Like Google Analytics, Search Console is a free service offered by Google that you can take advantage of for your blog + business. It helps you monitor + improve your site’s ranking in Google Search results — hence the name “Search Console.”
How to set up your Search Console account
Like many of their products, Search Console is tied to any Google account (typically gmail.) To get started, you’ll need to first log in with the account you want to use.
This is important if you have GSuite email for your website AND a personal gmail email address. Make sure you are signed into your business Google account.
- Head to the Search Console homepage + click the big blue “Start now” button at the top to sign in, if you aren’t already
That’s it. There’s 1 step to setting up your free account — logging in to a Google account that you already have. Of course, if you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to create one.
Add your WordPress site
Once you have your free account, it’s time to add as many websites as your heart desires. We’ll start with one…
- On the welcome screen, enter your domain in the box on the left — I recommend using URL prefix instead only if you have multiple websites under the same primary domain. What does that mean? I have tinyblueorange.com, and I have additional client sites like support.tinyblueorange.com.
- Click the continue button to start the verification process.
- Google will give you instructions for proving that you own the domain. These steps are a tad nerdy, but let’s break them down…
- Log into the place that you bought your domain from. This is likely where you can edit your DNS (think of these as domain settings) to prove to Google that you own this website. Head to the DNS area (sometimes called Zone Editor or Advanced Zone Editor).
- There is likely an “Add a Record” button or a plus sign of some kind. You’ll want to click that to add the TXT record that Search Console provided. That means the “type” is TXT and the “hostname” is @ — nerd shorthand for your domain name. “Content” is where you’ll enter the long gobbledygook that Search Console gave you on step 3.
- Click save, add record, whatever lingo your domain registrar uses to save your changes + head back to Search Console.
- Press the “Verify” button with the understanding that it may not work right away. For better + for worse, DNS changes can take hours to register on the world wide web. Don’t default to thinking you did it wrong.
If your verification fails, leave the tab open + come back to it in 15 minutes. If it fails again, check back tomorrow or later in the day by clicking the “Verify Later” button.
My biggest recommendation for brand new Search Console accounts is to add a sitemap. This gives Google a better idea of what content you have, how often it is changing + which pages to pay attention to.
Click on Index > Sitemaps in the lefthand menu. Under “Add a new sitemap” you’ll want to use the link below, but with your domain instead of the example.
WordPress automatically creates a sitemap for you at the destination / feed. As long as you don’t have a plugin that interferes with that, you can use this to set up your sitemap.
Type in the URL for your specific feed + click “Submit” to save the sitemap. If it’s successful, that’s all you have to do. If it fails, double check that you spelled everything right + don’t have any extra characters.
Now Google will use your sitemap to check on the status of your site + your site content. This is what will trigger alerts from Search Console for most users.
By default, Search Console will email you when there are issues with your website. Common issues include how your site displays on mobile devices, 404 + other page errors, spam from hackers.
This means you can “set it + forget it” by creating your account. Or you can head to your dashboard + poke around to get familiar with Google Search Console.