Google Search Console is the new name and improved version of Google’s Webmaster tool that gives users detailed reports on how visible their pages are on Google. Once you’ve submitted your website to Google Search Console, it will take less than no time to figure out why Google has troubles crawling or accessing your content.
You can also rely on WordPress webmaster services to pull off valuable stats on your traffic, but those won’t help understand where traffic is coming from, and which search engines visitors are using to discover your content. Similar webmaster tools are offered also by other search engines and social engagement websites, but none of them has the power and insights Google’s Search Console has.
What makes Google Search Console so special? To start with, the tool provides extra stats concerning traffic, as for instance the number of people that visit your website using Google queries, their exact locations, or a number of clicks on separate pages and posts. The coolest and most important thing Search Console reveals is the overall number of different site URLs Google has indexed, as well as the keywords that matter the most to your website, and related information.
Keep in mind that using Search Console is not a mandatory precondition for Google to index your pages, the same as Bing and all other popular engines. Instead, think of Search Console as a smart and free way to obtain operable business intelligence, and collect information that can improve the quality of your business decisions.
How to Verify WordPress Blog In Google Search Console
In most cases, Google Search Console verification requires a hidden meta tag to be added to your pages. This way, you’d have to edit the names of all theme files in the directory and lose a lot of time, which is why WordPress developers came up with the idea of creating few helpful tools.
To start with, use your Google account to log into http://g.co/SearchConsole. The first page will be the welcoming one, where a special field is provided for you to insert the address of your blog or website.
The next step is to select ‘Add a Property’. Two tabs will appear in front of you, offering you recommended and alternative methods to verify your site. For WordPress websites, Google recommends choosing the second option. Choose “HTML tag” option to proceed.
As you move on, you will come across an HTML code line that looks something like:
<meta name="google-site-verification" content="VerificationKeyCode" />
Copy the whole line (code), abandon the verification page for a while, and go to the website’s Settings section opening a new tab or a new window.
Choose the SEO tab, and you will see the Site Verification Services with a special Google field that will be empty at that point. Paste the code inside, save the changes, and most of the work will be done.
Go back to the Verification Page, and click on Verify.
How to upload HTML verification file to my website with WordPress plugins
Open Google Search Console’s website (Webmaster Tools), and use your Google account to sign in. Once done, insert the URL of your website, and click on the ‘Add New Site’ button.
As the next screen appears, the user is invited to confirm the ownership of his website, either by directly uploading the HTML file in the root directory (in the ideal scenario would be using FTP), or choosing the alternate meta tag method suggested to him.
In order to simplify the process of adding meta tags to the site, we recommend you to install the Insert Headers and Footers plugin (check many other great business plugins), and copy-paste Google’s meta tag inside. The tag will look quite similar to the following:
<meta name="google-site-verification" content="VerificationKeyCode"/>
Next, open Settings, and choose Insert Headers and Footers. The meta tagline should be pasted inside the header section. After that, all changes should be saved, and the user should return to Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools) to confirm and verify his website.
Verifying through SEO Plugins
WordPress SEO plugin users should copy the received verification key provided in the meta tag content part, and paste it directly to the plugin. Just open the Admin sidebar, locate the Webmaster Tools section, and paste the code in the appropriate field. Remember to save the changes you’ve made, and return to Search Console to verify the site.
Both Ultimate SEO plugin and All In One SEO plugin offer an empty field for you to check and verify your Search Console account. What you are supposed to do is to copy-paste the HTML code given by Google.
Jetpack plugin users who’ve chosen this option as the only one that allows them to confirm their WordPress.com hosting verification should go to the plugin’s Settings and put the Site Verification Module into action (in most cases, it will be activated by default). Next, they should open Tools ->Available Tools, and find the box where they should paste Google’s Meta tag for Search Console.
Yoast SEO is another plugin that connects your website directly to Google Search Control and lets you see how the engine is indexing pages directly from your dashboard.
Visit Google Search Console, open your Google account, and click on the red button used to assign a website. The next step will be to insert the site’s URL address in the provided box and confirm by clicking on the blue button. At this point, you will receive a Google authorization code which you can use to check data instead of the alternative HTML tag. For the tag, you only need to copy the parenthesis code after the content.
Next, go to WP’s admin page and log in. In the left section of your Dashboard, there will be a menu with several options, among which SEO. Click on it, and you will see a large list of settings and options to choose from. Go to ‘Webmaster tools’ and paste the same code in the Google Search Console space. Save the changes, go back to Search Console, and confirm by clicking on Verify.
Upon verification, use the Add a Site button once again in order to list the www. A version of your website (that’s the version you should use). There will also be an Alternate Methods tab where you can click to confirm the HTML tag you’re using is yours (the same way you did before). Nevertheless, you can skip pasting this tag to your website, as you’ve already inserted it. What you’re doing at this point is confirming the ownership of both website versions (www and non-www), so simply click on Verify, and your work will be done.
Why are you required to submit both versions of your website? What Google is trying to achieve in this way is to confirm there are no websites with duplicated content and different URLs, while on the user’s side, this provides enough information on errors caused by entries made by two domains in one place. WordPress handles this pretty smartly, as it automatically directs requests from one URL to the other, depending on what you’ve chosen as a preferred method in the platform’s General Settings. The important part here is to make sure the site displays content at one URL only, as Google tends to penalize everything else for plagiarism.
Now that your website is verified, you can include your XML sitemap as well. Google will afterward take some time to confirm your site’s data, but once it does, it will start using it only to your advantage.
We recommend beginners to submit their XML sitemaps as soon as the website goes live, as Google relies significantly on this tool to understand the site’s structure and cover as many pages as possible. In all other cases, it will be more difficult for it to crawl the entire website, especially if there are no links or navigation instructions that could guide it.
How does Google’s Search Console help detect WordPress site issues?
Crawl Errors – You can use the Crawl Errors page to discover details on the URLs Google didn’t successfully crawl, and learn more about the HTTP error codes you received. Visit the page and read details on how you can depict and fix website errors. For 404 page not found errors, try to fix the broken links that appear in your content, or enable 301/302 redirects instead.
Crawl Stats – This page delivers Googlebot information on all activity performed on your website in the last three months. With stats relatively low compared to the number of pages you own, Crawl Stats may be signalizing that your loading times are not as Google would like them to be, and that’s the reason why they weren’t efficiently crawled.
Robots.txt Tester – The Robots.txt Tester is used to disable old and unused HTML sites you wish to ‘hide’ from Google. All you should do is to open your public_html directory and the robot.txt files inside and deselect the options. Another smart idea is to check Discourage search engines for the particular page (go to Settings -> Reading in WordPress), as this will keep Google away too.
Sitemaps – Sitemaps are Google’s favorite tool used to examine websites’ structure and to cover as many of their pages as possible. Without Sitemaps, the system would find it quite challenging to crawl sites using only their links on homepage navigation.