How to Use Google Search Console: GSC for Beginners

google search console beginners guideAre you ready to get serious about blogging? Then you’re ready to learn how to use Google Search Console!

Pinterest is an incredible tool for blogging, isn’t it?

But at 250 million monthly users, Pinterest receives just a fraction of the 3.5 billion search queries Google generates every single day.

This guide to Google Search Console (GSC) will teach you: 

  • Search engine optimization basics
  • How to add your blog to GSC
  • How to add a Sitemap on WordPress
  • Google Search Console terms
  • How to filter in GSC
  • How to check your blog’s performance in GSC
  • How to see how many internal links you have
  • How to see which pages link to you in Google Search Console

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and I may earn a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you use them. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the practice of enhancing content to rank well in organic search engine results – like Google!

Great SEO starts with getting your content to rank for relevant queries. And when it does, you’ll be on your way to generating more traffic to your website. 

So, what are the most important SEO ranking factors? 

  1. Site security
  2. Page speed
  3. Technical SEO
  4. Mobile-friendliness
  5. Domain age and authority
  6. Optimized content
  7. Links
  8. User experience
  9. Social signals

The great news is that quality hosting like Siteground helps you meet 3 of these requirements – security (with a free SSL Certificate), speed, and technical SEO.

To some some extent, it even impacts user experience.

Think about it – if your host doesn’t have high uptime guaranteed, your blog could be down when someone’s trying to check it out! The likelihood of these users returning also drops – yikes!

My favourite thing about Siteground is how fast my website loads – it’s fully loaded in just 1.1 seconds.

screenshot of nikki blogs site speed score via gtmetrix page speed test - 1.1 seconds to fully load

Check how fast your blog loads with GTMetrix and if it’s higher than the 3 second industry standard, it’s probably time to switch to a better host like Siteground – you’ll save 60% off using my link.

Other ranking factors like domain authority, links, social signals, and optimized content are your responsibility. 

You need to make sure the content you create is high quality and relevant in order to keep users interested, sharing, and coming back for more. 

Here’s a screenshot of my Google Search Console stats for one week in October.

increase blog traffic google

Google Search Console tells me that I had 10,500 total clicks from search queries that week – awesome!

There are also a few other important stats shown above that’ll we’ll discuss further into this post.  

Let’s keep talking about how you can use Google Search Console to improve your site’s SEO!

How to Use Google Search Console: GSC for Beginners

google search consoleGoogle Search Console (GSC) is a powerful tool that allows you to learn an enormous amount of information about your website’s performance and your audience.

You can even use it to find new ideas to create content around!

Use GSC to discover things like:

  • How many people have visited your site within the past day, week, or even 6 months
  • What queries your site visitors are using to find you
  • Which of your posts or pages are your top performers
  • Whether more people are finding you using a desktop computer, mobile, or tablet
  • Whether or not you have errors on your site

Some other more advanced ways to use GSC also include:

  • Identifying your highest-traffic queries
  • Identifying your highest-click through rate queries
  • Determining you average click through rate
  • Monitoring your overall impressions over given time periods
  • Monitoring your average position over given time periods
  • Identifying increases and decreases in your search rankings
  • Discovering how many of your pages have been indexed
  • Determining which site pages have not been indexed + why
  • Discovering how many backlinks your site has
  • Identifying which URLs have resulted in the most backlinks
  • Identifying which sites link to your blog most
  • Identifying which posts or pages have the most internal links
  • Discovering how many internal links your site has overall

So, let’s learn how to use Google Search Console setting it up ​and then exploring how you can use it to increase your organic search query rankings.

How To Add Your Blog To Google Search Console

  1.  Sign into your Google Account
  2. Click on the Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Click Add a property
  4. Choose Website from the drop-down menu and enter your blog’s URL
  5. Click Add
  6. Choose how you would like to verify your site from the following methods:
  • HTML file upload
    • Upload a verification HTML file to a specific location on your blog; by default, this is also the first option proposed by Google Search Console
  • HTML tag
    • Use your HTML editor to open the code for your blog’s homepage and place the provided tag in the section of that HTML code
  • Domain name provider
    • Sign into your Domain Registrar (SiteGround, Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc.) and verify your site directly from Google Search Console; alternatively, you can create a DNS TXT or, if that doesn’t work for your provider, a CNAME record instead
  • Google Analytics
    • Copy the Google Analytics tracking code that you already use on your site; by far the simplest verification method if you’ve already synced Google Analytics to your site!
  • Google Tag Manager
    • Copy the Google Tag Manager code associated with your site; you will need to have View, Edit, and Manage container-level permissions enabled in your Google Tag Manager account if you choose this option

Pro Tip: Seeing the “Google analytics code on your site looks malformed” error? Choosing to verify your domain with the HTML tag method may help you bypass this!

In my opinion, it’s also the easiest verification method to use – especially if you’re non-tech savvy.

If you use the GeneratePress WordPress theme, just create a Hook in Elements otherwise, download the Insert Headers and Footers plugin and paste it there.

7. If your site supports both an http:// and an https:// version, be sure to add all variants to your properties.

You will also need to add each domain, for instance:


shows the welcome to your new domain property from google search console window

google search console - improve seoI bet you’re wondering…

Isn’t the same domain as

Actually, no! Each one represents a different server.

While the URLs might look VERY similar, they are indeed two different domains.

But if you type into your browser bar, you’ll end up on!

Okay, why? is my preferred domain and Google knows that I want my URLs displayed in searches as … 

And thus, anytime that another site or blogger links to or a specific post from my blog, those URLs will also be treated as …

If you have NOT set a canonical URL, Google could treat the non-www version and the www version of your domains as separate entities.

This means your page views, any of your internal links, and even engagement would be split into two separate groups. Ugh!

By April 10, 2019, Google intends to transition all performance data so that Google Search Console will assign search metrics to Google-Selected canonical URLs rather than URLs that have been referred to by Google Searches.

For more information about these changes, please continue reading here.

Do you need a Site Map?

A site map will improve your site’s crawlability if it:

  • Is incredibly large
  • Has a ton of isolated or pages that are not linked together
  • Is new and has relatively few external links linking back to it
  • Uses rich media content
  • Appears in Google News

Adding A Sitemap On WordPress


If you’re a WordPress User, you can quickly and easily build a sitemap by installing the Sitemap Generator Plugin.

Once installed, simply click Generate your sitemap to create an XML sitemap for your blog.

text reads generate a XML sitemap of your site

Now, head over to Google Search Console.

Click the Sitemaps tab.

Under Add a new sitemap, type /sitemap.xml into the field that reads Enter sitemap URL.

Congratulations! You have a Sitemap.

Basic Terminology For Google Search Console

The following are a few basic terms that you should know in order to use Google Search Console as effectively as possible.

Query: A search query that triggered an impression.

Impression: How many times a user saw a link to your site within their search results.

Click: How many times a user clicked on your site.

Average Position: the average ranking of your site’s URLs in search results; based on the highest position whenever it appeared in a user’s search.

Click Through Rate (CTR): the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click on your site; click/Impressions x 100.

How To Filter In Google Search Console

There are a few different options for viewing your data on GSC.

Search Type

There are three types of searches you can do:

  • Web
  • Image
  • Video

The vast majority of my traffic comes from the web (and especially Pinterest) but, if you are receiving a large number of views from images or videos, make sure to adjust this filter to suit your needs.

You can also compare two types of traffic by clicking on the Compare tab after you have selected the two categories you want to face off.

When you’re ready, just click Apply to see how they line up.

Date Range

Google Search Console can provide you with up to 16 months of data for your blog.

Choose from pre-determined time periods like 7 or 28 days, or even set a custom range that you have determined for yourself.

Just like we did above with Search Type, you can even compare two date ranges by selecting the Compare tab here.

Other Options

By clicking on New just underneath the Performance bar, you can add up to five other types of filters including:

  • Query
  • Page
  • Country
  • Device
  • Search Appearance

Consider layering your filters for an even more in-depth analysis as well.

For example, want to know how many people find you using the query “Instagram Caption Ideas” on mobile devices? Add a filter for that Term using the Query tab and select Mobile in the Device tab!

Now, let’s practice using Google Search Console for a few of the more advanced ideas we talked about earlier.

Identifying Highest Traffic Posts Or Pages

Click Performance.

Change the Date Range to fit your needs: For example, when you started your blog or when you started blogging full-time might give you a good idea about how your site has improved over that duration!

Click the Pages tab.

Clicks should be displayed in descending order so that you are viewing your posts and pages from most popular onward.

Identifying Highest Click-Through Rate (CTR) Queries

Click Performance.

Change the Date Range to fit your needs.

Click Average CTR above the graph.

Click the Queries tab.

Click CTR within the Queries tab to display data in descending order and see your top performing posts and pages first.

Pro Tip: It’s especially useful to view CTR alongside your Impressions data!

For example, some pages may have a high impression count but low CTR. Use the data from your Queries to make posts and pages more enticing to viewers.

Improve the Titles and Meta-Descriptions of your posts to align better with the Queries that are bringing you the most Impressions.

Identifying Your Highest-Ranking Post Or Pages

Click Performance.

Click the Date Range to adjust for the time period of your choice.

Select Average Position.

Click the Pages tab.

Click Position within the Pages tab twice to display results in ascending order.

Since you’re viewing average positions by URL, the number you see here is the mean of all of that page’s rankings.

For example, if you rank first overall for a low-volume query and ninth for a high-volume one, your average ranking would still be fifth.

Determining Your Average Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click Performance.

Click the Date Range to adjust for the time period of your choice.

View Average CTR.

Identifying Ranking Increases and Decreases

Click Performance.

The Queries tab should be selected by default.

Click Date Range.

Click the Compare Tab.

Choose from the given options or set your own custom start and end dates to compare two equivalent time periods.

Click Apply.

Identifying Your Highest-Traffic Queries

Click Performance.

Click the Date Range to adjust for the time period of your choice.

Scroll down to the Queries Tab.

Clicks should be selected by default and will display the Queries that have led to your site most often first.

Click on Impressions to compare the results and see how you can better optimize pages that rank for these Queries!

Comparing Your Site’s Search Performance Across Devices

Click Performance.

Above the graph, select Total Clicks, Total Impressions, Average CTR, and Average Position to display all details.

Click the Devices tab.

Have a look at how your site performs across Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet.

displays analytics for website data across various devices including desktop, mobile, and tablet

Comparing Your Site’s Search Performance in Different Countries

Click Performance.

Above the graph, select Total Clicks, Total Impressions, Average CTR, and Average Position to display all details.

Click the Countries tab.

Have a look at how your site performs in different countries!

shows website data for various countries beginning with the united states and canada

Discovering How Many Of Your Pages Have Been Indexed

From the Performance page, click on the Overview tab at the left of your screen.

Scroll down to Coverage.

Have a look at your Valid Pages count here.

Click Open Report for more details.

Discovering How Many Total Internal Links Your Site Has

Click the Links tab in the lefthand menu of your Google Search Console window.

Open the Top Linked Pages report by clicking More at the bottom of the box.

The number of Total Internal Links will be displayed in a box at the top lefthand corner of your browser.

Discovering Which URLs Have The Most Internal Links

Click Links.

Open the Top Linked Pages Report by clicking More at the bottom of the box.

Pages should automatically be displayed in descending order

Discovering Which Pages Link To You Most

Click Links.

Scroll down to Top Linking Sites and click the More tab.

Have a look and see how who’s linked to your blog!

Are there a couple of other bloggers just like you there? Awesome!

How flattering and exciting, right?

Consider offering to do a Guest Post on their site and vice versa in addition to seeking them out on Social Media.

Where are my Instagram influencers at? Think future joint Giveaways and #WomanCrushWednesday features!

5 hand drawn black hearts as a banner

Which method did you choose for verifying your site on Google Search Console? Were you surprised by any of the Queries that were leading people to your blog? How about creating a Sitemap?

I’d love to hear about your experience with learning how to use Google Search Console in the comments below!

text reads nikki xo

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