New Google Search Console Beta Guide

Google released an early Beta version of their new Search Console, previously called Webmaster Tools, in late 2017. This was only to a limited number of people, but as of early 2018, they have made this available to all users.

The Beta version is by definition ‘not finished’, hence a lot of the existing functionality has yet to be added to the new version. Google say that this functionality will be transferred across to the Beta version over 2018 until it is complete.

That said, the new interface comes with some new features that can help you optimise your site for Google Search. We cover below each of the pages and components of the Search Console Beta.

Status

This (see below) is currently the default home page of a Search Console property on the beta version and provides a top-level overview of the main components.

These components are:

  1. Performance data
  2. Indexation data
  3. Structured data

Performance

The performance data is basically the same as your ‘search analytics’ data from the current Search Console version. This chart on the home page provides the search traffic over time, but you can click on ‘Open Report’ to go through to the performance section.

If you click through to the performance section, you will find the options you are likely familiar with in a slightly different interface.

1. From here you can select what data you want the chart to display, these are the same options as exist in the current version:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Average CTR (Click Through Rate)
  • Average Position

There is no indication at this stage as to whether the performance data will change, currently both the current and Beta versions show the same data.

2. This section contains tabs that change the data in the section below, again all these options are present in the current version but are presented differently. Here you can choose to look at performance data for:

  • Queries
  • Pages
  • Countries
  • Devices

The screenshot below shows what you can expect to see if you select the devices tab:

You can see the download symbol in the top right-hand corner of the screenshot above, if you click this icon you get the following options for exporting the data:

Clicking the menu icon to the left of this provides you with the option to add additional filters to the data in the table. Simply select the data from the options shown in the below screenshot:

Once selected you will now have a filter (see below) with various options for sifting our data you don’t want to see:

This makes it a lot easier to look at high or low performing data segments like search queries or countries, where you may have hundreds or thousands of entries.

3. This is where you can add filters from a range of options such as:

  • Search type
  • Date range
  • Query
  • Page
  • Country
  • Device

The screenshot above shows how these options are presented when the plus symbol is clicked. If no filter is selected, all the data for that segment will be included in the chart data and the table of data below.

Index

The screenshot below is from the Status home page, this provides a top-level overview of the pages that are indexed vs. those with indexation problems.

This combines ‘sitemaps’ and ‘crawl errors’ from the current version into a nice simple chart that shows how many ‘valid pages’ are indexed (sitemaps) and how many ‘pages have errors’ (crawl errors).

As with the performance section, you can click on the open report text to click through to the ‘index’ section of the Beta Search Console.

1. this section provides the same format for selecting the data you want to see in the chart and table below. These act as filters for pages that have or meet the following criteria:

  • Errors
  • Valid with warning
  • Valid
  • Excluded

The stacked column chart shows actual numbers over time, this makes the data very easy to visualise, understand and interpret.

If you select the tick box for ‘impressions’, the chart will add impression data over time to the chart, as shown in the example below:

This allows you to correlate the various data segments with a solid organic performance metric, which can be useful when looking for a causal relationship between the data.

2. The data in this table is shown based on which of the segments described above are selected.

The type of entries you can expect to see in this table are the types of errors you would see in the current version. However, this has been improved and now also shows a range of indexation issues, which provides a greater level of transparency than ever before.

This is by no means a definitive list, but provides an idea of the types of things Google identify and notify you about:

  • Page with redirect
  • Google chose different canonical than user
  • Crawled – currently not indexed
  • Not found (404)
  • Crawl anomaly
  • Submitted URL not selected as canonical
  • Alternate page with proper canonical tag
  • Excluded by “noindex” tag
  • Discovered – currently not indexed
  • Duplicate page without canonical tag

Selecting one of the entries within the table will take you through to this screen or one very similar, depending on what you choose to look at:

This is showing pages that are crawled but not indexed, and the format is the same as many of the pages already reviewed… Chart, table, filter and export options. In this example, we have already selected the first URL in the table, which has produced the menu on the right. Here you have various options for analysing or resolving this problem.

Currently all the right-hand menu options take you to the current version of Search Console to perform the function. This will be transferred over to the Beta over time and eventually will all be accessible from this version.

3. This provides three options, but this could be more depending on how many sitemaps you have submitted.

Search Console defaults to ‘All known Pages’, whereas the ‘All submitted pages’ option is a great for comparing the data. For example, you might find that you have pages excluded from the sub-set of submitted pages. This would indicate that you have conflicting signals being sent to Google about whether to index a page or not.

If you have more than one sitemap, you can select each one and look at the indexation data for just that sitemap. This is a great new feature, it used to be that you could see how many pages Google indexed, but you couldn’t see what pages are or aren’t indexed. This functionality allows for this type of analysis; combined with the ability to test or resolve these issues from within Search Console, makes this a pretty significant improvement over the current version.

You can also now validate fixes, so once you see an entry in Search Console and have fixed it, you can tell Google to validate that fix. This is a step up from the ‘Marked as Fixed’ option in the current version, which will remove an item from a list but without the validation that Google agree with you!

This will make identifying and resolving indexation problems a lot easier and all from a central location.

Enhancements

This section shows information about structured data on your site, and how that can impact the organic listing within the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

Thanks for reading, this was written by Alec Sharratt from Raptor Digital Marketing Tools.

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