The life of your e-commerce business often hinges on your site’s SEO performance. If people can find you, they might buy from you.
There are free SEO tools to help, one of them being the Google Search Console. Below is what the dashboard might look like in action.
You should set that up as soon as you can, preferably when you launch your site and before you start your SEO campaigns. You will understand why quickly.
If you’re one of those people who cringe when you see anything remotely mathematical, don’t worry: you’re not alone. However, Google Search Console isn’t hard to understand once you know what those squiggly lines represent.
At the very least, the under-the-hood insights it can give you about your site makes it worth the headache. Let’s dive right in.
- Google Search Console is a free platform with tools and reports designed to monitor the SEO performance of a website.
- Users can generate a host of reports covering everything from search appearance to HTML tags for actionable insights to improve their site’s SEO.
- E-commerce and small businesses can get valuable insight into their site’s searchability, search visibility, and performance by setting up the Search Console.
What Is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a free platform where you can track how well Google plays with your site and if you need to intervene to ensure optimal search results and ranking.
The Search Console gives you access to information about what’s going on under the surface of your website. Google Search Console often goes hand-in-hand with another free tool, Google Analytics, for assessing your e-commerce site’s performance.
You can think of the Search Console as the one ensuring that the house is clean, functional, and easy to find for visitors, and Google Analytics as the one checking how long visitors stay and in what part of the house.
What Is the Benefit of Using Google Search Console?
- Identify High-performing Keywords
- Track Indexing
- Keep Up With Enhancements
You can use the tools and reports you see on the Search Console dashboard for any type and number of websites you might be managing. However, it’s particularly useful for e-commerce websites because it tracks those factors that affect a website’s performance for organic search visibility.
The Search Console provides you with insights that can help you build or modify your SEO strategy. The Search Console also provides reports on crawl errors, indexing information, keyword ranking data, referring domains (inbound links), and mobile site performance (if you have one).
If you make any changes or improvements to your site, the Search Console tells you if it’s good or bad for your search ranking and traffic. When you have that kind of data, imagine what you can do with it.
Having that kind of information accessible is critical for an e-commerce website. A lot goes on in the back end of an e-commerce site, and if anything is hurting your search visibility in any way, you want to know in real-time.
While Search Console is most useful for webmasters (hence its former name), it can also provide actionable insights to business owners, web and app developers, SEO professionals, marketers, and cybersecurity specialists. It’s a matter of accessing the correct reports for the data each requires. For e-commerce business owners, Search Console can help them with ranking in Google and gaining the competitive edge in several ways.
Identify High-performing Keywords
Search Console measures the number of impressions and clicks a site gets on a search and the click-through rate (CTR) for specific keywords. You can use this data to identify keywords on your site that are drawing the most attention and build a cluster of similar or related search terms around those keywords. You can use a separate keyword search tool for the best results.
The quality of your content and metadata optimization is only as good as Google’s ability to find it. Search Console can tell you which pages of your site Google was able to crawl and index.
When you have that information, you can pinpoint pages that Google hasn’t found and fix any problems. It would be best to actively have Search Console reindex your site every time you make any changes to ensure everything is still in line with your SEO.
Keep Up With Enhancements
Google is constantly changing the features, look, and layout of its search engine results pages (SERP), so you can use Search Console to tell you where your site is lagging in terms of these changes.
For example, SERPs with rich snippets use schema markup, so you might need to step up your game in that area. If your site is mobile-friendly ― it should be ― then you may need to address the loading time as Google favors sites that load faster.
You can also use a paid SERP tracking tool to cover any areas that Search Console might have missed. Paid SERP tools are usually more thorough than Search Console, so you should do a cost-benefit analysis to understand if it’s worth paying for SERP tracking.
All this information is readily available in the Search Console, and it can be overwhelming for the new user. However, if you take the trouble to use it, it can pay back in spades. To help you get started, Google provides some excellent tutorials on Search Console here.
How to Set Up Google Search Console Quickly
The first thing you need to do is to set up the Google Search Console for your website. As always, Google provides a step-by-step guide, but here it is briefly for an e-commerce or business website:
- Sign in to your business (not personal) Google account that you want to associate with your e-commerce site. Make sure you know your login information and domain name server (DNS) information. If you don’t have a Google account, create one associated with your business email address, such as [email protected].
- Go to the Google Search Console setup page.
- Click on the drop-down menu on the right and click on “Add property.” You will see two types of property: domain and URL prefix. If you choose the domain option, Search Console tracks information about your whole site regardless of the prefix such as http:// or https://. However, adding a domain property requires DNS verification. If you choose the URL prefix option, you only need to copy-paste the URL of your site as it appears in the browser window.
- Once you have added a property, the next step is to verify that it’s yours. Google provides several verification methods on its support site.
Once you have verified your property, you can add more properties or jump right into generating data from Search Console.
How To Use Google Search Console for Your Small Business
- Increase Organic Search Traffic
- Spruce Up your Site’s Look in Search
- Improve Your HTML
- Track Links
- Control Indexing
While Search Console has many tools that can help your e-commerce or small business with a website, the following are the key benefits you can expect to reap.
Increase Organic Search Traffic
The whole point of Search Console is to optimize search for your site, so it has an entire selection of tools available for search traffic. You can generate different reports showing how visitors get to your site, the most popular search strings, and your best-performing pages. Use those reports to optimize your SEO strategy moving forward so that more people can find your e-commerce business.
Spruce Up your Site’s Look in Search
Search Console is the mirror to your site pages as it appears on SERP for relevant search strings. You see what searchers see when your pages appear on SERP, and that helps you assess if you need to make any changes to the title, URL, site links, or meta descriptions. You can choose to view your site in a standard SERP, rich snippets, and rich cards, and you should so you can see what your pages look like in all their glory.
Improve Your HTML
Your HTML tags determine if Google will index you or not. You want to make sure you have all the essential tags on your site optimized for relevant keywords, including the heading, title, headers, metadata, and content. Search Console ensures that you don’t miss a trick and helps you identify areas that need attention when it comes to your HTML.
Keep in mind that Google doesn’t like it when you have more than one title or H1 tag on a page. Use the proper title tag hierarchy for content, reserving high-level heading tags for the most important topics on the page.
You’ve probably heard about the importance of link building using backlinks and internal links for establishing your brand and authority, thus helping you with SEO. Yet, it’s equally important to know the authority of websites linking to you and the anchor texts they use because that helps you with your link-building strategy.
Search Console can identify these backlinks so you can plan on how to increase the number of links to and from your site. It can also let you know if your strategy is working by identifying new links to and popularity of your site.
Generally, you want Google to index your pages so they can show up in SERPs, hopefully high on ranking. Search Console can track these pages and help you identify which pages Google is indexing, which ones are not, and what you need to do to fix the issue. If you have a blocked resource that you want to unblock, you can see it in the Search Console.
However, it can also identify URLs to pages on your site that you might not want Google to see, such as an internal database, duplicate content, page under construction, and so on. Either way, Search Console can show you what you need to put in and what you need to take out of indexing.
What To Do Next
Google Search Console is a valuable and free resource you can use immediately to check the SEO status and health of your e-commerce website. What’s best is that account owners receive an email with details in case of errors and warnings. However, it’s best to check Google Search Console results and reports consistently and regularly for anything that may need your urgent attention.