If you are a digital marketer or business owner trying to optimize your website, it’s likely that you have spent some time using Google Search Console. Google Search Console (GSC) is a go-to tool for digital marketing, with the platform providing valuable insights into a site’s performance, and overall, helps you rank in Google Search results.
As a trusted data source for many, you may be shocked to learn that GSC might not be showing you all the data for your site, including the keywords you’re getting traffic from. A new Aherfs case study by Patrick Stox, Brand Ambassador at Ahrefs, finds that, on average, Google Search Console hides the keyword term for 46.08% of clicks.
So, how does this impact your SEO strategy?
We’ll break it down for you.
GSC Data Breakdown
The Aherfs case study examined one month of data across 146,741 websites, totaling close to 9 billion clicks. Of those near 9 billion clicks, 46% of all keywords were hidden from GSC, revealing that Google likely leaves many longtail keyword data hidden from GSC users.
The calculation to highlight how many keywords are missing for each site is straightforward: (total clicks – the sum of clicks to all keywords) / total clicks
The dots on the below scatter graph represent one of the 146,741 websites that were analyzed, highlighting the percentage of clicks missing and keywords that are not displayed. The x-axis displays the total number of clicks, while the y-axis highlights the percentage of missing keywords.
This chart displays that on average, around 46% of the data isn’t displayed, but it also shows some sites have no terms with clicks associated, while others have all of their data. These dramatic variations tell us there is no set rule for each site. Every website is different, so if you want to find out more about a specific site, you’ll need to do some digging.
To further highlight the difference in the number of keywords displayed for sites with differing ranges of traffic, take a look at this second data visualization.
Here we can see that websites with extremely low or extremely high levels of traffic tend to have more hidden keyword data.
Why Does Google Hide Data?
If you are like me, you are probably wondering ‘Um, hello? Why is Google doing this?’ My short answer would be because Google is Google, but they have given a few reasons for this discrepancy:
- Queries made a small number of times
It’s doubted that many are for privacy, so we’re left with the assumption that a lot of long-tail queries aren’t being shown.
How to Check How Much Data Is Missing
It can be slightly concerning how much data is missing from your Google Search Console account. Thankfully, Stox created this Data Studio report that you can copy and use to check for missing data on your website.
Here’s a quick overview of how you can use this report for your site:
- In the top right, click the three dots and then click “Make a copy.”
- In the dropdown for “New Data Source,” select the GSC data source for the site you’re interested in. If the site isn’t available, select “Create data source.” Search for “Search Console” and click it.
- Click the GSC property you want to use > click “Site Impression” > click “Web.”
- In the upper-right corner, click “Connect.”
- In the upper-right corner, click “Add To Report.”
- Click “Copy Report.”
Here you can see the total number of clicks your site is getting in the first table, while the second table displays the number of clicks that have keywords allocated. With this data, you can use this formula to uncover what percentage of data your site is missing.
(total clicks – the sum of clicks to all keywords) / total clicks
Every website is different, but most likely, Google is not showing you everything. Do some digging with your own website, and use the Data Studio report Stox created to check for missing data. And finally, reach out to Top Floor with any questions and find out how we can help your digital marketing efforts.