In the last couple of posts, Zip has installed Google Analytics. First, it was with a plugin, but he found that Google had dumped something new in his lap: Google Analytics 4. After convincing him it was the way of the future, he enabled it. Then, we uninstalled the analytics plugin and installed Google Tag Manager on Slothverse.com with tags for both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. Before we move on to some other things about analytics, I’m suggesting that he next move on to search console, so here’s how to set up Google Search Console for your website.
Why add your website to Google Search Console?
If you’re using Google Analytics, it means you’re interested in how many people are reaching your website, which pages they’re visiting, etc. You also might want to know how they’re getting there — not just where they’re coming from1, but what terms people are searching for; what brought them to click a link and get to your website. Google Search Console will tell you this. It will also let you know if there are any errors or issues on your pages that might be limiting your appearance in Google Search, which is a big deal if you want anyone to find your content.
A few woes of Search Console
Overall, Search Console is a great tool if you’re interested in finding out what search terms bring people to your website. And it’s very helpful if you have an issue that needs to be addressed. But, sometimes, my headache is that it tends to sometimes find issues that are not there. Certain ones in particular. And then you get the email telling you there is an issue, you go to Search Console, and it’s usually (for me) one of the following: on mobile clickable elements are too close together or text too small to read. I go to my page on mobile and it looks fine. I run a test and..guess what. It’s fine! But I’m willing to contend with the occasional over-identification of problems. I guess.
How to add your website to Google Search Console
So here’s how to add your website to Google Search Console
Time needed: 20 minutes.
How to Set Up Google Search Console for Your Website
- Add a new property
Go to search console.
Click on the tab on the upper left, and then click “Add Property.”
Then add your domain. You’ll note that there’s a box here for “Domain” or “URL Prefix.” If you choose “Domain,” you’ll need to verify it by adding an item to your DNS. You do that just as described in this post, except that you’ll be adding the stuff they give you as a TXT record instead of as a CNAME or A record.
Sometimes, I’ve done both. The advantage of the Domain method is that it covers all possible subdomains under your domain.
- Associate the site with your Google Analytics account.
After you save and move on, you’ll see a screen asking you to enable Search Console data in Google Analytics. Select the site you just added and press “Save.”
- Add a sitemap.
After you’ve added your property, it will help Google to index your website better if you add a sitemap which is (drumroll) a map of your site! Actually, it’s a .xml file that WordPress now outputs natively which delineates the structure of your website.
Since WordPress 5.5, WordPress websites have a default sitemap; you can find it at https://yourdomain.com/wp-sitemap.xml. But even better: if you installed an SEO plugin like Yoast, it will publish an improved sitemap.
If you have Yoast installed, you can find your sitemap at https://yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml2.
But whichever sitemap you choose to use, click “Sitemaps” in the left-hand panel, and then add the sitemap URL that you’re using.
There. Zip has added his website to Google Search Console. Now he has the fun of perusing all the search terms bringing him to your website. Don’t worry; he can’t identify that YOU were the one searching for the terms sloth+fursuit.
But we won’t go over all the data right now as Zip isn’t receiving many clicks.
Next up, we’ll look at one more way to add Google Analytics to your website before we move on: Google SiteKit.
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- Google Analytics will break down if visits are from Organic Search, social, etc.
- Substitute yourdomain.com with your own domain, of course!