The Why and How of Google Search Console – Part One

Google’s Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) provides powerful insights that can enrich and enhance your marketing analytics efforts and analysis.  Search Console is a very important free tool that every website owner ought to know about because there is no alternative to the sorts of data one can find within it.

Registering a Google Account

Chances are high that you already have a Google account, but it’s important to distinguish between your personal account (that you may use for Gmail or Google Plus) and a more professional Google account that is associated with your company or institution.  If you already use other Google tools (like Analytics or Adwords, for example), then you can sign in with that same account into the Webmaster Tools home screen located here:

If you do not yet have an account, you will need to create one with Google.  Given that it is free and just waiting for you to plug in, there really is no reason not to sign up if you want to take your website’s marketing and administrative efforts to the next level.

Verifying a Property with Google Analytics

Now, obviously, when you’ve signed in with your new account, you will not have access to the webmaster capabilities of any given site.  This must be verified (much the same way that you must verify an email address when signing up for other accounts or making purchases) prior to accessing this vital and sensitive data.  All you need to do to get started is to type in your desired website’s URL into the box and click on Add Property.

Assuming you have Google Analytics already setup with your account and have administrative privileges, this is a very easy option.  All you need to do is select the Google Analytics option under alternate methods and click Verify.  However, there are several different means by which you can verify your ownership of a site if you do not have Google Analytics up and running already.  Depending on your familiarity and fluency with web technologies and programming languages, you may require some assistance during this step as it is not always as straight-forward as it seems.

Verifying a Property through other means

If you’d prefer to inject a line of HTML into your site’s code to verify, then you need only insert a meta tag in the head section of your site’s home page.  Using a CMS like WordPress or an Ecommerce platform like Shopify will make this process unique to pretty much everyone.  The essence of it is that you will need to access your theme or site’s properties in order to get at the desired location.

If you have permissions and an account on Google Tag Manager, you can opt to verify through that tool in the same manner that you could have done with a Google Analytics account.  Lastly is the option to communicate your site’s verification permission through your domain name provider.  Selecting this radio button will give you a large drop-down of options depending on the company with whom you registered your domain.