This post was originally published on Sept. 20, 2016, and was updated on Aug. 12, 2019.
Google Search Console can be a powerful resource for website owners — if you know how to use this tool to its full potential. This guide will explore what Google Search Console is, why you need it, how to integrate Google Search Console with your WordPress site, and even a little about what to do afterwards.
Ready to get started?
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) is a free tool that allows website owners to directly connect their website to Google. It provides a deeper look into how Google sees a website or blog.
The powerful tool gives website owners the ability to find out if there are any specific problems that could be detrimental to being listed properly in the search results.
These problems might include the website’s security, if there are errors crawling the website, if there’s unnatural linking, if there are mobile usability issues, and much more.
In fact, Google Search Console is a great tool to help you, as a website owner, understand and learn to improve your site so that others can find you in the search results. Everything you need to learn to make the important site improvements surfaced via Google Search Console is based on the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Check out my video, “Google Quality Guidelines 101 for WordPress Bloggers,” to take a deeper dive.
Why do you need Google Search Console?
In addition to providing insight into the visibility of your site in search results, Google Search Console can help you:
Discover if your website has crawl errors
If you’ve got crawl errors, you might be sending visitors to web pages that have no content.
If you know your crawl errors, you can fix the problem by properly redirecting content, or by informing Google that web content has been permanently deleted.
Optimize your website for speed
Ideally, your website should be loading at a speed of about one second. The page speed analysis tool within Google Search Console allows you to check what you need to do in order to speed up your website.
Related: Speeding up WordPress
See if your website has malware
Google has your back. If your website has been compromised, you’ll receive a notice via email and in Google Search Console about the problem.
Usually, if Google found a problem, website visitors will be given a warning to protect them until you’ve cleaned up the malware or virus.
Let you know who is linking to you
Knowing who links to you is important. If you’ve got linkbacks from a lot of non-relevant websites, you could be penalized by Google for unnatural linking (aka link schemes).
Having that list will allow you to easily hunt down and ask the owners of those websites to remove the link.
Understand if Google can render your website properly
There are many more features of Google Search Console, but for the beginner, the ones mentioned in this article are the most helpful.
How to integrate Google Search Console with your WordPress website or blog
In order to integrate Google Search Console with your WordPress site, you will need to add your website, as well as your website’s sitemap.
The sitemap — which is a generated list of all the content on your website — will allow Google to crawl and index your website far faster and more accurately than just submitting your website URL alone.
This tutorial will include both submitting your website’s URL and your sitemap URL so you get a headstart on being crawled by Google.
The easiest way to integrate Google Search Console with WordPress is to install the Yoast SEO plugin.
How to use the Yoast SEO plugin to Integrate Google Search Console with WordPress
The Yoast SEO plugin is extremely handy for WordPress beginners, as it contains features including the ability to verify your website and produce a valid sitemap for Google.
To submit and verify your WordPress website with Google Search Console:
1. Go to Google Search Console
You will need to have a Google account or sign up. The tool is free to use, and you’ll only receive an email if there are any crawl issues with your website.
2. Submit your website
Add your preferred domain — with or without the www in the URL. You will click in the area that says “Search Property” and on the drop-down menu, click Add Property.
You’ll get a screen that pops up, just like below. Add your site to the right side of the area, and click Continue.
3. Verify your website
You can do this by using the HTML tag method. Copy the code into a plain text editor. Then copy only the long sequence of letters of numbers.
That code will go into your Yoast SEO General settings, under the Webmaster tab, in your WordPress admin.
Once you’ve added the code, and saved it, you can go back to your Google Search Console tab to click on the Verify button.
Note: If adding the code to Yoast SEO doesn’t work, which does happen for some people, you can also use the Headers and Footers plugin so you don’t have to mess with opening up your theme. Some themes also include an option that will allow you to add code snippets to the header area. Simply copy the whole line under the HTML tag method, and paste it into the header script area.
Also, in some rare cases, this method might not work. If you cannot use any method with Yoast or WordPress, you can use the HTML file download method to verify your site.
You would upload this file to the same directory where your site’s wp-config.php file is located. If this method doesn’t work, contact your web host to ask them if they are blocking any ports or have any server rules in place that are preventing you from adding your site to Google Search Console. You shouldn’t need to use any of the other verification methods.
Congratulations! If you’ve gotten the success message in Google Search Console, you can proceed to the next steps.
4. Find your sitemap URL
If you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can find your sitemap URL by going to your WordPress admin panel, and navigating to the SEO > Features tab, and then finding the toggle section on XML Sitemaps.
If the toggle is set to On, click on the tooltip question mark, and a link will show up for your sitemap. Click on it or use your mouse button to right click and copy the sitemap link.
Usually, the Yoast SEO sitemap URL ends with sitemap_index.xml.
5. Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console
In Google Search Console, to submit your sitemap, go to the section under Crawl > Sitemaps.
Compare the URL you copied earlier and make sure to add the exact URL path in. Usually, you will just type in sitemap_index.xml into the field, and click Submit.
Now your WordPress website or blog should be properly integrated with Google Search Console.
Depending on the size of your website (how many pages your site has), Google could take a few days to a few weeks to crawl your website.
You’ve added Google Search Console to WordPress — now what?
After Google crawl your website and lets you know if there’s anything you need to improve. Some of the things you might see in Google Search Console include:
1. Improve website speed.
2. Improve mobile usability.
3. Remove any 404 errors or broken links.
4. Eliminate any security issues.
Improve website speed
Your website needs to load quickly — including on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. You should try to get your site loading in less than two seconds, or at least close to that.
Improve mobile usability
If your site is not easily viewable on mobile devices, get to work improving your website’s design so it is responsive to most device-widths.
Remove any 404 errors or broken links
A 404 error occurs when a page can’t be found or no longer exists. You might have moved the page and renamed it, but forgot to add a redirection to the new page or let Google know if you completely removed the content.
Aside from your own content, if you’re linking to other sites, you might find that over time, some sites have either changed their links or they no longer exist. It’s important to remove these issues so that your visitors are directed to the right content.
Eliminate any security issues
It’s always possible that your site could get hacked.
Google does something like a courtesy check every so often, to make sure that your site is safe for others to view. If it’s not, sometimes Google will warn your visitors, and from Google Search Console, email you about the problem.
If this happens to you, make sure to clean up the problem as quickly as possible as it can deter people from coming to your site, or Google could blocklist your site.
That’s a wrap
Hopefully this guide has done a thorough job of not only helping you to integrate Google Search Console with WordPress, but of helping you to understand a little more about both the tool and how Google works.
It’s most important to take quick action on the items that Google identifies as problems — including mobile usability, site speed, security and broken links. Taking a proactive approach to improving your website using the insights gained from Google Search Console can do wonders for your search ranking and website user experience.
Editor’s note: Search engine optimization is easier with GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting. Our WordPress search engine optimization (SEO) plugin walks through your website and automatically handles your basic SEO needs so Google can find your site.