A Beginner’s Guide to Google Search Console

Table of Contents

Google Search Console Homepage

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a Google tool with a lot of functionality to help with SEO. Here are just some of the things you can do with it:

  • See how your website is performing in Search (specifically on Google)
  • Identify errors that could be hurting your site’s SEO and your user experience
  • Carry out keyword research
  • Check internal links and backlinks
  • Help Google crawl your website
  • Analyse individual pages to find errors and opportunities for improvement

It’s a fantastic tool if you want to improve your search presence and create a stronger site for your business.

How to Set Up Google Search Console

If you don’t yet have a Search Console account, then you’ll need to set one up. Head to the Search Console home page and select Start now.

If you already have a Google account (for example, Gmail or Google Workspace), you can select Add a Property in the top left, then follow the instructions to add your website. You may need your web developer’s help to verify ownership or, if you’re using WordPress, can do so with the help of a suitable plugin such as Search Console by Tropicalista.

If you don’t have a Google account at all, you will need to first create an account first.

Keep in mind that, for a new Search Console account, you will need to wait for a while before the system has gathered enough data for its tools to work effectively.

Google Search Console Features for Beginners

Let’s jump ahead a few weeks to when you have some usable data in your console.

There are several different Performance Reports in Search Console, each of which can help you improve your website.


This reports provides you with a general overview of how your website is performing in Google Search. You can quickly identify possible issue areas before looking closer at them in one of the other sections.

Information here includes how many clicks your website has received over the last three months, general trends in traffic, and possible user experience issues such as poor Core Web Vitals. We’ll look at these in more detail later.

Remember that all this data is based on organic traffic, not paid or direct traffic.

URL Inspection

URL Inspection in Google Search Console

The URL Inspection function allows you to look closer at a specific page on your website. Simply copy and paste the full URL and hit Enter to generate the report. Here you can see whether Google can find the page when crawling your site, whether it appears on your sitemap, and whether it’s secure

If any of your pages are receiving a particularly low amount of traffic, or are not performing well, then the URL Inspection tool might help you identify why.

For example, if the page isn’t indexed, it won’t show up in the SERPs and so can’t be found organically. Make sure the page is indexed by:

  • Including it on your sitemap
  • Requesting that Google index it
  • Ensuring other pages on your site link to it, and
  • Removing any noindex tags (you may need help from a developer for this step).

The URL Inspection page will also allow you to see when Google last crawled your page – i.e. how up-to-date its information is. If your page has had significant updates and hasn’t been crawled in a while, you may want to manually Request Indexing.

Search Results

A graph on Google Search Console showing the clicks and search impressions of a website

The Search Results report helps you see how your website is performing in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Here, you can view your site’s overall clicks, impressions, average CTR and average position on Google. It also allows you to identify the search phrases that trigger your site in search results.

As if that’s not enough, you can also use this report to see:

  • How individual pages perform in Search
  • The devices searchers use to view your site (e.g. mobile, desktop or tablet)
  • The countries searchers are from
  • Where your site shows in Search with special features such as video, review snippets or product results

You can view data over different periods and use a number of other filters to dig down into the data.

There is a handy option to export too, so that you can analyse the information more closely.

The Search Results report is a useful tool for keyword research and tracking: you can identify popular search queries and see how target phrases are performing.


Google Discover offers users a curated list of relevant topics based on their browsing history and interests. For site owners, it’s another way to gain visibility and traffic from a highly-relevant audience.

This report in Google Search Console specifically tells you if any of your pages have been displayed in Discover. However, you will need to have reached a minimum number of impressions before you can see any data on here. When you do, you can see pages that appear on Discover, how they appear, when they appear, and in which countries they are viewed.


The Pages report lets you see if there are any crawl errors on your site. For example, if you’ve submitted a URL via your sitemap and that page can’t be found, or if a page is marked ‘noindex’ and Google thinks it shouldn’t be.

As a beginner, you will be limited on the number of fixes you can make based on this report. Correcting errors flagged here will often require a developer or an SEO expert. However, there are a couple of things that you can look for and potentially change yourself.

Any pages with a Not Found (404) have probably been deleted or the content moved to another URL. Click the error on the report to see which pages are facing this issue.

Check that no other pages are linking to the missing page. You can do this by selecting the URL and running the Inspect URL function. In the results, look for Referring page and see which URLs are linking to the missing page. Then edit those linking pages so that the 404 link is removed or updated.

URL inspection report on Google Search Console

If another, similar page still exists, set up a redirect from the old URL to the new one. This can be done with the help of a developer, or through a WordPress plugin.

Most other errors flagged in the Pages report will likely require a more advanced level of SEO. If you open this report and see a high number of issues, then you may need speak to your developer or an SEO expert.

In general, the Indexing report is most useful to larger sites. If you’re a small site or only have one or two errors, this is often not a problem.


Sitemaps on Google Search Console

This is where you submit your website’s sitemap(s).

The sitemap tells Google how your website is structured and the pages that it should be crawling. It should be formatted to indicate higher-level (and therefore more important) pages and a clear site hierarchy.

A sitemap can be found by Google’s crawlers without you doing anything, but it’s generally quicker to submit manually.

Firstly, make sure your site has a sitemap. If you use a WordPress plugin like Yoast, it will automatically generate one for you. If you don’t have such a plugin, and don’t already have a sitemap, you will need to create one.

Whether or not you use Yoast (or a similar SEO plugin), you can usually find your sitemap by typing in your website address followed by any of these filepaths:

  • /sitemap.xml
  • /sitemaps.xml
  • /sitemap_index.xml

If you have a particularly large website and multiple sitemaps, you may see several listed here.

Copy the filepath of your link (i.e. the sitemaps.xml part of the URL), and paste it into the Sitemaps report. Then click Submit.

Once your sitemap is submitted, Google will intermittently crawl it to check for new content.

You can also use this report to make sure all of your pages are being indexed. If your sitemap lists lots of pages, but Google Search Console has only discovered a few, then you should look for the cause of the issue. Perhaps links on your sitemap are broken (i.e. they don’t take you to a usable page), or maybe there’s a typo.

The URL Inspection report can help with identifying problems.


Find out which external sites are linking to your site, and which specific pages they’re linking to. This can help you identify any spam links to your site, or how much traffic you’re receiving from backlinks.

It can also show you the kinds of pages on your own website that external sites want to link to, either because the content is relevant to them, or because the information is useful. This, in turn, can influence content creation, link building, and possible affiliations.

Google Search Console Features for Advanced SEO

There are a number of other features available in Google Search Console, but they require a more advanced understanding of SEO and many need the input of an experienced developer.

As they go beyond the scope of this beginner’s guide to Google Search Console, I’ve included only a brief overview of each of the features.


Removals is handy if you want to urgently remove one or more of your web pages from Google Search. However, you don’t need to use it for everything and anything, and there’s no need to use it every time you delete or change a page on your website.

This tool is specifically for when a page contains sensitive content that needs to be promptly removed from Google Search. The vast majority of users will not need to make use of this tool.


There are three parts to the Experience section of Google Search Console. Each can help you make your whole website better for your users, whether that’s through increasing page load speed, ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, or analysing and improving Core Web Vitals.

You can start making improvements to your page experience by using the following guides:


The Enhancements reports list the rich results that Google has found on your website. These can include breadcrumbs, FAQs, review snippets and a number of others. Rich results are shown on Google Search with more detail than a standard listing – they include useful additional information such as star ratings.

Rich snippets on Google Search Results
Some rich snippets in the search results.

In order to include Rich Results, you need to add Structured Data , a type of code that provides Google additional information about your site. This can be extremely useful for making your Google listing stand out and improving your SEO, but will generally need the support of a developer. Some WordPress plugins, such as Yoast, will insert some Structured Data automatically.

Security & Manual Actions

Manual actions mean that a real person at Google has identified that your site breaches Google policies in some way. This could be through numerous spammy inbound and outbound links, copying content from other sites, use of black hat SEO techniques, or phishing, to name a few. If you use good SEO practices, then you’re unlikely to be hit with any of these actions.

If you do find yourself penalised, then your page(s) won’t show on Google Search and you will need to take steps to fix any issues. This can be a long process as you’ll need to demonstrate to Google that you’re taking appropriate action to clean up your site.

Security issues informs you if your site has been hacked or has malware. If you have any of these, you need to address them as soon as possible. Users will otherwise see a warning notice from Google whenever they try to land on your site.

If you have manual actions or security issues on your site, it can be extremely detrimental to your traffic and you should seriously consider hiring an SEO expert to help fix the problems and avoid making them worse.

Legacy Tools and Reports

At the time of writing, there are a handful of tools that haven’t been fully replaced in the newest version of Search Console. However, you can still access them via a Learn More link on the menu, though many will likely be irrelevant to your site.


Google Search Console has a lot of functionality to offer and can be effectively used by both beginners and experienced SEOs. You can use it to improve user experience on your site, create and improve content, analyse your progress in Google Search, and much more.

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