Google started its spring cleaning a little early this year in the form of an update to its Google Search Console.
The new Google Search Console, previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, now sports a redesigned interface aimed at making it easier for users to analyze patterns. The update addressed a search console weakness: a somewhat cumbersome interface that limited how results were displayed, such as side-by-side metric comparisons. This brings the console more in line with Google Analytics, which has received numerous interface refinements over the years to improve metric visualization.
According to the company's blog post announcing the changes, Google turned to numerous sources of feedback when planning the rebuild, including “top contributors in our help forums.” The result is a number of new features meant to allow more in-depth analysis.
Improvements to Google Search Console
The end result is a three-panel dashboard that shifts the emphasis away from technical diagnostic usage and towards easier search traffic analysis. The revamped search console also sets up space to learn about how site attributes factor into site performance.
The three panels are: Search Performance, Index Report and Enhancements Report.
The older search console layout presented these reports alongside other choices in a column. The panels are meant simplify the choices in a more visual arrangement. Longtime Google Analytics and Data Studio users will recognize the Material Design framework in the layout.
The Search Performance report allows users to view impressions, click-through-rate, clicks and average position, but now includes a summary metric within a colorful card and larger font for better visual appeal. The queries, pages, countries and devices dimensions appear in tablet-friendly clickable tabs.
Search Performance now includes access to a longer period of data, now pulling in 16 months of performance data.
A new filter bar menu allows users to choose search type and date range. These dimensions used to sit in a row, alongside the aforementioned queries, pages, countries and devices. The filter bar also allows a concurrent choice of dimensions rather than the singular view previously delivered via a radio button.
The Index Report makes it easy to find out which website are indexed on the Google search engine. The report also provides alerts when indexing issues arise, with diagnostic tools where users can drill down on how to fix indexing errors. The report reveals progress on how a site is indexing over time via a bar graph, with a status report below the graph. Summary metrics are also presented via colorful cards, again using the Material Design layout.
Finally the Enhancements Report highlights issues closely related to site structure.Site structure can include a range of specific HTML protocol choices, like structured data, rich snippets, or an instruction file related to the hosting site such as a robot.txt file.
In the case of Google Search Console, the Enhancement Report provides error warnings and updates with specific emphasis on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).Including AMP in the reporting is a nod to the upcoming mobile-first indexing initiative in Google Search.
The update also includes a JobPosting status that appears when JobPostings — rich snippets to indicated site content related to job postings — are detected, allowing listings to be monitored. This plays off of the company's Google for Jobs initiative announced at Google I/O in May 2017. The company will roll out more information on the report soon.
With Search Console, A Little Bit Old, a Little Bit New
Sometimes when you clean house you need to decide what to keep and what to throw away. In Google’s case, it is still sorting through features from the old search console design. Google noted it will post much of the "classic" functionality into the new search console over the course of the year. In the meantime both the “classic” search console and the updated search console will be available until all the features are carried over.