You’ve built your website, you’ve connected your domain, you’re essentially an unstoppable internet warrior - so that’s it, right? Nothing left to do but conquer the photography world? Well, here’s the thing. We know where to find your website, but if you want new clients to track you down we need Google to be able to find you as well, and right now they don’t have a clue where you are. But don’t worry, we’re going to draw them a map with our handy tool, the Google Search Console.
Google Search Console is a powerful platform that not only helps Google find you, but also lets you monitor traffic to your site through the search engine and gives valuable insights on your SEO. Welcome to your new SEO home base.
But first thing’s first. We need to verify your domain so Google knows you are the owner. Remember those DNS settings you just mastered? Well get ready, we’re heading back in!
Open up your domain’s DNS settings, we’re going to be adding in a new type of record - TXT. The TXT Record, or Text Record (hey, they can’t all be amazing acronyms) is a record which is primarily used to prevent spam emails and to verify domain ownership. Similar to the two-factor identification messages we’re all so familiar with, Google is going to create a record for you to enter into your domain to prove that you are in fact the owner.
In the Search Console you should see a prompt to enter your domain which looks something like (and by that I mean exactly like) this:
On the left side in the domain field, enter in your domain name excluding the subdomain (the www.). Once you hit enter Google is going to check for ownership verification. Some providers, like Google Domains and GoDaddy, may automate this part, which means you can pour yourself a coffee and skip the next couple steps.
For most providers, you will see a popup like the one below.
And here we find our TXT Record. Hit the copy button to copy the record to your clipboard and head over to your domain’s DNS settings. Add or create a new record, set the host as @ or leave it blank depending on your provider, set the record type to TXT, and paste the record into the target field. Save the changes and you’re all set!
Now that Google has verified your ownership you have access to your Search Console, but we’re not done. We need to tell Google what pages make up your site, and to do that I’m going to teach you how to generate a sitemap. This one’s a little tricky. No really, get out a pen and paper, you’re going to want to take notes. Maybe step away for a few minutes to pump yourself up.
Alright, feeling ready?
Are you sure?
Ok, here we go!
Head to your website and click on the address bar. At the end of the URL, type /sitemap.xml, so the address looks something like https://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. Copy this link to your clipboard and open up your search console. Click on the Sitemaps tab located in the left hand column and paste the URL in the field marked ‘Add a New Sitemap’ and hit save. The next step is to….actually, there is no next step. You’re done. Maybe I was a little dramatic.
A sitemap is just a list of the URL’s associated with your website that automatically updates whenever you post a new blog or general website page. You’ve just told Google exactly where to find you, so now the search engine can get to work indexing your pages and making them easier to find through an internet search.
But that’s not all your Search Console can do. Head on over to the How to Use Google Search Console blog to find out how you can use this tool to maximize your SEO!