Introduction to Church Google Search Console
Church Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is an extremely useful tool provided by Google. It allows you to find out a lot of useful information about your church’s website. Examples of some of the data it shows you is how much traffic your site is getting, what other sites are linking to your site, and what search terms are delivering the most traffic from Google. It also provides some great tools to help you optimize your site so that it performs better in the Google rankings. These tools include a Data Highlighter, XML Sitemaps and a Robots.txt Tester.
It is all well and good implementing a Church Marketing campaign for your website, but you need to be able to ensure that your site is performing well in the eyes of Google. Church Google Search Console is an essential tool that should be deployed with every Church Marketing campaign, so you can track you church’s growth online, and optimize your website accordingly.
If you are looking for professional assistance with Google Search Console, you can consider our Google Analytics and Search Console Subscription. If you’re just wanting to learn more, then read on.
How to Set Up Church Google Search Console
Setting up Church Google Search Console can be a little tricky if you are not experienced with it, so unless you are confident with HTML or uploading files to your websites server, it is probably best to leave the set-up to the professionals. If your site is running on WordPress, there is a plugin that you can get which makes the process easier, but it is not always reliable. The last thing you want is to find out that your Search Console has been installed incorrectly, as your data you have gathered will be useless.
If you do want to go ahead an implement Google Search Console yourself, follow these steps.
When you first sign up, you click the ‘Add a Property’ button, which is on the top right hand corner when you log in. You enter your websites URL and click accept. You will then be brought to verify your website. There are a number of ways to do this.
Recommended Verification Method
The quickest and easiest way (and also the recommended way by Google) is to download a HTML file from your Search Console Dashboard, and upload it to your website. This will be under the Recommended Method tab.
When you select this method, you will be asked to download an HTML file. Download it, then upload it to the specified location. Do not make any changes to the content of the file or the filename; the file needs to be kept exactly the same. If it is changed, Search Console will not be able to verify the site.
NOTE: You will need to have access to your websites Root Directory.
After the HTML file has been uploaded, go back to Search Console and click “Verify”. If everything has been uploaded correctly, you will see a page letting you know the site has been verified. Once you have verified your site using this method, do not delete the HTML file from your site. This will cause your site to become unverified.
Other Verification Methods
There are a few other methods the verify your Church Google Search Console account, but you should stick to the recommended option if at all possible.
These alternative methods are are:
- HTML Tag: Add a meta tag into the <head> section of your website.
- Domain Name Provider: You can log in to your domain name provider and link it to your Search Console to verify.
- Google Analytics: You can link your Google Analytics account to verify if you already have Analytics set up on your site.
- Google Tag Manager: Similarly to Google Analytics, if you already have Google Tag Manager set up on your site, you can use this to verify.
How to Use Church Google Search Console
Now that you have verified your website Google Search Console, it is time to start tracking your data. On the left hand side you will find the main menu, containing four main sections. These are:
- Search Appearance
- Search Traffic
- Google Index
Each of these sections contain a number of tools that can help you monitor your search traffic, and improve your site so Google can crawl it more efficiently.
Search Appearance contains tools that can help you improve how your website shows up in Google search results. Here you can make tweaks to how Google views your site so it appears as you want it to in the search results. The tools are as follows:
Structured data (in the form of rich snippets), when programmed into the HTML code, marks up your content so that Google can categorize and index it better. Google uses it to serve up “Rich” results. Rich results are the results in Google Search that contain images, star ratings and also other data that are not in standard results. These Rich results are more appealing to those searching Google, and entice more engagement.
Rich Cards work like Structured Data, in that display additional information in the search results. However, rich cards are seen on mobile devices. You might recognize them from the top of your search results on your mobile. Here are some examples:
This is a useful tool to help Google to crawl your site. You take a sample of some of the pages of your website, and highlight content that is common across these pages. This allows Google to know exactly what each piece of data is. Types of data you can highlight are Author Name, Publication Date, Images, Rating and Category.
In this section, Google reports to you any errors it might find while it is crawling your site. This is quite helpful for optimizing your website. It will flag errors such as:
- Duplicate Meta Descriptions
- Long Meta Descriptions
- Short Meta Descriptions
- Missing or Duplicate Title Tags
- Non-Indexable Content
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are a relatively new element to the Search Console. What they do is optimise pages of your website so that when they are viewed from a mobile device they will load a lot faster. It is important to implement AMP on your site today, because Google has indicated the mobile load times will become an increasingly important ranking factor in the near future.
In this section you can find out about the traffic coming to your church website. There are Search Analytics, and while they are not as details as Google Analytics, they do provide you with information on how much traffic you are getting from Google Search, and also what keywords are driving the most traffic to your site. In this section you can also find out information on what other sites are linking to you, as well as data on the Internal Links throughout your website.
Here you can also set your website to target specific countries and languages, and find out information about how your site performs with regards to mobile usability.
This section tells you how many pages of your site are indexed in Google. When a page is indexed, it means that it can be found by people in Google Search.
Here you can also block certain pages that you might not want to appear in Google search.
How Google takes information from your website to display it in the search results is called a Crawl. This is where Google crawls your site, decides what your site is all about, digests the information and decides which information to display in the search results. In this section you will find tools to help you monitor errors, and also improve Googles ability to crawl your site.
The most important element in this section is the Sitemaps. A sitemap is an XML file that tells Google which pages of your site it should crawl. It helps Google to crawl your site more efficiently, so is an essential element of any church website.
Fetch as Google
Fetch as Google is also a useful feature found in the Crawl Section. Here you can test how Google views and renders your site. You can find out any errors that could hinder your site from performing well in the search rankings. Fetch as Google can return any of the following statuses:
- Complete: Google successfully crawled your page.
- Redirected: You set up a redirect to another page (maybe because you may have deleted the page or some other reason).
- Not Found: Google could not find the URL on the server.
- Not Authorized: Google (and other viewers) have been blocked from accessing the URL.
- Blocked: Your robots.txt blocks Google from accessing your URL.
- Unreachable or Temporarily Unreachable: Google’s request got timed out.
- Error: Some error prevented Google from accessing the URL.
The Crawl section also includes a Robots.txt Tester. A robots.txt file is a file you can place on your website to tell Google to avoid crawling certain pages, and also prevent them from being added to the Google Search results. This tool will tell you if your robots.txt file contains any errors. You should not create or edit a robots.txt file unless you know what you are doing, but our expert team are happy to assist.
Missional Marketing has a wealth of experience implementing Google Search Console, so you know you will be in good hands every step of the way. Try our new Free Church Website SEO Audit tool to analyse your website, and also to get improvement suggestions.
Get Started with Church Google Search Console
Missional Marketing is a dedicated Christian communications firm working with Christian Churches and Organizations across the country, and we are also a Top 5% Certified Google Partner. So get in touch today, and we can get started on your Church Google Search Console set up.
Contact Jason Hamrock or Kevin Peck, or use the Contact Us button.
Jason Hamrock – Phone: 480-773-9115 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Peck – Phone: 602-481-2991 | Email: email@example.com