SEO is essential to most websites as it increases their visibility in the organic search results of major search engines. The industry is worth more than $80 billion a year and it’s only going to grow. Every tweak to major search engine algorithms sends shockwaves throughout the web.
As we’ve tackled the Keyword Research aspect through our previous package offering support and integration with Semrush, and in a Google-heavy market, it was only natural that Google got its seat at the table with this new SEO package that we’re releasing, the URL Inspection Tool for Google Search Console.
As usual, the code is open-sourced and available on GitHub for your consideration.
About Google Search Console
Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to explore the web constantly, looking for sites to add to their index; there’s nothing much you can do except posting your site on the web. According to Google, the vast majority of the sites listed in their results aren’t manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically by the crawlers.
For building a Google-friendly website, you have a set of webmaster guidelines at your disposal. While there’s no guarantee that the crawlers will find a particular site, these guidelines can help you make your site appear in the search results.
Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console to be included in Google Search results, but Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site.
Google Search works in three stages, and not all pages make it through each stage:
- Crawling: Google downloads text, images, and videos from pages found on the internet with automated programs called crawlers.
- Indexing: Google analyzes the text, images, and video files on the page, and stores the information in the Google index, which is a large database.
- Serving search results: When a user searches on Google, Google returns information that’s relevant to the user’s query.
If this has piqued your interest, you can deep dive and explore the Google Search documentation.
URL Inspection Tool
The URL Inspection Tool provides information about Google’s indexed version of a specific page. Information includes AMP errors, structured data errors, and indexing issues.
- See the current index status of a URL: retrieve information about Google’s indexed version of your page. See why Google could or couldn’t index your page.
- Inspect a live URL: test whether a page on your site is able to be indexed.
- Request indexing for a URL: You can request that an URL be crawled (or recrawled) by Google.
- View a rendered version of the page: see a screenshot of how Googlebot sees the page.
- Troubleshoot a missing page: there can be many reasons why a page hasn’t been indexed. URL Inspection can help troubleshoot some of them.
It all starts with your Google Search Console interface, where you can inspect URLs of your property.
In Google Search Console there are two types of properties:
- URL Prefix property - includes only URLs with the specified prefix, including the protocol (HTTP/HTTPS).
- Domain property - a domain-level property that includes all subdomains (m, www, and so on) and multiple protocols (HTTP, HTTPS, FTP).
After you add your property in the screen below, Google will provide various methods to verify your ownership of the property - either DNS update, adding a custom HTML file in the root of your website, or adding various meta tags.
You can read more about properties, and how to add them, in this section of the documentation.
Search Console URL Inspection API
In January 2022, Google announced the launch of the new Google Search Console URL Inspection API, which gives programmatic access to URL-level data for properties you manage in the Search Console.
The Search Console APIs are a way to access data outside of the Search Console, through external applications and products. Developers and SEO tools already use the APIs to build custom solutions to view, add or remove properties and sitemaps, and to run advanced queries on Search performance data.
With the new URL Inspection API, Google provides a new tool for developers to debug and optimize their Umbraco pages. With this integration, you can add a page or template-level insights and ongoing checks for existing pages.
The request parameters include the URL you’d like to inspect and the URL of the property as defined in the Search Console.
The response includes analysis results containing information from Search Console, including index status, AMP, rich results, and mobile usability.
The usage quote is enforced per Search Console website property: 2000 queries per day / 600 queries per minute.
Credentials are retrieved through our Umbraco CMS Integrations Google App. After you have authenticated, your web application requests an access token from the Google Authorization Server, saves the token and the refresh token in the Umbraco database, and adds the access token to the authorization header of each subsequent request sent to Google API. The normal expiration time for a token is 60 minutes, afterwards, a new token is obtained using the refresh token stored in the database.
The URL Inspection Tool API requests one of the following OAuth scopes:
Umbraco Content App
The current integration is available as a content app to each content node, after installing the Umbraco.Cms.Integrations.SEO.GoogleSearchConsole.URLInspectionTool package, look out for the URL Inspection area:
Unless you have already authenticated, all features will be disabled. To enable them, you will have to start the authorization process using the Google Sign in action. This will bring out the Sign In view where you will need to enter your credentials and then allow the necessary scopes:
Once access is allowed, the inspect features will be enabled:
At this point, the access token and the refresh token are saved into the database.
Revoke action will remove the above settings and the inspect features will be disabled.
By default, the inspection input fields are disabled and the values reflect the root URL of your website and of the current node, as any inspect requests take into consideration the current node.
In case the ownership of your property cannot be proven by Google, a warning message will be displayed:
You can manually change the input values by selecting the Edit action, and the request data can be adjusted for proper results:
The inspection result consists of the following fields, but these can vary depending on the tracking level of your property:
- Inspection Result Link - link to Search Console URL inspection.
- Index Status- the result of the index status analysis. For more information, please check the Index coverage report documentation.
- AMP- the result of the AMP analysis. Absent if the page is not an AMP page. Key elements returned include:
- Mobile Usability- the result of the mobile usability analysis.
- Rich Results - the result of the rich results analysis. Absent if there are no rich results found.
Common properties returned include:
- Link to inspection view per section
- List of issues found
- Verdict: Unspecified, Pass, Partial, Fail, Neutral
You can define cultures and hostnames, this will reflect in the type of field for the Inspect URL property:
The URL Inspection Tool for Google Search Console is available for: :
- Umbraco CMS version 8.4+
- Umbraco CMS version 9.0.1+
To sum up, we hope you find this new integration useful. This popular SEO tool can help your content editors ensure their content lives up to its fullest potential.