Google Search Console is a versatile tool that offers a variety of data for your website. Not only is this a free tool, but it can also be integrated into various platforms such as Google Analytics and other reporting tools.
With Search Console, you can see how many clicks your website has received, what keywords people search for when they find your website, how mobile-friendly your web pages are, the indexation status of your pages, and many more features.
If you have a website and you’re not currently utilising Google Search Console, you could be missing out on some valuable information that could help you make informed decisions.
In this article, we’ll go through the different ways you can set up Google Search Console and link it with Google Analytics.
Before we begin setting up Search Console, you will need to sign up an account if you haven’t already. It’s completely free to register an account and there are no paid services or upgrades.
Once you’ve registered an account and you have signed in, you should see a welcome screen with two main options as shown below.
On this welcome screen, you can choose to either set up Google Search Console with the entire website domain or you can choose to track specific URL prefix properties.
With a domain property, you can cover all sub paths and subdomains. Whereas, with URL prefix properties, this enables you to individually analyse specific sections of the website which may be useful if you have multiple location pages, for example.
It’s important to note that you can only verify a domain property with DNS record verification. However, with a URL prefix property, you can use a variety of methods of verification. We will be explaining these below.
Verifying Your Ownership
Domain Property Verification
If you’ve chosen to add a domain property to Google Search Console, you will need to verify your ownership of your website by either authorising Google to access your DNS account or adding a TXT record to your DNS configuration through your domain name provider. Although this may sound confusing at first, it actually only takes a few steps.
Upon entering your domain property into Google Search Console and clicking ‘Continue’, a pop-up box will appear with more information. Depending on who your DNS provider is, you can change the instructions via a dropdown box to receive tailored instructions. (if you’re unsure about who your domain name provider is, you can read more information here).
- If your DNS provider is on this list, you can select them and click ‘Start Verification’. This should take you to the login area for the domain provider which you can then sign into. Once you’ve signed in, you will need to authorise access to your DNS account (this may take up to a day to verify).
- If your DNS provider isn’t on the list, you will need to manually add the TXT record generated by Google. Simply log into your domain provider and copy the TXT record that Google Search Console had generated. You will then need to add this record into the DNS configuration for your website (for more specific information on adding a TXT record, please read these steps).
URL Prefix Property Verification
If you’ve chosen a URL Prefix property, you’ll be able to see a few more methods of ownership verification. Google Search Console recommends verifying by uploading an HTML file to your website, however, Search Console also offers other forms of verification which we will explain further below.
HTML File Verification
For the HTML file verification, you just need to download the generated HTML file. If you have FTP access to your website files, you can upload this HTML file to the root directory of your website. This can usually be done through a file manager. (if you’re unsure about how to do this, you can contact your web hosting provider and they will be able to provide support on this).
Once you have uploaded the HTML file onto your website, you can then go back to Google Search Console and click ‘Verify’ in order to complete the process.
HTML Tag Verification
This form of verification is very useful if you’re familiar with your website’s content management system and have access to it. When you verify ownership with this method, Google Search Console will scan your website for the specified HTML tag and as long as the code remains on the website, you will stay verified.
Depending on which content management system you are using, the process of dropping the HTML tag may differ. In this case, we’ll be explaining how you can do this with WordPress websites.
- Log into your WordPress website and you should be able to see a black column on the left-hand side.
- Near the middle of the column, you should see a tab labelled ‘Appearance’. Hover over Appearance and the you should see a menu pop out. Within this menu, there should be an ‘Editor’ tab.
- Click on the ‘Editor’ tab and find the ‘header.php’ file on the right-hand column.
- Find the closing </head> tag and paste the copied HTML tag just above this line.
- Click ‘Update File’ and the HTML tag will be added to your website.
You can now go back to Google Search Console and click ‘Verify’ to complete the process.
Another way of verifying your website is by connecting Google Analytics to Search Console. If you have already set up Google Analytics for your website, then there should already be a Google Analytics tracking code on the website. For this process to work, you will need to make sure that your Google Analytics account has at least ‘Edit’ access and has been set up under the same Google Account.
Once you’re logged into the right Google account, input the chosen URL into the URL Prefix Property and choose ‘Google Analytics’. You should then see the window above.
Simply click ‘Verify’ and Google Search Console should be verified.
Google Tag Manager
The final way you can verify your website on Google Search Console is by using Google Tag Manager.
This method is very convenient for those who have already set up a Google Tag Manager account and have implemented the Tag manager code onto their website. For those that have already set this up, all you need to do is:
- Log in to Google Search Console with the same Google account that you have used for Tag Manager (make sure this account has at least ‘Publisher’ permission for the Tag Manager container).
- Input your URL into the URL Prefix Property box and a verification box should pop up.
- Click ‘Verify’ to complete this process.
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