A Guide to Getting Started in Google Search Console

Search engines are generally a big mystery to everyday web users. We generally find what we’re looking for, and that’s all we care about, right?

If it’s YOUR site that you want people to find, you might be thinking, “why is my website not on Google? How do you submit a site to search engines?” Luckily, search engines aren’t the big mystery that many assume them to be – with the help of Google Search Console, it’s actually possible to help search engines index your site and serve it up to users.

Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a useful (and free!) tool you can use to help search engines understand your site, and to help you monitor the way that your site is being indexed.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free tool from Google that can help you monitor your site’s appearance in search, search performance, and search engine indexation. It differs from its better-known cousin, Google Analytics, because while Google Analytics is primarily a monitoring/reporting tool, Google Search Console also offers a range of technical insights and tools that help you take action to improve your site’s search performance.

What is Google Search Console Used For?

Google Search Console is a huge help for anyone with a website because it can help you monitor and control (to some extent) the way that Google “reads” your site. If you’re wondering why your website isn’t on Google’s first page when you perform a search for your brand name, Google Search Console can be used to help you diagnose the problem and improve your visibility.

Google Search Console or Google Analytics: Which One Do I Need?

Ideally, you should use both! These tools measure entirely different metrics, so if you only have one or the other implemented on your site, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities and information.

How Do I Access Google Search Console?

Luckily, Google Search Console is not only free, but it’s also relatively straightforward to set up on your site! You’ll need a Google account to access this tool, so if you already have Google account (which you do if you currently have Google Analytics on your site), you can jump right in – if not, it’s easy enough to do that here.

Once you’ve done, that, you can access Google Search Console here.

google search console home

How to Set Up Google Search Console

  1. Add your website as a Property.

First, paste your site’s complete URL as it appears on your homepage into the space allotted on the GSC’s welcome page. Be sure to add the complete and correct URL – take care to be sure the “HTTP” or “HTTPS” is included in the URL, and corresponds accurately to the current version of the site. Do not remove the “/” (trailing slash) at the end of your site URL.

  1. Verify your site ownership.

Next, you’ll need to verify your ownership of your site. This step helps ensure that you’re the only one who can make important changes to your site. Google Search Console verification can be tricky for first-timers – we recommend following Google’s instructions on the page, and reaching out to your site developer or a digital marketing expert for help if you’re unsure how to successfully verify your site’s ownership.

Once you’ve chosen your method and taken the appropriate steps as indicated, hit “Verify” to gain access!

google search console step 2

PRO TIP: Check the “Alternate Methods” tab for other verification options; often, this can make Google Search Console verification easier if you are already using a tool such as Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager on your site.

google search console step 2 tip

  1. You’re in! (Hopefully)

If your site verification was successful, you’ll be able to continue to your Google Search Console dashboard and begin your adventure. If the verification was unsuccessful, don’t give up – try another suggested verification method or two. If you’ve exhausted your options for verification, it’s time to call your developer or digital marketing team – you won’t be able to use Google Search Console without verification.

How to Use Google Search Console

Now that you’re in, the dashboard may seem kind of overwhelming. Luckily, if you’re a business owner, you don’t have to know absolutely everything about every tool to get the most out of Google Search Console – by knowing the following three highlights to hit, you make an impact on your site performance without devoting a whole week of work towards becoming a webmaster.

Note: Google Search Console has recently introduced a brand-new interface for GSC, but at time of writing, not all features have been fully moved over to the new version and remain on the old interface. I will indicate on each feature if I am referring to Google Search Console Classic or the New Google Search Console.


google search console classic



google search console new



(You can toggle between the two different dashboards by finding the link on the left sidebar on both versions which indicates access to the other version.)

  1. See Your Site’s Visibility with the Performance Report (View on New Google Search Console)

One of the most useful reporting tools in GSC is the Performance Report. You can access this report in both the new and old versions, but the new dashboard offers some additional functionality and therefore is recommended. You can get to this report via the left side navigation menu, under “Status>Performance”.

From here, Google Search Console helps you monitor a lot of useful info about your site – primarily, how many clicks it receives from search and how many impressions your links are receiving from the search results pages.

These metrics differ from others that you may be familiar with in Google Analytics, such as Sessions or Users. “Clicks” purely refers to visitors that click on one of your site’s links from the search result page, and “Impressions” are gathered every time your site appears for someone’s search – the user need not click on your link for it to count as an impression. “Sessions” and “Users” in Google Analytics only reflect activity once a user gets to your site, while GSC’s Performance report focuses on the user’s journey to getting to your site in the first place.

google search glasses

Here’s how this info can be a weapon: maybe you’re getting a ton of Impressions, but very few Clicks. You’ll see that reflected in the “Average CTR (click through rate)” metric on the report, which indicates what percentage of impressions turned into clicks. If you’re just not getting as many clicks as you feel you should, maybe your page titles are leaving something to be desired. You can read more about improving your click through rate here.

What about the other part of the Performance report? You can see how many clicks and impressions that your site gets for specific user searches (under the “Queries” tab) as well as which of your pages receive the most clicks and impressions. This can help you identify how your users are finding your site and help you gain insights on your site’s keyword visibility, brand name, and so much more.

PRO TIP: Use the “Compare” feature under the Date control on the top left side of this report to get an idea of if your site is becoming more or less visible over time. This way, you can compare click through rates and page performance, as well as keep an eye out for poorly-performing pages or dipping click through rates.

  1. How to Submit Your Site to Google (View on New Google Search Console)

One of the most vital skills you can gather from this article is how to create and submit a sitemap for Google Search Console. Sitemaps help Google “read” your site the way you want it to be read and indexed.

XML sitemap creation and submission in Google Search Console can be quite straightforward, depending

on what platform your site is using. Most modern platforms (WordPress, Shopify, Magento, etc) offer an automatically generated sitemap or have easy plugins that allow you to create and customize your sitemap in no time, without any technical knowledge required. Get in touch with your web developer or friendly neighborhood marketing expert if you’re having trouble generating a sitemap for your site.

Your site’s XML sitemap can usually be found just like a regular page of your site, most commonly in this format: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml (except replace “example” with your site domain). Check out your sitemap and see if it looks like a good representation of the pages on your site. If so, copy the complete URL of your sitemap and navigate to “Sitemaps” on the new Google Search Console dashboard. To submit your site to Google, simply paste the address of your sitemap into the allotted space.

Why do this? Well, while Google is generally smart enough to locate a site without the help of a submitted sitemap, sitemap submission is a much faster way of pointing Google over to your site and indicating for them to add it to their index.

If you’re wondering how to get Google to crawl your site, this is how you tell it to. If you’re curious why you site isn’t on Google’s results when looking for your brand, it might be because Google hasn’t found your site yet! Go, submit away!

Keep in mind that Google doesn’t index your site instantaneously – it could be anywhere from 4 days to 4 weeks before Google fully indexes your site. You can keep an eye on the “Index Status” report within Google Search Console Classic to see how many of your pages are indexed by Google.

google search console index status

  1. How to Check for Penalties and Spam (View Google Search Console Classic)

Let’s face it: the internet isn’t perfect. Some site owners try to “game” Google’s algorithm and rank #1 for every

big keyword, and Google knows this. Other site owners fall victim to hacking and spam. Google’s algorithm has gotten very advanced and knows when you’re trying to game the system, and has learned how to identify spammy sites and protect users from stumbling across harmful or useless content. When a Google crawl finds evidence of a spammy, slick, or hacked site, it will demote that site’s rankings in the search results to protect its users.

If you’re checking your Google Analytics reports or playing around with the Performance report in Google Search Console and notice a serious drop in your site’s visibility and traffic, you’re likely to be concerned. When you feel like something’s awry, your first stop should be to check Google Search Console’s Manual Actions and Security Issues reports.

These two reports are currently found in the classic Google Search Console interface, in the left hand menu. A little more detail on each report:

  • Manual Actions: this report checks for activity that is marked as spam on your site. If Google finds evidence that your site contains spammy content, you will see a warning in this section and instructions on how to best deal with the issue and return your site’s visibility to normal. If no manual webspam actions are found, all is well on this front.

google search console manual actions

  • Security Issues: This report checks for signs of malware and hacked websites that can be harmful to you and visitors alike. Security issues can be another factor in a big drop in traffic, so keep an eye on this report if you suspect you’ve been hacked. Google also provides a few resources on the Security Issues page to help you manage a potential hacking situation.

google search console security issues


If you check both of those reports and see nothing unusual, it’s possible that there are other issues affecting the visibility of your site and the recent traffic slowdown. Google won’t notify you of every single algorithm update that might affect your visibility, so the responsibility to stay within Google’s recommended guidelines for search engine visibility lands on you at the end of the day.

However, teaming up with SEO experts can help you manage the murky waters of search engine ranking drops. The right SEO consultants can help you navigate Google Search Console, among other tools, and take care of the big stuff that overwhelms small to medium size businesses.

If you think a recent algorithm update is the reason why your website is not on Google’s top spot, or you just want to make sure your site is being read by Google the way you want it to, get in touch with our team of SEO all-stars today. We’re tackling big questions in and out of Google Search Console every day, and we know what it takes to gain the visibility you need on the search results.

How PPC and SEO Work Together

Does your company separate its search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) teams into distinct silos? If these teams never speak to each other in your business or digital marketing agency, you’re limiting your ability to maximize traffic and conversion opportunities. Digital marketing strategy is a dynamic environment and combining insights and resources from the paid and organic world is the best way to meet goals and exceed expectations.

PPC and SEO have similar objectives: increasing viewership for websites (regarding clicks), raising conversion rates and lowering costs, but they achieve it through different means. It stands to reason that combining the two methods only increases the prominence and leads to a more successful search strategy.

The Basics

If you’re confused about the difference between SEO and PPC, it’s easy to separate them into two distinct categories:

  • SEO uses on-page optimization, including altering metadata and keywords in content, so that search engines can crawl a site and rank it bases on relevance. Some additional factors contribute to SEO value and misconceptions about how it works today.
  • PPC is a strategy where businesses pay for advertisements on various platforms including Google AdWords, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram to drive traffic back to relevant landing pages on their sites.

By integrating SEO and PPC, there are many possible benefits, including an increase in organic traffic, increased paid clicks, savings in ad spend and increased profits.

But if you silo your teams, you’ll never achieve those goals. So, here’s how to utilize the resources of paid and organic search to help the other out.

Share Information

purple and green hands representing seo and ppc


SEO can help paid advertising and vice versa by sharing information from each team. While both departments’ work can get users to you or your client’s website, it’s high-quality content with SEO that keeps them there. Paid ads get to the user quickly, while results from SEO take longer to verify. PPC copy that’s performing well can be used to inform SEO and content strategy. If certain verbiage appeals to your key demographics, utilize it in key sections of the site.

There’s no question that SEOs and paid search analysts both work tirelessly to develop unique content, but they often don’t share their data or insights. One of the most important items they can share to strengthen both teams’ efforts is keywords.

Keyword Sharing

For paid campaigns and SEO efforts, you need the right keywords. They’re not necessarily aimed at the consumer at the same time in their sales process, but in both cases, they’re integral to the process. In the case of paid ads, strategists use keywords to target consumers who are closer to making a purchase or deciding on a conversion. In the SEO world, keywords are an essential part of ranking a website on search engines and developing keyword strategy.

With the increase of voice search in digital marketing, longer tail keywords and phrases are becoming even more common, so combining efforts can help both teams create a coordinated message from first glance at the product with SEO until final purchase with targeted ads.

Increase Your Social Media Visibility

Ad targeting has only increased in its specificity over the last several years. With social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, the PPC team creates ads that target incredibly specific groups. The results of these campaigns contain valuable data about key demographics for your product, which the SEO team can then use in turn to write new content and refine SEO strategy. As ad technology improves, the synergy between PPC and SEO will only grow, and targeting will get even more specific with machine learning and artificial intelligence tools.

Maximize the Ability to Own Google SERPs

One of the most important benefits to combining paid and organic efforts is added exposure on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Some companies are tempted to reduce or even eliminate PPC spend if they rank #1 for a given search term. However, it’s important to remember that for most results page, the first one to three results is paid ads. If you can dominate in both paid and organic search results, you can not only a great increase in traffic but give the impression to potential customers that you’re an important presence in your market.

Don’t keep your SEO and PPC teams from helping each other out. With Leverage Marketing’s satellite marketing services, all our services work together to meet and exceed your expectations.

Traditional Marketing Still Has a Place in Digital Marketing

To a digital marketing agency like ours, it comes as a shock to learn that, sometimes, successful businesses aren’t maximizing their potential because they haven’t even tried yet to dip into digital marketing. Even more surprising is when we find out that small or medium-sized businesses have yet to consider digital marketing as a main avenue for overcoming the hardships of a budding business.

Many of these businesses are relying on traditional marketing tactics to drive their businesses. There’s nothing wrong with doing so; traditional marketing is named so because it is a collection of tried and proven methods of drumming up business.

Traditional marketing includes such classic approaches as:

  • Print advertisement
  • Newsletters
  • Television commercials
  • Radio spots

But in the internet-driven business world, we recommend keeping traditional marketing efforts around to bolster a much more robust digital marketing strategy rather than relying wholly on print, TV, and radio advertising.

It’s All About Support

Digital marketing covers product and service-selling strategies for all current internet-based channels. That includes such advertising pathways as social media, user-experience-backed web design, ongoing content creation, and email marketing. All digital efforts, however, have room for support from traditional marketing.

It’s especially true for businesses that rely heavily on such sales methods as traveling sales teams, referrals, and cold calls. Having tangible advertising material on hand to support sales teams in their marketing efforts, especially when it points to digital resources, is still a reliable method for boosting the effectiveness of sales.

What Types of Traditional Marketing Fit into Digital Marketing Campaigns?

generic traditional marketing brochure

There really is no wrong answer, but there are certain traditional marketing materials that tend to be more effective when support digital marketing than others. You’ll likely find the most utility in:

  • Leaflets – Single-page informational flyers can give salespeople an offline means of sharing relevant company, product, and service information with potential customers in scenarios that don’t ordinarily involve immediate connection to the internet or screens for presentation.
  • Brochures – Brochures and pamphlets offer even greater opportunity to showcase products and services and provide in-depth information on them in an easy-to-read format.
  • Branded Merchandise – Selling or handing out branded merchandise creates a permanent advertisement that will keep you top-of-mind for serious potential clients and customers, but creating the merchandise comes at a hefty price.
  • Business Cards – Business cards that carry professional information and help direct customers and clients to your online resources are still a viable option for making connections, especially when a particularly wide-reaching convention or meeting comes up.

While radio and television ads still increase awareness and bring in the occasional lead, they are rapidly becoming less relevant, trusted, and effective. They also tend to compete with, rather than support, your digital marketing efforts, even when traditional marketing ads point back to your digital assets.

Who Performs These Tasks?

Employees at digital marketing agencies work hand-in-hand with one another all day, which means they are always picking up relevant and useful skills that can be used to drive traditional marketing efforts.

Content creation teams are skilled at outputting copy for traditional marketing, even if they haven’t worked outside of the digital realm before. That’s because the skills necessary for digital content creation translate easily to traditional marketing – unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as well the other way around.

Paid search teams are also adept at writing copy, especially for advertisements that need to be dense with information. All copy can be adapted to print media by graphic artists and web designers who will work together to build user-friendly materials. SEO teams may also get involved to make sure that print materials support digital efforts with maximum effectiveness.

It won’t hurt to ask your digital marketing agency if they are prepared to handle traditional marketing materials, especially if you’re already on track with a successful digital marketing campaign. Even if your agency is unable to handle your request, there are teams available elsewhere with the skills and know-how to boost your digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing.

At Leverage Marketing, we’re not afraid to dive into some traditional marketing. Learn how we can support your marketing efforts with a digital and traditional combination today!