If you want more information about your site’s natural search performance, Google gives it to you. Take some of it with a grain of salt, but there’s no reason not to listen.

Google Search Console Dashboard
Google Search Console’s dashboard view displays messages, errors, performance, and indexation.

Search Console is Google’s way of communicating with webmasters and search engine optimization professionals about the status of their site within its search results.

Setting up Google Search Console can be a little daunting. It usually requires a developer’s help, unless you have access to a tag manager. It’s well worth the effort, though, for all of the tools you have access to.

After “verifying” your site, you’ll see messages from Google about how your site looks in search results, as well as its performance, indexation, and crawl data.

Messages

This section is Google’s way of communicating how your site can perform better in natural search. Messages rarely tell you everything you want to know, but they provide a place to start. Each message includes links to additional reports or help files.

For example, in the image above, there’s a message about 404 errors. Google can’t tell why your site is throwing errors or how to fix them. But just knowing that there’s an increase and which URLs are impacted can make diagnosing the issue easier.

You’ll also see messages on other crawl issues; notifications about how new algorithm updates or search features impact your site; and new features available in Search Console.

Search Appearance

How do your search results look? This section isn’t about ranking order, but about the visual optimization of your results. Use this data to take advantage of Google’s opportunities to deliver results that are more likely to catch searchers’ eyes and result in higher click rates.

  • Structured Data, Rich Cards. Google loves structured data because it makes it easier to display accurate and relevant information in search results. These tools help identify the structured data you have on your pages and the “cards” that show in search results.
  • Data Highlighter. Use this tool to show Google where different types of data reside in your pages. For example, if the price on your product pages is always in the same place, use the highlighter to select that text and tag it as a price. Google does the rest of it for you and replicates the tagging to other similar pages.
  • HTML Improvements. The title tag and meta descriptions on your pages can be displayed as the text on the search results page. Learn more about the quality of your metadata in this tool.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages. If you’re using AMP to deliver faster results to mobile users, Google shows you the issues your pages may face.

Search Traffic

This section is one of the top reasons to verify your sites in Search Console. It offers insight into natural search performance that you can’t get anywhere else.

  • Search Analytics. The impression and average ranking data, by keyword and landing page, make this tool worth the hassle it…