Understanding Search Console Reports
Have you just verified your website on the Console to find host of option that you can’t seem to make sense of? Don’t worry! This quick guide will help you get an overview of all the basic reports present and give you pointers that will help you start improving your site. Console provides countless ways to enhance and monitor your pages. We’ve just listed a few important and indispensable ones in this blog.
Console can provide important data about the performance of your current pages, help you get valuable insights on how Google views your page, let you find opportunities, direct Google to crawl your page the way it’s optimal and can set you up for success in SEO. Isn’t that what you want ultimately?
Google uses “metrics” and “dimensions” to deliver and organize reports on almost all of their tools. So, in order to understand any report from Google tools such as Console, GA, etc., you first need to understand what these are.
Metrics: Metrics are the quantifiable results that you can measure in numbers. Example – Impressions and Clicks.
Dimensions: Dimensions are the aspects the measurement is done against. Example – Countries, Pages, Keywords
Important reports/data to check out on console
Let’s get started and know about some important console reports that can help you improve your site’s traffic and performance.
- Overall performance data on the Performance Tab
- URL Inspection tool
- AMP status reports
- Index coverage
- Removals report
- Security issues report
1. Performance Tab
As indicated by the name, the performance tab gives an overview of the performance of the website reflected in the following metrics:
- Impressions – Tells you exactly how many times a URL has been seen in the Search results. Low impressions can be because of a number of reasons, however the #1 area to start looking at to improve this metric is the keywords/queries you’re optimizing for. Make sure that the queries have enough search traffic and are related to the content of your website. If the Keywords and search volume is sorted, following are some of the areas you can check to optimize your rank:
Improve the quality of your content – Make it unique, relevant, and engaging.
Improve the user experience on your page – Improve page load speed, get rid of unnecessary pop-ups and intrusive ad placements on the page
- Clicks – Shows the number of clicks to your URL. This metric in itself might not provide a lot of insight. However, it can reveal helpful information when compared with the impressions your URL gets.
- Average CTR – Calculated as Clicks/impressions, it gives you an idea of how many people find your URL and meta description relevant for the search term and in turn click on it. If your CTR is much lower than the industry standards, this can ultimately hamper the impressions you’re getting and result in your page being ranked lower and lower in the SERP. The first area to check for and debug low CTR would be your URL, the title, and meta description. Make sure these are optimized and relevant to both the content and the search term.
- Average Position – The average rank of a page/URL for all the search queries taken together. A lower average position might mean that there are a lot of opportunities that you might be missing out on at the moment.
You know your business the best, the metrics and numbers given in the reports mean nothing outside of your business goals. The numbers can just give you a direction of where your business is headed with respect to your goal.
2. URL Inspection Tool
It gives you live and indexed information on your page to help you understand why your page might not be showing up in the search results. You can also test an updated version of your page using the Live test option to check if the changes made to your page are being reflected and rendered by Google as expected. Using this tool, you can:
- Find out the live and indexed status of your page and know if Google is able to discover, crawl, and index your page.
- Test a live URL to see if your page is being crawled as intended. You can also see how Google renders your page to make sure all the elements you want to be shown are being discovered and rendered as expected.
- Request for a crawl of your page – this is particularly helpful to see if the changes you’ve made to the page are being crawled and rendered as expected.
- Inspect information about the page’s loaded resources
3. AMP status reports
Don’t know what AMP is? It’s time to start to know more. AMP or Accelerated Mobile pages is an open source HTML framework by Google to help your mobile pages adapt to the network speed and decide to exclude or render certain components on the page to optimize for speed or performance.
Implementing AMP can be extremely rewarding for ranking on mobile devices. The AMP Status reports give you insights into the issues with the AMP pages to make sure you’re not losing out on any opportunity.
Sitemap is a file that provides the information about resources on your page and the relationship between them. It’s not a requirement but can help with indexing in cases where
- Your website has a lot of pages and data that’s not linked internally
- Your website’s data keeps updating or changing quickly
- Your website has a lot of media files
- Your site is new and doesn’t have a lot of external links yet
It’s important to note that sitemap will not replace normal crawling, a sitemap doesn’t ensure that all your pages are being indexed, but there are no drawbacks of having one. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Wix, chances are that they have already generated an automatic sitemap for your site.
The sitemaps report only shows the data on the sitemaps that you’ve submitted using the search console. You’ll be able to find the following data in a sitemap report:
- Sitemap URL
- Type of sitemap – XML, .txt, etc.
- Last read –
- Discovered URLs
5. Index coverage
Unless your pages are indexed by Google, they cannot rank on the SERP. The Index summary page gives you the overview of all the pages that Google has Indexed or tried to Index under four sections – Error, Valid with Warning, Valid, and Excluded along with the reason for the warning or error (if any).
Pages with error won’t appear in google search. Valid with warning pages may not appear in the search result. Excluded tab will have pages that you Google hasn’t indexed, either because you’ve asked Google not to or Google decided it was best to not index them. Google provides you with the details on how to fix the issues and you can look into the details of the warnings for assistance on fixing these.
Though you should not expect all of your pages to be indexed as Google takes time to index pages. If you keep adding content, you should be able to see a constant rise in the number of pages indexed. Any variation to this should prompt you to look for issues with your published pages. Google’s help center lists out all the possible issues if you notice anything unusual in your index report. That should be the first place to look at if you’re unable to get your pages indexed.
6. Removals report
You can use Removals on the console to temporarily (upto 6 months) stop Google from Indexing data on your website. It’s worth noting that you cannot remove or report any source on the web but your own website’s data through this means. In removals section, you can either:
- Block Google from crawling your page for upto 6 months – this step also removes the page from Google’s cache
- Clear the cache for the URL until the next crawl
When you temporarily remove a page using removals on the console, it also removes the resource from the cache. You will also be able to see data for the last 6 months for all requested removals to keep a track and take measures against any unintended removal.
7. Security Reports
For Google to deliver the best experience and retain users, it’s extremely indispensable to make sure that the sites listed on SERP are safe and secure for browsing. The most common types of security issues are:
- Hacked content
- malware and unwanted software
- social engineering
Here comes an end to the quick guide on Google search console reports. It covered almost all the basics you need to know about search console reports, from types of reports to how to their salient uses. These reports can indeed be helpful to improve the overall functioning and ranking of your website. And, this article provides a crisp information about everything you need to know to get started with Google search console.