Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, this free tool called Google Search Console gives you the ability to monitor your website’s overall health and even see which keywords bringing traffic to your site. Most people think about configuring Google Analytics and it’s common for people to forget about this tool. By configuring Google Search Console, you’ll even have access to the number of your webpages Google has crawled and stored in its index.
 
This tool provides you with information about how many users are clicking on your search results, allows you to set your preferred indexed site to www or non www, and will send you updates if your website violates Google Webmaster Guidelines. Since Search Console provides users with sensitive information (i.e. info you wouldn’t want your competitors knowing), you’ll need to verify your site before getting access to the analytics.
 
How to Set Up Google Search Console

  1. If you don’t already have one, register for a Google account.
  2. Once you’ve registered for an account, navigate to Search Console and select Add a Property.
  3. When the modal appears, enter the website domain using the HTTP/HTTPS protocol.
  4. Verify your site using a standard or alternate method (both work well), including
    1. Upload a file to your server
    2. Add a meta tag to your site’s HTML
    3. Add a DNS record
    4. Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager Account

How Do You Select a Google Site Verification Method
 
There is no one right way to verify your site, uploading a file to your server is equally effective as adding a meta tag to your site’s HTML. I’ve used both the server and meta tag method with equal success. If you have more technical knowledge, these are the easier choices along with adding a DNS record. If you’re not familiar with HTML, then you can always just verify your site with Google Analytics or Tag Manager accounts.
 
How to Set Up Google Search Console for WordPress
 
Meta Tag Implementation 
 
Time: Less than 5-10 minutes

  1. Download  and activate the Insert Headers and Footers plugin.
  2. Login to your WordPress account and select Settings > Insert Headers and Footers. 
  3. Navigate to Search Console and select Add a Property, enter URL.
  4. Select Alternate Method and copy the meta tag.
  5. Navigate back to the Insert Headers and Footers plugin and paste meta tag.
  6. Press save, navigate back to Search Console and select Verify.

If you’re comfortable with working with your file manager, then you can upload the HTML verification file directly to your root directory.
 
How to Set Up Google Search Console for Squarespace
 
Time: 5-10 minutes

  1. Login to your Squarespace account.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Advanced > Code Injection
  3. Navigate to Search Console and select Add a Property, enter URL.
  4. Select Alternate Method and copy the meta tag.
  5. Navigate back to Settings > Advanced > Code Injection and paste meta tag.
  6. Return to Search Console and select Verify.

How do I Register my www and non www domains?
 
If you don’t tell Google which URLs to crawl and index, then you could end up with duplicate content. Once you’ve verified your account,

  1. Select the gear in the upper righthand corder of the home property view and select Site Settings.
  2. Set Preferred Domain to appear as www or non www.

I also recommend that you set up the www and non www versions of your website in Search Console. I like to setup websites by using the meta HTML tag and the HTML file, but the implementation depends on what is most comfortable for you. To do so, you’ll need to create two separate properties. If you’ve already set up the www property (i.e. http://www.example.com/) then you’ll want to set up the non www version (i.e. http://example.com/).

  1. Navigate back to your Search Console Home Dashboard.
  2. Select Add Property and enter the non www version of your URL.
  3. You’ll need to select a second verification method, which must be one you haven’t already used.
  4. Once you’ve selected your preferred method, navigate back to Search Console and select Verify.

Now, you’re all set to start collecting data about your site! Questions about implementing for another platform or running into errors? Feel free to leave questions/comments below!