The future of Google Search Console
Posted: February 9th 2018
It's impossible to deny that Google is the biggest search engine out there. Its name has becoming synonymous with finding things online, and has even become a verb! Search engine optimisation is all about climbing up the ranks of its search pages, but thankfully the company also provides a range of tools to make our jobs as search marketers easier. We can use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to keep track of all sorts of statistics. Analytics allows us to track page quality, traffic and sales, but sometimes that isn't quite enough. Google Search Console allows us to keep track of the indexing status of pages, and optimise their visibility.
When Google announced that they would be releasing a new version of their Search Console last August, the world of SEO was clamouring to see what was going to change, good or bad. Digital marketers eagerly refreshed their inboxes awaiting a beta invite like children checking their stockings at Christmas. For those who weren't lucky enough to get in, it was a waiting game, until January 8th when Google announced they would be rolling out the four features from the new version to every existing console user.
The new features
Google has been pushing for more websites to adopt Accelerated Mobile Pages since phones became a larger source of search queries. Their initiative wanted to improve the performance of the mobile web for users. Their AMP project created open technical standards for developers to hit, to make online results quicker and more streamlined. This new feature of the Google Search Console will focus on allowing people to better monitor their pages' AMP performance. This includes how your pages are displayed in mobile searches, any errors that may arise and more.
Whilst the current console provides data on how your site is indexed, the new console brings with a tool that allows more detailed reports. The Index Coverage report will show you a lot more information about how and when your pages are indexed. It can also automatically alert you to any indexing errors, and help you trace the root of the problem. When viewing a specific issue, you can use a set of diagnostic tools that Google provides, to help you learn more about the error. This allows you to solve the problem quicker, and get things running smoothly again as soon as possible.
Search Analytics have been requested by the general public for a while now, and Google finally delivered. The new Search Performance report coming in with the console promises a lot of useful features. It will include more in-depth data, like CTRs (click-through rates), impressions, clicks, your average ranking position and your current position. It will also provide you with up to 16 months of back-dated data. These changes are a very significant improvement over the current system, and its limitations.
The new Google Search Console is taking note of the success of Google for Jobs. It is bringing with it an easier way to post job listings on your website. Working on the same API, you will be able to easily create job postings on your site, and closely monitor their performance. The API's machine learning is effectively used to understand the connections between job titles and skills. It also works out what type of job, what location and how senior a post is, best matching positions to the searcher.
What does this mean for SEO?
Members of the SEO community will be breathing a sigh of relief! Most of them will just be glad to see that not many features have been pruned from the current console. Google were aiming to make things easier for marketers, rather than harder, and it seems like they did well. The new features allow for more transparency, as users will have access to more search performance data about their site. This will help prevent using conflicting data sets or not being able to view certain performance metrics.
You will also be able to use the new toolkit and communication tools that Google is bringing out to better share and fix any issues that arise. Users will be able to send team members error reports with a single button, cutting response times. You can then use the fix validation feature to double check that you have fixed an error. This feature really helps give you peace of mind and reassurance about your work. As mentioned above, the company is merging features of the new Google Search Console with its existing AMP and Google for Jobs services. This means that they will likely offer better support for these features. Better support can only be a good thing, especially for those who use the features frequently.
All in all, the new Google Search Console looks like it is going to be a positive change. Having access to more information about the sites we work with will never be a bad thing. Whilst some may argue it could be overwhelming for newer users, data will still be clearly labelled and laid out. This means that if a user is only looking for a few bits of information, they can still find them easily, but if a more experienced specialist needs some nitty-gritty statistics, they will still be available to them!