We’re going to look at the final two sections of Google’s Search Console that we’ll learn about in this blog series. By now, you know how to submit your sitemap to google, diagnose crawl errors, highlight structured data, and view and analyze your search keywords. You’re using that to optimize the meta descriptions and content on your website so that you’re showing up properly in search engines.
Read the Search Marketing in 2016 Series
How Does a Search Engine Work?
Search Engine Special Features
Introduction to Search Console
Keyword Analysis in Google Search Console
How Does Google See Your Site?
The final two sections of the Search Console we'll be covering circle back to the first article in this series: Google’s Index, and information about how your website is crawled by spiders.
The first option under Google Index is Index Status. This may not be populated in your Search Console yet, especially if you set up your search console recently. It can take up to 2 weeks for this information to show up in your search console account, but once it does, you will have a chart showing how many of your site’s pages have been indexed by the search engine.
This chart is going to fluctuate, but that’s okay. You want to avoid seeing a huge dip in a number of indexed pages. If you do, it is a hint that there is something wrong with your site configuration. You’ll want to look into the Google Knowledgebase to troubleshoot that issue.
How Does Google See Your Website?
Content Keywords is found under Google Index. This is a list of Google’s best guess at which keywords on your website are the most important ones. If the list doesn’t actually represent what your company does, then it’s time to evaluate your website’s titles and page names to find opportunities to add terms related to what you do and where you do it.
If you don’t see your business’s key content terms in this list, you should start with making edits to the content and page titles in your Home page. This is the page that Googlebot is most likely to see as representative of your site, so you need to have the most important terms to your business and products there.
Request an Index of your website
Once you have made changes to your website to bring your content more in line with they keywords and business functions that you are aiming to increase traffic to, it’s time to let Google’s indexing robots know that you’ve made some changes that they should see.
This means you’re going to move to the Crawl section of Google Search Console, and select Fetch As Google.
This tells Search Console to get and render your site page and show you what Google’s Robot sees when crawling your website. Once it has been fetched, you have the option to Submit to Index – that is, tell Google to come re-crawl your site and update the information it has about you. In a few weeks, this means that your new meta titles and descriptions will show up for searchers, and your new content changes will be seen and indexed as well.
You won’t get a notice when this happens, so check back in on Crawl Stats or use a site: search to see if your new information is showing on search results pages.
Crawl Stats tells you how often Google is going over your website, and how much of it is being looked at. If your website is not crawled often, the updates you make won’t show in search results until you’ve been crawled again.
There are three charts on this page that offer you different perspective on how your site is being understood. Pages Crawled Per Day provides how many of your pages were seen by Google per day. If your site is being revisited often, that’s great news! If you haven’t been updating your site very often, it is very likely your site was not being crawled very often either. As you begin a content marketing campaign, you’re more likely to see that crawled per day count climb.
Kilobytes downloaded per day isn’t a major concern for you as long as the graph keeps looking fairly steady. If you see large increases or decreases in the kilobytes downloaded per day chart, that could mean that there is an issue with the size of images on your site and mobile accessibility.
Time spent downloading a page is a strong search marketing indicator, and can let you know if you’re running into problems with your server or hosting. If your pages are taking close to 1,000 milliseconds for Google to access, they will be ranked lower, because the algorithm values site loading speed. If your site is fast, then you’re going to rank higher.
If there are errors on your pages, this section is where you’ll see a notice. Generally, this means pages that the server can’t deliver (500 error) or pages that the site cannot find, due to a URL issue (404 error).
Submit Your Sitemap
If you installed Yoast at the beginning of this series, your submit has already been generated. If not, in general, your sitemap will be at the address yourcompany.com/sitemap.xml. With Yoast SEO, the address will be youcompany.com/sitemap_index.xml.
On the sitemap submission page, you have the option to Add or Test a Sitemap. Add the address of your sitemap, and hit the Submit button. This is another tool to assist you in getting your site properly indexed. In a few days, you’ll be able to see the number of sites that you’ve submitted to Google in your sitemap, in comparison to how many of those have been indexed.
This section in the Search Console will alert you if there are hacking and malware issues with your site. If you let hacking and malware stay on your site too long, you’re going to risk a manual action against your website, which means that you’re being penalized by Google in search results. Clearing up the hacked content on your site and resubmitting your site for approval will allow your penalty to be removed.
Once you have properly set up Search Console, how often do you check it? As is so often the answer in SEO, well, it depends. Most sections of Search Console don’t require you to check in on them regularly, but it is very likely you’ll want to look in on your Search Query data from time to time.
In the next post, we’re going to take a look at Google Analytics, which is where you’re going to get most of your search marketing data from now on.
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