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Google Search Console (GSC) – Advanced SEO Guide

Last Updated : 16 Jan, 2024
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Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) is a comprehensive web service provided by Google that empowers website owners, SEO professionals, and webmasters to gain actionable insights into their site’s performance on Google’s search engine. It offers a suite of tools and reports, allowing users to monitor indexing status, analyze search traffic, identify and resolve issues affecting search visibility, and implement strategies to optimize their website’s presence in Google Search results. GSC serves as a valuable resource for enhancing site performance, user experience, and overall search engine discoverability

Permissions in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

In Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) (GSC), permissions are roles assigned to users that define their level of access and control within the platform. Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) allows different users to collaborate on managing and optimizing a website, and it offers several predefined roles with varying levels of access. Here are the primary roles and their associated permissions in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools):

  1. Owner:
    • Owners have full control over the property and its settings.
    • They can add and remove users, modify settings, and view all data and reports.
    • Owners can also grant full control (Owner role) to other users.
  2. Full User:
    • Full users have almost the same level of control as Owners, except they cannot add or remove other users.
    • They can view all data, modify settings, and use all features within GSC.
  3. Restricted User:
    • Restricted users have limited access compared to Owners and Full Users.
    • They can view most data and reports but cannot access certain sensitive settings or data.
  4. Read-Only User:
    • Read-only users have the most limited access.
    • They can view data and reports but cannot make any modifications or changes.

1) How to Manage Permissions in GSC

  1. Add a New User:
    • Owners can add new users by going to the GSC property and clicking on “Settings” in the sidebar.
    • Under “Users and permissions,” click on “Add user.”
    • Enter the email address of the user you want to add and choose their role.
  2. Change User Roles:
    • Owners can change the roles of existing users by going to “Users and permissions” and selecting the user.
    • Choose the desired role from the dropdown menu next to the user’s email address.
  3. Remove a User:
    • Owners can remove a user’s access by going to “Users and permissions” and clicking on the three dots next to the user’s email address.
    • Select “Remove access.”

2) Best Practices for Managing Permissions

  • Grant Permissions Based on Roles:
    • Assign roles based on the user’s responsibilities and the level of access they need.
  • Regularly Review and Update Permissions:
    • Periodically review the list of users and their roles to ensure that access is appropriate and up-to-date.
  • Use the Least Privilege Principle:
    • Grant the minimum level of access necessary for users to perform their tasks.
  • Keep Ownership Secure:
    • Owners have full control, so be cautious about assigning this role. Ensure that only trusted individuals have owner status.
  • Educate Users:
    • Make sure users understand their roles and responsibilities within GSC

Sitemaps in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

A sitemap is a file that provides information about the pages, videos, and other files on a website and the relationships between them. It serves as a roadmap for search engines, helping them understand the structure and content of a site. Sitemaps are particularly useful for improving the indexation of a website by search engines like Google.

1) How to Create and Use a Sitemap

  1. Generate a Sitemap:
    • Use a sitemap generator tool or a content management system (CMS) that automatically generates a sitemap for your website. Many CMS platforms have plugins or built-in features for creating sitemaps.
  2. XML Sitemap:
    • The most common type of sitemap used for search engines is the XML sitemap. This is a file in XML format that lists the URLs of your site along with additional metadata.
  3. Include Essential URLs:
    • Ensure that your sitemap includes the essential pages of your website, such as the homepage, main categories, and important individual pages. It should cover the entire structure of your site.
  4. Update the Sitemap Regularly:
    • Keep the sitemap up-to-date by adding new pages and removing outdated or irrelevant ones. This helps search engines crawl and index your latest content.

2) How to Submit a Sitemap to Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

  1. Verify Your Site: Before submitting a sitemap to Google, ensure that you have verified ownership of your website in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools).
  2. Access Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools): Go to the Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) dashboard: Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools).
  3. Select Your Property: Choose the property (website) you want to submit a sitemap for.
  4. Go to the Sitemaps Section: In the left-hand menu, click on “Sitemaps.”
  5. Add a New Sitemap: Click on the “Add/Test Sitemap” button.
  6. Enter the Sitemap URL: Enter the URL of your sitemap in the provided field. The URL is typically in the format: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml.
  7. Submit Sitemap: Click on the “Submit” button.
  8. Monitor Sitemap Status: Once submitted, Google will process the sitemap. You can monitor the status and any potential issues in the Sitemaps section of Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools).

3) Benefits of Using a Sitemap

  1. Improved Crawling: Sitemaps provide a comprehensive list of URLs on your site, helping search engines discover and crawl your pages more efficiently.
  2. Better Indexation: A well-organized sitemap helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your site, improving the chances of all important pages being indexed.
  3. Faster Discovery of Changes: When you update your sitemap, search engines can quickly discover and index new content or changes to existing content.
  4. Error Detection: Sitemaps can highlight any crawl errors or issues with specific pages, allowing you to address them promptly.
  5. Enhanced SEO: Improved crawling and indexing contribute to better search engine optimization (SEO) and visibility in search results

Filters in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

In Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) (GSC), filters allow you to narrow down and customize the data you see in various reports. Filters help you focus on specific subsets of data, making it easier to analyze and understand the performance of your website. Here are some common filters you can apply within GSC:

1) Performance Report Filters

  • Date Range: Adjust the date range to view performance data for a specific period, such as the last 7 days, the last 28 days, or a custom date range.
  • Compare Date Ranges: Compare the performance of two different date ranges to analyze trends and changes over time.
  • Search Type: Differentiate between web search and image search performance data.
  • Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices: Apply filters to focus on specific queries, pages, countries, or devices. This helps you analyze the performance of specific elements of your site.

2) Coverage Report Filters

  • Error Types: Filter the coverage report to show specific error types, such as crawling errors, indexing issues, or issues related to mobile usability.

3) URL Inspection Tool Filters

  • User-Agent: Choose the user-agent (e.g., desktop or smartphone) to see how Googlebot views your page for different devices.
  • Referring Page: Analyze how a specific referring page is indexed and appears in search results.

4) Sitemaps Report Filters

  • Date Submitted: Filter sitemap data based on the date it was submitted.

5)Mobile Usability Report Filters

  • Issue Types: Filter the mobile usability report to show specific issues such as viewport configuration, small font size, or touch elements too close.

6) Enhancements Report Filters

  • Enhancement Types: Filter the enhancements reports to focus on specific types of enhancements, such as Core Web Vitals, Mobile Usability, and more.

7) URL Parameters

  • URL Parameter Handling: Configure how Googlebot handles specific URL parameters on your site. This can help manage duplicate content issues.

How to Apply Filters in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

  1. Access the Desired Report: Go to the specific report in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) that you want to filter, such as the Performance report, Coverage report, or others.
  2. Locate Filters Section: Look for the filters section or options within the report. It’s usually located near the top of the page.
  3. Select Filters: Choose the filters you want to apply, such as date range, query, page, or other relevant options.
  4. Apply Filters: Click on the “Apply” or “Submit” button to implement the selected filters.
  5. Review Filtered Data: Analyze the data based on the applied filters. The displayed information will be specific to the selected criteria.
  6. Remove Filters: If needed, you can remove filters by resetting them or selecting the default options.

Dimensions and Metrics in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

Understanding dimensions and metrics is fundamental. These terms are used to describe the data you collect and analyze to gain insights into the performance of your website. Let’s break down what dimensions and metrics mean:

Dimensions:

  1. Definition: Dimensions are qualitative attributes of your data. They provide context or details about your metrics.
  2. Examples: For a website, dimensions could include things like:
    • Page Title: The title of a specific page on your website.
    • Country: The geographical location of your website visitors.
    • Device Category: The type of device used (desktop, mobile, tablet).
    • Source/Medium: The origin of traffic, such as “Google Organic” or “Direct.”
  3. Characteristics:
    • Dimensions are often text-based and categorical.
    • They provide a way to segment and filter your data.
  4. How to Use: By using dimensions, you can break down your data into meaningful segments. For instance, you can analyze which countries your users come from, or how different devices impact user behavior.

Metrics:

  1. Definition: Metrics are quantitative measurements. They represent the data you want to analyze and understand.
  2. Examples: Examples of metrics include:
    • Pageviews: The total number of pages viewed on your website.
    • Sessions: The total number of visits to your website.
    • Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page sessions.
    • Average Session Duration: The average amount of time users spend on your site during a session.
  3. Characteristics:
    • Metrics are numerical and represent quantities or percentages.
    • They provide insights into the performance of your website.
  4. How to Use: Metrics are the key performance indicators (KPIs) you track to measure success. For example, if you want to understand how engaging your content is, you might look at metrics like average session duration or bounce rate.

Relationship Between Dimensions and Metrics:

Dimensions and metrics work together. You often analyze metrics (quantitative data) across different dimensions (qualitative attributes).

  • Example: You might analyze the metric “Pageviews” across dimensions like “Page Title” to see which pages are the most viewed.

Conclusion

Regularly monitoring these advanced topics in Google Search Console and taking action based on the insights provided can contribute significantly to the overall performance and visibility of your website in search results.



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