What is the Google Search Console?

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Mike Price - IDX Trainer

Why it’s important
The Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free service offered by Google. It’s an important tool to understand for anyone who has a website. It provides reporting and tools to optimize your website and maintain it to be sure you get the most out of how it impacts your SEO (search engine optimization). By making sure your site is configured optimally you can be assured that Google is indexing your pages properly and avoiding any issues that may adversely impact your overall exposure. Whether you’re brand new to SEO or an advanced user, you can take advantage of the Console and it’s tools.

Sticking to the rules
If you’re managing your own site’s SEO or if you use a developer for your site, it’s important to be familiar with the console and more importantly Google’s webmaster guidelines. Anyone who has had to work through the issues of violating the rules and getting a site out of “Google Jail” can attest to the importance of this issue.

Understanding search results
You’ve probably seen the search results of other websites and wondered how they managed to be displayed differently. Taking a little time to understand the different result types and ways you can structure your website’s pages to take advantage of them is well worth the time.

Getting Started

  1. Make sure your pages are optimized. If you’re using Wordpress for your site, a good SEO plugin will give you the ability to optimize the components of the page such as titles, keywords and phrases. Platforms like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly have dashboard components that allow you to optimize your site’s pages as well. SEO Moz has a definitive guide on optimizing pages for the best ranking.
  2. In order to use Google Search Console you will need a Google account. Chances are you already have one. One account in Google provides access to all of the products and services they provide. Use this link to find out if you already have an account or to set up a new one.
  3. Add your site to Google Search Console and verify ownership.
  4. Create and submit a sitemap. A sitemap is a file that organizes and identifies all of the pages in your site. Google has created a data format recognized by all search engines that makes it easier to capture and index an entire site. Search engines “crawl” websites on a regular basis and will use this file to include the pages in your site. You can easily create a sitemap file using a free online tool. Submit your file through the console by simply selecting the Add/Test Sitemap link and uploading the saved .xml file.
  5. Make sure your site is mobile friendly. The vast majority of your website content is viewed for the first time on a mobile device. Search engines give preferable ranking content that is properly formatted for phones and tablets. Use this tool to test your site’s mobile readiness. A Wordpress based site with a mobile responsive theme design is one of your best bets for a powerful IDX home search.

Conclusion
Even if you use a developer to manage and maintain your site, it’s important to understand how the structure of your data and it’s optimization has an impact on the overall performance as it relates to search.

TIP: Take into account, not all webmasters are SEO experts, either. Some are great site designers but lack the knowledge to implement your goals on that front. Make sure you ask if their experience includes a blend of design and SEO-optimization and then ensure they understand your goals for site content and search results.

By now I know you’re creating great hyperlocal content :) You owe it to yourself to make sure it’s being seen by the most qualified of buyer and seller prospects.

Google says it best:
Even if you won't be using Search Console yourself, you should be aware of it, become familiar with the basics of optimizing your site for search engines, and know what features are available in Google Search.”

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