A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Google Search Console Like a Boss

Killing it at SEO requires that you use a lot of different tools.

There’s SEO software, apps, analytics, and so on.

But in my opinion, one of the most helpful tools, pound for pound, is Google Search Console.

Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools or GWT, Google Search Console is the name of the “free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results.”

It’s powerful, it’s potent, and it gives you a behind-the-scenes snapshot of how your site is performing on multiple levels.

More importantly, it provides you with insight into what needs your attention so you can optimize your site more fully.

Here’s a screenshot of why you would want to use Google Search Console, according to Google:


As you can see, it can be used for a plethora of different purposes and offers some tremendous benefits.

But in order to fully capitalize on this free tool, you need to know which features to use and how to use them.

In this guide, I’m going to highlight some of the key features I’ve found most helpful in optimizing my websites for Google Search and explain how you can use them as well.

Let’s dive in.

The initial setup

Before you can use Google Search Console, you’ll first need to verify ownership of your domain.

This is a pretty straightforward process, but if you need some help, check out this resource from Moz.


Dashboard features

Once you’re set up, you’ll see a dashboard on the left side of the screen that looks like this:


Needless to say, there is an extensive list of features.

Although I don’t have time to fully cover every single one in this post, you can find a detailed look at all of the features in a previous article I wrote on Quick Sprout.

But what I do want to cover in this post is some of the core features most critical to your overall SEO.

HTML improvements

This section can be accessed by clicking on “Search Appearance” and then “HTML Improvements.”

Google will then scan your site and “detect any potential issues with content on your pages, including duplicate, missing or problematic title tags or meta descriptions.”

If there are any content issues with your site, you’ll definitely want to know about them and promptly find a resolution.

For instance, you may need to tweak your meta descriptions to ensure they’re the optimal length (roughly 160 characters).

Search analytics


This section can be accessed by clicking on “Search Traffic” and then “Search Analytics.”

It will provide you with a wealth of information about the performance of your content.

For instance, you can determine what your most popular queries are, which devices people are searching with, which countries your traffic is coming from, and so on.

One of the first things you’ll want to look at is the number of clicks per keyword.

This will show you how a certain keyword ranks in search results and its number of clicks.

Analyzing this data will quickly let you know which keywords are bringing the most traffic and which have had only marginal results.

This is obviously beneficial for determining which type of content is resonating the most with your audience.

I also recommend taking a look at the number of impressions per keyword.

This will let you know what percentage of people are actually clicking on each keyword.

If you notice that a keyword is getting a high volume of impressions but only minimal clicks, this could indicate that the title of your content needs some tweaking because it’s not interesting enough to motivate users to check it out.

Links to your site

As you probably already know, the links that point to your site play a major role in the value (or lack thereof) that Google gives your site.

Get plenty of links from authoritative, relevant websites, and it’s going to help your SEO tremendously.

On the other hand, getting links from sketchy, irrelevant sites is going to have the opposite effect and hurt your rankings.

While there are several paid tools that will analyze your site’s link profile, Google Search Console is a really nice alternative.

I’ve found it to be quite sufficient, and it’s free.

Just click on “Search Traffic” and then “Links to Your Site.”


You’ll instantly see a lot of helpful information, including:

  • Total links
  • Who links the most
  • Your most linked content
  • How your data is linked

Knowing this information is important for two main reasons.

First, you’ll know which sites are linking to you. If you’re getting links from sketchy, spammy sites, you’ll probably want to disavow those links.

Second, you’ll know which reputable, relevant sites are linking to you. If you find that a high profile publication is featuring your content, this could lead to future opportunities.

Index status

Next, I recommend seeing what your site’s index status is like.

This can be found by clicking on “Google Index” and “Index Status.” Then click on the “Advanced” button at the top.

You’ll see a graph that looks like this:


Why is this helpful?

This feature will give you a rundown of how many total pages are indexed as well as how many have been blocked by robots or have been removed.

If there’s a particular page you want to be indexed that isn’t, you can look into it and see what went wrong.

More specifically, I suggest looking at your robots.txt file or your sitemap to determine exactly what the problem is.

You obviously don’t want integral pages of your website to escape Google’s notice. This can hurt your rankings.

But by checking the index status, you should be able to get everything to where it needs to be.

Crawl errors

One thing that can be detrimental to your SEO is if you have crawl errors such as:

  • 404 errors
  • Server errors
  • A URL pointing to a nonexistent page

This can not only hurt your site’s ability to climb the search rankings but also diminish the user experience and make you look unprofessional.

I find it irritating when I get hit with the dreaded 404 error while exploring content.

But you can identify any such problems by clicking on “Crawl Error” under the “Crawl” section.


Google Search Console will then show you what (if anything) is wrong and will display both site and URL errors.

If you spot any errors, click on them for a more detailed description. You’ll then want to diagnose any problem areas and correct them.

I really like this feature because it saves me time from having to manually look over my site for issues and ensures that I can provide my audience with a positive browsing experience.

Fetch as Google

Let’s say you just made some significant changes to your website and you want Google to index these updates ASAP so that the changes will appear in search results quicker.

You can expedite the process by using the “Fetch as Google” feature under the “Crawl” section.


A box will appear that looks like this:


What you’ll want to do is type in the URL you want Google to fetch.

If this is only a single page, you’ll want to type in http://yourwebsite.com/category

If it’s a large scale, site-wide update, you’ll want to leave the box blank.

Then click the “Fetch and Render” button. If you only update a page or two, this should be completed quickly.

But if there are a lot of changes, it’s probably going to take a few minutes.

Once it’s finished, click on the “Submit to Index” option at the bottom.

The final step is to choose between one of two options.

There’s “Crawl Only This URL” and “Crawl This URL and its Direct Links.”

Choose the first option if you only want to index a single page. Choose the second option if you want Google to index your entire site.

After you’ve completed this final step, you’re all done. At this point, Google will send its spiders/bots to crawl the updated sections of your website, and the changes will appear in search results fairly quickly (usually a couple of days or so).

This is really helpful because it increases the odds of new content ranking well in a shorter period of time than it would otherwise.


I love Google Search Console.

It’s an easy-to-use tool that can be applied to improve numerous aspects of SEO.

Whether you want to see which keywords are bringing in the lion’s share of traffic, check your link profile, or ensure that updated content gets indexed quicker, you can do it all with this tool.

I think of it as my SEO headquarters. It’s like sitting in the cockpit and pulling all the right switches and levers to keep my campaign running without a hitch.

This puts you in a position to monitor nearly every aspect of your SEO campaign and prevents you from making needless mistakes.

The best part is that it’s completely free and goes right to the source—Google itself.

What’s your experience with Google Search Console? What power tips do you suggest?


  1. Nice write-up Neil.

    Many of the online stores I work with rely on organic search as their main channel.

    When they want to become serious about SEO, the question of tools always comes up.

    And like you, Google Webmaster Tools is definitely my first recommendation.

    I like it because it focuses on the foundation: making sure all the pages are getting crawled & indexed.

  2. Kuntal Banerjee :

    Great guide to google search console.Keep up the good work of helping newbie bloggers like me Neil.

  3. Hey Neil your info is always great, what are some other seo tools you like to use to take things to the next level?

    On this page what is your favorite tool http://neilpatel.com/2016/10/13/get-your-start-in-seo-with-these-10-free-tools/

    Thanks again for great content 🙂

  4. Weelytics Blog :

    Hello Neil,

    I love Google Search Console too. It my source of keywords position informations and insights.

    For new websites, it provides ways more insights than any paid keywords tool available. I even found that the paid tools are inaccurate sometimes when compared to Search Console.


  5. Neil you are a legend. I love search console and always use it. Iv recently hit frustrating results in the search analytics section in regards to keyword position.

    Search console will show your query and its position however some of these are totally off. I often manually check these even incognito as well as with ahrefs and they can be way off.

    Can anyone suggest something here? Are the ranking positions more of an average?

    Thank you for the awesome info

    • According to Google, the position on the Search Analytics report is, “…the position of the topmost link to your site or page in search results, averaged across all queries in which your site appeared.” And it can mean different things in different situations (ie. mobile, desktop…) – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7042828?hl=en

      They recommend monitoring changes over time, so you’ll have to keep revisiting or set up the “Search Analytics for Sheets” tool as shown here to automatically do monthly backups:


      That way you won’t lose your data either as Search Analytics only shows up to the last 90 days).

      There’s additional info in this post as well to help you use the data in Search Analytics to best optimize your on-page SEO.

    • They are averages but be careful on the search option as well.

  6. Hi Neil,

    In regards to ‘Fetching and Rendering’ a page (or pages).

    Can you elaborate a bit on receiving a ‘Partial’ in the status column?

    i.e. https://goo.gl/euBuXY



  7. Mauro D'Andrea :

    Neil, I agree with you: Google Search Console is a very powerful tool.
    There’s one thing that I’ve been wondering about it in a while: tweaking a post title can help to increase its click rate for 1 keyword but it can make the post get less traffic in the end – for example if by changing the post title, it doesn’t rank anymore for another keyword.
    Is there any way to split test post titles while gathering data from Google Search Console? This would be very helpful to increase blog traffic!

    • Not that aware of within the console Mauro. There is a tool that lets you pull data into google sheets that might give you the way to do that.

  8. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for these great insight of GSC. As Google is the leading search engine in world, it is needless to say that we gives first priority to “Google” whenever we talks about SEO. And also, obviously their service qualities are quite high even almost all of those services are cost free.

    So, GSC is a functional and useful tool that everyone should use to get their sites error easily.

  9. Nice guide on websmaster thanks for sharing these tips and tricks

  10. Anuradha Chawla :

    Hi Neil

    Before reading your article i found google search console a hard nut to understand and your article made me understand google search console much better, easier and simpler. Thanks Neil for this post, it’s a very useful tutorial for the beginners.

  11. Great guide to google search console. it was great reading

    koby hackerman

  12. This is an awesome resource. Thanks for putting it together for us Neil. You’re a legend.

  13. Google Search Console Really rocks, I just hope Google wont later restrict access to it the way they did to Keyword Planner

  14. Hey Neil,
    I wanted for a long time to tell you this, and not sure how it skipped you, but your “Explosit secrets worth 50$” banner is cropped on mobile on the right side of the screen.

  15. The linking section turned out to be so very interesting. Discovering high-quality links to some of our inside pages from Wikipedia and Oxford Dictionaries was quite fun—not to mention keeping-chickens.com (okay, yes, we have a humorous post about “National Poultry Month,” which is a play on “National Poetry Month” and perhaps they liked the funny graphics. 🙂

    Anyway, besides some amusing discoveries like that last one, it was fascinating to see what kinds of posts have been of interest to certain kinds of sites we care about. It’s always good to see what’s working best, especially if you weren’t sure to continue a certain kind of content that does less well on social (it shows the benefit of using more than one marker to evaluate the “success” of one’s content).

    So, thanks for the tip! We’d never looked at Search Console before.

  16. I am officially unsubscribing from all of your blog posts, podcast updates, etc.

    I’ve been following you for quite awhile now and the quality of your work is tanking.

    This cannot possibly be your idea of “using Google Search Console like a boss”. It’s more like “using Google Search Console like someone who’s read a single help file from Google on it.

    It’s a joke and you shouldn’t be proud of it. Your work has consistently become over promise and under deliver. You’re great at writing catching headlines and making your work and writing sound important, but it’s just a bunch of basic, generic, regurgitated information.

    For the sake of the readers who stick around, hopefully you get back to providing real value at some point.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way, Tim.

      I appreciate the feedback and I have been trying lately on the neilpatel.com to aim for higher quality data-driven content and that will feed on to this site later as well.

      This site does have a slightly different audience but I can see what you mean on pushing myself for your value.

      • I get the impression that Tim knows it all and needs no reminders.

        I thing Neil’s contribution here, and what I admire, is touching
        – sometimes already familiar – stuff by reminding us about it, so it keeps us sharp and going.

        Atleast that’s how I experience it when reading Neil’s posts.

  17. Very well detailed post Neil about Google Search Console. This is one of the best tool that any business owners can have in running their online business and I love Google for giving this out for everyone for free. Keep pouring your excellent contents Neil! GOD bless!

  18. Thanks for this Neil. I have been looking for a similar guide as search console can be confusing at times. Appreciate it.

  19. Hii Neil thanks for Guide! but I have a Question I recently add my site in webmaster with Http and after sometime I changed my site from Http to Https so then again added my site in webmaster with Https.
    But now am getting a problem like I can’t control or see everything from one property. bcz my sitemap and indexing status are there in Http property and search query are in With Https property.
    so can you tell me is there is any solution so that i can make everything in one property of webmaster.

  20. Thomas McCallum :

    Hey neul, thanks for the run down. Find it helpful to go though this kind of stuff.

    I’m going to get my page speed down to 3 secs or under. Thanks to an article you posted.

    Used the console tool to work it out. You’re right, it’s a very powerful tool.

    Probably I’m going to try and outsource the work though. Although I do my best to get it down myself first.

  21. Hi Neil,

    This is really interesting. But i am facing an error in Search Consule which is showing an error on few pages- of missing author. How can we rectify that on wordpress??

  22. Hi Neil,

    I was unaware of the actual power of Google Search Console, and I only use to use if for adding my latest blog URL for faster indexing.

    Thanks for putting this excellent piece of content.

  23. Hello Neil,

    I appreciate your effort put the things together in this post. I was new to the SEO but by gathering some information among my friends, I started a Blog. I heard this Google tool, but I was not aware to use it. Your have explained in a quite simple way that I understand upto the maximum extent levels.

    Your information will be more helpful to the beginners. Thanks for sharing a detailed post with us.

  24. Hello NEil you are a legend i love GSC and alwayes use it .keep up the good and quality work of helping newbie people like me thanks for sharing these tips and tricks.you are a legend

  25. Thank You very much Sir. I’m getting some issues in my blog. This post will help me to fix issues. Thank You

  26. Neil,

    How do you feel about HubSpot’s Marketing software?

  27. I will take this article as a Santa gift.. 🙂 . About time, i find such a well explained article about GSC.

    Peace Out…!!!

  28. Thanks a lot, Neil. Great to-the-point post.

    I have to tell you; Google Analytics is a difficult tool to use…well to use the right way. It’s very complicated, especially when you’re trying to track one little campaign. It seems like engineers have always written the instructions. I wish someone else would for those of us who don’t have an analytical mind.

    The Franchise King®

  29. Roland S. Racz :

    Jesus….. I went through one of our websites….step-by-step… and discovered long-forgotten crawl and indexing errors and other problems. This website will be on the the first SERP in days. Thanks a million, Neil!

  30. Hey Neil, nice post! There should be also mentioned that the GWT is not some holy grail and it is far from being complete. Google stripped off the keywords as “unnecessary” and search data can differ from the Analytics results by more then one order. This means both GWT/GA tools are lying or at least one of these is terribly incomplete.

    There is ton of useful info but no-one should rely on GWT as the only measure. In the end, quality backlinks matter quite a lot – doesnt matter how much Google denies it. Even the best content in the World will not rank good without backlinks.

  31. Vishal Vashisht :

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for posting such a great article. I never knew that I had these tools available at my disposal. When I checked my crawl history, I only see indexing requested or partial. I don’t see a single one that says completed. Am I doing something wrong? Should I be worried? Thanks a million for this article.

  32. Fantactic post as usual!
    Do you feel there could be any detrimental effects to using the “Fetch As Google” tool too often? In other words could Google think a site is trying to game the system and drop ranking while it sorts our what is happening. I think we may have stumbled on this by accident a couple times making relatively small content changes we asked Google to fetch instead of just waiting for the bot.

  33. Community Manager en España :

    Great post!
    I think Google Search Console is the most important tool for SEO.
    Thank you for your advice.

  34. Farcas Gelu Danut :

    Yes, i use Search Console for all my websites.
    I analyze carefully and Search Console included in Yoast WordPress plugin (free).
    In addition, I study information from Google AdWords (if any Google AdWords account for that site).

  35. Great post i had no idea about this i used to open search console just to check serp click thanks neil..

  36. This is just what I needed, I never used it before which is crazy because I need to know exactly what Google thinks about my website. Thank you for the guide!

  37. Thank you for the great post! You have shared a step by step process than anyone on their blog. This is a very helpful information.

  38. Really good article on SEO, and i like the tips about using the search console. As a newbie blogger i appreciate them alot.

  39. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the post, I read the other GWM post as well where you have explained in detail.

    I wanted to ask you if there is any benefit of international targeting specific country vs unlisted.

    At the moment I have it specified to a Country, If I want to target the audience globally what is the best way to do it without losing and ranking.


  40. wow! it’s good learning process

  41. Very informative information. It helps me a lot in SEO. Thanks for such useful information.

  42. I was very confused about Google Search but you help me a lot. Thanks for helping me by your information.

  43. Wao…Neil Patel…You are really wonderful.
    I never thought of using Search Console Webmaster tools like this.

    Thanks again…

  44. Best horoscope app :

    Awesome information – thank you!

  45. Great post about for search console.Thanks.

  46. Its great! Using Google Search Console Like a Boss, I really got to learn something new!

  47. Thanks for sharing.
    One of my website shows nothing on the search analytics. Followed same steps on all websites. i.e. verification, linking GA, sitemaps, robots, fetch/render etc. For the other websites it is shown.
    Am I missing something?

  48. Wonderful post, Neil

    Being a Web Developer, I find “HTML improvements” the best option to make sure that there are no coding errors

    Thanks and keep sharing the best of your experience 🙂

  49. Sometimes, I wonder how difficult the life of a webmaster would be without Search Console! Great article on a great tool.

  50. Hi,

    Amazing article, I was unaware Google Search Console and today i learned the power of it 🙂


  51. Hi Neil,

    That is really a great post. I got many important information. Thanks for sharing.

  52. Thanks for this!!! This is going to come in pretty handy!

  53. For instance, you may need to tweak your meta descriptions to ensure they’re the optimal length

  54. Thank you for your post Neil. I have been silently following you for awhile now! I was wondering when I go onto google console and it shows me the users, some of them look like spam. Is there any way I can verify if it is spam and to see what my actual count of visitors?

  55. Hello Neil Patel,

    Usually, I am doing all these things in my website’s Google search console account. But after reading your post, I came to know that I am using the search console tool in right way. Thank you for your great post.

  56. Great write up Neil. Search Console is a great resource but I don’t use as much of it as I should because I don’t have the understanding. This article has helped a lot.
    A piece on Bing webmaster would be really useful as well.

  57. Great article Neil!

    Search Console is definitively a great tool!

    Many thanks for your help and your insights!

    Cheers from Paris,


  58. this post helped me understand the google search console in a better way.thanks.

  59. Thanks Neil.

    I want to few more suggestion.

    1: You can attach your webmaster with analytic for getting more useful insight for traffic and activities.
    2:.Attach your webmster with semrush for data gathering and observe traffic and activities.
    3: Most important maintain Robot.txt for site crawl setting..

    Thanks and Regard,

  60. I really liked your blog. This blog is very useful for everyone. Thanks for sharing this informative blog. keep it on.

  61. i really liked your blog. This blog is very useful for everyone. keep it on.


    Before going to read this article I am suffering with my google webmaster tool to link my website properly. Thanks to you to discuss in briefly.

  63. I will follow up your above steps.

  64. Great write up! My favorite tool is GSC, and people look at me crazy when I say that. Your recent podcast about doing an SEO audit with Search Console is good for someone new to the software.

  65. Great article on Search Console Neil!

    This is very helpful for me. There are lots for useful information.
    Thanks a lot for such a great article..

  66. Narinder kumar :

    Hey Thanks Neil its really awesome tools by google its provide a lot of information and stats about over blog and website its really helpful tools and thanks to provide me deeply information about GWT.

  67. Congrats for another great post Neil. Its really awesome. Bookmarked it for my future references!

  68. I use Google Search Console and semrush too. Seoquake of semrush shows the quality of links inside the google search console.

  69. Thank you for this comprehensive guide, Neil.
    You write brilliant and informative articles which help us to discover new features of common tools and approaches.
    I like this tool for showing us results of our initial intents. It’s like to get a direct feedback from Search Engine. There are a lot of filters which you great described in this article. But it hasn’t an opportunity to edit collected results. For this purpose, I use Search Analytics for Sheets it helps me to work with all the data I have.
    Google Search Console helps me to answer a vital question for the next development of a website – Which pages and keywords have the highest potential to grow? When we see the first result, we should mobilize all the efforts we have on upgrading this page. I use Kparser to generate new keywords and with their help add new blocks which extend the answers to the user questions.
    I like how many opportunities Google Search Console brings to us. It’s the starting point for a lot of aspects of SEO.

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