Google Search Console and Google Analytics are two powerful beasts engaged in a battle for supremacy. Each tool brings unique strengths to the fight and understanding their features and limitations is crucial in determining which one suits your needs. When they work together, these digital marketing tools can form an unstoppable team that can help you conquer the online realm.
Let’s delve into the epic clash of these SEO and Google Ads conversion optimisation tools:
Google Search Console
Imagine the nimble Google Search Console (GSC), tirelessly scaling the rocky terrain of your website’s performance and helping it climb higher and higher in Google’s search results. Search Console excels as a tool for SEO, but as far as Google Ads campaigns are concerned, is in a deep fog, providing no data on Ads whatsoever. It provides insights into how high different pages rank for an enormous range of keywords and helps identify issues that may affect your site’s visibility in the organic search results.
- Installation – Add and verify your website in the Search Console. The recommended method is to upload a .txt file that Google provides.
- Configuration Options – Configure settings related to site performance, URL parameters and sitemaps. Easy to configure.
- Primary use – Improve your SEO and Google ranking by monitoring and optimising different pages on your site. Is also useful for keyword research.
- Reporting – Provides search performance data, crawl errors, index coverage, and URL inspection.
- Integration – Integrates with Google Ads and Google Analytics.
- Pricing – Search Console charges into battle without costing a dime.
Google Analytics 4
Behold the majestic Google Analytics, its grand antlers adorned with detailed information about past website visitors. Its intense focus is on user behaviour, tracking conversions, and measuring the performance of your marketing endeavours. With its enhanced vision, you can make better, data-driven decisions to improve your website's effectiveness.
Google Analytics just got tougher, migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), uncovering new insights about user behaviour, customer journeys, and marketing effectiveness across various devices and platforms.
- Installation – Add a tracking code (Gtag.js) to your website. The most popular CMS platforms like WordPress or Drupal let you install a module / addon that configures this for you.
- Configuration Options – Configure event tracking, custom dimensions, audience definitions, and other advanced settings.
- Primary use – Improve your user-experience and conversion rate. Analyse user behaviour, customer journey, and marketing effectiveness across devices and platforms.
- Reporting – Offers advanced reporting on user engagement, acquisition, conversion rate, retention, and audience segmentation.
- Integration – Integrates with other Google tools, such as Google Ads, Google Optimise, Google Tag Manager, and Data Studio.
- Pricing – Free to use with limitations, advanced features available through paid versions or as part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite.
Different features offered by the two tools
Let’s witness the clash of Google Search Console and GA4 as we compare their core features:
Provides data on how your landing pages appear in Google’s search engine results, including impressions, clicks, and average position.
Shows links to your site, but doesn’t track visits from other search engines.
Doesn’t explicitly track search performance.
Tracks website traffic and user behaviour, such as sessions, pageviews, bounce rates, and more.
Google Ads Performance
Doesn’t venture here.
When configured correctly and integrated with Google Ads, provides detailed insights into your Google Ads campaigns, including the number of clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and cost per click (CPC).
Identifies errors and issues encountered by Google when crawling your website, such as broken links, missing pages, and server errors.
Only shows errors relating to the configuration of Google Analytics 4 itself, the migration status from Universal Analytics, and integration with other tools like Google Cloud and Firebase.
Allows you to check how a specific URL is performing in Google search and provides suggestions for improvement. Allows you to submit the URL for indexing for new or updated content.
Avoids this realm.
Is lost in the dark.
GA4 enables you to analyse the behaviour of users who clicked on your ads, such as the pages they visited, the time spent on your website, the revenue generated and the bounce rate.
Offers robust conversion tracking, allowing you to track goals, e-commerce transactions, and campaign performance.
Search Console shows you which of your pages are mobile friendly and provides recommendations on how to improve any that aren’t.
Google Analytics 4 shows you what percentage of your visitors use mobiles, desktops, or tablets.
Using Google Search Console for keyword research
Search Console’s epic power is its vast understanding of search results. To unveil these revelations, click “Search Results” and you will see a summary of your search traffic over the last 3 months. Tick “Average CTR” or “Average position” to see this information displayed on the graph and in the table below.
If you click “+ New”, you can also add a filter, for example to show only queries containing specific words. The queries are the words and phrases visitors have searched on Google. Any query with a healthy number of clicks or impressions, is therefore essentially a keyword.
Scroll down into the depths and you will behold a list of keywords, akin to the following:
Search Console displays the following measurements:
- Clicks – The number of clicks from Google to your site.
- Impressions – The number of times your site’s metatag Title and Description have appeared in Google’s search results, regardless of whether they’ve been clicked.
- CTR – Click Through Rate (The percentage of Clicks / Impressions). Keywords that are ranking well would be expected to have a higher CTR. If not, you may wish to rewrite your Meta Tags in order to optimise your page better.
- Position – The average position in the search results, the surest sign of how close you are to victory.
A prudent strategy is to optimise your website for keywords that are already performing well. This will generate more traffic and a better ROI than trying to optimise it for different keywords. Using both Search Console and other keyword research tools together is a good way to identify your strong points, and complete a keyword gap analysis to see which terms your site isn’t ranking for.
Using Google Analytics to improve conversions
GA4 navigates through a vast mountain of data. Let’s climb out of the fog, so we can see some simple steps to enhance conversion rates, starting with those that don’t need personalised configuration.
Visit the User Attributes Overview (click Demographics, then Overview), and you will see the gender, interests and age of visitors to your site. Look closely at this audience, and ponder whether you're writing content that resonates with their desires and aspirations? Are you crafting words that speak directly to their souls?
The home page is like a mountain top, where you can glance around and see a vast array of data. Have a look at who’s visiting your mountainside and see how they journeyed there:
This vantage point gives you a broad idea of whether you’re investing in the right marketing strategies. When you configure goals though, you will no longer just see your visitors wandering on one path or another, but you will clearly see which are taking the path you want them to take. How many conversions does each source generate? What are the values of those conversions? This is crucial information when setting your digital marketing budget for SEO, PPC, or social media campaigns and you will reap the benefits of your strategic choices.
Configuring Google Analytics
In order to harness the power of Google Analytics, you must first tame it. To do so, this requires configuration, allowing you to accurately measure data, further improve conversions and reduce advertising spend. We recommend configuring GA4 as follows:
- Set Up Conversion Goals – These could include actions like completed purchases, form submissions, newsletter sign-ups, or any other desired action you want visitors to take on your website.
- Track Key Metrics – Identify the key metrics related to your conversion rate, such as conversion rate itself, traffic sources, bounce rate, average session duration, and goal completions. This data will help you understand how users interact with your website and identify areas for improvement.
- Use the Conversion Funnel report – this lets you identify where users drop off in the conversion process, from when visitors first enter your site, to when they leave it or complete a conversion goal. By analysing this data, you can identify potential bottlenecks or areas where users change their mind before converting.
- Set up Campaign Tracking Parameters (UTM parameters) in your URLs to differentiate between different marketing channels or campaigns. This data will help you understand which channels or campaigns are driving the most conversions.
Improving conversion rate is like mastering the art of taming a wild beast - it is an ongoing process. It requires continuous analysis, testing, and optimisation to achieve the best results.
For advanced GA4 tips and more detailed instructions, explore how to unlock the full potential of GA4.
Setting up both tools and working with them together
Linking Google Search Console and Analytics is like harnessing the power of two mighty beasts on the same team. By uniting them, you can identify what visitors saw in the search results before they decided to embark on the journey to visit your website. You'll be able to access Search Console data within your Analytics account. This integration provides invaluable insights on organic search traffic, search queries, landing pages, and more. As they communicate effortlessly, they share their knowledge to help you analyse and optimise your website's performance.
Having everything in one place helps to identify opportunities more easily. This helps you climb to the summit and improve your CTR, SEO and ultimately increase conversions.
Google Search Console and Analytics 4 make a formidable partnership. To use them together, set up both tools separately and then link them. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Set up Google Analytics 4:
- Sign into your Google Analytics account or create a new one at analytics.google.com.
- Follow the instructions to create a new Google Analytics 4 property for your website or app.
- Retrieve the Measurement ID for your property. In GA4 they start with G-, if you have one starting with UA-, it is a Universal Analytics ID and will soon be redundant. You are therefore best migrating to GA4 first.
Set up Google Search Console:
- Sign into your Search Console account or create a new one at search.google.com/search-console.
- Add and verify your website or app property in Google Search Console. You can choose to verify using various methods like .txt file upload, HTML tag, or DNS record.
Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console:
- In your Google Analytics account, go to the Admin section (the gear icon) at the bottom left.
- Under the “Property” column, click on “Data Streams.”
- Click on the “+ New Data Stream” button to create a new data stream.
- Select “Web” as the data stream type and click “Continue.”
- Enter the required information for your website or app and click “Create Stream.”
- On the next page, copy the Measurement ID for the data stream.
Grant Search Console access to Google Analytics 4:
- In your Google Search Console account, go to the property you want to link.
- Click on “Settings” in the left sidebar and select “Google Analytics Property.”
- Choose the Google Analytics 4 property you created from the dropdown list.
- Click “Save” to establish the link between the two tools.
Verify the link:
- Go back to Google Analytics and click on “Admin”.
- Under the “Property” column, click on “Data Streams.”
- You should see your linked Google Search Console property listed under the “Linked Streams” section.
2 tools to further enhance your SEO and conversions
Google Optimize and Optimize 360
Currently a separate beast, Google Optimize will be merged into GA4 on 30 September 2023. You will then be able to carry out extra tests on your site directly in Google Analytics. Consider conducting A/B or multivariate testing to experiment with different elements on your website, such as headlines, call-to-action buttons, layout, or forms. Test one element at a time and measure the impact on your conversion rate.
Search Analytics for Sheets
One of the major limitations of Google Search Console is that you can’t see the queries and pages together in the same report. This means you have to do some detective work when you’re trying to match keywords to pages.
Fortunately, there’s a free Chrome extension called “Search Analytics for Sheets” which allows you to extract up to 25,000 lines of data in one go and merges this data together.
While this article may depict Google Search Console and Google Analytics 4 as a clash between two powerful rivals, it’s time to see them differently.
Imagine these online marketing tools working side-by-side, each bringing their own unique strengths and abilities. Instead of pitting them against each other, let’s create a team where they can harness their collective intelligence to achieve remarkable insights and success for your website.