Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a no-charge web service by Google for webmasters. It allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites.
As of May 20, 2015, Google rebranded Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console. In January 2018, Google introduced a new version of the Search Console, with a refreshed user interface and improvements.
It has tools that let webmasters:
- Submit and check a sitemap and also helps the webmasters to check if there are any errors with their sitemap.
- Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about when Googlebot accesses a particular site.
- Write and check a robots.txt file to help discover pages that are blocked in robots.txt accidentally.
- List internal and external pages that link to the site.
- Get a list of links which Googlebot had difficulty crawling, including the error that Googlebot received when accessing the URLs in question.
- See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings. (Previously named 'Search Queries'; rebranded May 20, 2015 to 'Search Analytics' with extended filter possibilities for devices, search types and date periods).
- Set a preferred domain (e.g. prefer example.com over www.example.com or vice versa), which determines how the site URL is displayed in SERPs.
- Highlight to Google Search elements of structured data which are used to enrich search hit entries (released in December 2012 as Google Data Highlighter).
- Demote Sitelinks for certain search results.
- Receive notifications from Google for manual penalties.
- Provide access to an API to add, change and delete listings and list crawl errors.
- Rich Cards a new section added, for better mobile user experience.
- Check the security issues if there are any with the website. (Hacked Site or Malware Attacks)
- Add or remove the property owners and associates of the web property.
Features of Search Analytics reports
- Accurate data
- Search Analytics reports deliver more accurate reports than the Search Queries report.
- The reports are up-to-date and provides the latest information possible.
- Individual page count
- Search Analytic reports considers all the links to the same page as single impression.
- Separate reports are available to track the device type and search type.
- Image click count more accurate
- Search Analytics reports only count clicks as clicks on expanded images in an image search result to your page. The previous Search Queries report counts all the click on an images, expanded or not, in both web & images search.
- Data consolidated by full domain
- Search Analytics reports assign all clicks, impressions, and other search data to a single, complete host name.
- Subdomains are regarded as separate entities by Search Console and need to be added separately.
Criticism and controversy
The list of inbound links on Google Webmaster Tools is generally much larger than the list of inbound links that can be discovered using the link:example.com search query on Google itself. Google is tight lipped about the discrepancy. The list on Google Webmaster Tools includes nofollow links that do not convey search engine optimization authority to the linked site. On the other hand, the list of links generated with a link:example.com type query are deemed by Google to be "important" links in a controversial way. Google Webmaster Tools, as well as the Google index, seems to routinely ignore link spam. Once a manual penalty has been removed, Google Webmaster Tools will still display the penalty for another 1–3 days. After the Google Search Console rebrand, information has been produced demonstrating that Google Search Console creates data points that do not reconcile with Google Analytics or ranking data, particularly within the local search market.