With Google Search Console, you have access to some of the most powerful tools for improving your SEO. While it’s completely free, there are many ways to set it up.
In this post, I’ll walk you through the best fit for you, so you’ll be up and running in no time.
Before we dive in, let’s quickly review why Search Console is so powerful and how it can help your site get more organic traffic.
Simply put, Google Search Console helps you monitor, measure, and maximise the results you can expect from search engines.
For example, it helps you:
These are just a few benefits but before setting up a Search Console account for your site, first, ask yourself:
Does somebody already have access to Google Search Console for your domain?
This might be a colleague in marketing, your web developer, or the business owner.
If the answer is no, you’ll need to verify the website with Google, which I’ll cover in a moment.
If it’s yes, the quickest way is to ask that person to add you as a user. To do this, log in to Search Console and click setting from the sidebar.
From there, you’ll need to see a green tick next to “Ownership verification”, to be able to add a user.
If you don’t see that, it will say “you are not a verified owner”, so you’ll need to find an owner to be added as a user.
So, I’ll head over to the property switcher, look for the www.tribeseo.com domain property of which I am an owner, and click that.
When I review the ownership verification, I see the green tick this time.
Below that, click on “Users and permissions”.
I’ll look for the “Add user” button towards the top right and click it.
Next, start typing in the email address you want to add and press enter.
Now, you can decide whether to grant “Owner”, ”Full”, or “Restricted” permission access. And then click add.
Okay, so if you’d like to be added as a user, email the owner and let them know which domain you’d like access to Search Console.
If they don’t know how to add a user, I’ve created a separate post covering just that part.
If Search Console hasn’t been set up for your website yet, or perhaps your web developer set it up, but he isn’t answering your calls (we’ve all been there), you need to verify it yourself as the site owner to Google.
So, here are the verification steps:
To do this, I’ll Google “Welcome to Google Search Console”, review the results, and I’ll pick the top result.
If you’re signed in, you’ll get taken to the welcome page.
Otherwise, you’ll be prompted to sign in, or you can create a new account if needed.
When you access Search Console, Google will report personal information about the website, so Google needs to verify that it’s the owner of the domain or someone acting for the owner.
You can see that you can choose from two property types:
Domain and URL prefix.
The domain option is the most robust and future-proof because it covers all website subdomains and protocols like HTTP and HTTPS.
Whereas the URL prefix option is limited to the URL and protocol you submit. More on the URL prefix later.
Okay, so let’s look at verifying by domain first.
So, I’ll enter a domain I own called “snowed.com” and press return.
From here, Google prompts me to.
So, I’ll copy the text record and head over to my Domain Name Provider, which is Google Domains.
Next, you can see I’m on the page for snowed.com, and I’ll click the DNS tab from the side menu.
From there, I’m prompted to create a new record.
If you see any existing records, you probably don’t want to delete or overwrite them.
For the new record, you can leave the hostname blank.
Then, change the type to “TXT” and leave the TTL as 3600.
In the data box, paste in the long text field you copied earlier, and then click save.
After that, you can hop back to Search Console.
Next, click “verify”.
If Google can see the DNS changes you made through your Domain Name Provider straightaway, you’re all good, and you’ll get instant access to Search Console.
Otherwise, it can take a day or so to fully propagate, so you may need to repeat this last step tomorrow or the day after.
Okay, that’s us covered for the domain verification process.
Let’s now move on to verifying by URL prefix.
Now, let’s imagine, like me, you’re a big fan of pancakes.
And I’m going to throw it out there that it’s not too hard to imagine.
So, you create a Pancakes Lover website, and you submit the prefix http://pancakeslover.com.
So, to avoid such mishaps and future-proofing yourself, it’s always better to verify by domain first, but where that’s not possible, use the correct URL prefix as a fallback.
So, I’ll pop in the URL prefix that I want to verify and press return.
There are several verification methods, and the first is through an HTML file.
You need to click the download link and save the HTML file to your computer.
Then, you need to upload the file to the top level or root of your website.
So, this could be using a File Manager with your web host, connecting through FTP, or sending the file to your web developer and asking them to do it.
Then, return to Search Console and click “verify” to complete the process and get instant access.
Alternatively, you can add an HTML tag to your website.
Simply copy the meta tag Google provides and add the code to your site.
Again you could ask your web developer to do this, but if your site has an SEO plugin, you may be able to add the tag by yourself.
For example, for a WordPress site using the RankMath SEO plugin, under general settings, you’ll see a Webmaster Tools tab, and there’s an option to add your Search Console verification code.
Again, you’ll need to click the “verify” button when you return to Search Console to get instant access.
To finish things off, we’ll quickly look at the remaining options.
If you already have Google Analytics access for the site, this will probably be the quickest and easiest method, as it involves just a couple of clicks.
For more advanced users, there’s an option to verify through Google Tag Manager.
And you can also verify through your Domain Name Provider.
Okay, so what’s the best fit for you?
Well, remember at the start of this video, I said to lead with a question:
Does someone already have Search Console access for your domain?
If yes, ask them to add you as a user and here’s a video that does that.
If not, you’ll need to verify the domain to Google.
By now, you know the most future-proof and thorough way of doing this is by changing the DNS settings with your Domain Name Provider.
If you don’t have access to that, you may find it easier to verify by URL prefix.
The URL prefix may be enough for your needs for now, but it may not cover all the URLs needed in the future.
And to recap, you can verify by URL through:
Okay, so that’s the verification process completed.
And, if you’re wondering what your next step inside Search Console might be, check out our short video, How to Submit a Sitemap to Google.