Coders' Guidebook

SEO lessons: how to set up Google Search Console

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of getting your site to rank well on search engines such as Google. A core tool in your SEO arsenal should be the Google Search Console. You can use the Search Console to confirm whether a webpage is listed on Google, monitor your position in the search rankings, identify usability errors that may harm your ranking, and much more! This tutorial will show you how to set up a Search Console account by either adding DNS code to your domain or uploading an HTML file.

Registering your domain on Google Search Console

To set up a Google Search Console account, visit the search console website, press 'Start now' and enter your URL in either the Domain or URL prefix channel. Both methods are fine but differ in the method by which you verify ownership of the domain. The Domain channel requires you to add some DNS code to your domain, while the URL prefix channel will ask you to upload a file.

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The Domain verification channel

If you go through the Domain verification channel then Google will ask you to add some DNS TXT code to your domain.

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To add the code to your website, you will need to log in to your domain registration provider and locate the DNS configuration page. Our recommended domain registration and hosting provider is x10hosting. If you are using them (or another provider that utilises cPanel) then you can configure your DNS settings using the Zone Editor.

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In the zone editor press the Add Record button.

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Fill in the details of your domain name and add a full stop on the end e.g. treesandtrees.com., set the type to TXT and in the Record section copy and paste the text that Google Search Console asked you to add.

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Once you have added the TXT you should get a confirmatory message.

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There will be a bit of a delay before the Google Search Console will register the DNS TXT. It may be best to wait a couple of hours (sometimes up to a whole day) before retrying the verification. You will know the DNS code has been successfully processed when you receive the following confirmatory message.

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Pressing Go To Property will open up the Search Console Overview for your domain.

The URL prefix verification channel

An alternative method of verifying your domain is to upload an HTML file to your domain. Google Search Console will provide you with this file when you click through the URL verification channel.

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Download the file and upload it to the public_html folder of your website. This is the same folder which holds your index.html homepage file (if you need a refresher on how to upload files to your website then see this tutorial).

Once you have uploaded the file, return to Google Search Console and press Verify. You should get a message saying your ownership has been verified. It is important not to remove the file you uploaded because you may lose your verified status.

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Pressing Go To Property will open up the Search Console Overview for your domain.

Using Google Search Console

Google Search Console has several features which allow you to track (and improve) the usability and search ranking of your website.

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First, you have the Overview. This gives you an indication of how many visitors your site has attracted through Google over the last week, how many webpages from your site are listed on Google and whether any of these webpages contain errors that may harm their ranking in Google.

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Clicking the errors takes you to the Mobile Usability section. Here you can find out what the errors are and which pages are affected. Resolving these errors should be a priority because they are likely negatively impacting the user experience and consequently your Google ranking.

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Two other important sections of the Search Console are Performance and URL inspection. On the Performance page, you can get some important insight into what search terms are bringing the most traffic to your website as well as which webpages are most popular. The Performance section also tells you a bit about the location of your users and the kind of device they are using to visit your website.

The URL inspection page allows you to check when Google last crawled a given webpage. Crawling is the process by which Google adds your webpages to its search engine database. Once a webpage has been crawled it is indexed ready to be shown in search results. On the URL inspection page, you can request Google crawl a new webpage (i.e. one that has not yet been indexed), recrawl an already indexed page you have made changes to, and check whether anything is preventing a given webpage from being indexed.

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We will cover some other stuff you can do with Google Search Console, such as adding sitemaps, in upcoming tutorials.

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