How To Add Google Search Console To WordPress
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Google Search Console (GSC) is the ideal tool to optimise the search performance of your website, especially if you’re a WordPress user. Giving you detailed information on how your site has been crawled and indexed by Google, you can also see what people have searched for to get them there.
However, GSC has a lot more going on under its hood, so this guide will explain more about how to add Google Search Console to your WordPress site and what it can do.
Why It’s Important To Add GSC To Your WordPress Site
Since its rebrand, GSC has become loaded with new and updated features. But these features aren’t just included for fun. Every one of them brings value and purpose to help you understand how your website performs.
While it naturally links with Google Analytics to give you a complete and comprehensive overview of your site performance, at the heart of GSC is the Google search engine. Used for over 5billion web searches every day, it’s this information that feeds GSC to give you the in-depth data you need.
So, if you want to make sure your content is optimised to bring organic traffic to your site, adding Google Search Console to your site is crucial.
What Are The Benefits Of Integrating GSC Into Your WordPress Site?
A platform as useful and powerful as Google Search Console is rarely available for free, but it is. So that’s a benefit to you, your website, and your business straight away. Full site integration with GSC and other Google platforms, including Google Analytics, allows you to monitor your most important data with a range of site SEO and tracking features.
Put it all together and what you have is a formidable and valuable resource that will help keep you well ahead of your competition.
How To Add Google Search Console To Your WordPress Site
When you’re ready to add GSC to your website, it’s a relatively straightforward process. But, if you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to register and create one first. Once you’ve created your account (or if you already have one), you can get started.
Verify Your Site On GSC
GSC data is confidential and you have full control over it. Therefore, Google needs to verify that you actually own the website before you can use GSC.
Verification doesn’t affect anything else, but it’s an important security measure, and to use GSC each website needs at least one verified owner. Once completed, you can start using Google Search Console and take advantage of everything it has to offer.
To start the process, visit the Google Search Console website and click ‘Start Now’.
There are two ways to gain site verification, and that’s either by domain name or URL prefix. Because it’s more flexible, we’d recommend the URL prefix method.
It’s worth remembering that Google considers HTTP and HTTPS as two different protocols as well as seeing https://www.example.com and https://example.com as two different websites. So to cover everything, we recommend adding all versions to GSC.
As a WordPress user, you’ll need to enter the correct website URL used by WordPress. If you’re unsure, there’s an easy way to find out the exact URL you need to enter. Simply log in to your WordPress admin area and go to Settings » General page. There you’ll see your website’s URL in the site address field.
After entering your correct website address in the Google Search Console setup wizard, click on the ‘Continue’ button to go to the next step.
You’ll now be asked to verify ownership of your website and there are five different verification methods you can use.
- Download the provided HTML file to your computer
- Open up your favourite FTP program and upload the file to the main route of your site
- Click on Verify
- Copy the provided meta tag to your clipboard
- Login to your WordPress admin and go to ‘Appearance – Theme Editor’
- Locate the header.php file of your theme and paste the code into the <head> section, before the first <body> section.
- Click on Verify
- Make sure Google Analytics is set up on your website first and that you’re using the analytics.js or gtag.js snippets
- Click on Verify
Google Tag Manager
- Make sure Google Tag Manager is set up on your website first and that you are using the container snippet with ‘publish’ permissions enabled
- Click on Verify
Domain Name Provider
- Choose your domain name provider from the list provided
- Click on Start Verification
- You’ll be presented with some additional steps to authorise Google to access your DNS account with your domain provider
If you already have Google Tag Manager and/or Google Analytics installed on your website, it’s easier and quicker to use these verification methods. However, in order for these to work, your tracking codes need to be in the correct place, otherwise, GSC won’t be able to detect them.
For most WordPress sites, it’s common for site owners to use a third party plugin to install GA and/or GTM tracking codes. In most cases, those plugins will inject the code into an area of the site that GSC doesn’t accept.
So, if you find either Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics verification methods don’t work, we’d suggest choosing the HTML File or HTML Tag options instead.
Google Search Console Overview
When you’ve set up and verified your access, you can visit the GSC site to see your dashboard overview. This is the place where you can explore your site’s performance, coverage, and other data. It might be a little confusing on first look, but let’s go through some of the most important reports and tools you’ll find in the dashboard.
This section shows you how your website is performing in the search results. The data will include how many times your website has been shown in organic search results (impressions), how many times someone has clicked on your website in organic search results (clicks), together with the average click-through rate and your site’s average position.
This is where you can check any individual page of your website to give you more information and to make sure the technicalities of the page are right. This will tell you whether the page is indexed, searchable, and mobile-friendly.
This shows you if and how many of your website pages haven’t been indexed by Google. It also tells you if they’ve come across any errors when crawling your website. By fixing any errors, you’ll help Google to crawl your website more efficiently. This will then help it perform better for you in Google Search results.
Google should be able to find your site pages by itself when crawling your website as a whole. But, adding an XML sitemap will give them a head start by knowing exactly what pages are there. As long as you add any new pages to your XML sitemap file, Google will find them as they will re-crawl your XML sitemap on a regular basis.
Mobile searches are incredibly high and Google gives site indexing priority to mobile-friendly sites. So your site must be made for mobile-first and be visible on all mobile devices. This area will give you details on any errors you can fix that might be holding your site back.
Security & Manual Actions
The Security and Manual Actions section will give performance data on any weak points or technical vulnerabilities in the security of your site. If your website has been penalised by Google for any reason, you’ll be made aware through these sections. Ideally, they’ll both say ‘No issues detected’.
Boost Your Google Rankings With Improve Position
Google Search Console is one of the best platforms to monitor your website and help it perform at its best. While this guide gives you the background you need on what it can do for you and how to get started, there can be some confusion about whether you’re doing it right.
But, as an integral part of our in-house SEO process, Improve Position’s expert knowledge in GSC can help you kickstart your SEO programme or fix any issues you’re having. Get in touch today for your free, 30-minute consultation to find out more and how we can help your business.