1) Create an account
To set up Search Console, start by going to search.google.com/search-console. If you aren’t logged into your Google account, do so now. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll be prompted to create one.
2) Add a property
The first screen that comes up prompts you to choose between a “domain” or a “URL Prefix”.
The Domain option is recommended because you can put in a simple version of your website address such as yourdomain.com and it will track all variations (http, https, www, etc).
However, this requires DNS verification. If you aren’t comfortable accessing your DNS, you can use the URL Prefix option (pictured below).
To do this, you must be tracking your main URL. If you are tracking a secondary URL you may get a URL redirect error.
However, most modern websites will have an https followed by a www. This will look like this:
The “s” in the https means your website has a security certificate. This is essential to both SEO rankings and customer trust and should come with all new websites (especially on platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, etc). If your website doesn’t have an “s” in the address, I recommend you reach out to your host/domain provider and upgrade to a secure URL (certificate).
The www is usually included in your domain unless you specific otherwise (you can specify your primary URL in WordPress). However, browsers can hide the www so it’s important to look in your domain and/or website settings to confirm your primary URL there.
3) Verify your property
If you set up your property as a “domain” this verification process will be included (via DNS). If you set up your property as a URL Prefix, you’ll have multiple options for verification.
The easiest way to verify your property is through your Google Analytics account. I recommend everyone set up a free Google Analytics account for optimizing/tracking your website performance for SEO and conversions. Google Analytics is easy to sync with most website providers.
If you use Yoast in WordPress, there is a place to put in the “meta tag” code and verify your property via the plugin.
You can use more than one verification method (also recommended). If you have difficulties verifying your property and/or setting up Google Analytics, speak with your website provider.
4) Add a Sitemap
After you have put in your domain or URL Prefix, I recommend you upload a site map. A sitemap is the list of URLs on your website and is a file that typically ends in .xml. This helps search engines find and index everything on your website.
If you are using something such as Yoast in WordPress, you can have the plugin generate this automatically. Most other platforms come with a built-in sitemap. For example, here are the instructions for Squarespace.
If your website has a sitemap, it will be crawled by Google anyway, but I recommend uploading it to Search Console for additional analytics. Just navigate to the “sitemap” link in the left-hand menu and submit the sitemap url. As an example, for Squarespace, it would be just “sitemap.xml”.
5) View data
With the steps above, you should be seeing good results. You can use the menu on the left-hand side to browse around and check out different analytics. To get started, learn more about what you can do with Search Console.