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How to use Google Search Console: a beginners guide

It’s no secret Google has always strived to be the most widely used search engine and analytic platform. Google offers a myriad of online tools to assess speed performance, usability and more. As a way of improving its platform, Google recently updated its Webmaster Tools (now called ‘Search Console’) along with a few useful updates.

The new Search Console aims to offer more transparency when it comes to Google’s indexing values as well as providing two-way communication between website owners and Google itself to efficiently resolve issues on their website speed and user interface to assist in ranking development.

What’s new in Search Console?

Search performance report

The most powerful functionality in the new Search Console is the Search Analytics section, also known now as Search Performance.

With the new Search Performance, you can filter multiple variables simultaneously without being forced to choose filtering search type, country, query, device, page separately and overlay data on top of each other to have more analytical results.

Website owners also now have access to a longer historical data range. This makes it a lot easier to analyse long term trends as well as compare performance year-by-year which is thanks to website owners asking Google to provide more data than the last 90-day limit on the previous analytics version. With the updated Search Console, you can now choose to compare 3, 6, 12 or 16 month old data.

Index coverage report

The new index coverage section is a combination of the old crawl error reports and index status sections. It gives an overview of how Google indexes websites as well as provides ways to identify and fix errors as Google deems necessary.

With the new index coverage, you can view new data for pages with errors, indexed pages with warnings, pages excluded from indexing and even overlay impression data. With the table provided, you can now see detailed issues detected by Google, allowing a faster way to inspect any affected URLs. After manually resolving an issue, you can also now request an index update from Google.

Enhancements on Search: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Job Postings

In the old Search Console, Google provided AMP URLs with errors that are recommended to be fixed, but there wasn’t a way to request for Google to update their records once the issues were fixed. With the updated AMP report, you can now validate newly-fixed AMP URLs and request Google to amend changes in their report.

What remains the same with the new update?

Nothing is the same with the new Google Search Console as compared to the older version. In the new Search Performance report, you will see much of the same data that is present in the old Search Analytics. In addition, the Index Coverage Report has data that appears in the Crawl Errors and Index Status sections which can also be found in the old Search Console.

What can you expect in the future updates?

In the coming year, it is expected that Google will release a handful of updates in the search console. There are a few notable features and reports that are still to be added in the new and improved Search console:

Data Highlighter, Structured Data and Rich Cards

Since Google had already started introducing native support in the form of Google Assistant, it is expected that the improved Search Console will also feature additional functionality in tandem with Assistant. This can even be in a form where Google can assess whether your website content is optimised correctly.

The new Rich Results Testing Tool might also be incorporated within the functionality of Search Console which will be a big help to SEO’s and webmasters when it comes to fixing errors that hinder rich results from appearing.

Internal Linking and link back to your website

One of the most essential aspects of SEO functionality that is currently missing in the new Search Console is the data on both internal links and links that leads back to your website. The old Search Console contains this functionality which helps webmasters determine link backs to their domain as well as identifying pages that linked the most. This is very important for building backlinks for your website in general.

Additionally, the internal link section provides webmasters an assessment of internal links within their sites and allows improvements on the given data. You can assess individual pages and see where these are links across your website; you can then perform a reverse search to determine which pages need more internal links. Hopefully, these functions will be re-introduced into the new Search Console.

International Targeting

International targeting allows webmasters to target specific audiences based on their country and language. This is very crucial for digital marketers who will be surprised to find out what this section offers in then new Search Console.

So, what does the new Search Console mean for SEO?

Google now appears to be more transparent about what factors they use to assess and rank search performance than they have in the past. The new Search Console also greatly improves the communication process of identifying errors which allows the user to see what’s wrong, amend the issue, then signal Google to verify the issue has been fixed.

Google is providing more support for its auxiliary features like Google for Jobs and AMPs by providing more usable data for webmasters. Now, you can already take advantage of these features and maximise your website’s potential.

Google is changing how we see data by providing more information to improve your website’s relevancy to your target audience.