Google Search Console: Insights Behind the Scenes

August 9, 2021

Google Search Console Insights is a new experience that makes both Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA) data available and tailored to content creators and website owners.

Following last month's announcement, the company has received great feedback from the community, as well as questions about the data. In a recent blog post, Google provides answers to some of those questions and clarifies some points.

For example, if users are trying to compare the data they see in GSC Insights to what they see in GA, they might find some differences - why is that? According to Google, if users associate GA to Search Console properly, they will have access to more insights that can help them understand their content's performance. If they do not create an association, they'll only have access to the Google Search card.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about GSC Insights:

Why can't I see Google Analytics data in Search Console Insights?

If you associate GA to Search Console properly, you will have access to more insights that can help you understand your content's performance. If you do not create an association you'll have access only to the Google Search card.

There are a few reasons why your GA data may not be appearing on GSC Insights:

  1. Your GSC property is not associated with a GA property: visit the help center to learn how to create an association. In particular, if you have separate properties for your HTTP and HTTPS traffic on GSC, make sure to associate the property that receives the most traffic or consider verifying a domain property to include all your traffic in one place. Note that you can't linkGoogle Analytics 4 properties for now, but we're working on it.
  2. You do not have sufficient permissions on GA: if your GSC property is associated with a GA property, and you still cannot see GA data, check that you have Read and Analyze permissions to the associated GA property.

Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC) data are different by definition, since GA represents user behavior on your site while GSC represents activity that happened on Google Search. However, there are a few specific ways in which the data may differ:

  • Page title and URLs: other reports in GSC are based on URLs, while GSC Insights uses GA's page title dimension. For each page title, there may be several URLs; GSC Insights extracts the most prominent canonical URL to fetch Search data.

One key reason for discrepancies between GA and GSC data is that GA tracks activity on your website while GSC tracks activity related to your website on Google Search. In addition, it's important to note that GSC Insights uses GA's page title dimension rather than URL. This means that for each page title, there may be several URLs associated with it; GSC Insights extracts the most prominent canonical URL to fetch Search data.

Google Search Console Insights is a tool that uses data from Google Analytics and combines it with search metrics in order to give users a more comprehensive view of their website. The data is displayed for the most recent 28 days, although it is possible to compare this data to the previous 28 days. It is important to note that the default time ranges for Google Analytics and Search Console Insights are different, so users should be sure to check that the dates are aligned when making comparisons. Additionally, while users can set their time zone on GA, GSC Insights will always use Pacific Daylight Time. This can cause some discrepancies even when specific days are being compared. The New Content card on GSC Insights shows pages on a website that received their first pageviews in the past 28 days. For each title, there is also indication of the top search queries for the leading canonical URL. The content is sorted by recency and must have garnered at least a few views in order to appear on this card. The three main pieces of information used to populate this card are as follows:

  • Google Analytics Data: This data provides information on things like pageviews and average time spent on a page.
  • Search Metrics: These metrics include things like clicks and average position. They represent different aspects of your site than the GA metrics and are calculated differently.
  • Content Sorting: As mentioned before, content is sorted by recency. In order to appear on the New Content card, a piece of content must have received its first pageviews within the past 28 days and must have generated at least a few views overall.

Search Console Insights is a feature of Google Search Console that helps you track your website's most popular content. To do this, Search Console Insights looks at page titles that received traffic in the last 28 days but didn't receive any traffic in the year before. It then applies several rules to clean the data, and filters pages less likely to be new content (e.g., title changes, comment pages, internal search result pages, etc.). Finally, it filters out translations of the same content and keeps the top-performing title. Note that Search Console Insights does not aggregate translated pages' metrics to avoid confusion with the metrics in the GA interface.

If your new content doesn't appear in Search Console Insights, it doesn't mean that it has no GA traffic or that it isn't indexed. GSC Insights can show content that is not indexed when pulling data from GA. Also, note that new content does not depend on the first crawl time; your content doesn't have to be crawled or indexed to appear in this card.

The most popular content card on Google Search Console Insights shows the top-performing page titles by pageviews in the last 28 days. For each title, there is also data on the top Search queries for the leading canonical URL.

Click here to see more information on how Search Console Insights chooses the referring links from other websites.

Google Search Console's (GSC) Insights cards can display different information than Google Analytics' (GA) Referral channels card. The top traffic channels card in GA shows traffic coming from google / organic searches, but this does not take into account that a click on a search result can trigger more than one pageview. In addition, GA pageviews for google / organic searches include clicks from other surfaces, such as Discover, Image Search, and Video Search. Finally, GA and GSC don't report on the same set of pages. A GSC account might include only HTTP pages while the GA view chosen reports on both HTTP and HTTPS pages.

The badges on GSC Insights cards help you focus your attention on interesting patterns in the data. For now, there are three badges:

  1. The text discusses the features of the Google Search Console Insights tool. This tool provides users with data about their website's performance on Google Search, including average position, organic clicks, and click-through rate.
  2. The "High avg. duration" card indicates that the content has a high average duration compared to your site's other pieces of content. This may mean that your audience found the content engaging.
  3. The "Top 5 results" card means that the average position on Google Search (organic) of your content in the last 28 days is five or less.
  4. The "Trending x%" card represents a comparison between the last 28 days and the previous performance. This badge is only shown when the trend is significantly greater than the general site trend.
  5. To learn more about each of the cards available on GSC Insights, click the little hat icon. There, you'll find more context about the data, and tips on how to interpret it.

If you have any questions or feedback about Google Search Console, you can click the send feedback button on GSC Insights, reach out to the Search Console team on Twitter, or post a question in the Search Central community.

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