We’ve often been asked by our clients why the Google Search Console and Google Analytics data never matches. This seems to be common when clients compare organic traffic in Google Analytics with Google Search Console.
Many of us have been in that position where we try and analyse the traffic brought to landing pages with clicks against those from search console, and the numbers are nowhere near close.
Why is this? You may be surprised to hear that the data isn’t inaccurate. It’s done by design. Simply put, Search Console and Analytics don’t measure the same thing. They are completely different metrics, so let’s pause for thought and look at the differences.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console works around queries and clicks and is for those who to try and deliver success in search results. By logging into search console, you can look at things such as click-through rates, search queries and crawl errors, geographical location and what device they are using. You can even look into links from outside the website and HTML errors. Unlike what is seen in Google Analytics, these have little to do with who visits your site but are more linked to how your site appears to those searching keywords and phrases. This then makes Google Search Console a great tool for SEO specialists, marketers, web developers or site administrators as it gives the knowledge to further optimise your website, along with insights to improve organic visibility and presence in the SERPs.
Once Google Search Console is set up, you can receive alerts when Google comes across indexing, spam or other issues on your site. You can also troubleshoot mobile performance which is key in what Google looks for when ranking your website. Google Search Console is also used to verify your site with Google, along with submitting a sitemap to ensure your site is indexed correctly, and diagnose any errors detected – be it with mobile or desktop display. You can also connect Google Tag Manager to add tags to your pages, but most importantly, you can verify your site using Search Console which assists in ranking higher on search.
What is Google Analytics and how does this compare?
Google Analytics on the other hand, rather than being search engine focussed, brings you more customisable data and provides information about those who visit and interact with your site, favouring clicks rather than impressions. You can find out who is using your site, how they find it, and how much time they spend on it, along with gauging what content is most popular. With the data available in Analytics, you can put together a report on your website performance to gain insight into assisting with strategic business decisions. It’s always important to keep in mind your business goals when looking at Analytics, as some of these metrics will be more key than others and it’s very easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of information.
Be cautious, however…
You can easily lose accuracy as soon once into Google Analytics, especially with the various cookie/tracking blocking which exists on many websites today. Those with cookies blocked will obviously effect the data and lead to inaccuracies.
When it comes to trying to understand who’s using your website, Google Analytics is the right tool for the job, whereas Google Search Console keeps you up to date on your SEO performance, organic ranking and technicalities. See it as a tool to give a health check on your website. When we receive a notification of a potential issue, we review said suggestion and decide whether changes are needed and then decide if this is a developer or SEO task.
Both are very useful tools for keeping your website in check and we recommend both to all our clients, along with assistance in setting up, but if you are looking for the most accurate representation of how your website is performing from a search point of view, then the tool that you should be focussing on is Google Search Console.