At the Google NYC event on January 24 of this year, the search engine and tech giant announced that it will be shutting off many features of the old Google Search Console by the end of March 2019. Some of these defunct features will have updated replacements, and some will not. According to Google, these Search Console changes are part of an effort to migrate all users onto the new Search Console and direct more time and resources to building out new features to better serve the needs of its users.

The new Search Console is the product of months of hard work by Google engineers to bring you the best, most updated tools to run your website effectively. In this post, we’ll be explaining some of the differences between the old and new Search Consoles and when you can expect to see these features in your own Search Console.

General differences between the old and new Search Console

Google is rolling out new features as they become available and encourages all users to switch to the newest version of Search Console available, rather than using legacy versions. Here are a few of the benefits of using the new Search Console, according to the Search Console Help site:

  • The new Search Console will feature 16 months’ worth of search traffic data, as opposed to three months of data in the older version.
  • Search Console will be functional on Mobile, in keeping with Google’s new Mobile-First index.
  • The New Search Console will include tracking flows to help you improve and monitor pages with crawling issues, and allow you to request recrawls.
  • The new version will feature more detailed information about specific pages, including mobile usability scores, canonical URLs, and index coverage
  • Search Console will feature new and improved reports to help you better track the success of your site.

You can view a full comparison of the tools and reports included in each version at the Search Console Help site.

Specific changes we expect to see in Search Console by late March 2019

We don’t know about all of the upcoming changes to Search Console, but Google has told us specifically about several updates that will make the new Search Console better than ever before. A few of those changes include:

  • Retiring of the Crawl Errors ReportBased on user feedback, Google has determined that the crawl errors list included in the old Search Console wasn’t actionable for users. Googlebots often crawl URLs which told exist, which leads to errors being reported which users were unable to fix. This confused site owners and made it difficult to set priorities when it came to improving users’ sites. By removing this report for desktop, mobile, and site-wide errors, Google believes it will be much easier for users to identify what errors actually exist, correct them more quickly, and request a recrawl. Google will also continue to improve the way users are notified of crawling issues, and requests feedback on the new Search Console in the Tools tab.

    In addition to the Crawl Errors Report, Google is also getting rid of the crawl errors API, which will not have a replacement. API users will be notified directly of this change.

  • Retiring of the Sitemaps reportGoogle will be turning off the Sitemaps report as the new Search Console is phased in. This feature will be getting an updated replacement – the new Sitemaps report has most of the same functionality as the old version, and information about images and video will be rolled in over time as improvements are developed. The new Search Console will allow you to select and filter URLs submitted in sitemap files via the Index Coverage report, which will make it easier for site owners to focus on the URLs that matter most to them.
  • Introduction of the new URL inspection toolGoogle’s new URL inspection tool will allow users many ways to review the URLs on their sites, including a live check of your site index, as well as URLs that have been recently updated. This tool will also give users more information about their URLs, including page resource, the JavaScript console log, the HTTP headers, and a screenshot of the current page version. You can also submit pages for re-fetching to have them quickly added to the search index.
  • Migration of User-management to SettingsThe User-management interface, which replaces all old user-management features from the old Search Console, will be cleaned up and merged into Settings in the New Search Console. Users will find this version of the interface much cleaner and easier to use.
  • Introduction of new reportsGoogle will be phasing in several new reports to help users implement Rich Results on their sites, including Jobs, Events, Recipes, and Q&A. You’ll also be receiving aggregate reports when Googlebots discover syntax error parsing Structured Data on one of your pages so you don’t miss any critical errors. Google plans to keep adding new reports to Search Console as updates become available.

    Google has also announced that other Structured Data types that aren’t part of the Rich Results features won’t be reported in the new Search Console. This will remove unnecessary distractions from more important data and help you hone in on issues that are affecting your performance in Search.

Search Console features that will be phased out

Google has said that its main focus with the new Search Console is improving functionality and actionability for site owners, and as such, it’s made the decision to drop several features that the search engine feels are no longer useful to users. Some of these features that will be phased out include:

  • Property Sets- Due to low numbers of users actually utilizing this tool, Google has decided to drop it from the new Search Console. While some site owners use it often, there just wasn’t enough need for the feature to justify migrating it over. However, in an effort to give users a more complete view of their sites, Google will be adding the option to allow users to manage a search console account for an entire domain. This feature won’t be rolled out right away, but interested users should stay tuned for more details about that possibility.
  • HTML suggestions- Because Google’s algorithms have gotten much better at improving titles over the years, Google doesn’t feel that HTML Suggestions is a needed tool in the new Search Console. If you are interested in tools that will help you extract titles and descriptions from your website, Google has suggested several.
  • Blocked Resources- Issues with the blocking of CSS and JavaScript files have been significantly reduced over the years as sites have become more mobile-friendly, so Google is dropping the support of the Blocked Resources tool. Most of the functionality of this tool is included in the URL inspection tool, making Blocked Resources redundant.
  • Android Apps- The majority of the Android Apps functionality has been migrated to the Firebase console, making this feature no longer necessary.

Timelines for the new Search Console

Many of these changes to Search Console were announced at the end of January 2019, with a planned implementation date of late March 2019. At this point in the year, you should begin to see most of these changes reflected in your Search Console. We don’t have exact dates on when Google will be phasing in all of these updates, but we have been informed that the search engine plans to phase out the old version of Search Console completely by the end of 2019. It is highly recommended that all users begin to use the new features immediately as they’re rolled out.

How to send Google feedback on the Search Console changes

You can get more information about these changes directly from Google and read more about how these changes might affect your workflow on the Webmasters Blog.

Google is aware that some of these changes will affect how you use Search Console and will take some getting used to as new features are introduced and old features are phased out. If you have feedback for Google or improvements that you would like to see, you can submit your feedback directly in Search Console. If you have detailed feedback, Google suggests using the Help Forums, where you can include screenshots and ideas for future iterations.

Need help adjusting to the new Search Console?

We get it – change can be scary, and frustrating if you’re a small business owner who isn’t also a part-time SEO expert. Adjusting to the new Search Console will take time and patience, but overall, these changes will allow Google to better serve the needs of its users, including you. The new Search Console includes never-before-seen functionality, combined with user friendliness to make managing your site and growing your business as easy as possible. Want help making the switch to the new Search Console? We’ve got you. Sign up for your free Big Leap SEO consultation and learn how we can be your guide for all things Search Console. And, we won’t stop there – the Big Leap SEO team is your partner in SEO from content development to lead capture.

Ana Gotter