It’s been a few months since Google launched Search Analytics – an improved and re-skinned version of the old Search Queries report – so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on the tool, and why I think it’s good, but far from perfect.
Search Analytics at a glance
For those unfamiliar with Search Analytics, it is a tool within Google’s Search Console that allows you to analyse your site’s organic search data. It gives you information about things like:
- how often your site appears in Google’s search results, and for what queries
- click through rates
- where in the world searches and clicks are coming from
- device data and result type
- trends over time (more about that later…)
Search Analytics does (almost) everything the old Search Queries report did and a bit more. The most significant difference however is that the data itself is a lot more accurate than that of its predecessor, but you’ll have to take Google’s word for that.
While I use the tool regularly, and rarely encounter any problems when doing so, there are a few features (or lack there of) that leave me wanting more. Here are three examples:
1. What happened to Starred queries?
Starred queries was a feature I found incredibly useful in the old Search Queries report and I can’t understand why Google has seemingly scrapped it. Simply, it allowed you to ‘favourite’ search queries, so whenever you logged into GWT you could filter your data to only include the queries you had previously starred.
This was great for reporting purposes, as you could instantly see data for only the queries you (or your client) cared about, rather than having to set up new filters with every login.
2. No YoY comparisons
Search Analytics allows you to see how your website is performing in search results over time, but you can only go back 90 days. This is fine for making month-on-month comparisons, but no use for year-on-year. I suspect I’m not alone when I say having 365 day data would be a whole lot more useful. I’m sure Google has its reasons for restricting historical data, but I hope there is scope to improve this in the future.
3. Limited filtering options in query reports
Currently Search Analytics allows you to filter queries using three basic predefined rules; ‘containing’, ‘not containing’, or ‘is’. For basic analysis this is fine, but is not hugely helpful if you want to include or exclude 2 or more queries in your filtered results.
For instance, you may want to look at two different queries with similar meanings (jumpers and sweaters, for example), a query and associated misspellings, or view all queries that include a location (Colchester and Essex, for example). There are many more scenarios where advanced filtering options would be beneficial, so I hope Google makes this happen sooner rather than later.
Of course, there is nothing stopping you exporting your data and analysing it outside of Search Analytics, so if YoY comparisons, deep query analysis, or advanced segmentation are a must-have for you, then simply export the data and play around with it in a spreadsheet instead.
It’s also worth noting that while Search Analytics is in Beta, you can still access the old Search Queries report, which will – for now at least – solve your Starred queries woes.
All in all I think Search Analytics is a brilliant resource and it’s something every website owner should be taking full advantage of, but as the above points demonstrate it does have its limitations.
To get started with Google Search Console visit https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6001104?hl=en