Google Analytics

Analytics is a piece of reporting software that is installed into your website. When a visitor arrives at your website, the software signals Google HQ (or wherever the data collection system for your Analytics account is stored) to say “here’s a visitor – we’ll update you with what this visitor does while here”, and obediently this software monitors the visitor’s every move on your site. For some visits, a visitor leaves soon after arriving. During other visits, a visitor navigates through a few of your pages, and then leaves. If your website has eCommerce, and Analytics is correctly configured to track eCommerce transactions, you may also get a report from Analytics as to what they bought, and how much it cost. Analytics is also fab at telling us how a visitor got to your site in the first place, because when a new visitor comes to the site a digital ‘handover’ occurs that tells Analytics some information on where the visitors came from. That also implies that if you sold something on your website you can attribute that sale to a particular source, entry point or type of visitor. Great information for making decisions about whether the business mechanics of your website is actually working.

None of this information tells us anything about how well your website ranked, or which page of search results the visitor found your website link on. Those are SEO features happening on Google’s website, and that information is not accessible by Analytics.

In days past, it was possible to connect a search keyword to a particular visitor. That meant you could see the result of your SEO work directly in Analytics and be able to tell if your website got business from organic search. For the last little while, Google has stopped sharing that information between their search and Analytics systems, so we now rely on some super sleuthing work to connect cause and effect. Did a particular search phrase in Google search result in a sale on your website? We don’t know for sure. Analytics can show the final result, but not connect that result with the exact cause. So now, we do SEO work, based on some fairly solid research outside of Analytics, and hope that it results in increased visitor rates and more conversions on your website. We can measure the cause through Google Search Console. We can measure the result through Google Analytics. We can’t absolutely prove the connection between the two.

So the boundary of where Search Engine Optimisation ends (at the entry to your website) is where Conversion Rate Optimisation starts.


Google Search Console

Google’s Search Console reflects actual stats of what is happening in Google search in relation to your website. It’s an invaluable data source that is available to anyone who owns or has admin control of a website. The data is shared by Google, and costs nothing to connect to. Having lots going on in Google search doesn’t guarantee that it’s any good. It doesn’t mean you are getting good web traffic referrals and it doesn’t mean your website is converting visits into business. The Google Search Console data is just the start of the story, but it is a significant one.

When searches are performed in Google, the search, all the websites that are rendered in results, and any clicks those searches generate are recorded. Google will share this data with you, for up to three months of history. The data is ‘first-in-first-out’, so data older than 3 months is automatically deleted.

To get access to the data, you need to verify that you are either the owner or administrator of the website in question. Google wont give you this data for sites other than those you can demonstrate this level of control over. That’s great of course, because it stops competitors from using data about your site to their own advantage. Verifying ownership or admin rights is fairly straight forward, but if you’re not familiar with web access, you might need some help getting the right codes into the right places for you to ‘verify’ your ownership or control.