Five Ways to Glean Important Insights From GWT’s New Search Analytics Report

According to Google’s Inside AdWords blog, mobile search has surpassed desktop search in 10 countries, including the United States and Japan. Previously, site owners faced challenges when trying to gather accurate and insightful data to create actionable marketing strategies.

Now, your needs are being met. Google recently launched a new Search Analytics report within Search Console, as Webmaster Tools was rebranded yesterday, to provide more meaningful and authentic reports.

For example, image clicks will now be counted on expanded images, whereas the older search queries report counted clicks on both expanded and unexpanded images. Also, all search links to a single site will be counted as a single impression rather than multiple impressions. Because data will now be counted in a different way than the old Search Queries report, you are likely to see a decrease in your reported search traffic but more accurate data overall.

The Search Analytics report’s immense capabilities allow webmasters to drill down further into a site’s detailed traffic breakdown; users will be able to compare search results by query, landing page, country, device type, search type, and date. You can then use the new data gathered to improve your site’s performance.

Here are five ways to glean important insights from this tool:

1. The Google Update Tracker

The most talked about trend in SEO and search in the last month has been Google’s mobile-friendly or “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update, which was designed to give a preference to mobile-ready sites over non mobile ready sites. Through the Search Analytics report, you’ll be able to compare mobile traffic to desktop traffic before and after the update to see if your traffic has deviated from its typical performance in the the past few weeks following the algorithm update.

Simply choose a preferred date range and cross-compare based on device type (Desktop vs. Mobile). Google will include an update line to show when there are “Data Anomalies” in Search Console to explain why changes have happened.

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2. The High-Low Split

Consider this: If certain landing pages on your website have a high number of impressions and are near the top on the search results page but have a low CTR, you should start asking why links aren’t being clicked through and how you can improve your content to satisfy users’ interests. Analyzing which pages have high impressions but a low CTR is imperative for ensuring success. Begin filtering by landing page (for example your /products page) and choosing a preferred date range.

Then, compare impressions against CTR to see which results are being viewed but aren’t driving traffic. Once you have made a list of landing pages, you can further filter for those specific landing pages and see if the low CTR is influenced by the meta description or a low overall position.

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3. ‘Tis the Season

Build upon the aforementioned meta description analysis by adopting different versions of meta descriptions to fit events. For example, if an e-commerce website wants to run a promotion for their products before Black Friday, it is essential to compare the metrics for particular landing pages before and after they make changes to their meta descriptions in order to see which of the changes that were implemented are performing better.

When using the Search Analytics report and comparing by date range, a new column titled “Differences” will highlight the exact change in the specified metrics.

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4. The Expectation Game

Part of building an SEO-friendly site requires an intimate knowledge of what users search for with regards to your website. Grouping based on queries may seem like a fairly obvious way to gain insights on how users see your site, but it is important nonetheless. Firstly, it is crucial to ensure targeted keywords that you expect to drive users to your site actually do lead to traffic. Secondly, grouping by query allows you to screen for unexpected queries that are sending users to your site. If queries that are entirely unrelated to your site or commonly associated with Black Hat SEO are driving users to your site, it may be time to drill deeper. You can do so by filtering for the unexpected queries and clicking on the pages button to see which pages are being affected.

After grouping by queries you can also track which long tail keywords are getting a decent amount of impressions; these can then be used in content creation for landing pages and blog posts.

5. Branded Insights

Coming up with a brand name and developing it over time is something that all websites face. A related challenge is creating an association between your brand name and the relevant search terms associated with your site. Being able to filter branded vs non-branded search queries will help you to better understand how people are searching for your site. With the new Search Analytics reports, the differences are extremely clear and straightforward. Simply compare two queries (one branded and one non-branded) that are pertinent to your site and filter by impressions and CTR.

The Search Analytics reporting tool is more accurate and more powerful than the old Search Queries tool and is currently the default option in the Search Traffic module of Search Console. Don’t worry though because you will still have access to Search Queries for three more months, allowing users to familiarize themselves with the new reporting tool before they close off access to the older reports for good.

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Additionally, by using the Search Analytics tool, users can only look at information from the past 90 days; this prevents webmasters from measuring historic site performance as well as year to year and month to month progress. There’s still the option of downloading all the data and using it to build insights, which allows you to track data over time.

Michael McManus, earned media team lead at iProspect, also contributed to this article.

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