Google launched the Google Search Console (GSC), originally Google Webmaster Tools, more than 10 years ago to help webmasters better understand their sites’ standing within the Google SERPs, improve site performance, and user experience. At launch it had just four reports. Since those early days, it has expanded and been updated. The current menu is on the right, covering basically on-page factors in Search Appearance, off-page factors in Search Traffic, content pick up and coverage in Google Index, and the way Google navigates and reads your site in Crawl.
Google recently announced that they have a few big changes that will be coming to GSC in response to recent updates made to the algorithm. These Search Console updates will focus on AMP and workflows. We recommend that everyone in the BrightEdge community review these changes so they can use the features to better align their content with user intent and Google’s goals for user experience.
What Search Console updates is Google making?
Google says that GSC will now group problems together based upon what it suspects to be the “root cause” of the errors. Since the problems will be so-grouped, site owners will find it easier to go into site source code to find the sources of these errors and fix them more seamlessly.
Google will also make it easier to find issues according to their current state. As site owners investigate the sources of their problems, they can monitor the progress of the fix. This allows the site owner to see if the highlighted issue has been corrected, whether the search engine giant has recognized the changes yet, and the progress that has been made on pages with the problem.
More actionable insights – We will now group the identified issues by what we suspect is the common “root-cause” to help you find where you should fix your code. We organize these issues into tasks that have a state (similar to bug tracking systems) so you can easily see whether the issue is still open, whether Google has detected your fix, and track the progress of re-processing the affected pages.
Google also aims to improve workflow for GSC users. You can now share items that you work on with others in the group, allowing for better coordination with teammates. To help the search engine find corrections faster, Google will also automatically crawl corrected sites so that your site’s rankings will accurately reflect your efforts to repair issues.
Better support of your organizational workflow – As we talked to many organizations, we’ve learned that multiple people are typically involved in implementing, diagnosing, and fixing issues. This is why we are introducing sharing functionality that allows you to pick up an action item and share it with other people in your group, like developers who will get references to the code in question.
Faster feedback loops between you and Google – We’ve built a mechanism to allow you to iterate quickly on your fixes, and not waste time waiting for Google to recrawl your site, only to tell you later that it’s not fixed yet. Rather, we’ll provide on-the-spot testing of fixes and are automatically speeding up crawling once we see things are ok. Similarly, the testing tools will include code snippets and a search preview – so you can quickly see where your issues are, confirm you’ve fixed them, and see how the pages will look on Search.
What are the BETA releases?
In addition to the new changes to the layout and structure of GSC, Google will also be releasing some BETA projects to see how well they serve the targeted audience.
Small test groups will be given access to an Index Coverage Report. This report will keep webmasters updated on their total number of indexed pages. It will also catalog why the index did not include certain pages, and the errors and mistakes that might have caused the issue. You will also be able to see tips on how you can improve your site to ensure that any missed pages are successfully indexed.
A new AMP-fixing flow will also join with the new releases. This flow will target specific AMP issues so that users know when problems have occurred in their AMP markup. The areas that need attention will again by grouped by the suspected root cause of the problem, improving the ability of webmasters to easily access the problem areas and make the necessary corrections.
What does this mean for marketers?
Google’s top priority remains providing its users with a positive experience to inspire them to come back to the site on a regular basis. They recognize, however, that a key part of making this vision successful means providing at least some tools and guidance for webmasters so they can meet the standards Google prioritizes. The search console updates speak to this goal.
We think that marketers should pay close attention to Google’s efforts to improve the AMP flow. We discussed in another recent post that Google decided to get rid of instant search in favor of finding ways to improve the speed of the search experience across all devices. This improved AMP flow speaks to this intention as it is clear that Google continues to prioritize AMP pages and wants site owners to pay attention to them as well. Webmasters should consider the value of using AMP for their applicable pages while also optimizing for speed across their entire site. Does your site need AMP? Read more on AMP here.
The improved workflow roll out coming as part of the Search Console updates will help brands as they face increasingly demanding consumers combined with rapidly evolving technology. Since the new interface will allow users to share tasks with others and coordinate better with their groups, marketers should be taking advantage of the marketing trends that move away from silos and towards integrated campaigns.
In an effort to create a positive user experience, we have witnessed the increasing importance of having professionals from the different marketing specialties working together. With the new workflow, contributors such as web designers and UX specialists can work more easily with SEO specialists to create optimized sites that users enjoy.
Google continues to work towards their goal of producing an optimal user experience. With their Search Console updates, they will help webmasters stay on top of these changes and better align with Google’s priorities. After the changes roll out, SEOs in our community should log into GSC to start learning how to navigate the changes and see how they can be put to use within their own internal workflows.