How to Use Google Search Console for Small Businesses

How to Use Google Search Console for Small Businesses

Google Search Console (GSC) is an invaluable (and more importantly, FREE) tool for small business owners looking to optimize and understand their online presence. It provides insights into how your website is performing on Google Search, helps identify and fix issues, and improves your site’s visibility and usability. Whether you’re new to digital marketing or a seasoned pro, understanding and utilizing GSC can unlock new opportunities and strategies for your business. So we’re going to build a guide on how to use Google Search Console for small businesses.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your website’s presence in Google Search results, which can also benefit you on other search engines like Bing. GSC offers detailed reports on your site’s search traffic and performance, alerts you to issues, and provides tools to resolve problems. It can be reached by going to and creating an account with whatever Google account you use for things like YouTube, Google Business, Google Workspace, etc.

Note: We recommend having one Google account for your business to access and integrate all of these tools together.

Key Features of Google Search Console

Performance Data

The Performance report in GSC provides insights into how your site is performing in Google Search. You can track key metrics such as clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and average position. This data helps you understand how users interact with your site and where improvements can be made.

Index Coverage

The Index Coverage report shows which pages of your website have been indexed by Google and highlights any issues preventing pages from being crawled. By addressing these issues, you ensure that all relevant pages are included in search results, enhancing your site’s visibility.

Mobile Usability

With the rise in mobile device usage, optimizing your website for mobile is crucial. The Mobile Usability report in GSC identifies issues affecting the user experience on mobile devices, such as text too small to read or clickable elements too close together. Fixing these issues can improve user engagement and site performance.

A Step-by-Step Tutorial for How to Use Google Search Console for Small Businesses

1. Add and Verify Your Website

Start by verifying ownership of your website in GSC. This can be done through various methods, such as adding an HTML tag to your site’s code, uploading an HTML file, or using your Google Analytics account. Verification ensures you have control over the site you want to monitor.

  1. To add your website you start by logging in (or creating account by logging in with your Google account you use for business) to GSC doesn’t have a mobile app like most Google products, but you can do this on your phone browser as well. Note: If you are a Misfit client, we always install this for you and send you admin access, so all you would need to do at this point is login with the address you have on file with us.
  2. Next, go up to the top left of your browser (this is done via desktop) where there should be a little dropdown or box, and hit “Add Property” at the bottom of the dropdown. On mobile this is seen by clicking on the three lines on the top left of your browser and clicking on the top box to open the dropdown and “Add Property”.
  3. You have two options here, you can add by domain or add by URL prefix. We recommend the URL prefix because it’s usually easiest. The unfortunate part is you would need to either upload a file onto your hosting account, add a piece of code to the header of your website, or already have Google Analytics installed on your site to be able to add your site yourself. We’ll address how to do those later, but adding the HTML tag is generally the easiest.
  4. Once verified you should see a pretty little dashboard with some menus to help you do what is next.

2. Submit a Sitemap

After verification, submit a sitemap of your website. A sitemap helps Google understand the structure of your site and improves the indexing of your pages, making them more visible in search results. It’s basically a coded layout of your entire site and content. Sitemaps are generally added with an SEO plugin of sorts (If you use WordPress, RankMath or Yoast provide this). I also like to go the extra route with an HTML sitemap (also a plugin) for Google to spider every now and then as it’s going through my website.

Once you have a plugin installed that creates your Sitemap.xml file, yu can submit your sitemap through the “Sitemaps” section in GSC. You would simply take whatever the end of the link is (usually something like /sitemap_index.xml) and paste it in the section titled “Add a New Sitemap” and it’ll let you know whether it has crawled the sitemap correctly.

3. Monitor Performance

Use the Performance report to track your site’s performance in search results. Analyze metrics such as clicks, impressions, and CTR to identify what’s working and where there are opportunities for improvement. For example, if a page has high impressions but low clicks, you might need to optimize its title and meta description to make it more appealing.

4. Utilize Crawl Errors Report

Regularly check the Crawl Errors report under the “Pages” section to identify issues affecting your site’s performance in search results. This report shows errors like 404 (page not found) and server errors. Addressing these promptly helps improve the user experience and boosts your SEO efforts.

It’s normal to have some pages listed under the gray “Not Indexed” section. Some may be code-related and don’t need to be indexed by Google. So long as the meat of your site content is crawled and indexed, you should be mostly okay.

Troubleshooting with Google Search Console

404 Errors

404 errors occur when a page cannot be found, which can negatively impact user experience and SEO. Use the Crawl Errors report to identify and fix broken links or missing pages on your site. Ensuring all links are working properly enhances the user experience and keeps visitors on your site longer.

Slow Loading Pages

Slow-loading pages can lead to poor user experience and lower search engine rankings. Utilize the Page Speed Insights tool within GSC to analyze your site’s load times and get suggestions for improvement, such as compressing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript files, and leveraging browser caching.

Mobile Usability Problems

Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly is crucial. The Mobile Usability report in GSC identifies issues affecting your site’s performance on mobile devices. Address problems like unplayable content or text that’s too small to read to maintain an optimal user experience across all devices.

Additional Tips for Small Business Owners

Engage with Search Analytics

Regularly reviewing the Search Analytics report is crucial for understanding how users are finding your site and what they are searching for. This report shows which queries brought users to your site, providing insights into the terms and topics that are driving traffic.

  • Identify High-Performing Queries: Look for queries that generate a high number of impressions but have a lower CTR. This might indicate an opportunity to optimize your page titles and meta descriptions to make them more appealing.
  • Group Similar Queries: By grouping similar queries, you can identify content themes and potential areas for new content development. For example, if multiple queries are related to a specific product or service, consider creating dedicated content around that topic.

Identify high-value queries that not only drive traffic but also lead to conversions. Ensure that the content related to these queries is optimized and provides a great user experience.

  • Create Dedicated Landing Pages: For high-value queries, consider creating dedicated landing pages optimized for those specific terms. This can improve the user experience and increase the chances of conversion.
  • Internal Linking: Use high-value queries to identify opportunities for internal linking, which can help boost the visibility of other pages on your site.

Optimize for Keywords

Using the search query data, identify the keywords that drive the most traffic to your site. Ensure that your key pages are optimized for these relevant keywords to improve their visibility in search results.

  • Focus on Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords often have lower competition and can be easier to rank for. Incorporate these into your content strategy to attract targeted traffic.
  • Update Content Regularly: Regularly updating your content with fresh information and incorporating new keywords can help maintain and improve your rankings.

Stay Updated with Alerts

Set up email alerts in GSC to stay informed about any significant changes or issues detected on your site. This proactive approach helps you address problems quickly and keep your site running smoothly.

Use the URL Inspection Tool

The URL Inspection tool allows you to check how Google sees a specific page on your site. Use this tool to identify indexing issues, view the last crawl date, and request a fresh crawl after making significant updates.

Google Search Console is a very powerful tool for small business owners looking to optimize their online presence. By understanding its features and using the data it provides, you can improve your site’s performance, enhance user experience, and boost your search engine rankings. If nothing else, play with it to help understand a little more about SEO and how Google looks at your website. You can’t break it, so may as well have fun with it 🙂

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