Is Google Search Console hiding data from you?

A recent piece of research from Ahrefs has highlighted the fact that Google Search Console could be hiding some of your site’s keyword data.

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Google Search Console (GSC) should be a go to tool for all digital marketers. The platform provides valuable insights into a site’s performance, traffic, highlights issues, and gives crucial information to help your site succeed in Google rankings. If GSC isn’t currently a vital weapon in your digital marketing arsenal, it should be. 

The fact that Google Search Console is a tool provided by Google, it’s understandable why it is a trusted data source for marketers around the world. However, how would you feel if you learnt that GSC might not be showing you all of the data for your site? A recent piece of research from Patrick Stox, Product Advisor, Technical SEO and Brand Ambassador at Ahrefs, found that the keywords are hidden for 46% of clicks in GSC. So, what does that mean for your SEO strategy?

Understanding the data

During the research, Patrick Stox and the team at Ahrefs analysed data from 146,741 websites across a month, totalling nearly 9 billion clicks. Of those near 9 billion clicks, 46% of all keywords were hidden from GSC. The calculation to highlight how many keywords are missing for each site is relatively straightforward:

(total clicks – sum of clicks to all keywords) / total clicks

For example, say a site has 10,000 total clicks, with the total number of clicks to all keywords being 6,500 the sum would look something like this:

(10,000 – 6,500) / 10,000 = 0.35

From the above, you can see that in this example Google Search Console isn’t displaying keywords for 35% of total clicks to the site. This is obviously a very rough example but hopefully, it helps show how the data was calculated.

The below scatter graph displays a dot for either of the 146,741 websites that were analysed and highlights the percentage of keywords that are not being displayed. The x axis displays the total number of clicks, while the y axis highlights the percentage of missing keywords. 

This chart displays that while on average around 46% of the data isn’t displayed, in some cases sites have no data at all, while in other cases sites have access to all their data. The dramatic variations in the data mean there is no set rule for each site. If you want to find out more about your site, or your clients’ sites you will need to do some digging. 

The below graph further highlights the difference in the number of keywords displayed for sites with differing ranges of traffic. This highlights that websites with extremely high or low levels of traffic typically have access to less keyword data. 

How to check how much data is missing from your site?

It’s understandable to be slightly concerned about how much data is missing from your Google Search Console accounts. Thankfully, Patrick Stox is here to save the day once again. He has created the following Data Studio report that you can copy and connect to your own site’s data. Here’s a quick overview of how you can use this report for your site:

  • In the top right, click the three dots and then click “Make a copy.”
  • In the dropdown for “New Data Source,” select the GSC data source for the site you’re interested in.
  • If the site isn’t available, select “Create data source.” Search for “Search Console” and click it.
  • Click the GSC property you want to use >  click “Site Impression” > click “Web.” Then in the upper-right corner, click “Connect.”
  • In the upper-right corner, click “Add To Report.”
  • Click “Copy Report.” 

You will now be presented with the total number of clicks your site is getting in the first table, while the second table displays the number of clicks that have keywords allocated. Now you have this data you can use the sum at the top of this blog post to work out what percentage of data your site is missing. 

For a full overview of the report be sure to check out the Ahrefs article, and if you take a look at how you or your client’s site are affected be sure to send your findings to Patrick Stox. He will be aggregating all of the data and sharing the findings on the Ahrefs site. 

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