Tracking your website performance can get complicated for many small business owners. Google Analytics stopped showing which keywords are performing well and now show (not provided).
So how do you find out what keywords terms you are showing up for and are performing well?
The answer: Google Search Console
What is Google Search Console?
Google search console is a free tool provided by Google to help website owners to monitor their website performance through Google search results.
Some key features available in Google’s search console:
- Knowing which keywords your site ranks for and what position they are in.
- Malware issues identified on your website can let you know when you’ve been hacked.
- You can submit your website for indexing and get new pages to crawl sooner.
- With mobile-first indexing, you will find information to improve Mobile Usability.
With Google Search Console you are able to view which keywords are performing well and what you rank for.
The ability to see the number of clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and position can really provide you with the insight you will not get from Google Analytics or even a keyword ranking tool.
You can view performance and do comparisons from month to month and year over year. Being able to see the growth and development of your website can provide very telling information.
By reviewing the Performance section you are able to see what you rank well for and discover keyword terms you may not have known your site was ranking for.
URL Inspection Tool
On October 14th 2020 Google made the request re(indexing) tool unavailable.
As of today that has changed and this allows you to index an individual page that you have made changes to or just created. This tells Google crawlers that this page should be crawled but it does not guarantee instant success.
With the return of URL inspection tool mentioned above you can still submit large number of page edits and make sure they get crawled. Having a sitemap allows Google crawlers to crawl your pages and with the Last Modified date you are able to see the last time you updated your page.
Every WordPress site that uses Yoast, Rank Math, All-In-One SEO, or any other type of sitemap plugin should be able to access this file.
Security and Manual Actions
This is really one of the most important features available as it lets you know if your website has been attacked and has malware. You will receive an email notification if this happens.
With manual actions, the focus is on issues that are happening on your website.
If the robot.txt file isn’t working or you have a page that is not being crawled by Google even though it should be.
This helps identify issues across the entire site that site audit tools may not capture.
Core Web Vitals
This is going to take into effect starting in May 2021 as it was delayed due to covid. The focus of the core web vitals is to improve page performance. Meaning if you have a slow website or web page you will be penalized.
By this being in Search Console, you are able to take a look at what is making your site slow and fix those issues.
This is where manual action comes in and helps you identify the poor performing pages.
Now that you have a better idea of what Search Console is capable of doing let’s add it to our WordPress site.
Click here to view the Core Web Vitals report and process.
Google Search Console Verification Method
There are a few ways you are able to add Google Search Console to your website.
We’ll cover a few methods that you can do yourself and some that will require someone with some experience.
Once you integrate Search Console you can verify ownership of your website as it will only show information to the site owner or manager.
Information being shared is only viewed by those who integrate with their website.
Average Joe can’t access Search Console unless you are the owner or you are provided manager access by the owner.
As mentioned earlier many SEO plugins like Yoast and Rank Math have you covered by going to their settings section where you can add the id right from the backend of your site.
If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin read this article on optimizing it for SEO.
The SEO plugins even provide you a link to get the ID needed to get your site to connect to Google’s webmaster tool. It’s the easiest way to integrate it within WordPress.
If you are using one of the SEO plugins don’t bother downloading a separate plugin for the search console and save your website the additional space.
Upload Verification HTML File To Server
You can upload the verification file to your WordPress site. This is the step that if you do not know how to upload a file via an FTP client you will need someone with experience to come in and upload the file for you via FTP.
Your web developer or digital marketing agency can take care of that for you.
The file will be uploaded to the /public_html/ folder of your website. Once it’s been uploaded you are able to confirm verification.
If you have Google Analytics you can confirm verification by clicking the button. It’s that simple. What I have seen in the past with this particular step is that sometimes it doesn’t work.
Even if you link Google Analytics to Search Console via the Property Settings is not enough. When it does work it only takes a few seconds without any issues.
Google Tag Manager
If you do not have any experience with Google Tag Manager and your website has it you want to let the person who set it up for you to come in and add it for you.
Typically this is set up by a digital marketing agency or SEO strategist. Once the tag is published you are all set.
Here is a video from Google on how to integrate Tag Manager with Search Console.
DNS TXT Record
This is another where if you have never done this before you will need the help of your hosting provider to walk you through the process of implementing the DNS record. Once this is done you have verified the domain.
Google is leaning towards DNS verification as it provides information for all URLs throughout all subdomains and covers all of your URLs whether they are HTTP or HTTPs.
Once it’s verified you are all set! The data will start populating almost right away or within a few hours.
As a user of Google Search Console one thing you should know is that there is no phone number for you to contact them if there is an issue.
They do have an online support center that can follow up with you with regards to any issues.
But I would recommend you reach out to your SEO, web support, or digital marketing agency to help resolve the issue.
You must have a Google account if you plan to set up or access a Search Console.
You cannot use a third-party email to access it and Google does a good job letting you know right away that they do not link with third-party sites.
- Personal Gmail
- Business Gsuite
Google Search Console and WordPress
Now that you know how to integrate Google Search Console to WordPress through a variety of different verification methods you should be able to know which is the best option for you.
Do not overthink it! If you feel comfortable have your web developer or digital marketing company link your WordPress site to Google Search Console.
The data you receive from Webmaster Tool will provide you with insight on what you rank for and identify issues that you may not know about any other way.
The tool is very robust and can be an anchor to get a better understanding of what Google believes your website should be ranking for.
If you believe it’s right or wrong this is your chance to update your strategy and take your site to the next level.