Google Search Console – a Beginner’s Guide to Finding Actionable SEO Tasks

Google Search Console (GSC) can be a useful tool – provided you use it. This guide is not intended for advanced users or all GSC features. I am not trying to overwhelm you. Instead, we will review eight simple GSC functions that can provide you with some practical tasks that you can immediately begin to improve on your site's SEO.

Make sure your website does not suffer from manual action

All the "penalties" transmitted by Google are not the result of their algorithmic updates. In some cases, Google has distinguished you and given you a penalty. This action is called manual action or manual penalty. In the old days, you only have these penalties as a result of violating Google's guidelines severely and intentionally. You had no idea when you have one except through the power of deduction. In recent years, these manual penalties have become more common, have been given for less serious offenses, and Google will tell you even.

Sign in to your Google Search Console account. Click on your site> Search in Traffic> Manual Actions.
The message you expect to see on this screen is "No manual Webspam action found." If you get it, your site has no manual penalty. If you get another message, you have a problem to solve.

You will find more information about some of the types about manual actions here . You will find information on recovery from a manual action for compensated content and sponsored comments especially here .

Checking Security Issues

To create a more secure website, Google started notifying webmasters whose sites were hacked or contain malware. a few years back. To find out if your site has security issues, open your Google Search Console and click your site> Security Issues. If you see a message saying "Currently, we have not detected any security issues with your site's content." So you are ready to leave.

However, if you see a message stating that your site has been hacked or contains Malware, you can find the Google guide for what to do if you are hacked here and you can visit the Google forums for ask specific questions and solve the problems surrounding this topic here .

View the report on the errors of exploration

The report Crawl Errors shows you pages of your site that Google has tried to access and that it assign an error. They can find these URLs by exploring your site internally or by exploring links to your site from other websites. Having a lot of broken pages on your site makes your site neglected and can affect the speed at which Google is exploring it. Perhaps more importantly, it also creates a bad user experience.

In GSC, click on your site> Crawl> Crawl Crawl. Here you will find the first 1000 URLs on your site that give errors to Google. The most common mistake you will see – and what we'll be talking about here – is a 404 error that is listed under the Not Found tab – but you can find a complete list of code meanings. HTTP status here .

You can click each URL giving a 404 error to see the details. For some errors, you can place two extra tabs next to the Error Details tab. The In sitemaps tab will appear if the URL associated with the error is linked in a sitemap on your site and tells you the sitemap to which it is linked. The Linked from tab will show you the pages on the web that Google has chosen to note that they have found the linked URL.

Something to note here – some of these 404 URLs will be legitimate URLs on your site, and some will likely be malformed URLs (URLs that are not complete or have unnecessary or random additional characters – which means that they have never been real URLs on your site) – a lot of external sites like scrapers. If the malformed URL comes from your site, you can fix it. If it is from a legitimate external site, you can ask them to fix it. If the malformed URL comes from a scraper or another spam site and never existed, you can not do much about it. I just mark them as corrected and hope Google will not meet them again.

When it comes to legitimate 404 exploration errors, you have some options for dealing with them.

If the URL is really gone and no valuable site on the web links to these URLs, ideally you would be servicing a 410 status code for Google to know that the page is really gone and will not come back.Otherwise (and for the technically alted), you can leave the page as 404 and Google will eventually realize that it will not come back and abandon it from its index after having met this code several times. If the URL is really part and that the value sites on the web are to link to them, you can redirect them to another page of your website. Redirect URL allows you to transfer some of the value of incoming links to this now deleted page to a different URL on your website. If the URL is not really gone, and that the 404 occurs because you changed the URL structure of your 301 redirects the old URL to the new URL on which the contents of the old page reside.

The only advantage of using a 410 versus a 404 for the really lost pages is that Google will delete pages using a 410 of their index faster, so do not stress it if you do not. do not have the knowledge to serve one. Leave the 404 will eventually create the same result

If you need to create 301 redirects and you do not have the technical skills to do it via htaccess you will find a Free WordPress plugin that will allow you to create them without having to understand the code here

Once you have implemented your 301 redirects, you will need to click on "Mark as corrected" for all URLs that served a 404 that now redirect into the GSC's exploration error report screen.

Note – If you end up doing redirects to deleted content or old URL structures, you will probably have internal links in the posts and pages on your website that points to the # 39; old URL. Although this is not a big problem, every time you implement 301 redirects, you should ideally update all the links in your control that point to the old URL to directly link the new URL rather than passing the bot or the user via the 301 redirection.

You can find the pages of your site that point to the old URLs and redirect now using the free plugin Broken Link Checker . Install and activate the plugin, then wait until it explores the internal links of your website. Then visit the link report screen by going to your WordPress dashboard> Tools> Broken Links.

Click the search button on the top right of this screen and in the URL field and choose Redirect from the Status link drop-down menu. This screen will show you a list of URLs internally linked to your site that redirect. You will be able to correct the link redirection link or to correct all the redirects listed on this screen at once. The plugin will correct the redirects by replacing the link (s) in the old URL of your site to the direct link to the page to which it redirects.

You can do the same thing for 404 links that are really 404s that you will not redirect by doing the same search and choosing Broken in the Link Status drop-down list. You will have the option to edit the linked URL or unlink it, link by link or mass, to delete all the broken links listed on this screen at once.

Note From Side – You will probably see a lot of broken links and redirected links also listed by the plugin to external sites.

Submit your sitemaps

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin – and you should be – then you have a nice and neat sitemap of your WordPress blog available at click of a button. Go to your WordPress dashboard> SEO Yoast> XML Sitemaps and make sure that the "Enable this box to activate the sitemap" checkbox is checked and click Save Changes if it is not. Below, you will see a button that points to your XML Sitemap.

If you do not use WordPress and your CMS has not integrated the sitemap feature, you can find several options for creating sitemaps here .

Once you're armed with your sitemap, open your Google Search Console and click on your site> Explore> Sitemaps. Once the next screen loaded, click the red Add / Test Sitemap button and enter the Yoast generated sitemap URL on your blog. Test your sitemap first. Assuming there are no errors, repeat the process again, but submit the sitemap this time instead of testing it.

That's all. You only need to do it once. Google will continually re-check your sitemaps for changes, and the Yoast SEO plugin will ensure your sitemap stays up-to-date.

Check if you have mobile usability errors

If you have been performing a website optimization, you have probably run your site through Mobile-Friendly Google Test that will show you if your "site" is mobile friendly in the eyes of Google. The problem with the Google test is that it is done on one page, which means that your homepage can pass the mobile-friendly test, but a separate page on your site may fail for one some reason.

it is not practical to run every page of your site with the help of Google's mobile test tool. The good news is that Google will talk to you about individual pages with mobile usability errors inside the Google Search Console.

Go to Search Console> Site> Search Traffic> Mobile Usability. This page will show you which mobile ergonomic error pages generate individual pages on your site. By clicking on one of these errors, you will get a list of pages with this error so that you know what you need to fix.

Note – this may seem like a minor concern, but Google soon move to a mobile-first index . Once they do, pages that offer a bad mobile experience will have a negative effect on their rankings. Staying aware of your mobile usability issues – and correcting them – is an important task.

Overview of Internal Links on Your Site

To see a sample of your site's internal links Google knows about, go to the GSC> Site> Traffic Search> Internal Links. This page will show you a list of internal pages on your site and how many other pages on your site link to them. By clicking on one of the internal links listed, you will see the URLs of your site linked to it.

Unfortunately, this report is not as helpful as possible if Google shows you the anchor text used to link to these pages internally. That said, there is a significant task that this report allows you to undertake. All the important pages that you wish to classify correctly on your site must be well connected internally. For example, if you have an important page on your site showing two internal links, you will want to add more internal links to this page. This additional link can be obtained by modifying your information architecture or browsing the site or by finding other pages on your site relevant to the important page and adding a link content where it makes sense.

View Inbound Links to Your Site

I refer to the GSC Inbound Links Report as a research tool on the links between the poor and the poor. The information regarding the external inbound links contained in this report is in comparison with the data you can get by searching your backlinks using tools like Ahrefs SEMrush and ] Link Research Tools . I would use one of these tools for backlink search on Google's Inbound Links report every day of the week.

However, if you do not have the budget to pay for one of these tools, the GSC inbound links report is better than nothing. To see a sample of external links to your site Google knows go to GSC> your site> Search Traffic> Links to your site. You will find three basic reports listed on this screen.

– Who Connects The Most

The Link Which plus report shows you the top 1000 domains that link you externally – sorted by the number of inbound links you have from that domain. My use of the word domain instead of site here is deliberate. It consolidates links by domain, which is not the same as per site. An example would be This report groups all the links from the root domain together instead of each site / subdomain of

Clicking on any root domain in the list will take you to a screen which shows all the different The URLs of your website are related to this area. By clicking on one of these individual URLs, you will see a list of specific URLs for that domain that are linked to that page of your website. This report can help you assess the overall quality of your hyperlink profile. You should see more legitimate sites than spammed sites. If this is not the case, you will want to work on developing more meaningful backlinks for your site .

If you see a ton of spam links, you might consider disavowing them – but that would be a separate whole blog. You can find more information about what disavows is and why people could do it here .

– Your Most Linked Content

The Most Linked Content Report Shows You Pages On your website, Google estimates that the links are the most sorted by the number of times that They are associated. By clicking on any URL in the list, you will see a list of root domains that are linked to that page. By clicking on one of the root domains listed on this screen, you will get a list of the specific URLs of that domain that are related to your page.

As for the link that has the most relationship, your most important pages will have the most external links pointing to them. If you see a missing critical page at the top of the list, you will want to work on developing more external backlinks to these pages.

– How Your Data is Linked

This report will show you the 200 best combinations of anchor text used by the links to your site according to Google. To be honest, this report is pretty useless. It does not show you the pages pointed by anchors or where they come from. Digging Deep into Analytics Research Reports

From day to day, Google was providing complete keyword data to analytics – meaning that you were able to see what keywords used in the search organic Google has brought visitors to each particular page of your website and data surrounding the conversion of specific keywords

In 2011, they began to restrict this data. ] In 2013, they stopped providing keyword data for analytics, which prevented them from knowing which keywords were sending traffic and converting from natural search. It was a blow for the webmaster community. A quick search for Not Provided will produce tons of articles written by SEOs with attempts to find workarounds.

GSC already had Search Analytics at this time, but the data was basic and a dull replacement for previous data. But over the past few years, Google has provided more data through their search analytics. This is not yet an equal replacement, but it has become more robust and can now provide actionable information.

Go to GSC> your website> Search in Traffic> Search Analytics. By default, this screen displays search keywords that send traffic to your site, ranked by number of clicks on your site. There are many ways to sort and view the data that they have on your site. I will focus on some simple and exploitable views

– See keywords that drive traffic to which pages

On the default screen displaying queries, click the button radio next to Pages. Click on the URL of a page displayed in this list. Check the radio button next to Queries. You will see a list of the specific keywords for which each page is classified and for which it receives traffic.

On this screen, check the box next to Position. You will see your Google ranking ranking report for each of the keywords generating traffic to this page. You can choose the keywords for which you are ranked – but not in the first rank – and further optimize the page for that term

Keep in mind that it is often easier to move a page from position 10 to position 4 on a valuable keyword, you have to move from position 2 to position 1. I like to search for terms that generate a significant number of clicks although they are at the bottom of the first page or at the top of the second page and make slight optimizations (such as ensuring that the complete sentence is on the page if necessary) to move it a few points higher.

– Finding opportunities to optimize the CTR

CTR refers to the clickthrough rate. That's the percentage of people who click on your result when your page appears as one of the results on the search results page that they are viewing. From the Default Search Analytics screen, select the check box next to CTR. The resulting screen will show you the click-through rate you get from the keywords generating traffic to your site.

If you see a keyword generating a significant number of clicks with a low clickthrough rate, you should do a search for the term and see your result as a user would see it. Do you have a personal description for this page? Does it contain a strong and relevant call for action to entice users to click on the page?

With the CTR check box checked, if you check the option box next to Pages, a list of CTRs will be displayed per page in general. Click any URL in this list, and then check the Queries option box. You can now see the CTR on this particular page by individual keyword.

– Segment of generic search term mark search terms

A trademark query is most often the one that includes the name of your company or website. Sites typically rank higher on their brand queries, so segmenting the display to filter brand queries will give you a more accurate representation of the average CTR, impressions, and position of your site.

This is useful because you can only filter the report by keyword at a time, which can cause problems based on the number of trademark queries that your site can generate. For example, if you are a blogger, branding queries can include both your site name and your name. But GSC limits you to being able to exclude only one query.

That said, it is worth checking out. Especially to segment the view to include only a brand term. You should be well ranked on these. If you are not, you might have a problem that you need to search and address.

Pro Tip: You can a little bundle the trademark queries by including only a part in the filter. For example, my site name is Sugarrae, and my name is Rae (Hoffman) Dolan. By segmenting any query containing rae, it collectively gathers the words "sugarrae", "rae hoffman", "rae dolan", "sugar rae", etc …

– Segment data by type of search

Obtain significant traffic from images or videos or if you wish, you can segment the data into GSC Search Analytics to display traffic by type: Web, Images and Videos.

For example: From the main GSC search In the Analytics screen, click the drop-down menu under Search Type, hover over Filter by Search Type and choose Image. The resulting screen will show you a list of keywords generating traffic to your site via the search for images. You can click a keyword to see the pages that receive the Image traffic from that keyword.

You can also filter this report using the Pages radio button to display the list of pages receiving the Image traffic. If you click on a page in the list, it will show you all the keywords generating the Image traffic to this page.

Check the box next to Position on these views to display the ranking of your images for each term when available. If Image or Video traffic is important to you, you can work on to optimize your or video images for the terms suggested in the See what keywords drive traffic to which pages section. .

– Keep Your Historical Data GSC

It is important to note that Google Analytics from Google can store only 90 days of data. To preserve historical data, you must either export the data regularly, or use a tool like Raven Tools that stores the historical data for you after integration. their tool with your Google Search Console.

To export the historical data yourself, see this script and the post written by Paul Shapiro. The message explains how Paul automatically downloads GWT data and includes his Python script to do this.

This is a good start

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Google Search Console has a large number of features. But the above is a quick start guide for beginners that will help you focus on some of the most important features and opportunities that it offers.

Do you use AdSense on your website? If so, you will find my guide to obtain meaningful and actionable data from the AdSense report interface here .

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