Search Analytics Report In Google Webmaster Tools

Written by - 13/02/2015

What is the Search Analytics report?

Google have recently rolled out their new ‘Search Analytics’ tab in  Google Webmaster Tools to testers and we’ve been taking a look to see what’s available and how well it’s all currently working together. Although it’s only in alpha stage currently and likely to undergo many revisions before being widely available to webmasters, a lot of the potential new functionality is on display.

The Search Analytics report is essentially an advanced version of the Search Queries report that many webmasters will be used to in Google Webmaster Tools, focusing on the four key metrics from organic search on Google – impressions, clicks, click through rate and average position.

What new functionality is there?

The main change however is within the dimension of dates, queries, pages, countries, devices and search which appear as tabbed content along the top. Switching between these gives individual top level graphs and data, all of which can be clicked through to go to lower levels, for example individual pages or countries.

Each dimension has filters that can be applied, which are then carried over to all views when that tab is selected. Filters range from set choices for dimensions such as search (Web, Image or Video) or country, to ‘begins with’, ‘ends with’ and ‘is exactly’ matches for information such as url.

One of the most interesting alterations is that of date filtering – now you can use custom date ranges and comparisons to view the data, much like you can already do in Google Analytics. Unfortunately, as of yet, you still appear to have the same limitation as with the Search Queries report to only the past few months’ worth of data.

How could it benefit SEO efforts?

Although all aspects in the Webmaster Tools Search Analytics report are a distinct improvement on what’s available in the Search Queries report, it still can’t help but feel like it is not quite as tight or usable as similar functionality in Google Analytics. Obviously there’s some known issues – mainly around data accuracy and freshness, as well as many missing options – exporting data, selecting more than two filter options, favourite selection and more. Even when these are all ironed out however, is it just a glorified Search Queries, or will it actually be useful?

 One of the best, most useful ways to use this, will be for SEO centric digital marketers and webmasters to track rankings for specific keywords in relation to pages. Have you recently attempt to optimise a page to increase rankings? Well, by viewing average position and filtering by that url and your target search query, now you can easily see the changes in rankings over the past few months. Also by filtering by page, you can work out where weakness lie in click through rates and perhaps where meta data could be improved, or even work out what kind of terms your individual landing pages are actually ranking for over time.