Using Search Console with your website
Search Console provides actionable reports, tools, and learning resources designed to get your content on Google Search. You can use Search Console both for websites and for mobile applications; if you have a mobile application, read this page instead.
Managing your website with Search Console
Day to day
Relax — Search Console will email you if any unusual events occur with your properties. Unusual events include indications that your website has been hacked or problems that Google had when crawling or indexing your site. We will also email you if we detect that your site violates any of Google’s search quality guidelines.
Every month or so, take a look at your Search Console dashboard; the dashboard is the simplest way to get a quick health check on your site:
- Make sure that you aren’t experiencing an increase in errors for your site.
- Check that you don’t have any unusual dips in your click counts. Note that a weekly rhythm of weekend dips, or dips or spikes over holidays, is normal.
When your content changes
Check Search Console whenever you make important site changes to monitor your site’s behavior in Google Search.
Adding new content to your site:
- Test that Google can access your pages using the Fetch as Google tool.
- Tell Google which pages to crawl by updating your sitemap.
- Tell Google which pages not to crawl using robots.txt or noindex tags.
- A few weeks after you post content, confirm that the number of indexed pages in your site is rising and that you don't have any blocked resources that might impair Google's crawling of your pages.
Adding new properties:
- A new mobile site: We recommend using a single site that adapts to users on any device, but if you decide to have a separate site for mobile users, be sure to add it to Search Console, and add <link rel=”alternate”> tags to connect it to your existing site.
- A new app: Get your app on search.
- New international content: Be sure to target the correct country with your site and add hreflang link tags to your pages.
If you change your site’s domain name:
- Use the change of address tool to point Google search to your new location.
Removing a page from search results:
- Use the URL removal tool and take other appropriate steps to block crawling and/or indexing.
Everyone asks us this question. The answer is: there is no secret, there are only good practices. Here are the best practices for improving your ranking in Google search results:
- Provide high quality content on your site. Google tries to find the best answer for our users’ requests; if you write the best material, you’re in the game. Use the Search Analytics report to see which queries lead to your pages, and what the click-through rate is for links to your site.
- Make your site mobile friendly. Many users search on mobile devices; our search results favor pages that we think answer the user’s request best with the best possible user experience on their platform.
- Use informative titles and snippets. Good, clear titles and accurate meta tag descriptions help us understand the purpose of a page and generate useful snippets in our search results. Learn more.
- Add structured data to enable additional search result features such as stars, event information, or site search boxes, which add to the user experience, making your site more valuable to readers. Read more about structured data or use our tools.
- Make sure that you follow our guidelines for good sites and avoid pitfalls that could affect your search ratings.
The reports in Search Console are organized according to the general outline of the Google Search pipeline: Content is first crawled (discovered), then it is indexed (parsed and analyzed for content), after which you, the website owner, analyze the search traffic to your site and also consider how search results are displayed to the user or linked to by other sites.
Google’s web crawlers follow links and sitemaps to generate a list of publicly available URLs to visit and index for content. This is the first step in the process of being added to Google’s search results.
A generic term for a website or an app that you have added to your Search Console account. You can see a list of your properties on your account homepage.
To prove that you own the website or app referred to in your Search Console account. A property must be verified before you can start seeing any data for it. You’ll be asked to verify a site after you add it to your Search Console account.
Google’s web crawler. Google has a few different Googlebots that request your pages as different device types (a smartphone, a feature phone, or a desktop computer) to calculate different search results for users searching on these devices.
If you host the same page at different URLs, your search results can be diluted across these duplicate pages. For example, you might have the same page at http://example.com/dogs and http://www.example.com/dogs; a search might then show separate, lower ranked results for each page than if you had only a single page. In this case, you should indicate to Google that these pages are the same, and choose one to be canonical (the official page) to show in search results. Indicate canonical pages or sites using a Sitemap, HTML tags, or Search Console settings.
The name of a file on your site that tells Google which pages not to index or show in search results.
A list of URLs in your site that Google uses as starting locations to begin crawling a website. A sitemap is contained in one or more files stored on your website.
The process of visiting URLs and analyzing the content and meaning of each page. This helps Google determine the best search results for a user’s query.
Google tries to display all pages that it indexes in order to view the page as a user would. Rendering is the process of displaying the page with the images and layout to help Google analyze the meaning of the page.
- Manual action
If your page violates one of Google’s quality guidelines, such as spammy content, it can be subject to a manual action, which will demote it in Google search results.
- International targeting
Explicitly targeting your search results at users by language or country. This can be done using hreflang link tags or the country targeting setting in Search Console.
How your page or app appears in search.
- Structured data
A standards-based way of describing information about your pages, in a format that the Google crawling engine understands. For instance, you can add ratings, event information, or video information. Some types of structured data are used to create rich results.
The small descriptive lines of text that appear under each result in Google search results. These are generated programmatically by Google during indexing, and can have visual characteristics known as rich results.
- Rich result
A visually enhanced Google search result, such as star ratings or event times. Rich results are often generated from structured data added by the page author.
If your website has a logical hierarchy or structure, Google might display a set of sub-links below the main search result. For example, for an airline site, the main result will be the airline home page, and the smaller links below would be direct links to the booking page, the flight status page, the baggage policies page, and so on. You cannot specify sitelinks for your site.