Google Search Console is an online tool that Google provides to help site owners understand how the site is being perceived by the Google site crawlers.
URL Inspection as a proxy for a sitemap
Google alleges that for small websites like personal blogs, you don't need a sitemap because crawlers are smart enough to find all the pages themselves. Sometimes you need to help the crawlers be smarter. You can see what google thinks about individual pages by typing their URL into the URL inspection search box in the search console. If the page is not indexed, you can request that google indexes it.
One of the most important tabs is the "Performance" tab, which lets you see how you are performing across various queries. Your performance in Google search is essentially dependent upon a few factors.
These are actual clicks on links to your site.
These are times your link has been "seen" in the search results
CTR (or Click Through Rate)
It's a percentage representation of the above two numbers,
This one feels like the most imporatant factor in my opinion. It represents longevity of results, in my opinion. If you are highly ranked, you will be clicked one. If you have a high CTR, and a low bounce rate, Google will think you are actually serving the needs of the searcher, and will likely keep you high on the results.
You can think of performance in search in general as a competition for which search results are "most useful". But, there is no 3rd party determining what is most useful, the companies making the search engines are the ones also defining the metrics of utility and the algorithms that determine utility. So, while the game is theoretically pure, it's practically a game of figuring out how the search engine defines the game, and then "playing to win" "by their rules".