Getting The Most Out Of Search Console: 5 Things You Can Do In Google Search Console That Will Improve Your Search Presence
Google Search Console is an extremely useful tool for any SEO agency or in house marketing department monitoring and working on improving search presence. From Amending 404 errors, to managing structured data, Google Search Console has many uses which all contribute to improving SEO rankings and increasing traffic.
1: Amending 404 errors
An HTTP 404 error is when a user cannot reach the webpage they desire as a result of the server being unable to locate it. This is an error from the proprietor’s side and so SEO Agencies usually take on the responsibility to have them fixed to ensure positive organic performance and user experience. For an SEO Agency this is standard housekeeping that will be monitored throughout the time they are with the client. The predominant cause of 404 errors is content on the website that’s either been moved to another URL or removed. These errors can also appear due to other circumstances such as:
- The domain requested may not be able to convert to an IP by DNS
- When re designing or creating a URL it may have been typed into the browser incorrectly or linked incorrectly.
- There is no connection between the website and the server
Google look upon 404 errors unfavourably as their crawlers will identify them and remove them from their search index. In doing so they will also drop page rank from all links directed to the page which can result in lower rankings on the SERP. It’s therefore imperative to redirect the links of importance that are returning these 404 errors.
Before amending any 404 errors, you will need to have insight into where exactly these errors are coming from. Google Search Console is an excellent tool which will provide you with this information. To access this information you can request a crawl error report. Once you have received the report you will be in good stead to fix these errors and maintain a growing organic presence.
2: Geo Targeting
User experience is top priority for Google so returning a user to the most relevant site is crucial. As a search results will vary depending on the geographical location of the user, geo targeting is critical to maximise organic growth and user experience. For example, a user in the UK would receive different results to a user in Spain. Geo targeting is a great way of letting Google knows which countries you wish to target.
If your website has a country coded domain, Google won’t be able to specify a location geographically but you can highlight your target county in “The International Target Report”. If your website has a top level domain like .com or .org you can let Google know which countries are priorities to you. To do this, click on the country tab, check the Geographical target checkbox and select the countries you wish to target. To disassociate your site from countries that are not relevant select “unlisted “in the drop down list.
Within Google Search Console you can also manage and audit href lang tags – these will also provide search engines with a directory of which content to show which users, dependant on location and language settings.
3: Managing Structured Data
You can help Google understand the content of your page by integrating structured data. This will give indications of the subject and meaning of the page. Google will also use this data to enable geo graphic search results. As structured date contains code known as schema mark up, when Google Crawls your structured data the pages must relate to the subject, or type tags you have added to the page. Setting up schema tagging is a standard practice for SEO agencies in 2017, and with rich cards and featured snippets becoming increasingly common, it is important to ensure your structured data is working correctly. It is the most effective way to give Google important information about your website and is an effective way of showing relevance resulting in positive organic performance. You can revise the guidelines in the Guidelines section on Google to be sure you execute this correctly.
4: Data Highlighting
When managing your structured data, it is important to be able to enable Google to understand the pattern of data in your website. This can be accomplished through using the data highlighter tool. This tool allows you to tag data such as date, name or location, which will then instruct Google to display it in a more attractive and streamlined way. From a user’s point of view, this makes search results appear much more engaging, with information logically displayed. You can even go one step further, and organise your pages into one or more page sets. The data from these pages will all be displayed consistently, in the same layout. This makes it easy to create consistent data layouts in the SERP’s.
5: Crawl Management
Having your pages and URL’s crawled by google bots is critical to allow for quick indexing, getting your site to appear in search results as quickly as possible. This can be achieved by uploading an XML sitemap to Google Search Console. This sitemap should contain all the links and data for your entire site, instructing Google bots to crawl those specific links. If you have received crawling errors, you can make changes and request a re-crawl, without having to create a new sitemap. You can also use a robots.txt file to block google from crawling any negative links or unfinished pages. Some major factors that can effect crawling are:
- Domain name
- Number of Backlinks
- Internal Linking Structure
- XML Sitemap
- Duplicate Content
- Meta Data
Overall, google search console is a very useful tool to improve your search presence. From crawl management, to Geo targeting, there are a number of applications that can be used to increase rankings and traffic to your site.