For years, Google has been collecting data from websites in order to improve the experience for users. A lot of this data is made available to webmasters through a service known as Google Search Console (GSC), formerly known as "Google Webmaster Tools".

Although GSC is not exactly marketed as an SEO tool, the data offered within it is priceless when it comes to making sure your website is healthy and well optimized for Googles search engine.

Assuming you don’t know the first thing about Google Search Console, here follows a basic step-by-step guide intended to get you up and running.

 

Adding Your Site To GSC

To set up your website on GSC, simply sign in to Google Search Console using your Google account. Once inside, you will be  welcomed with an “Add a site” prompt. Simply enter your site’s URL, verify your website as required, and get set to explore the features of GSC.

 

Add SiteCredit: Lund SEO & Online Marketing

 

Dashboard

The dashboard is where it all begins in GSC. There you will find all the links to the various tools and statistics available to you.

Messages

The Site Messages button is right below Dashboard. Here you will find any messages (mostly warnings) from Google.

 

Search Appearances

Next on the list is Search Appearances. This tab provides you with a menu of options affecting your site’s appearance in search results. By clicking on the "Info" icon you can also learn more about snippets, site-links, rich snippets, authorship and more.

searchappearanceCredit: Lund SEO & Online Marketing

 

The Structured Data Section – which is under the Appearance menu, gives you an inclusive summary of your website’s schema markup, and whether you have any errors related to your structured data. To track specific pages with errors, simply click on the error message.

Click on "error type" to learn more about the error in question and how to correct it.

structuredCredit: Lund SEO & Online Marketing

 

Search Traffic

In the Search Traffic menu, you will get a simple, yet very useful overview of the queries that have brought the most traffic to your website, the click-through rates, the number of impressions (how many times your site has been shown), and your site's position in the search results. This is a great place to easily follow your site's visibility.

 

Search TrafficCredit: Lund SEO & Online Marketing

 

Google Index

Here you can learn more about which of your website’s URLs are indexed by Google. The menu contains such sections as the "Index Status", "Content Keywords", and "Remove URLs", which provide you with; a graph of the number of URLs indexed, a view of the most used keywords, and an option to request Google not to index certain pages.

 

Crawl

You can view all the things Google sees when it crawls your website in the "Crawl" menu. In there you will also be able to see any errors encountered by Google while trying to index your site, Googlebot's activity over the last three months, any blocked URLs, and whether your Robots.txt file is working correctly.

 

Crawl ErrorsCredit: Lund SEO & Online Marketing

Security Issues

The Security Issues section lets you know if you are being hacked or if you’ve been infected by malware. 

 

Labs

Under this menu, you will find all the tools that Google is currently testing for webmasters. Author Stats is one such tool, which lets you in on how content you are claiming to be the author of is performing in terms of clicks, impressions, and position in search.

I hope you found this crash-course useful. However, I strongly recommend you take some time to play around with Google Search Console yourself, as well as checking out Google's documentation, to learn how to get the most out of it.