Google Search Console, often abbreviated as SC or GSC and formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a tool created by Google that provides webmasters with important information about their website and how it appears in the search results. Recently, Google released a new version that replaces the old Search Console platform.
Through SC, you’re able to see important on-page SEO information, like:
- Impressions: The amount of times users saw your website in Google’s search results
- Clicks: The amount of times users clicked through to your website in Google’s search results
- Position: The average position of your website in Google’s search results – this can be filtered to a page or query level
And other important website information such as:
- Coverage Issues
- Crawl Errors
- Sitemap Information
- Mobile Usability Issues
- Manual Actions
- Security Issues
How do I verify ownership of a Search Console property?
To use SC, all you need to do is verify ownership of the website. There are multiple ways to do this, but if you already use Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager on your website, the easiest option is to verify through those methods.
To verify a property, go to https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome, select the URL prefix option, and enter your URL.
note: It is important to add the correct HTTPS or HTTP and WWW or non-WWW version of the website here. If you are not sure which version is indexed by Google, add all of them one by one and check which one(s) have traffic.
For example, there are technically four URL versions of the Symphony website, but only one is indexed because we redirect to HTTPS, non-WWW:
Google Tag Manager: If you deploy GA tracking through a Tag Manager account, select Google Tag Manager and click Verify. If Tag Manager is installed correctly and active, you should be instantly verified.
Google Analytics: If you do not deploy GA tracking through Tag Manager, click Google Analytics and Verify.
HTML Tag: Additionally, you can add a meta tag to the website to prove ownership. SEO plugins like Yoast and All in One both provide ways to easily verify through HTML tag without needing a developer to add the tag.
Domain Name Provider: If the other options do not work, you can try logging into your hosting and follow the directions to edit your DNS settings; but I would not recommend this method first, as it’s the most time consuming and you can mess things up if you do not know what you’re doing.
Once verified, you can link Google Analytics with Search Console and have this information populate directly into your GA account.
Search Console differs from Google Analytics in that SC shows how users go to your website from Google while GA shows how users interact with your website once there.
This information is critical to improving your online organic presence. Marketers can use this tool to see what users are typing in to find your pages, how often these phrases are searched, and how often the user clicked through to your website. This allows them to optimize your website for the best keyword phrases and test and measure the results of their organic search efforts.
Oftentimes, your website will even rank for keywords people are searching but that you don’t have a lot of content around. This provides an opportunity for marketers to create content that satisfies the needs of the searchers through a process called content gap analysis, which is just researching what content is missing on your website and would be valuable to have.
How do I grant access to a Search Console account?
If your marketing team has access to your website, Google Analytics or your Google Tag Manager account, they can verify themselves as owners of your Search Console property without needing a business to grant access. But there are certain circumstances where those methods will not work.
To grant users access to a Search Console Account, follow these directions:
Step 1. Go to https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome and, at the top right, switch to the Google account that has access to the Search Console account
Step 2. In the top left, click the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) and select the property you wish to grant a user access to
note: There may be four versions of your website, www, non-www, http, and https, make sure you select the correct version of your website
Step 3. Select Settings in the left sidebar menu
Step 4. Click Users and permissions
Step 5. Click the blue Add user button in the top right
Step 6. Enter email address (must be a gmail account)
Step 7. Select permission level (You’ll want to grant users Full permissions so they can optimize the property as needed)
The highest permission level is Ownership. To add a user as an owner, go back to Step 4 and click the three vertical dots next to a user with Owner permissions and select Manage property owners. This will redirect you to the old search console view, from here you can click Add an owner at the bottom left to add a user as an owner.