How to Use the Google URL Inspection Tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You don’t have to spend a fortune on SEO tools. Google offers several free ones, including the URL inspection tool, located in Google Search Console. As long as you have a Google Search Console, you can use this tool to boost your rankings.
What Is the URL Inspection Tool?
Previously known as the fetch tool, the URL inspection tool is a multipurpose URL diagnostic and analysis tool. It reveals information that Google has on file about your site’s URLs. When you enter a URL in this tool, Google will return information about it, essentially allowing you to inspect your website’s URLs from Google’s viewpoint.
We asked COO Darath Leon how the Inspection Tool has saved his tail remedying any past website issues, “it’s basically a way to let Google know that a url coverage issue, due to mobile responsiveness, 404, AMP, etc has been fixed”.
To see whether Google has indexed a page, try using the URL inspection tool. It will provide you with the page’s indexing status. Instead of manually searching for the page’s main target keywords, you can simply enter the page’s URL. This will be the message if page is not indexed in Google yet:
The tool features two tabs: Google Index and Live Test. Upon entering a URL, it will display the Google Index tab by default. At the top of this tab is the page’s index status, where you can check to see whether the page is on Google. If it’s not on Google, the URL inspection tool will reveal details regarding the reason or reasons it hasn’t been indexed.
Even if Google has indexed a page, it may not crawl it as frequently as other pages. Infrequent crawling can result in outdated organic listings and poor rankings.
To force Google to crawl a page, click the Live Test tab. The Google Index tab will only provide you with existing information about the page. The Live Test tab, conversely, will provide you with new, real-time information about the page. Enter the page’s URL, after which you can click the Live Test tab to force Google to crawl it.
Test AMP Validity
AMP is a fast, mobile-focused framework for web development. If Google detects an AMP version of a page, it will typically serve this version to mobile users. Google, however, may not serve the AMP version if it’s invalid.
Assuming a page has an AMP version, you can check its AMP validity by entering the page’s URL. The URL inspection tool will show whether the linked AMP version is valid. If it’s not valid, you’ll see the issue or issues that require fixing. Google will generally only serve valid AMP versions to mobile users, so don’t hesitate to fix these issues.
View Canonical Versions
A canonical version of a web page is a separate, preferred version. It’s used to prevent indexing or ranking issues stemming from duplicate content.
If you have two pages with the same content, you can add a canonical tag to the unpreferred version. The canonical tag should point to the preferred version, which Google will index and rank. Visitors will still be able to access the unpreferred version, but Google will prioritize the preferred, canonical version. The URL inspection tool shows information about canonical versions.
While on the Google Index tab, you’ll see canonical information near the bottom of the screen. Keep in mind that pages can have a user-declared canonical version and a Google-selected canonical version. A user-declared canonical version is a URL that you specify as the preferred version with a canonical tag. A Google-selected canonical version is a URL without a canonical tag that Google automatically chooses as the preferred version.
Identify Rich Results Eligibility
If your website has any structured data, you can use the URL inspection tool to identify its rich results eligibility. Google may rank a page in a special, enhanced listing if the page has structured data. These special listings are called rich results. Click to run a Rich Results test on Google.
There are different types of rich results, each of which requires the use of a specific structured data type. Breadcrumb rich results require the use of breadcrumb structured data, for instance, whereas product rich results require the use of product structured data. If a page has structured data and is eligible for one or more rich results, you’ll see those structured data types listed under “Enhancements.”
Verify Sitemap Inclusion
Google processes sitemaps for crawling purposes. When it encounters a sitemap, Google will make a note of the included URLs. If any of the URLs are new, it will crawl them.
To verify that a page is included in a sitemap, use the URL inspection tool. Under “Coverage” is a list of all sitemaps in which the page is included. If there are no sitemaps listed here, Google hasn’t found the page in any sitemaps. Maybe you forgot to add the page to a sitemap, or perhaps you entered the wrong URL when adding the page.
Alternatively, the tool may not show any sitemaps because Google hasn’t crawled the sitemap in which the page is included. To solve this issue, use the URL inspection tool on the sitemap itself to force Google to crawl it. After it has finished processing the sitemap, Google will show the included pages.
Determine Mobile Usability
Mobile usability is a ranking factor. If mobile visitors can’t easily use your website, Google may not rank it very high.
Mobile usability is listed under “Enhancements” as well. The URL inspection tool will show whether the page is easy to use on mobile devices in this section. If it doesn’t pass the mobile usability checker, you’ll need to fix it.
Google Search Console contains more than just ranking metrics; it features SEO tools like the URL inspection tool. By using this tool, you can check indexing, force crawling, test AMP validity, view canonical versions, identify rich results eligibility, verify sitemap inclusion, determine mobile usability and more.
20 years experience in the online marketing sector, including agency, ecommerce and entrepreneurial ventures.