The SEO Starter Guide to Google Search ConsoleChapter one

How to Set Up Google Search Console

Adding Your Site to Search Console

Note: You can click on all screenshots below to view at a larger size.

Step 1: Log into Webmaster Tools

If you already have Google Analytics or Google Adwords setup for your site, you should log in with the same account details.

Step 2: Enter the URL of your website and click Add a Property

add a property in gsc

Step 3: You will then have to verify your website

 

How to Verify Your Website

After adding a site to Search Console you can verify in several different ways:

Upload HTML verification file

If you have access to your site’s root directory, you can upload an HTML file for Search Console verification. Once you select this option, you will need to download the HTML file and upload it to the location specified in the instructions. After uploading the file, select Verify to complete the process.

html verification file in gsc

After you have verified the site, you should not make any changes to the file or filename or delete the HTML file from your site as this will undo verification.

Verifying through domain name provider

To verify your site through the domain provider, choose your domain provider from the list or choose Other for instructions on creating a DNS TXT record. If your provider cannot create a DNS TXT record you can create a CNAME record instead.

Adding a meta tag to your homepage

If you have experience with HTML, you can add a provided verification code into the <head> of your homepage. Once the code has been added, saved, and published, you can return to Search Console and select Verify to complete the process.

Adding Google Analytics tracking code

If you have a Google Analytics account for reporting on your site and you have the GA tracking code within the <head> of your homepage, you can add a tracking code through your Analytics property.

If you use this method and remove the GA code from your site it will undo verification.

Using Google Tag Manager container snippet

If you use Google Tag Manager for your site, have “View, Edit, and Manage” permissions enabled in your account, and your GTM code is placed after the <body> tag on your site, you can use this method to verify your site in Search Console.

gtm container snippet verification in gsc

If you use this method and remove the GTM code from your site it will undo verification.

Adding Subdomains & Subdirectories

It’s important to add all versions of your domains (http vs https, www vs non-www) as separate properties that you can manage, even if http versions fully redirect to https versions.

The below example URLs would be considered different to search engines and should be added as separate properties if relevant:

  • http://example.com/
  • https://example.com/
  • http://www.example.com/
  • https://www.example.com/

If your website has any subdomains, subdirectories specific to language, countries, or content, or staging servers, you can get more specified data by adding these as separate properties. This will allow you to set geographic targeting, define sitemaps, and more.

Examples of subdomains or subdirectories that could be added as separate properties:

  • http://blog.example.com/
  • http://example.com/fr/
  • http://example.com/en/
  • http://example.com/amp/
  • http://staging.example.com/

If you are already verified for a domain, you are automatically verified for all subdomains of that domain. If you are already verified for a site, you are automatically verified for all subdirectories of that site.

Setting a Preferred Domain

The preferred (or canonical) domain is the domain that you want to use to index your site’s pages and the version that you want to use for your site in search results, for example: www vs non-www.

To set a preferred domain:

Step 1: Log in to Search Console and select the site you want

Step 2: Click the gear icon and select Site Settings

Step 3: In the Preferred Domain section, select the option you want

set a preferred domain in gsc

 

Creating Property Sets

If you add several URL variations like subdomains and subdirectories as separate properties, it may be difficult to get an overview of your entire site – especially when you’ve added all protocol variations! A feature called property sets lets you combine multiple properties into a single view to monitor stats within a single report.

To create a property set:

Step 1: Log in to Search Console and select Create a set

create a set in gsc

Step 2: Create your set name and add all of the members (properties) to the set

add all properties to set in gsc