How to set up Google Search Console on WordPress sites using Yoast SEO

Google Search Console is one of the best free tools for managing and monitoring your site’s organic search result appearances. Follow these steps to easily integrate it into your WordPress site.

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By Noelia Coronel, QA Analyst @ White Canvas

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool for indexing your web pages in search engines and consulting the organic performance of your site in Google.

Optimizing organic search results is fundamental for your visibility and recognition if you have a business website.

Keep reading to learn how to start using and managing Google Search Console on your WordPress site and reap its many benefits.

What is Google Search Console? What is it useful for?

Google Search Console is a free service developed by Google to help site owners understand how their website is performing in Google Search results. Its main functions are to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot search appearance problems.

Going deeper, GSC will be useful for the following purposes:

  • Confirming whether your site can be crawled and indexed by Google.
  • Receiving alerts if Google detects indexing issues on your website, or if you receive penalties.
  • Fixing indexing issues and submitting requests to index new or updated content.
  • Submitting a sitemap and robots.txt file to Google.
  • Checking your site’s traffic data in Google Organic Search: how often your website appears in Google Search (impressions), the queries associated with your website’s appearances, and how many times users click on your results, among other relevant data.
  • Knowing your most linked pages, internally.
  • Knowing which websites link to yours.
  • Fixing issues related to mobile usability and AMP pages, among other search features.
  • Exploring metrics for page load speed and page experience, among others.
  • Submitting manual requests for URL removals from the Google index.

In short, Google Search Console is an essential tool for consulting and managing the presence and efficiency of your website in search results. 

Now let’s move on to how you can start using the platform today. If you have a WordPress site, you will only need to follow a few simple steps.

How to integrate Google Search Console with your WordPress site?

To start using Google Search Console on WordPress, you must complete two steps. The first consists of adding the site to GCS, and the second is validating that you own this domain.

Step 1: Add the site’s property to Google Search Console

You will first need a Gmail account for this step. Once you have it, it’s time to create a property in Google Search Console.

To complete this, go to https://search.google.com/search-console/about and click on Start now. You will see a screen with two options:

If you select the Domain option, all website versions will be considered, including all subdomains. You must add the web address of your domain. E.g.: wcanvas.com.

On the other hand, if you choose the URL prefix option, you must add the exact URL, including the protocol (HTTP or HTTPS). E.g.: https://wcanvas.com/.

For more context, here are examples of what is included and what is not, depending on the address you enter:

  • http://your-site.com – Includes the main domain and all its paths (does not register the HTTPS version if it exists).
  • https://your-site.com – Includes the domain with HTTPS secure protocol (does not include the HTTP version).
  • http://your-site.com/blog/ – Only register data within the blog directory.
  • http://www.your-site.com – This does not include the domain without WWW.

To avoid mistakes, we recommend you copy the address displayed by the browser when visiting your site. You must set the correct address, as you will not be able to change it later.

Finally, click on Continue.

Step 2: Verify the property

Regardless of the type of property, you’ll need to verify that you own the website to continue. The easiest way to verify your domain ownership on WordPress is by using a plugin. We will explain how to do it using Yoast SEO, the most popular WordPress plugin.

Once you have the plugin installed, go to Google Search Console. In the instruction box to verify the property, scroll down and drop the HTML Tag option.

Inside, you will see a box with a meta tag. Press Copy to copy its contents.

The copied text will look something like this:

<meta name="google-site-verification" content="your verification code">

On another browser tab, go to your WordPress admin panel and click on Yoast SEO. Go to the Webmaster Tools verification tab. Find the box that says, Google verification code and paste the code you previously copied. Save the changes.

Now that you’ve pasted the text, go back to the Google Search Console tab and click on Verify. If you followed the steps correctly, you’ll see a message indicating the setup was successful.

And that’s it! You are now ready to set up your robots.txt file and submit your sitemap to Google, two essential steps to appear in search results.

Upload or modify a Sitemap in Google Search Console with Yoast

Log into your WordPress admin panel and click General under Yoast SEO on the sidebar. Go to the Features tab.

Scroll down until you find XML Sitemap. Click on the “?” sign to the right of it. This will expand the field and will allow you to click on See the XML sitemap.

The URL for your sitemap will be something like https://your-domain.com/sitemap_index.xml. Copy the “sitemap_index.xml” part of the URL and go to Google Search Console. On the left sidebar panel, click on Sitemap. On the Add a new sitemap section, paste the partial URL and click on Submit.

Once done, you will be able to check the crawl and indexing metrics of your site’s URLs in the Pages section.

This report will give you detailed information about the status of each page of your site. You will be able to know which pages are indexed, which are not, and which have been excluded or have issues, among other diagnostics.

In this section, you can also set up alerts to receive email notifications about your pages.

Conclusion

Google Search Console is the most comprehensive free tool to keep you up to date on your site’s indexing status and organic performance. It allows you to interpret and improve upon your website’s search result appearances.

As WordPress developers, this is an invaluable tool to improve your site’s visibility metrics. If you plan to make a business out of your website, you must familiarize yourself with Google Search Console and get the most you can out of it.

Let’s get the ball rolling