In this article, you’ll learn how to use Google Search Console to get the most accurate information and how to set it up.
Google Search Console is like a toolbox for website owners and marketers who want to improve their website's results on Google's search results. It gives you plenty of information and tools to understand how your pages and website are performing regarding ranking, user experience, and more.
For example, imagine you have a small eCommerce store that sells handmade jewelry. You want more people to find your website when they search for keywords like "handmade necklaces" or "unique earrings" on Google.
In that case, Google Search Console (GSC) will help you by showing:
- Your website health: GSC will alert you to any technical SEO issues on your site, like broken links or pages that aren't loading correctly. It's like a maintenance checklist for your website.
- What Google sees on your website: GSC shows you which pages of your site have been found and indexed (included) in Google's search results and which ones may be left out (and why).
- Keyword performance: GSC provides data on the keywords people use to find your site and how often (and in which position) your site appears in search results for those keywords.
- Clicks and impressions: GSC will also show you how many times your pages have appeared in search results for a specific keyword and how many people clicked on them in the SERPs to get to your website for more information.
In short, Google already monitors your website for SEO performance. Once you add your website to Google Search Console, you’ll get access to that data, which is crucial for you to know – as well as useful for any other tools (like SiteGuru) to give you the best tips for increasing your ranking.
With the benefits clear, it’s time to add your website to Google Search Console, i.e., validate your website ownership.
You can use a few methods, and I’ll get started with the most straightforward ones. Don’t worry; you won’t need developers to help you!
Adding an HTML method is the best and easiest way to add your website to GSC. First, make sure you have a Google Account.
Then, go to the GSC homepage.
You’ll be prompted to Add a new property if you haven’t already validated your website. Since you want your whole website to be monitored, choose the “Domain” option and enter your URL.
In our case, it’d be “siteguru.co.”
After entering your website's URL, Google Search Console will present different verification methods. Choose the "HTML tag" option.
Google will give you a unique HTML tag to add to your website. Copy it.
Then, paste this HTML tag into your website’s <head> (header) section.
Alternatively, go to your WordPress theme and edit the “header.php” file. Paste the code you copied above the <body> tag.
However, if you use this method, remember to re-add the tag when you change the theme. Otherwise, the validation could get broken.
Unless you use an SEO plugin, you’ll edit your theme. Go to the “Themes” section and select “Edit code.”
Again, you’ll look for the <head> tag and paste the code you copied below it.
If you can’t access your website's HTML code or are dealing with many subdomains, Google Search Console will offer DNS record verification. This means verifying your website through your domain name provider (e.g., GoDaddy, Namecheap, Bluehost).
You'll typically add a DNS TXT record provided by Google to your domain's DNS settings.
You’ll usually copy the TXT record into your DNS configuration, so log in to your domain registrar or hosting provider's website. Look for a section related to DNS settings, typically named "DNS Management," "Domain Management," or "DNS Zone Editor."
(Most domain providers have instructions to help you do it, so take a look through the Help Center.)
If you use Google Tag Manager on your website (for example, for Google Ads) or already use Google Analytics, you can use them to verify your ownership.
Google Analytics can be linked directly:
- Go to the “Admin” settings and “Property Settings.”
- There will be a Google Search Console section, so click “Add” to add your property.
- GA should recognize your account immediately. If not, select the Google Search Console property you want to verify.
On the other hand, Google Tag Manager only requires you to add additional code to it, so your site is also verified for GSC.
If none of the simpler methods work for you, there are other options, including the following:
- HTML file upload: Upload an HTML file to the root directory of your website.
- Google Sites verification: If you host your site on Google Sites, you can verify ownership directly by signing in with your Google account.
- Google Search Console API: This one is more for the devs, especially those who manage multiple sites. You’ll need to set up a Google Cloud project, enable the GSC API, get the credentials and the JSON file, and write code to help you manage properties.
Typically, you’ll use the URL prefix verification if you want to monitor and manage different parts of your website(s) in Google Search Console, including the following scenarios:
- Large websites with multiple subdomains or subdirectories
- Multilingual, multiregional, or international websites
- Websites with “News,” “Forums,” and other sections that need to be treated differently in SEO
In most cases, it’s best to verify the whole domain. It’s simpler and keeps everything under one roof!
If you’re a SiteGuru user, you’re familiar with our weekly technical SEO audits. However, when you add your website to Google Search Console (and connect GSC with SiteGuru with one click), you will also be able to get the following information in your weekly audits:
- Keyword tracking: Which keywords have improved? Which have declined? Which are new opportunities to make the most of?
- Rankings: How are your pages ranking? What can you do to improve their ranking even more? Which rankings are at risk?
- Content insights: Is your content the best it can be? What are the low-hanging fruits you can use to improve your performance? Which content is at risk?
- Click-through rates: How many clicks are you getting to your pages? How many clicks do you get when you rank in position #1 vs position #50?
In short, adding your website to Google Search Console and connecting it to SiteGuru gives you a complete overview of your SEO efforts.
You don’t even have to log into Google Search Console – SiteGuru will list all the actionable insights for you weekly.
So bookmark this guide and make room for GSC verification in your calendar! It’s time to take your SEO to new heights!