De-Mystifying Google Search Console Part 3

Last time, we were going over some of the tools that are available to you. However, we haven’t gone over all of the tools. So let’s pick up this post where we left off last time.

HTML Improvements

“HTML Improvements” is where Search Console will recommend any tweaks or improvements you can make to your meta descriptions and title tags, along with any content that it doesn’t index.

This feature is very easy to use and can give you optimization recommendations that you can take action with immediately.

html improvements screen 1

For example, let’s say I click on the ‘Duplicate meta descriptions’ link in the image above, I’ll be able to see the 12 pages that have duplicate meta descriptions. Next, I’d go into my site’s CMS and change them so that each page has a unique meta description. This report can help make sure that your site is properly optimized, making it a very worthwhile tool.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks are the sub-categories that appear under the main URL when you search for certain companies.

Unfortunately, you can’t specify which categories you want Google to display, however, if your site is popular enough and it’s internal architecture is sound then these sitelinks will occur naturally. The good news? The ‘Sitelinks’ section of Search Console allows you to remove a webpage that you don’t wish to be included in the sitelink architecture.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

This brand new tool just became available earlier this year. AMP is a way for webmaster’s to serve lightning fast, stripped down webpages that are specifically for mobile users. While site speed and mobile friendliness are ranking signals and are becoming more and more important, it seems that SEOs are slow to adopt these pages.

The AMP tab in Search Console allows you to see all the pages on your site with AMP implemented and which ones have errors. If you click on the error, you can see a list of your URLs with errors. Then by clicking on the URL, Google will recommend a fix for that AMP.

Search Traffic Tab

Under ‘Search Appearance’ is the ‘Search Traffic’ tab. This tab breaks down the nitty-gritty of your analytics information along with providing information on your internal linking structure along with much more.

Search Analytics

Search Analytics tells you how much traffic you’re getting from search. It reveals how many clicks you’re getting along with impressions that are delivered on SERPs. It’ll also work out your CTR and reveal what your average organic position is on each page. But the creme de la creme of this report is that you can also see a sampling of the queries that searchers are using in order to get to your site.

A caveat though, the data collected through Search Console is different from Google Analytics, so don’t expect them to match, however what this report is really useful for is seeing which keywords and phrases are bringing traffic to your site, as well as the traffic being generated from your individual pages.

Links to Your Site

Here is where you can see the domains that are linking to your site. Be warned, this isn’t a complete list, however it is a good indicator of where your content is appreciated enough to be linked. Clicking on the URLs on the right hand side will show you where your pages are being linked individually.

That’s it for this post, next post will be the last post in this series. We’ll be going over the rest of the analytics tools that you have available in Search Console along with the miscellaneous tools available to you.

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De-Mystifying Google Search Console Part 2

Last time, we talked about setting up your web property in Search Console as well as explaining what Google’s Search Console actually was. In this post, we’ll be continuing to break down each part of the Search Console.

Search Appearance

On the left-hand menu, there’s a button called “Search Appearance” that has a ? button next to it. If you click on this icon the Search Appearance Overview will appear and explain each element of the search engine results page (aka SERPs).

Clicking on each individual element will bring up a box explaining the element of the search result and how to optimize that element for click-through along with where to find more information within Search Console.

Structured Data

Structured data is a way for webmaster to add more information to their site that helps to inform google about the context of any given webpage along with how it should appear in search results. For example, you can add review ratings, images or star ratings to your webpage’s structured data and these may appear when your website shows up in search results. The structured data section in Search Console contains information about all the structured data elements Google has located on your site.

Additionally, if you have any errors in your structured data, this section will tell you any errors it had found while crawling your structured data. If you click on the individual “Data Types” it will show you exactly which URLs contain that particular markup and when it was detected. Then, if you click one of the URLs listed it will show you a breakdown of that URL’s structured data as well as a tool that will show you exactly how it looks in live search results.

Data Highlighter

The data highlighter is an alternative way of adding structured data to your website’s HTML. It’s a point and click tool where you can upload any web page then highlight various elements to tell Google how you want that page to appear in search results. Additionally, there’s no additional code to add, and you can set the data highlighter so it will tag similar pages automatically with the tags you told it for the page you’re currently highlighting. To learn more, click here to watch a video on it.

That’s it for this tutorial. In the next post, we’ll finish up the search appearance section, and wrap up with the basics of what you should know to be a Search Console power user.

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De-mystifying Google Search Console Part 1

In this blog series, we’ll be going over Google’s Search Console. The Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a completely free and indispensable tool offered by Google to all business owners and webmasters. While you don’t have to be signed up for Search Console to be crawled and indexed by Google, it provides fantastic insights into optimizing your site and its content for the search engine.

A one stop data repository

Search Console is where you can monitor your site’s performance, identify issues, submit content for crawling, view what searches brought visitors to your website, monitor your backlinks as well as much more. However, the most important feature of Search Console is the ability to monitor your site’s health and is where Google will communicate with you should anything go wrong with your website (i.e. crawling errors, manual penalties, malware detected on your website, etc.)

If you don’t have a Search Console account for your site, then you should get one as soon as possible. You may find that you won’t want one of the fancier, more expensive tools out there that essentially does the same thing as Google’s free tool.

All you need to sign up for Search Console is a Google account, which is something you probably already have if you use Gmail or any other of Google’s many products.

The following guide will go over the basics of what you need to know in order to work effectively within Google’s Search Console.

Adding your website to Search Console

After you arrive at Search Console, if you haven’t already, Google will ask you to add a property. Just click the big red button that says Add A Property and then input your website address into the pop-up box.

Next is verification, before Search Console can access your site, you need to prove to Google that you’re the owner/authorized webmaster for the website. There are five methods of verification for Search Console. Google doesn’t have a real preference on which one that you use, although Google does have a “recommended method” that they feel is the easiest way to go about verifying your website.

  • The HTML file upload: This method is Google’s “recommended method.” Google provides you with a HTML verification file that you need to upload to the root directory to your site. Once you’ve done that, just click on the provided URL, hit the verify button and you’ll have full access to your website’s Search Console Data.
  • HTML Tag: With this method, Google provides you with an HTML tag that needs to be inserted into the <head> section of your homepage, before the first <body> section. We don’t recommend this method, because if you make any further updates to the HTML of your homepage and the tag gets removed, your verification will be revoked and you’ll have to do the verification process over again.
  • Google Analytics: Assuming you’ve established a Google Analytics account and your Google account is the same as the one you’re using for Search Console, then you can verify your site this way, as long as the GA code is in the <head> section of your home page and you have “edit” permission.

Once you’re verified, you’ll be able to see your site on the “Home” screen. Here you can access the site, add another property (if you’re a webmaster for more than one website), and see if you have any unread messages from Google.

Getting To Know The Dashboard

The Dashboard is where you can access all of your site’s data, adjust your settings and see how many unread messages you have.search console dashboard

The menu on the left side of the Dashboard is where you can navigate to all the reports and tools at your disposal. The three graphics in the center of the Dashboard (Crawl Errors, Search Analytics, and Sitemaps) are quick glimpses at your general site health and crawlability. These act as short-cuts to reports found in the menu found on the navigation bar on the left-hand side of the screen.

The gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the dashboard leads you to your settings menu. This menu gives you access to a variety of tools, preferences, and admin features. From here you can set to receive email notifications from Google about your site health, set your preferred domain and crawl rate, change the address of your website if you’re moving to a new domain, link your Google Analytics account to your Search Console account, and set admin permissions for authorized users of your Search Console account.

settings menu

Well, that’s it for this week’s tutorial. Next post, we’ll be going over search appearance, structured data, and the new data highlighter tool.

 

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HTTP/2 Is Coming: What Is It and How Does It Affect You?

What Is HTTP2 And How Does It Affect Me_

There are some big changes coming to the web. Things are about to get faster with the introduction of the newest HTTP protocol: HTTP/2.

It’s been over 15 years since the last update and so much has changed in that time. Technology has gotten more sophisticated, consumers demand more from their web experience, and sites have only gotten heavier and speed has become one of the most important factors for UX.

Servers are already beginning to adapt to HTTP/2. As such, it’s time that we begin to learn more about it and begin to understand what we need to know about this very significant change to the internet.

What is HTTP/2?

HTTP/2 is an updated version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (what we know as ‘HTTP’ at the beginning of web URLs) and is partially based off of Google’s SPDY protocol, which was developed to help improve browser speed and performance when loading websites.

History of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (otherwise known as ‘http://’) is the protocol that establishes the connection between a user’s browser and a server’s host. HTTP was first documented in 1991 which led to the creation of HTTP/0.9. The current version, HTTP/1.1, was introduced in 1999, which means that an update was going to be coming down the pike sooner rather than later.

How Does This Change Affect You?

Whether you’re a simple user or a web developer, this infrastructure update is something to be excited about. This protocol update will create a faster and more functional browsing experience for users. Since 1.1′s inception, sites have changed dramatically over the 15-plus years of use, and now consist of more images and data than they did when 1.1 was first introduced, which affect the loading time of pages. HTTP/2 will be able to adapt to what we need from a user’s and developer’s prospective.

So What’s Actually Changing?

While there are some great resources that go into the technical nitty-gritty of what is changing, for brevity’s sake we’ll be giving you a simplified overview of the important changes coming with HTTP/2.

Multiplexing

Multiplexing is the ability for the connection to send multiple messages at the same time with one TCP connection. This will reduce the required time to process the requests that are sent and received, improving UX by speeding up site load time.

Before HTTP/2, only one request could be sent and handled at a time, which led to a series of requests on the host which slowed load times. Additionally, some page loads would require multiple connections, which could slow down load times even further. HTTP/2 solves both of these challenges by allowing multiple requests to be handled at once through one connection, resulting in faster connections, improved latency, and faster load times, which will have immediate results to user experience.

 Server Push

Server push is all about saving time, with the server analyzing the client’s next request, sending additional information, even before they’re needed. What this means is, there won’t be any more waiting for the HTML of a page to load until the browser requests the Javascript, or images, or video, etc., as HTTP/2 will allow the server to make faster transmissions by sending “push” responses. Web page load will now be proactive instead of reactive.

Prioritization

Prioritization is about understanding the importance of each element on a web page and transferring the most import requests first. It’s the browser that suggests how the data is to be prioritized, but the final decision on is made by the website’s host server.

So When Does HTTP/2 Roll Out?

Well, good news, it already has. While HTTP/2 might not be the standard HTTP protocol yet, it’s gaining interest month by month. Currently, 6% of all websites are using HTTP/2. In fact, 13.5% of websites that are in the top 1000 used sites in the world are using the new protocol.

What Should I Do?

Nothing, there is no need to do anything to prep you from a user’s point of view, as the change has already started on several sites. Additionally, HTTP/2 is backwards compatible with 1.1, so users won’t notice any difference except for the speed.

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