New Google Search Console universally available

The new Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) is now available to all websites in beta, as announced this month on the search giant’s blog.

This is Google’s free web service to webmasters, allowing them to check indexing status and optimise visibility of their websites. Among other things, it lets you analyse a website’s indexing via Google Search, view analytics, study inbound links, submit and remove content for crawling and monitor malware.

The release follows a roll-out (announced last summer) to a limited number of users.

The previous interface remains active, and it’s possible to continue using both versions by toggling between them until the transition is complete. Google is still migrating data sets to the updated version, which retains limited mobile functionality.

It wants users’ feedback on the Search Console feature they want to see in its next iteration. (The most recent version itself comes from responses from around 30,000 users.)

Characteristically, the search giant was super-cautious pre-launch. Issue fix rates were tracked to confirm the new edition would drive enhanced results, and there were follow-up surveys. Feedback was mostly gathered via contributors to help forums, the ‘Submit feedback’ link and a testing group known as the ‘Search Console panel’.

As a result of feedback, for example, the error and coverage reports were joined together. Equally, export functionality was not considered essential, and this was also taken into account.

You can still leave feedback via the user panel and the feedback button, and Google is continuing to test its design. But, for now, the four new features helping webmasters boost their online presence are:

Search Performance

This reports key metrics on site website performance such as average position in search results, total impressions and click-through rate (CTR). Now new reporting in Search Performance or Analytics, as it was previously called, includes more in-depth data and 16 months of back-dated data rather than three. You can also filter by multiple variables at a time, making this the most powerful new functionality in the updated Search Console.  So it’s easier to analyse longer-term trends and carry out year-on-year comparisons.

Index Coverage

 

This includes data that was in the Index Status and Crawl Errors sections of the previous Search Console. More information is provided, and there are automatic alerts to indexing errors, with better help getting to the root of any problems. There are insights into how URLs from across a particular website are indexed, plus reasons why a particular URL may not be indexed. Click on an error URL to see page details with links to diagnostic tools. You can also ask Google to update its index once you’ve fixed a problem such as an HTTP 500 error. Google says “this helps your website get back on track faster than ever.”

AMP Status

There’s a new report on the performance of Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMPs, a drive to ensure websites load speedily on any device. There are details of specific errors, and warnings Google has identified for particular pages, while webmasters can give faster feedback to settle issues.

Job Postings

You’ll have the chance to list job postings, tying in with a broader push from Google in the world of recruitment.  The Search Console also displays data on your job listing results and highlights any indexing issues, so you can fix and validate them promptly.

In terms of SEO, the community is looking forward to greater transparency, streamlined communication and fixes, and better support for auxiliary features, including more data.

Some industry insiders reckon these new features are just the start, with more to come throughout the year. Many are impressed by the new Search Console so far. We’re here to help if you have any queries, or need further information.