Google Analytics vs Google search console

This post was last updated on February 16th, 2021

When you start comparing Google analytics vs Google search console, you might be left asking yourself why we need both?

What benefit can we get out of each platform?  Is there a crossover in the information that they provide? 

How much time should we be allocating to get the best results from each?

I’d been trying to find a useful explainer on this but there didn’t seem to be many articles written. So I thought I’d list them all down and make a useful summary comparison of Google Analytics vs Google Search Console.

Google Analytics in a Nutshell

The purpose of Google Analytics is to provide metrics on website performance from the point of view of your website

  • It examines traffic from ALL channels including direct, search engines and social – regardless of their source.
  • The main purpose is to provide useful information to the website owner on how to optimise pages, posts, and general website optimisation.
  • There’s an incredible number of ways that you can view your metrics. – By location, language, browser type, network, time of day, pages most viewed and more.
Google Analytics Home Page

Source: Google Marketing Blog

  • It’s not focussed on keywords or search terms.  It does however give information on which web pages and posts are getting the most traffic.

Google Search Console – in a Nutshell

  • Google Search Console analyses traffic that’s being sent to your site from the Google search engine ONLY. (note: the other main search engine, Bing has its equivalent: Bing Webmaster Tools).
  • It shows you which keywords (or keyphrases) that Google thinks your posts and pages are ranking for. Note: this is Google’s interpretation. It might differ from what you’re trying to rank your posts for.
Google Search Console Chart
  • Gives you information and metrics on the back links (or inward-bound links) to your website. This is because inward bound links are known to be a critical ranking factor.  Google is highlighting their importance to SEO by including links as a section in the search console.
  • It also breaks down the internal linking of your site which has to be one of the lowest hanging fruits when it comes to SEO.  Hence, Google is also highlighting the importance of internal linking by including this.

Google Analytics – an Extremely Versatile & Powerful Tool

Probably the main feature of Google analytics is it’s amazing ability to slice and dice the traffic to your website in just about any way imaginable.

You can view your data in chart form by demography, geographic location and type of device used to browse your website e.g. desktop or mobile phone.

I’ve got to say the volume of information available can be quite daunting when you’re looking at the desktop version of Google analytics. For this reason I’ve really come to prefer their mobile phone application.  It’s a lot more intuitive.

Google Analytics Mobile Phone App

Source: Redesigned Google Analytics App

How to set up Google Analytics

For anyone that’s not sure how to set up analytics, it’s pretty simple.

Firstly you need a Google account.  Then set up a Google Analytics account.  You’ll need to put in the URL of your website and some other pertinent information.

You’ll then be given a snippet of HTML code which you need to stick into the header in your WordPress theme. To do this, go to your settings settings and then go to custom CSS. 

Copy the code that Google gives you and paste it into your WordPress theme’s header:

Header code for Google Analytics

That’s all you need. From now on whenever somebody comes to your site, Google analytics will know exactly where the traffic is coming from.

How to get the most out of Google Analytics

Google analytics is set up into three main sections: Audience, Acquisition and Behaviour.

Audience Overview

In the Audience section of analytics you can see WHO is coming to your website.

You can analyse your readers by their location, the type of browser they’re using and even the time of day that they’re looking at your site.

  • Language – You’ll probably find that most readers of your blog are some variation of your language. Having said this, you’ll probably see a few other languages here. This is because the visitor has set their browser on a language translation setting.
  • Location – Geographical location of your visitors comes in extremely useful when you’re trying to figure out how effective your marketing campaigns are.
  • New vs Returning – seeing how many of your visitors are returning from a prior visit is a really good sign of engagement. Returning visitors indicates that you’re on the right track with your blog.
  • Browser – people booking at your site through Google Chrome, Firefox etc. It’s just another way to slice your data which you might find useful.
  • Network – this is a really interesting one. You can even use your data by the name of their internet provider. It’s hard to know how you’d use this but it’s good to know that the information is available.
  • Mobile overview – this is the combination of mobile and tablet figures.
Audience - Google Analytics

All this data can provide some really useful statistics on your readers. You can see which country they live in and focus some of your writing to specific countries.

Acquisition

In the acquisition section of analytics you can see how you’re getting your visitors. In particular, you can answer the question: Where are they coming from?

The main channels are organic Google search, social media, referral and direct.

You can sort your data by:

  • Direct traffic occurs when somebody just keys directly into their web browser or if Analytics has no idea how the traffic arrived at your website.
  • Search. This is Google / Bing search traffic which is further analysed into:
    • Organic &
    • Paid – When you pay to have your links at the top of search listings.
  • Referral – Is your traffic coming to your site from links in other websites. This would include back links or inward bound links from other websites.  This can be really valuable to know where to focus on obtaining backlinks in future.
  • Email traffic is when someone clicks through to your site from an email message.
  • Social media is another category. It’s as simple as it sounds. If someone clicks a link to one of your posts on Facebook, Instagram etc,  that traffic will show up here.
Aquisition - Google Analytics

Organic traffic is therefore only a part of all the traffic to your site, but a very important part of your traffic.

Behaviour

In the behaviour section of Analytics you can view all your site data sorted by the web pages that visitors go to.

  • Under Site Content, you can sort your data by:
    • Landing Page – ie what page the visitor started on;
    • Exit Page – which page your visited exited your site 
    • All pages – the most viewed pages on your website.
  • Site Speed will show you the average loading time in seconds per page.
Behaviour Google Analytics

The behaviour section is super-useful as you can see your most visited pages.  One of the most interesting metrics is the exit page.  If you’re finding that you have a low pages/session rating, this might point to pages that need more work.

Use Google Search Console to Maximise Organic Traffic

And one of the main benefits of Google search console is the ability to see which search terms your site is ranking for in Google. 

Google Search Console

You can then use this information to improve the Google web pages that include that keyphrase.   Another thing you can do is to write new content based on variations of the search terms that you’re ranking the highest for.

Here’s an especially helpful video from Neil Patel on this process:

 

Summary – Google Analytics versus Google Search Console 

When considering Google Analytics vs Google Search Console, both of these tools deliver incredibly useful insights into the performance of your website.

What needs to be emphasised is that Google search console is only concerned with Google search traffic, so it’s very search based.

In comparison Google analytics delivers a wide range of information about every user who visits your site there regardless of how they got there.

Frequently Asked Questions – Google Analytics vs Google Search Console

Should I use a plugin for Google Analytics?

No.  It will slow down your website and hence harm your SEO as these plugins often consume server overhead.  It’s better to open up Google Analytics in a separate browser tab or use the mobile application.

Should I use a plugin for Google Search Console?

No.  Similar to Google Analytics, a plugin will slow down your website and hence harm your SEO.  Instead, open up Google Search Console in a separate browser tab and don’t access it through WordPress.

Should I use Google analytics on a Brand-New Blog?

Yes.  If you start tracking your Analytics right from the start you’ll have the full history of your metrics. You’ll be glad that you set it up so early later on.

Is it critical to set up Google search console as soon as you start your website?

No, it’s not critical. Google search console can be set up any time. However it is a good idea to link Google Search Console to the sitemap of your website (see the next FAQ item).

Why are my blog posts not being indexed by Google?

You need to make sure that a sitemap  file (sitemap.xml) has been created for your website and that the location of the sitemap has been recorded in Google search console.  This will allow Google to crawl your website efficiently.

How can I create a sitemap for my website?

The easiest way to create a site map is to use a plug-in such as Yoast SEO or Google XML Sitemaps. This is a one time setup process. The sitemap is then stored in the root folder of your website and is constantly updated by the plugin.

Do I absolutely need access to Google Search Console?

Yes, if you are wanting to get free organic Google traffic, Search Console will help to make sure that your site is crawled properly. It will also give you powerful insight into which keywords or key phrases your site is ranking from Google search.

Will my website still be indexed if I don’t have a sitemap?

It will be but it will take longer as Google will need to find all your pages without a map. This discovery process will be Improved if there is good internal linking between your web pages.

Should I also setup Bing Webmaster Tools for my Website?

Bing is the second largest search engine after Google.  It currently represents around 3% of worldwide search traffic.  It is definitely worth setting up Bing Webmaster Tools as it may be easier to rank for keywords due to less competition.  You’ll also get some further valuable insights into new keywords for your site.  If you’re already setup on Google Search Console, Bing will allow you to use this information to speed up the process.

What does Excluded mean in Google Search Console/

This means that the web page in question has been excluded from indexing due to an unspecified reason. To gain further insight into the reason for the exclusion check the page using the URL Inspection Tool. Pages may be excluded for a variety of reasons such as it being non canonical or duplicated content. \

How can I force Google to index my page?

In Google search console you can request for a page to be indexed but it can’t be forced.  Even if you request for a page to be indexed it will be added to a priority queue. It’s at the absolute discretion of Google as to how urgently they perform the indexing.

Why is Google search console important?

Google search console is the app to use to help with the indexing of your webpages  on Google search. You can submit your sitemap which increases the efficiency of your pages being called and indexed. Even more importantly,  it can give you valuable insights into which search terms you are ranking for.  This information is invaluable for finding new opportunities to grow your site.

Photo by Rajeshwar Bachu on Unsplash

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