Google Search Console Property Sets - What's Up?
Have you spent time over the life of your website keeping it in good graces with Google? Or if not you personally, maybe your webmasterClients Website Company the Website Builder or IT person. In any case, the goal is to have Google happy with your site’s links, accessibility, relevant content, images, everything works perfect on mobile devices and you have your search console and analytics in sync.
Over the last 15 years, Google has re-configured their algorithm so often that it’s hard to keep up with. What is Google’s algorithm? Google algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver web pages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs). You can read a great article at https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-algorithm-history/
What I am interested in is not the algorithm but the webmaster tools, more specifically, the search console. Actually, I find it to be a better source of information than Google Analytics. Simply because it is easier to understand.
However, even the Google Search Console has undergone several changes in the past 3 years. With subtle ones at first. Changing the looks of it, then taking away features like checking robot.text live. Let’s just say Google was a bit hasty rolling out the new search console. In fact, you still have to go to the old one to create property sets, and to set the wildcard preference. WWW or naked? In the past, you could identify if you had HTTP or HTTPS. That is long gone.
The latest change, the elimination of the property set. What is that you might ask, and hence the reason it is being relieved of its duty. NO one uses it. This I think is the result of the latest survey that Google sent out. I recall there were several questions about the search console, my guess is no one saw the property set as being important.
Is it? Only if you know what you are doing. This leads to another great dilemma for a company with too many games. Their documentation relating to HELP really sucks. The explanations are only a third of what you actually need. They are never to the point of the problem and contains many links for further inquiry. Very diplomatic, but not helpful to 90% of us who can not dedicate several days to uncovering all the Google treasures.
I’ve digressed. Back to the property sets in the search console. What it is, is a place to put all variations of the URL for a particular website in one place. Each is verified then all are tracked for clicks and impressions for those URLs. With the https and www or not, there should be four variations to any one site. Without doing due diligence, in your htaccess and/or robot txt, to redirect, this set will gather info regardless of what URL is used to find your website.
I think what has happened, I for one did do this, is that when I got my SSL and changed my site from HTTP to HTTPS and decided not to put www in front of my site address, I made a sweep and changed everything to one URL, https://clientswebsitecompany.com I changed my analytics, my Adwords, and created a redirect in the htaccess file. I made sure all my links on my site were the same. So when it came to reading stats on my site, I had one URL everything pointed to so my numbers were more concise.
Deep down, I feel this is a better practice to ensure I know what is happening to my site. If you haven’t verified all your variations, I would be on the safe side and do it. Then I would suggest doing a sweep. It won’t hurt and given the fact that the property sets are disappearing, you won’t be losing data.
If you have relied on the sets until now you might have received the following email:
Dear Search Console user,
You are the owner of one or more property sets in Search Console. At the end of March, 2019, Search Console will no longer support property sets. Google will continue indexing and serving any individual properties that comprise these sets, and your permission on these individual properties will not be changed. We have seen limited usage of sets in Search Console, which makes it hard to devote the engineering time required to maintain this feature. We are working on providing other ways to manage sites with multiple hosts or protocols.
The following property sets will be removed from your account at the end of March (max 8 shown):
The properties that make up each set will not be removed or affected in either Search Console or Google Search.
If you would like to retain your data from these property sets, you can download it using the Search Console API or the Download button in various reports before the end of March.
Is this good or bad? Time will tell.