Whenever I launch a new website, I have a very specific launch checklist I work through to make sure the website is optimized for search engines and social media. The biggest item on that list: making sure Google has the site indexed.
What is “indexing”?
The term “indexing” refers to when Google’s search bots scan every single page and blog post on your site (everything that’s public anyway) and grab the meta data to make sure it shows up properly in search results.
This process eventually happens on its own, but you can put your site on Google’s radar a bit faster by connecting your sitemap to Google Search Console.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free service provided through Google’s Webmaster Tools that allows you to monitor how people are finding your site, track performance, see clicks and terms people are using to find your site.
On its own, Google Search Console is an extremely powerful tool. If you connect Google Analytics to your website and pair it with Search Console, you’re setting yourself up for some serious insight into how visitors are finding you and how to better optimize your site to keep them there.
Connecting Your Site to Google Search Console
Head over to Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools to sign in. You’ll need a @gmail.com email address or Google Business Apps to get started.
Once signed in, find the red “Add a Property” button.
Enter your website address in the field provided.
You’ll have to verify that you own the website. You can do this using a few different methods. Google recommends uploading an HTML file to your web hosting account, but I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Click on the “Alternative Methods” tab and copy the HTML tag in the first option.
Jump over to your WordPress website and go down to SEO > Dashboard on your sidebar, and then head to the Webmaster Tools section.
Paste the meta tag you copied into the Google Search Console box and click “Save Changes”.
Now hop back to Google Search Engine and click the red “Verify” button.
If you pasted the meta tag properly, you should see a success message. You can click “continue” and jump down to submitting your sitemap below.
If you don’t see the successful message, double check the meta tag, or try one of the other methods of verification. If you’re still having trouble, hop over to my Virtual Office Hours and let’s sort it out together!
Submit Your Sitemap for Indexing
Now we’re going to tell Google to start indexing your site. We want to make sure it catches all of the pages and not just the ones it happens to find.
In Search Console, click on “Crawl” and then “Sitemaps”.
Click the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button in the upper right-handcorner.
Jump back to your website and down to the Yoast SEO plugin settings again. Go to SEO > XML Sitemaps. If you don’t see this, you may need to turn on the Advanced Features setting within SEO > Dashboard > Features tab.
Copy the link to your XML sitemap and paste it into the field that popped up on Google Search Console. You’ll probably need to take out the beginning of your domain name, since Search Console already has that. It only needs whatever comes after the .com/ in your domain.
Save and click “Refresh the page”.
You should now see your sitemap pending for Google’s crawlers. This can take a few days, so come back later and you’ll see it has started to collect data about your website!
Now bring the pieces together by connecting your Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account.
If you haven’t set up Google Analytics, you can see how to do that in this video tutorial: How to Install Google Analytics on Your WordPress Website.
Connecting Google Search Console to Google Analytics
Sign into Google Analytics.
Go to the “Acquisition” tab then click on Search Console > Landing Pages.
You’ll be prompted to connect to Search Console. Click the grey button near the top.
It will redirect you to your property setting. Scroll down to Search Console and click “Adjust Search Console”.
Within this new view, click “Add”.
This will redirect you back to Search Console where you can select your website’s connection. Select your site and click “Save”.
It’ll prompt you that you’re saving a new association, so click “Ok”.
You’re all set! Now you’ll be able to see detailed reports of your search information within Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
I recommend coming back weekly or monthly to check on the information. You can see three of the Google Analytics reports I run most frequently for myself and my clients. These reports and insights can help you better plan content and improve your search engine optimization in the future.
Having trouble connecting to Search Console or Google Analytics? Let’s chat about it during my Virtual Office Hours.
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