If your business has any sort of online presence, you need to make sure that your target audience can easily find it when searching on Google.
A website is more than just putting together a design and adding content that appeals to your customers. It also needs to be properly read by search engines so that it has a better chance of outranking other sites in search results. If you don't comply with a few simple search engine requirements, then your site may not even show up in search results at all.
Google Search Console, originally known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a free service that allows webmasters the ability to check the technical health of the websites they manage. It lets you easily see which aspects of your website need to be improved so that it can be indexed properly by Google and rank higher in search results. Let's take a look at some of the most important features of Google Search Console.
Register your Site
To get started, you need to sign in to a Google account and register your website with the service. After adding a website property, you will need to verify ownership of the registered website before you can use the Search Console. Once verified, Google will begin categorising your site as a trustworthy site.
If your website is designed for a particular geographic market, you can set a target country in Google Search Console so that your site shows up when search queries are made from that particular region. This step is not necessary for websites that use a country code with its top-level domain, e.g. .com.au or .co.uk. Websites made for an international audience should also skip this step and just create separate pages and URLs for country-specific content.
Submit Sitemap and Robots.txt
By uploading sitemap.xml and robots.txt files for your site you can give specific instructions to Google's web crawler about how your website and its contents should be indexed. A sitemap basically lists all the pages on your site and specifies what type of content (e.g., video or images) a page contains. The robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines which pages not to index. These two files complement each other to make indexing your site much faster and avoiding crawl errors.
Once you have your website properly setup on Google Search Console, you can check whether the Google web crawler has recently encountered any issues while processing your site and its pages. You can see site errors straight from the Search Console dashboard, and also get more detailed information about the error.
Links from Other Sites
In case you don't already know, having other websites across the internet that reference your website is a big win for search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to rank high in search engines, then you'll need to ensure your website is referenced as much as possible. Google Search Console will help out by letting you know what website domains are linking to your site.
Structured data is a relatively new concept but is becoming increasingly important. There are several methods available for setting up structured data on your website, such as JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. Basically, this is a form of markup which provides information of a web page in a uniform way to any web crawlers scanning your website in order to rank it in a search engine.
As you can see, the Google Search Console offers several neat tools to help you in managing your website, and executing your SEO strategy. We strongly recommend getting up to speed with the basics as it may just give you the edge over your competitors.