crawl Stats” includes three charts going back 90 days that show how many pages are crawled per day, how many kilobytes were downloaded by Google daily and how long it takes for your pages to load. Under “Fetch as Google“, you can click on the red “Fetch And Render” button and then click on “Request Indexing” to ask Google to crawl your website if you have made any recent significant changes to the site that you want them to know about. “Sitemaps” is where you can test and add sitemaps of your website’s pages. Don’t know what a sitemap is? Call your friendly neighborhood web developer for details.
Finally, Security Issues tells you if Google has detected any issues with your website such as being hacked or having a malware injection.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a GSC account you visit regularly to make sure your site is healthy and that Google has you included it in their search results.