Google Search Console’s best new feature

by Jim January 16, 2018

Google will soon be allowing the general public access to the new Search Console. We’ve been fortunate enough to have had access to it for several months now, giving us time to explore it in-depth. Here’s what I think is the best new feature amongst many improvements.

What I learned

• The new GSC offers some vastly improved features
• Search console is an invaluable SEO tool
• The Index Coverage Report is a powerful new addition
• Allows you greater flexibility in exploring what Google is crawling
• Helps identify index issues that you may be unaware of
• We’ve written a detailed write-up of the new Search Console Beta features, have a read of them here

Hey, welcome back Rankers. How’s 2018 treating you? Thank you last week to Adam, Emily, and a few others who pointed out that, “Jim, this results testing tool is in beta, so it’s not going to allow you to check those featured answers that I wanted to last week.” Yeah, I know. But have a play with that tool. It is very interesting, wish it did work for featured answers. It would let you know you’re on the right track at least, but of course featured answers don’t have any structured data around them.

New and Improved GSC

Anyway, I wanna talk to you about the new Google search console. We’ve had access to it for, I don’t know, eight months or something like that, six months. We’ve had one or two sites on it. Google last week said that “Hey, we’re gonna make it available for everyone now.” So if you do have a copy of Search Console I would encourage you to go and have a look at the index coverage report. I’m not going to go into review of the whole tool.
Go into the index coverage report because one of the hardest things, and one of the most important things, is cleaning up the index. That’s what we find anyway. That’s getting rid of things that shouldn’t be in there. Google gives us a lot of tools of course to help us do that. Finally, this is going to really not only help us clean indexes faster, but understand where Google might be spending too much of its time where we don’t want it to. I mean it can go and get that sort of information out of a log report. But it’s nice to have it all in the one place like this.

Here I’ve got the index coverage report. You can see here there’s a URL that’s been submitted that has actually got a noindex on it so Google’s saying that’s an error. You can go in and find out what are all these excluded, 7,000 excluded pages. And our site map’s only 900. We can go and have a look at all those. You can see what they are. So some are alternate page with proper canonical tag so it’s not going to crawl that. It’s saying it’s a duplicate page without canonical tag. Now that’s interesting ’cause you then click into those, and you can start to see what they are. In this particular case, they’re just sessional IDs. They’re just session IDs essentially against FAQs and log-ins and those sorts of things.

That tool is telling us not only what pages have been indexed but what pages Google’s chosen not to index based on its own crawl and also the information that you submit to it like canonical tags and noindex and those sorts of things. But it is such a powerful tool.

The Favourite SEO Tool Just Got Better

Even the pages that have been crawled like in that particular site that we were looking at before Safari crashed, we could see that our site map was about 900 pages but Google had actually indexed 1,450 pages. So that’s a significant difference, right? So that’s nearly 50% more pages indexed than what are in our site map. We know that there’s an issue with that site. We know that we can now go into those pages, find out what they are and try to work out well should they be in the site map? Maybe that’s their problem. Or maybe it is that Google has indexed these pages and we don’t really want it to ’cause there could be a different view of the page or a different parameter, different sort of listing, or a different layout of an existing page. Google’s gone and indexed that as well.

That tool will help you identify a lot of the potential issues that Google is finding with your site that Google may not think is an issue as far as when it’s crawling and alerts and those sorts of things. But you might see them as an issue because you think, “I don’t want Google spending time crawling stuff like my terms and conditions page. Oh, look. I’ve got maybe 10 different versions on my terms and conditions page and didn’t know it.” You can start to see those sorts of things in the new Search Console.

I think it’s gonna be an awesome upgrade from the existing one. Search Console is probably my most used SEO tool. That and probably Google Trends. Hopefully that’s helpful. If you do have a copy of it, I’d love to know what your favourite parts are, if you’re using it, and if you’re finding it helpful. We will see you next week. Thanks very much everyone. Bye.

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