Recently, Google announced a new addition to its Webmaster Tools called the Search Analytics Report (SAR). After a few significant algorithm updates so far in 2015, this latest improvement is a breath of fresh air for SEO experts and digital marketers. In recent years, they have gotten used to Google providing less information as a result of its aim to clamp down on illicit SEO practices and spam.
The new tool gives back much of the information about search queries, impressions, and clicks that Google started hiding a few years ago. Before I show you how to use the new tool to segment your data and get a better understanding of your visitors, I would like to explore in more detail what improvements are introduced by the new report.
The Improvements of the Search Analytics Report
The new tool excels in four main areas:
- First, it makes the data used in the reports much more reliable. Google has made numerous changes in the way the tool uses and reports data so that it gives much more consistent statistics. For example, in SERPs where the same site appears more than once, impressions will be collected and reported once per domain.
- Next, the new tool allows users to apply multiple filters together. For marketers, this means it’s now possible to segment traffic down to the granular level, using the criteria that matters the most to them, and to track how they perform across those segments.
- The report also makes it much easier for users to find their way around. For example, the URL filter can be applied to see how a certain page(s) performs for various queries, thus giving a quick and easy way to focus on optimizing a given landing page (or set of pages).
- On top of this, it is now possible to see how many impressions you get for a query—how well you rank for it, as well as how many people click to go to your site. To put things in perspective, right now the same level of reporting can be achieved with the use of SEO software, which costs in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
To consider why the new tool is such a great improvement, let’s review a few use cases to see how you can apply it to power up your SEO efforts.
5 Ways to Segment Data Using the Search Analytics Report
1. Optimize Mobile Experience
If Mobilegeddon didn’t make you consider the experience your website provides to users, the fact that more searches now occur on mobile than desktop should. SAR gives you an excellent tool to look at the performance of your website across various platforms.
Moreover, the report now includes data from tablet users, while previous reports only focused on desktop and mobile searches.
To get started with using this segmentation report, consider measuring what impact (if any) the change in Google’s algorithm had on your site.
2. Compare by Search Type
Another great feature of the new search report is the ability to filter results only for certain types of searches—you can compare data for web, images, and video. This can be very useful in cases where searches have completely different purposes across types. For example, searching for something like Excel or Photoshop on the web is likely to be aimed at buying the product. On the other hand, the same search on video almost certainly is looking for educational material (walkthroughs, tutorials, etc.).
Adding this filtering capability to the report gives power to those doing SEO to optimize and track the performance of their web properties only for the types of searches they are interested in.
3. Segment Chronologically
SEO experts now can also measure and compare the performance of their websites between time periods. This is really useful to keep an eye on performance week-by-week and to set certain time periods to use as benchmarks. You might want to compare how a redesign/adding a responsive version affected your website by comparing search statistics in the weeks right before or after making the changes.
Another useful application of this segmentation tool is to compare the performance of your site before and after big milestones, such as an algorithm update.
4. Discover Opportunities in Different Locales
The ‘Countries’ filter allows those operating across borders to measure their performance and discover new business opportunities based on what people are searching for in international markets.
This is especially useful in cases where the same language is shared across different countries and continents (English and Spanish are great examples of this). Even though people might be using the same language, they use different terms. Using the new tools gives you a quick and easy way to discover such variances and gain the upper hand over competitors.
5. Measure the Value of Your Brand
This idea comes from the blog of Joost de Valk, creator of the popular WordPress SEO plugin, Yoast. Using the new report, you can compare CTR for your site from branded and non-branded searches. (de Valk’s example uses ‘WordPress SEO’ vs. ‘Yoast SEO.’) The difference between the two represents the value of your brand.
The industry you are in and how much traffic you get can guide your decision regarding whether to invest in brand building and determine how much success you have with the process.
Google’s Search Analytics Report gives a lot of power back to SEO experts. However, that doesn’t mean that a return to older tactics is likely to occur anytime soon. With Google’s ever-improving ability to judge the quality of the content it processes, SEO practitioners who attempt to use any of the techniques of the past are likely to experience negative consequences.
Those who want to take advantage of the new trends in search engine optimization should focus first on creating and distributing high quality, engaging content. Measuring the impact of this content is an essential part of the whole process, and SAR can be of great help in this.
Beyond that, there are many additional ways to use Google’s new tool. I am eager to hear what custom reports and methods you’ve developed to make it convenient for your business, so feel free to share them in the comments.
Featured Image: CQuadratNet via pixabay. Screenshot via Alexander Kesler. Taken 7/20/2015