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Google Search Console

Guidance on using Google Search Console to help understand traffic to your website.

About Google Search Console

Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a service for website administrators to help understand the traffic that their website receives from Google Search users.

You can use Google Search Console to:

  • check the indexing status of content
  • submit a sitemap to Google
  • remove pages from Google's index
  • optimise the visibility of websites
  • view a list of websites providing backlinks
  • view errors found during crawls

Set up Google Search Console

To set up Google Search Console for your site:

  • Sign in to Google Search Console

  • Add your domain (also referred to as property). This is normally the root domain (without the www.) e.g.

  • Google offer multiple verification options. Our recommended method is to use the ‘Domain name provider’ option. This differs from Google’s recommended method of putting the code into your website homepage template as using the 'Domain name provider' option is less likely to be accidentally removed through a template change in the CMS. The DNS option remains persistent no matter what changes are applied to your website and there must be specific intent behind removal of a DNS zone file entry. Once selected, you will be given a string of characters used by Google for confirmation that you are the owner/admin of the site in question. Take this code and follow the instructions to update your DNS settings with a new text record in the zone file. This may need to be done by your DNS provider if you have a managed service.

  • Once you have made the changes to your DNS settings you can return to Google Search Console to verify your property. If the property is not yet available, you may have to wait - DNS changes can take up to a day to propagate due to caching and TTL (‘time to live’) settings. 

  • Google sees http and https versions of your site separately, as with www. and non-www. versions - repeat the steps above for all combinations of your site.

  • Set up a 'property set' by clicking the ‘Create a set’ button (next to the ‘Add a property’ button) and group variants of your site's domain name to the set.

  • Go to your default and preferred version of your site, click the cog in the top right of the page and select the ‘site settings’ from the dropdown. Select your preferred way of displaying your domain, the www. or the non-www. version of your domain.

Link the Search Console with Google Analytics

You should also link your Google Search Console property with your Google Analytics account.

To do this, click the cog in the upper right of Google Search Console and select Google Analytics Property from the drop down. Now select the appropriate Google Analytics property to link with. 

Displaying your domain

It is important that you choose a consistent approach for displaying your domain within search engines. One step to help do this is to having a canonical tag set for every page of your website via the site's template. You should also ensure that your site is configured to display and redirect to the default version, no matter what version a user types/clicks. Further reading: A Guide to Google Search Console

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