Speaking from experience, it is tempting to consider a website launched the moment the public can see it. Not so. Unlike a painting, a website is not simply unveiled. There are many details that ensure a thorough, well-rounded business website. Principal among these is Google Search Console, formerly Webmaster Tools.
Search Console informs Google who owns your website and gives you control over important features like ‘fetching’ pages, examining and disavowing backlinks, checking for errors and seeing basic search terms. While not strictly necessary, Search Console gives better insight into your site’s rankings and puts you in good stead for longer term SEO. Unlike other tricks of the trade, it is also free and easy to setup. You’ll be an internet landlord in no time.
Verify Ownership of Google Search Console
The first step is to verify that you, the humble webmaster, owns the site.
- Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ while signed in to your Google account.
- Click Add a Property and enter the full website URL, including http:// (or https, if you have an SSL certificate).
- There are a number of ways to verify your site – ask your developer which is the most suitable for your project. I tend to use the HTML tag, as it is easy to see in your header and compatible with WordPress SEO plugins.
- Copy and paste the HTML tag into your site <head> section (or rather, ask your developer to do this). Alternatively, paste the tag into Yoast by going to General > Webmaster Tools.
- Go back to Google Search Console and click Verify. Success!
Submit Your Sitemap
Your sitemap shows a clear-cut path through your sites pages, blog posts and categories. Search bots use the site map to gauge what pages you have tucked away, and what recent additions need indexing. By submitting your sitemap you are putting your cards on the table, inviting Google to crawl the site without hassle.
If you are using WordPress with an SEO plugin, chances are a sitemap has automatically been generated. Ask your developer for its URL, or see for yourself by checking the SEO settings in your dashboard.
Static websites might require that a sitemap is made. You can easily generate one yourself by visiting https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/, submitting your site and uploading the .xml file to your website’s root folder. Once your sitemap is uploaded, perform the following:
- In Search Console head to Crawl, then Sitemaps.
- Click Add/Test sitemap and type the URL to your sitemap.
- Click Test Sitemap first to ensure the link is correct. Then, click Submit.
Fetch Your Pages
Throw Google a bone once in a while; tell it to fetch anything new, and put your site in the fast-track lane for indexing.
- In Search Console head to Crawl, then Fetch as Google.
- When asked to type in your URL, leave the box blank to point Google towards your homepage. As this is the first time fetching your site, select Fetch and Render and check the box asking to crawl your site’s subpages.
Hereafter, make it a habit to Fetch new content on a page-by-page basis. Written a new blog post? Fetch it on Google. Have you significantly added or altered content to the homepage for keyword targeting? Same again. So long as it abides by Google guidelines, your site will be crawled by the search bots anyway. Fetching merely formalises the process and lets you double check there aren’t any crawl errors in the site.
Using Search Console With Your Website : Google Developers