As a real estate professional, imagine your website is a beautiful house you’ve put on the market. While it looks excellent from the outside and has a stunning interior, you need a robust inspection report to ensure all the plumbing and wiring are in order. Google Search Console (GSC) is much like that inspection report for your website. It gives you insights into how Google views your site, helping you detect any issues that might affect your website’s search visibility.
In this article, we will be your home inspectors, guiding you through setting up Google Search Console for your real estate website.
1. The Cornerstone: Why You Need Google Search Console
Like a seasoned real estate agent who can give you insights about market trends and potential buyers, Google Search Console (GSC) delivers invaluable data about your website’s performance. It’s a toolset that allows you to understand what’s going on ‘under the roof’ of your site, giving you a comprehensive perspective on how it’s viewed and indexed by Google’s search engine.
Visibility and Performance Metrics
Just as open house signs direct potential buyers to your property, GSC lets you know how your website is appearing in Google’s search results. It provides visibility metrics, including:
- Clicks: The number of times users clicked to your website from the search results. Consider this as the foot traffic in your open house.
- Impressions: The count of how many times your site was visible in search results, akin to how many times your open house sign was seen by passersby.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR): The ratio of clicks to impressions. Imagine this as the percentage of people who actually stepped inside the house after seeing the sign.
- Position: The average position of your website in search results for a specific query. This is the equivalent of your property’s location in the neighborhood.
Detect and Fix Issues
GSC is also your website’s handyman. It helps identify issues that could hinder your website’s performance on Google search. These include:
- Indexing Issues: Google cannot display your webpages in its search results if it can’t index them. GSC will let you know if any of your pages aren’t being indexed because of issues such as blocked resources or crawling errors.
- Security Issues: If your website has any security issues like malware or hacking, GSC will notify you, just like a home inspector would warn you about a potential safety issue in a house.
- Mobile Usability Issues: In today’s mobile-first world, your website must be optimized for mobile devices. GSC will highlight any mobile usability issues, akin to pointing out if your property isn’t wheelchair-accessible.
2. Building The Foundation: Creating a Google Account
A Google account serves as the foundation for using various Google services, including Google Search Console. Creating a Google account is as straightforward as setting the foundational beam of a house.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Google Account
Step 1: Visit the Google account creation page at https://accounts.google.com/signup.
Step 2: Fill in the form with your first and last name.
Step 3: Choose a username. This will be your new Gmail email address.
Step 4: Set a password. Ensure it’s strong and secure, just like the locks on a house’s front door.
Step 5: Confirm your password by typing it again in the next field.
Step 6: Click ‘Next’.
Step 7: On the next page, enter your phone number (optional, but recommended for account recovery), birthday, and gender. This information is to verify your identity and to personalize your Google services.
Step 8: Click ‘Next’. You will see a page detailing Google’s Privacy and Terms. Read through it, and click on ‘I Agree’ to accept the terms and proceed.
Step 9: Your Google account is now created. You will be automatically signed in, and can use this account to access all Google services, including Google Search Console.
3. Erecting The Framework: Setting Up Google Search Console
Once you have your Google account ready, setting up Google Search Console is your next move. Think of it as the equivalent to erecting the framework of your real estate project: it establishes the base for all future enhancements.
Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Search Console
Step 1: Navigate to the Google Search Console page by typing ‘Google Search Console’ into Google’s search bar and selecting the first result, or by visiting https://search.google.com/search-console/about directly.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Start Now’ button on the GSC homepage.
Step 3: Sign in with your newly created Google account.
Step 4: You will be redirected to the GSC welcome page. Click on the ‘Add property’ button on the top left of the page.
Step 5: In the popup that appears, enter your website’s URL in the ‘URL prefix’ field. Remember to include ‘http://’ or ‘https://’, depending on whether your site uses SSL or not, at the beginning of your URL. Click on ‘Continue’.
Congratulations! You’ve just added your website to Google Search Console. However, to unlock all its functionalities, you need to verify that you own the website.
4. Property Inspection: Verifying Your Website
Verifying your website in Google Search Console is like having a property inspection – it’s a way to assure Google that you are the legitimate owner and you’re not making a false claim.
Step-by-Step Guide to Verifying Your Website
Step 1: After adding your website to GSC, you will be presented with different verification methods. The recommended method is to upload an HTML file to your website server. Download the HTML verification file by clicking on ‘Download’.
Step 2: Upload this HTML file to the root directory of your website using your preferred FTP client, file manager in your web hosting control panel, or any other method you’re comfortable with.
Step 3: Once the file is uploaded, click on the ‘Verify’ button in GSC.
Step 4: GSC will then check your website for the HTML file and verify your site ownership. If the verification is successful, a screen will display saying “Ownership verified”.
Don’t worry if you can’t access your website’s root directory. GSC provides alternate methods like adding a meta tag to your site’s home page, using your domain name provider, or using your Google Analytics account. You can choose any of these methods that suit you best.
Congratulations! You have successfully verified your website on Google Search Console. Your real estate website is now primed to benefit from Google’s invaluable insights to improve your SEO and user experience. In no time, you’ll start to see a rise in web traffic, much like how a well-built, well-inspected property attracts more potential buyers.
5. Checking The Blueprints: Understanding Google Search Console
Understanding Google Search Console (GSC) is like checking the blueprints of your real estate project. To optimize your website’s SEO, you need to understand what each tool within GSC does and how you can use it.
Here’s an overview of key features:
Overview Page: This is the dashboard where you’ll find the performance report of your website at a glance.
Performance Report: This report provides you with the data of clicks, impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position of your website in Google’s search results.
URL Inspection Tool: This tool allows you to inspect a specific URL on your website to see if it has been indexed by Google, any crawling or indexing issues, and the last crawl date.
Coverage Report: This report shows you how many pages are indexed in Google, any indexing errors or warnings.
Sitemap Report: Here, you can submit your website’s XML sitemap to help Google discover your website’s pages faster.
Mobile Usability Report: This report identifies any issues with your website on mobile devices. Given the growing trend of mobile browsing, it’s essential to have a mobile-friendly website.
Links Report: This report provides information about external and internal links to your website.
6. Regular Maintenance: Using Google Search Console
Like any real estate property, your website requires regular maintenance. Here are a few ways you can use Google Search Console to maintain and improve your website’s health:
Monitor Your Site Performance: Regularly check your performance report to monitor your site’s traffic, identify which keywords are driving traffic, and understand how visible your site is in the search results. Like a property manager keeping an eye on visitor patterns, this information can help you spot opportunities and areas for improvement.
Identify and Fix Indexing Issues: Use the Coverage report to identify any pages that Google couldn’t index. It’s like a routine property inspection to spot any structural issues early. Google provides a description of the issue and a guide on how to fix it, making it easier for you to address.
Submit Your Sitemap: If you’ve added or removed pages from your website, submit your updated sitemap in the Sitemap report. It’s similar to updating the floor plans of a property after renovations to keep potential buyers in the loop.
Check for Mobile Usability Issues: Regularly check the Mobile Usability report to make sure your website offers a great user experience on mobile devices. In the real estate world, this would be akin to ensuring your property is accessible for all types of visitors.
Analyze Your Link Profile: Keep an eye on your Links report to understand which sites link to your website and which pages of your site are most linked. Like understanding foot traffic sources in your real estate property, this can help you identify where your audience is coming from.
Setting up Google Search Console for your real estate website is like hiring a skilled property inspector for your online property. With GSC, you can ensure your website is performing well in search results, diagnose any issues, and understand how to optimize your site to drive more traffic and leads to your real estate business.
Remember, just like maintaining a real estate property, regular check-ups and prompt action on any identified issues can keep your website in top-notch condition, enhancing its visibility and user experience, which in turn will lead to improved SEO rankings.