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The Power of Google Search Console’s URL Inspection Tool

Almost everyone probably knows about the GSC’s URL inspection tool. In fact, one of the core purposes it’s used for is to submit an URL for getting indexed. While that’s certainly helpful, the tool serves a lot of different purposes.

For those of you who aren’t that aware, Google’s URL inspection on a high-level can assist with the following:

  1. Submitting a URL for getting indexed
  2. For existing URLs:
    • checking for crawl errors
    • checking what the canonical URL is
    • when was the URL last crawled
    • checking if the URL has any enhancements such as whether or not it’s mobile friendly, has any structured data, etc.
    • checking for indexation errors/a.k.a, why isn’t the URL being indexed.

With those laid out, let’s go over what each individual items mean. As an example, we will be using one of the existing URLs–>https://feedthecuriosity.com/seo/3-easy-steps-to-implementing-json-breadcrumb-schema-code/.

What Can You Do With “URL Is on Google”

URL is on Google
Here, you can see whether or not your URL is indexed. You can also request indexing again, if your page has changed, to signal to Google about the updates. This can be a more relevant functionality for websites that deal with news articles.

Outside of requesting indexation again, you can really see how Google viewed your page. If you click on “View Crawled Page,” The first thing you’d immediately notice is the HTML. Basically, Google is telling you that — that is the HTML they’ve crawled. See screenshot below for reference.

view crawled page

Next, you can see the screenshot. Actually, the screenshot may not display as Google might tell you that it’s only available by testing Live URL. Feel free to click on it to see how Google can render your page.

What I really like is the “More Info” part of this. It gives you two fundamental information below:

  1. What is the HTTP response code
  2. How many resources were blocked/not loaded, if any? Resources could be anything from images, CSS, scripts, etc. Depending on your situation, you may need to block certain ad scripts, affiliate tags, etc. Here you can verify all of that. Specifically, you can check for:
    • Are there scripts/resources you are expecting to be not loaded — in fact, not loaded?
    • Are there any resources that you weren’t expecting to be blocked, being blocked? This is useful information because you can go more in-depth as to why that’s the case. Further, if you knew these problems existed, and Google still seems to be blocking them, you can submit it for indexation again.

What Can You Do With the “Coverage” Report

coverage report url inspection
Note that there are lots of possible variations here. This screenshot only takes into account what a typical coverage report looks like, and breaks down the details accordingly. However, in no way, this undermines how powerful this section is. Its importance grows even more when someone is having issues getting their URL indexed.

The coverage report provides a lot of useful information.

  1. Discovery: Specifically, it tells you how the URL was discovered. Was it through the presence of those URLs in one of the sitemaps, without a sitemap, etc. Also, were there any referring pages? In simple words, was there a page that Google knew, and was that same page linking to your inspected URL?
  2. Crawl: It also shows you when it was last crawled, how it was crawled (in this day and age, it should mostly be Googlebot smartphone). Some other useful details are:
    • Crawl allowed: Whether or not the URL has some kind of directive that tells Google not to crawl the page. For instance, is it blocked via robots.txt, or are there any “crawl anomalies.”
    • Page Fetch: Whether or not Google was able to render/fetch the page successfully or not.
    • Indexing allowed: Very important! If you’re expecting the URL to be indexed, but Google is showing that it’s blocked, you can figure out why that may be the case.
  3. Indexing: The user-declared canonical shows you if Google was able to recognize the canonical you dictated for the inspected URL. Right below that, it shows you what Google chose as the canonical URL — for the inspected URL. That is, was it what you specified, or was it something else. In my example, it displays the “Inspected URL.”

What Can You Do With “Enhancements” Report

enhancements report url inspection

This section can vary significantly from one site to the other because this is mostly a result of implementing structured data on your website. One of the things that you should definitely see is “Mobile Usability.” If you aren’t, I’d advise that you fix that right away! That speaks to a whole set of different issues.

In any case, this should display all the enhancements your URL is eligible for (outside of it being mobile friendly). From here, you can individually click on each item to get a bit more details, specifically what was the code that made you eligible for this enhancement so to speak. Generally speaking, in my opinion, you should most certainly strive for “mobile usability,” and “breadcrumbs.” For mobile friendliness, you don’t have to utilize any special coding, other than following mobile best practices/being responsive, etc. For all of the other enhancements, you have to leverage structured data.

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So, What Gives?

Fortunately, or unfortunately (for you guys), my URL was working exactly the way I wanted it for right now. And therefore, we didn’t’ really see a lot of the issues here.

But again, for those who do, this can greatly assist with getting on Google’s radar as quickly as possible, and discovering all the roadblocks. The power of the URL Inspection tool comes in understanding trends.

  1. Say, for instance, a URL is not allowed to be indexed. In that situation, it may speak to a pattern that maybe that whole section (where the URL is hosted under) is having issues. You can confirm by inspecting 1 or 2 URLs from there. As an example, let’s say blog.example.com/blog1 isn’t indexed. Chances are, blog.example.com/blog2, /blog3, etc. aren’t indexed as well. By fixing the issue for 1 URL, you’ll most likely end up solving the problems for that entire section.
  2. Same with enhancements. Say you implemented structured data for review snippets, but for some reason, Google isn’t picking up on it. In that scenario, you can dive into your code, fix the problem, and voila, now a bunch of URLs become eligible!
  3. The biggest advantage here is that you’re directly seeing reports from what Google is seeing. So, if you ever wanted to dot all the I’s and cross all the t’s, for the best possible SEO visibility on Google, the URL inspection tool can come in extremely handy!

Expert Resources

  1. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9012289?hl=en
  2. https://optinmonster.com/google-search-console/