How to link Google Analytics with Google Search Console
Google Analytics and Google Search Console might seem like they offer the same information, but there are some key differences between these two Google products. To get the most out of the information provided by Search Console and GA, you can link the accounts together. Having these two tools linked will integrate the data from both sources to provide you with additional reports that you will only be able to access once you’ve done that. This information is richer in value and gives you a wider scope of data to work with.
Written by Rebecca Roberts
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How to link Google Analytics with Google Search Console
Google Analytics and Google Search Console might seem like they offer the same information, but there are some key differences between these two Google products. GA is more about who is visiting your site—how many visitors you’re getting, how they’re getting to your site, how much time they’re spending on your site, and where your visitors are coming from (geographically speaking). Google Search Console, in contrast, is geared more toward more internal information. This can include who is linking to you, any malware or problems on your site, and which keyword queries your site is appearing for in search results. Even if you think you’re looking at the same report, you might not be getting the exact same information in both places.
To get the most out of the information provided by Search Console and GA, you can link the accounts together. Having these two tools linked will integrate the data from both sources to provide you with additional reports that you will only be able to access once you’ve done that. This information is richer in value and gives you a wider scope of data to work with.
So, let’s get started:
Has your site been added and verified in Search Console? If not, you’ll need to do that before you can continue.
From the Search Console dashboard, click on the site you’re trying to connect. In the upper righthand corner, you’ll see a gear icon. Click on it, then choose “Google Analytics Property.”
This will bring you to a list of Google Analytics accounts associated with your Google account. All you have to do is choose the desired GA account and hit “Save.” Easy, right? That’s all it takes to start getting the most out of Search Console and Analytics.
Adding a sitemap
Sitemaps are files that give search engines and web crawlers important information about how your site is organized and the type of content available there. Sitemaps include many different forms of metadata such as information about images, video content, and how often your site is updated.
By submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console, you’re making Google’s job easier by ensuring they have the information they need to do their job more efficiently. Submitting a sitemap isn’t mandatory, though, and your site won’t be penalized if you don’t submit a sitemap. But there’s certainly no harm in submitting one, especially if your site is new and not many other sites are linking to it.
Before you can submit a sitemap to Search Console, your site needs to be added and verified in Search Console. If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and do that now.
From your Search Console dashboard, select the site you want to submit a sitemap for. On the left, you’ll see an option called “Crawl.” Under “Crawl,” there will be an option marked “Sitemaps.”
Click on “Sitemaps.” There will be a button marked “Add/Test Sitemap” in the upper-right hand corner.
This will bring up a box with a space to add text to it.
Type “system/feeds/sitemap” in that box and hit “Submit sitemap.” Congratulations, you have now submitted a sitemap!
Checking a robots.txt file
Having a website doesn’t necessarily mean you want to have all of its pages or directories indexed by search engines. If there are certain things on your site you’d like to keep out of search engines, you can accomplish this by using a robots.txt file. A robots.txt file placed in the root of your site tells search engine robots (i.e., web crawlers) what you do and do not want to be indexed by using commands known as the “Robots Exclusion Standard.”
It’s important to note that robots.txt files aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be 100% effective in keeping things away from web crawlers. The commands in robots.txt files are instructions, and although the crawlers used by credible search engines like Google will accept them, it’s entirely possible that a less reputable crawler will not. It’s also entirely possible for different web crawlers to interpret commands differently. Robots.txt files also will not stop other websites from linking to your content, even if you don’t want it indexed.
If you want to check your robots.txt file to see exactly what it is and isn’t allowing, log into Search Console and select the site whose robots.txt file you want to check. Haven’t already added or verified your site in Search Console? Do that first.
On the left hand side of the screen, you’ll see the option “Crawl.” Click on it and choose “robots.txt Tester.” The Robots.txt Tester Tool will let you look at your robots.txt file, make changes to it, and it alert you about any errors it finds. You can also choose from a selection of Google’s user-agents (names for robots/crawlers) and enter a URL you wish to allow/disallow, and run a test to see if the URL is recognized by that crawler.
If you make any changes to your robots.txt file using Google’s robots.txt tester, the changes will not be automatically reflected in the robots.txt file hosted on your site. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to update it yourself. Once your robots.txt file is set how you want it, hit the “Submit” button underneath the editing box in the lower right hand corner. This will give you the option to download your updated robots.txt file.
Simply upload this file to your site in the same directory where your old one was (www.example.com/robots.txt). Obviously, the domain name will change, but your robots.txt file should always be named “robots.txt”. The file needs to be saved in the root of your domain, not www.example.com/somecategory/robots.txt.
Back on the robots.txt testing tool, hit “Verify live version” to make sure the correct file is on your site. Everything correct? Good! Click “Submit live version” to let Google know you’ve updated your robots.txt file and they should crawl it. If not, re-upload the new robots.txt file to your site and try again.
Fetch as Google and submit to index
If you’ve made significant changes to a website, the fastest way to get the updates indexed by Google is to submit it manually. This will allow any changes done to things such as on-page content or title tags to appear in search results as soon as possible.
The first step is to sign into Google Search Console. Next, select the page you need to submit. If the website does not use the ‘www.’ prefix, then make sure you click on the entry without it (or vice versa.)
On the lefthand side of the screen, you should see a “Crawl” option. Click on it, then choose “Fetch as Google.”
Clicking on “Fetch as Google” should bring you to a screen that looks something like this:
If you need to fetch the entire website (such as after a major site-wide update, or if the homepage has had a lot of remodeling done) then leave the center box blank. Otherwise, use it to enter the full address of the page you need indexed, such as http://example.com/category. Once you enter the page you need to be indexed, click the “Fetch and Render” button. Fetching might take a few minutes, depending on the number/size of pages being fetched.
After the indexing has finished, there will be a “Submit to Index” button that appears in the results listing at the bottom (near the “Complete” status). You will be given the option to either “Crawl Only This URL,” which is the option you want if you’re only fetching/submitting one specific page, or “Crawl This URL and its Direct Links,” if you need to index the entire site.
Click this, wait for the indexing to complete, and you’re done!
Google now has sent its search bots to catalog the new content on your page, and the changes should appear in Google within the next few days.
Site errors in Google Search Console
Nobody wants to have something wrong on their website, but sometimes you might not realize there’s a problem unless someone tells you.
Instead of waiting for someone to tell you about a problem, Google Search Console can immediately notify you of any errors it finds on your site.
If you want to check a site for internal errors, select the site you’d like to check. On the lefthand side of the screen, click on “Crawl,” then select “Crawl Errors.”
You will then be taken directly to the Crawl Errors page, which displays any site or URL errors found by Google’s bots while indexing the page. You will see something like this:
Any URL errors found will be displayed at the bottom. Click on any of the errors for a description of the error encountered and further details.
Record any encountered errors, including screenshots if appropriate. If you aren’t responsible for handling site errors, notify the person who is so that they can correct the problem(s).
We hope this guide has been helpful in acquainting you with Google’s Search Console. Now that everything is set up and verified, you can start taking in all the information that Google Search Console offers and start getting your site the attention it deserves!