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The Ultimate Guide to Create Property Sets in Google Search Console

Create Property Sets in Google Search Console

Google Search Console has finally heard the most sought after request for a combined website (property) analysis and embedded the feature which is now live with the name of “Property Sets”. Now you can group your various properties (Google refers to your web based sites and android apps as properties) together and review your reports collectively.

Google made an announcement on May 23rd 2016 about this new feature in search console (formerly webmasters). With the help of this feature you can add up to 200 properties in a single aggregate set known as a property set. It allows you to group elements of your websites like mobile and desktop versions under one roof. The idea is to monitor the overall clicks and impressions on your websites within a single search console report and track the collaborative impact of traffic on your combined property.

It allows adding properties of several different types including android apps and different versions of your website and domains. Until now, marketers had to track data and statistics of all these properties separately and compiling them took a heavy toll.

But the Internet mogul heard the hues and cries of the masses and finally launched the feature with widespread acclaim. Though the set will only lump together the Analytics reports of individual properties as of now but it will give an overall holistic view of traffic on all types of web based sources of your business.

Basic rules about property sets as laid down by Google Search Console:

  • While you can add different versions of your websites and apps to a property set, a complete set cannot be added as a member to another set.
  • You need to verify properties before adding into sets. An unverified property cannot be added.
  • You have to be at least a verified restricted user on ALL SET MEMBERS to access the set.
  • If you somehow lose access to any property or its ownership verification, THE ENTIRE SET will become unverified. You will not be able to access it. However, data collection will continue for the set, all the analytics (over the unverified period) will be visible as soon as you regain access to ALL SET MEMBERS.
  • A set can only have one owner without any user. A set CANNOT be shared with others.
  • Sets have some analytics features but not all reports and tools available to individual property types.
  • Property Set data is only viewable as a sum of individual properties’ data. For instance, a set which has A, B, C properties will show data for A+B+C. If you want to see data for An alone you have to check it separately by switching to property A in search console

Google Search console has always reported Search Analytics data such as clicks, CTR, impressions on a “property by property” basis. The data for each property such as HTTP vs HTTPS versions or the WWW vs the non-WWW versions had to be analyzed individually and summed up later. But property sets allow you to get a quick snapshot of your complete business with diverse properties (up to 200) in a single analytics report.

While creating a set is an easy process but before that, you need to verify ownership for each individual properties of the set (which requires intense hard work). Let’s start with basics to add a property in search console:

Adding properties

In your Google Search console account, you can add up to 1000 properties including websites and mobile applications.

Website:

  1. In the console home page, type the URL of your website and click the “Add a property” button. You can type the address of a specific page of your website like the “contacts page” to generate separate analytics for it.
  2. Make sure to add all the versions of your website like Mobile version, secure version (HTTPS), localized domain etc including the final backslash (/) mark.
  3. Click continue to verify ownership of your property.

Google needs to verify your ownership to the property so that it can allow you to access the private data about the traffic on a website.

Verification associates a unique user with a specific property. Each one requires at least one verified owner though it may have more. The verification method you choose largely depends on your web host. Select one of the verification methods and follow instructions:

#1 – HTML file upload

– When you click on “verify ownership” the console generates recommended methods for verification. It produces an HTML file with a verification code in it. Search console checks its availability when you upload the HTML file to your web server, however, it doesn’t affect or amplify the normal functions of your website.

The file must be available in your naked domain (without www). For instance, it must be uploaded at http://exampledomain.com/examplefile.html.  The file must be available publicly and not limited to an internal network. Use this method if your web host allows you to upload HTML file to your domain. Or move on to the next method:-

Html File Upload

Contact your host for more information

#2 – Meta Tags

– Search Console provides you with a meta tag containing a verification code. The tag won’t affect the functions of your website. Paste the whole tag in the <head> section of your website’s homepage as shown below.

meta tag verification

The need of a naked domain and public availability of your website remains same as the HTML file upload method.

#3 – Domain Name Provider

– When you use this method you may be offered to directly verify from search console verification page (available for Godaddy, eNom) or to add DNS TXT or CNAME record largely depending upon your domain registrars.

  • Log in to your domain host’s website section in the search console, if available, or select Add a domain host record (TXT or CNAME).
  • In the “create a new TXT record” section copy the content of Value/Answer/Destination This is your verification record.
  • Go to your domain’s DNS records. Select the option to add a new record.
    Type-> TXT
    Name/host/Alias field enter @ or leave blank
    Time to Live (TTL) -> 86400 or leave default
    In value/answer/destination field paste the verification record.
    Save the record
  • Return to the console window and check the “I saved the TXT verification record”Click verify.

#4 – Google Analytics –

if you are using Google Analytics to track traffic of your website, you can use a tracking code to verify ownership, provided.

  • You must be and administrator on analytics account.
  • Your tracking code must use asynchronous snippet.
  • Code must be in the <head> of website’s home page.

After assuring the above requirements sign in to Google apps account (must be the same account as Analytics or create another administrator). Add the generated tracking code in your website’s <head> section as shown earlier. Choose link to your Google Analytics account. Click verify.

#5 – Google Tag Manager –

To do this you must have “view, edit and manage” level permissions in Google Tag manager, on the verification page select Google Tag Manager as the verification method. Click verify and you’re done provided:

Specify settings for your website like the canonical versions, non www versions etc, add or remove users who can see your data, set demographics to target audience from a specific country or location.

Mobile Application:

  • If you have Google Play MANAGEMENT RIGHTS and you are logged in with that account add your app as a new property to search console. Enter the app address in the following format. Android-app://{package name}/
  • Otherwise, ask the owner of the verified app property to add you as an owner or user of the app property.

It can take up to 48 hours to verify an Android app.

Read and understand webmaster guidelines to follow best practices and make maximum use of Google Apps.

Now that you have successfully added a property in search console let us discuss how to use it for adding a new property set and editing an existing one:

Creating Property Sets

  • Log in to Google Search Console.
  • On the top right corner of search console home page, click Create a set.
  • Modify name of the new set to sound self explanatory like the name of your company, or the branch with which the set belongs to.
  • Add members to your set from existing properties in your account. These properties need to be verified before adding into the set.
  • Click Save and the set gets created. However, Clicking Cancelwill not prevent the creation process, the incomplete property set will get saved in your account until you delete it manually. However, the cancelled set would not generate any data until it is saved and turned live.
  • Don’t forget to add all the variations of your website in property set like HTTP/HTTPS version, WWW and the naked domain, mobile version and the localized websites (with local extensions).

Creating Property Sets

It will take a few days to start seeing combined data for your new set, even if the console has data for all separate member properties.

Editing existing sets

  1. Find your existing set in the search console home page.
  2. Select Manage set > Edit set.
  3. Add or remove set members, change name, edit addresses or other attributes of a set. Make sure you have verified the property beforehand

Editing Property Set

Alternatively, you can also reach the Edit set page by clicking the “settings gear” while viewing the set.

When you add or remove a member from a property set, data for this member will not affect the historical data.

Deleting sets

  1. Find the set in the Search console home page.
  2. Select Manage set > Delete set.
  3. However deleting the property set will not affect the individual data collection for each property and its ownership.

As soon as the set is deleted, the data collection also ends, remember that the previous data will NOT be accessible.

While the Property set is a novel step and a long solicited demand of webmasters and publishers has been fulfilled by Google but keep in mind that apart from the set data you should spend time gauging analytics for individual properties to debug issues and improving overall site quality more effectively.

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