Google has been offering various tools for site owners and webmasters for many years now. Perhaps the two most important integrations that a website needs – for DJs or any business owner – from the day it goes live are as follows:
Google Analytics (GA)
Google Search Console (GSC)
Google Analytics has been fairly constant over the years, although it’s being upgraded currently to something called GA4 (which we will write about in a future article right here in DJ LIFE).
Search Console, however, has seen constant upgrades over the years, including a name change (it was formerly called Google Webmaster Tools). Using GSC properly can save you a lot of heartache in your SEO efforts, though, so it’s important to know how to navigate through GSC.
So, let’s take a look at each menu item within GSC and go over it. Open GSC and choose your website in question from the dropdown in the top-left just under the GSC logo.
Your typical dashboard, the Overview page is simply a chart and some insights. The trick here is the link called Search Console Insights. Click on that, and you’ll see that it prompts you to connect the GSC property to the same property within GA. (GA and GSC often work together, and have a lot of overlap.) Once you link the two properties, a plethora of new information will appear that GSC pulls right from GA.
Another dashboard-type page here, this one focuses on these four key metrics within a defined time period.
- Total Clicks
- Total Impressions
- Average CTR (Click-Through-Rate)
- Average Position (within Google Search)
The chart just underneath these four metrics shows each of the four metrics plotted over time. A nifty little feature is that you can toggle on-and-off each of the graph lines simply by clicking on the metric box just above.
Following this section is a series of valuable information, including…
- A listing of keywords that were searched for on Google, and their Clicks & Impressions metrics.
- The different pages within your site, along with their respective Clicks Impressions metrics.
- A list of the top countries where your website traffic is coming from, along with their respective Clicks Impressions metrics.
- A list of device types, along with their respective Clicks and Impressions metrics.
- SEARCH APPEARANCE. A list of website categories, along with their respective Clicks and Impressions metrics.
- A list of calendar dates, along with their respective Clicks and Impressions metrics.
This is a really handy tool to check some basic, yet important items as to the different pages on your site, and how Google is seeing them. The process is simple. You just search on any of your site URLs and this page then returns information concerning that URL and its status within Google. Information returned includes…
- URL, and it’s status within Google. Is it indexed, yes or no?
- Is there a video on this page, and is the video itself indexed (good for Video Search Optimization)
- Mobile Usability, pass or fail?
A simplistic page telling you how many URLs on your site are indexed (good) and how many are not indexed (bad). Underneath, there’s a listing of the non-indexed pages and the reason for the non-indexing. It’s always best that you get as many URLs on your site indexed ASAP. This page is also a good way for you to see if your SEO person is actually doing their job.
Same as above, this is a great way to check and see which videos on your site are indexed and which aren’t. Remember, Google indexes YouTube videos now, and so each video on your site has to be treated as you would a page.
This page is very important… perhaps the most important within GSC. Using any of the major SEO WordPress plug-ins, you should extract the Sitemap XML file – if you don’t know what that is, please feel free to ask me – and insert it here through the Add A New Sitemap section. Underneath, you can check to see the various Sitemap XML files you’ve already uploaded. There’s usually Sitemap files for the following within WordPress:
- Posts (i.e. – Blog Articles)
There’s more, but you get the idea.
This page and the tools within it are to block pages from Google on sites that you own (as opposed to sites that you don’t own, which is completely another conversation), see a history of removal requests from both property owners and non-owners, and also to see any URLs on your site that were reported as containing adult content.
On the surface, this page is a summary page that lets you know which of your URLs are good, as opposed to bad, from a Google-centric viewpoint, giving you feedback from both a mobile and a desktop viewpoint. This page offers deeper results, though, with the ability to click directly over to the Core Web Vitals (CWV) page to see what the actual problems are.
CORE WEB VITALS
Just as for Page Experience, this page offers a dashboard format at first. Using the Open Report links for either Mobile Or Desktop, though, you can see which pages need work on CWV, which helps you to plan your SEO to-do list. For example, a site I recently did has some red here for Core Web Vitals. Drilling down, I can see that my CWV needs to be optimized on five of the pages on this site, as there are some issues with LCP (Largest Contextual Paint, for those of you who don’t attend my seminars at DJX) that I have to deal with.
Just as for the previous two Experience pages, we start off with the usual dashboard here – that revolves around all the pages on your website being mobile-friendly (i.e. – usable on a mobile device), with a simple pass or fail judgement. For those pages that need better formatting on mobile, you’ve got to fix them up ASAP, as Google cares more about mobile these days than desktop.
SHOPPING, PRODUCT SNIPPETS & MERCHANT LISTINGS
Measuring the performance of the eCommerce products and merchants on your site, these pages assess your “product pages” and merchant listings, and gives the usual pass-fail judgement. However, even in the case of a pass, these items can still need improvement, which is again something you need to fix up.
ENHANCEMENTS & BREADCRUMBS
Breadcrumbs is an item that a lot of website designers don’t pay much attention to. However, they’re absolutely essential to an SEO aspect called Internal Linking, and should not be overlooked. This page tells you if Google is seeing your breadcrumb structure properly, and what might be needed to fix it.
As mentioned above, Google has recently placed a greater importance on indexing Videos for your SEO footprint. This page follows the usual structure by now, with a dashboard showing a pass-fail judgement on the various videos within your site, and a drilldown report to show you what you need to fix up.
There are a few more items within GSC, as follows:
- Manual Actions
- Security Issues
These items all have value, of course, but are not necessarily items that you should angst over every week. For manual actions and security issues, those are better handled with other tools, and for the two legacy items, again handled better by a proper SEO-reporting tool.
In closing, learn to use Google Search Console well. It lets you get ahead of website errors before they start affecting your website rankings, and helps you or your digital person plan out a to-do list beyond the initial coding work for your website. Note that most initial website contracts don’t include this kind of heavy SEO optimization, and you must deal with the above items at some point.
Jordan St. Jacques is the President/Lead Digital Marketer at Digitera.Interactive in Ottawa, Ont., Canada.
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