The New Search Analytics Report vs the Old Search Analytics Report
What is the Search Analytics Report?
The Search Analytics Report in Google Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) shows how often your site appears in Google search results. It can be a helpful tool to improve your site’s search engine performance because, unlike the old report, you can filter into groups of data sorted by categories like the keyword phrase, date, country, or device.
For example, view your organic search traffic changes over time and learn which keyword phrases are the most likely to cause your site to be presented as a search result. Tools such as the keyword data analysis tool in development by the Philly Marketing Labs Experiment team can take it a step further by giving you the ability to group the keywords into “buckets” and monitor the performance of these. This is especially helpful if you are trying to ascertain any organic effects from content creation, local branding initiatives, or other adjustments to the website that may influence search results.
What has Changed in the Search Analytics Report? A Comparison with Old Search Queries Report…
According to Google, the data in the new Search Analytics report is much more accurate than data in the older Search Queries report. One thing is certain… it is calculated differently. Here is a bit of a summary of the differences as per Search Console:
Individual page impression counts merged.
The old Search Queries report counted every single page in the search results as an impression; the new Search Analytics report counts all links to the same site as a single impression. This is a major change and is likely to change the data for your site considerably, especially if you are monitoring a highly active site with thousands and thousands of impressions. Because of this, impression numbers are going to be less for sites in most situations. However, you can group, filter or compare by page to get the true numbers for these.
Search properties and devices separated.
The old Search Queries report had an option to filter by Web, Image, Mobile and Video. Mobile meant web searches from a mobile device. Search metrics for both images and videos were combined for mobile and desktop search.
In the new Search Analytics report, the device type and the search type are separate. This will also be likely to affect the total numbers you will see when comparing the two reports.
Coverage and partial counts differ.
The old Search Queries report and the Search Analytics report have different thresholds for how much data to store. The old report did not limit the number of queries you could download. The new one is limited to just 999. This is a big factor for tools like PML’s keyword data analysis tool, however, will be sufficiently covered once the integration of the tool and the Search Console API is completed.
Image click count reduced.
In the old Search Analytics report, Google counted any clicks on images (expanded or not) for both Web Search and Image Search. The click count will likely be a lot lower now that the new Search Analytics report counts only clicks on an expanded image (or on the “visit page” link) in an Image Search result that points to your page. Google states this means that while the click count will likely be lower, it should be more “meaningful.”
Data consolidated by full domain.
If you own multiple hosts in a domain (for example, www.example.com and example.com), you might see your click and impression counts drop for each host. The reason for this is simple. The old Search Queries report often assigned click, impression, or other data by domain name, where a domain might span multiple hosts.
So, for example, a click on a link to www.example.com might be counted for both www.example.com and example.com accounts. In order to avoid this double counting, the new Search Analytics report now assigns all click, impression, and other search data to a single, complete host name. So, for example, a click or impression on www.example.com will only be counted toward www.example.com, and not to m.example.com, example.com, or any other variations.
In my opinion, this is a very good thing. More importantly, I wish I knew that before! Now that this division of data reporting has finally occurred, you will likely see lower totals for the individual account profiles in Search Console. As per Google, this should not be construed to mean a change in the search traffic or user behavior, just that the count is more accurate now.
I hope this helps you get a good grasp of some of the changes to the Search Analytics report that may be affecting the way you receive the data in your Search Console accounts. If you have any further questions about the data in your Search Analytics report that is not covered here, feel free to reach out to the Philly Marketing Labs Team for an answer.