SEO News
Google Webmaster Tools

How to Align Google Webmaster Tools US and Web Report with Google Analytics

ben-goodsell
by , Comments

Understanding what people are searching organically is, and has always been, a foundational aspect to forming an SEO strategy. To be without keywords is to be without intent. Google took our keywords away in Analytics and gave us search query data within Google Webmaster Tools in exchange, so it is important to understand how we can leverage this.

Historically, aligning these reports with Analytics has seemed to prove an impossible task, leading many SEOs to believe Google's keyword data was worthless. The most prevalent issues being:

  • Numbers were rounded (in January this was changed to provide exact numbers);
  • It only provided information for the top 2000 queries per day (if your site is under this threshold, you theoretically should have comprehensive data; if your site is over, verifying additional subfolders can help gain more search query data).
  • And it was not clear how best to match up filters to line-up reports.

This article focuses on what we believe to be the biggest issue and that's the last bullet point above, aligning filters of both data sources.

Tools used:

  • Google Webmaster Tools Search Query Report
  • Google Analytics Custom Reports (Import Custom reports for U.S. and Web or U.S. and Mobile here).

Aligning Google Webmaster Tools US and Web Report with Google Analytics

Step 1 - Set Up Google Webmaster Tool Report

From the Site Dashboard in Google Webmaster Tools, navigate to Search Traffic -> Search Queries. From there, here's a quick summary of what to do next.

  • Specify date range.
  • Filter 1 - Search: Web
  • Filter 2 - Location: US
  • Specify Date Range

For the purpose of this article we'll choose the last full week of data available, which is July 27 through August 2.

goodsell-align-1

Add Filters

Add the filters to limit the results to only those from Web search and United States and click Apply. These are the changes that should be reflected.

  • Search: Mobile
  • Location: United States
  • Traffic : All

goodsell-align-2

Step 2 - Set Up Google Analytics Report

The next step is to create a custom report to match the filters specified in Google Webmaster Tools. Here's a quick summary of what needs to happen:

If you choose to create your own custom report, follow this configuration:

  • (Include) Source / Medium (exact): google / organic
  • (Include) Country (exact): United States
  • (Exclude) Mobile (exact): Yes
  • (Exclude) Source / Medium (regex): image|video

Once the custom report has been created, be SURE to specify the same date range.

Repeat for Mobile

It's possible to align organic reports for mobile visitors as well. Using this same method, create the U.S. Mobile custom report (import here) for Google Analytics and, generally, apply the following filters:

GWT Filters:

  • Search: Mobile
  • Location: United States
  • Traffic: All

GA Custom Report:

  • (Include) Country (exact): United States
  • (Include) Mobile (exact): Yes
  • (Include) Source / Medium (exact): google / organic
  • (Exclude) Source / Medium (regex): image|video

Findings and Got-Yas

We've created a document that can be used as a template to keep track of your findings.

After following this process for a handful of eligible sites (which have less than 2,000 search queries a day), we found that they typically lined up surprisingly well -- within 10 percent or so of a 100 percent match. Comparing the Top Pages report in Google Webmaster Tools Search Query and the GA custom report can help show just how closely numbers are lining up.

goodsell-align-3

Misattribution of image and video search and landing pages showing up as organic were two very common findings. To help further align these reports, be sure to address the following two items:

1. Properly segment Sessions from Image and Video search (AJ Kohn has a good write-up on this and Google talks about it here).

2. Compare the Top Pages report in Google Webmaster Tools to the results of the custom report we created in this article. Often landing pages get misattributed to organic.

Conclusion

More than proof that Google Webmaster Tools search query data is possible to line up with Google Analytics, this article is an attempt to provide a starting point to help everyone take advantage of what we do have to help identify intent of our customers coming from organic search. Knowing how this data can apply to Analytics is a step towards making this data source legitimate.

If you have the time to test this method out, please let us know what your findings are! Together perhaps we can take full advantage of what this data may have to offer.


The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES DenverSES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates extended through Sept 19. Register today!

Recommend this story

comments powered by Disqus