Auditing Google Search Console
After conducting technical SEO audits on countless websites in the months since I joined the Web Talent team, I can say that there hasn’t been a website I’ve encountered with perfect deployment of every critically important on-site element. I surmise that this is, in part, due to changes in organic search, but it may also be the result of a “set it at launch and forget it” mentality that plagues beleaguered marketing teams everywhere.
Technical SEO must be revisited on a regular basis. Depending on how many team members touch your website or how frequently pages and posts are updated will determine what constitutes “regular basis.” If your ecommerce site involves team members from across the world making changes simultaneously to the website, I recommend a monthly audit of the technical elements of your website. If you are a sole proprietor and the only person pumping out content via your blog, you may consider a technical on-site audit once or twice a year.
No matter how frequently you audit your own website, there is one tool you may have never considered using: Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools.
Google Search Console is no longer strictly for the web developer. Digital marketing teams everywhere can leverage the resources of Google Search Console as part of a technical SEO audit. In fact, I highly recommend logging in and checking GSC in between technical on-site audits. Grab a cup of coffee the first Monday morning of the month, log into GSC and relax. GSC can teach you a ton about your website that you haven’t considered before that impact your website’s ability to be indexed.
With great power comes great responsibility, GSC included! In the wrong hands, one person can de-index a website with the right level of access to GSC. Be careful about who you trust with GSC ownership. As with technical on-site audits, I have yet to find a website that hasn’t benefitted from an audit of GSC.
In fact, there are several GSC items that show up countless times in my audit reports and are immediate concerns to any person or business with a website. Below is a list of three items an experienced and trusted digital marketer can identify by way of GSC.
1. Check the Messages that Google Search Console has for you
If you see this message, contact your web developer to take appropriate actions to unblock the necessary resources.
2. Check to see if your website has any mobile usability issues
Even if your website has the “mobile friendly” designation, there may still be elements of your website to improve the usability of the mobile version. Mobile users having a difficult time navigating your website may click to return to the SERP in an attempt to find a mobile-friendly site that meets their needs and expectations. Here is an example of the mobile usability issues that Google looks for:
If you see any of these messages, contact your web designer to improve the mobile usability of your website.
3. Check Google’s index to ensure that your website is completely indexed
If Google is unable to index your website, the “index” will indicate how many pages of your website are being indexed. Reasons why a website cannot be completely indexed vary widely and could be the result of a stale sitemap, incorrect canonical elements, disallowed elements in a robots.txt file, and much more.
Technical audits of websites should be taken seriously, and they should be completed regularly to ensure your website is as healthy as it needs to be to for search engines and users alike. But a word of caution about technical audits: if done improperly, they can severely damage your website. Make sure you work with someone who knows their stuff.
To learn more about Google Search Console, start with Google’s Webmaster Academy.