Google Search Console: Why You Need This Connected to GA4 & How to Connect It
In setting up your new GA4 account, it’s the perfect time to make sure you also have Google Search Console linked to this new analytics account, and to your existing UA account. This does not automatically happen when you create your GA4 property. The Google Search Console gives you important information about the health of your property from the perspective of the Google Index, not just statistics from your site. So you can see for example, information on search queries you get impressions for even if you do not get clicks, (an important way to tell how users ask questions and in what volume.)
Google Support Links:
How to link your GSC account to GA4:
Here is a step by step walk through of how to connect your new GA4 property to GSC:
- Go to Admin for your GA4 property – go to Product Links > then Search Console Links. Click on that and it will walk you through connecting your GSC account to analytics.
See the step-by-step screenshots below:
How to See GSC Data in GA4
After you have GSC and GA4 connected, you still need to go back to your GA4 account and find your search console reports widget and publish it, in order to see the data flow through. Here is how to make GSC data to visible in your account under Reports. Go to Reports > Library > Search Console. Click on the 3 dots to the far right of the widget, and select Publish.
Google Search Console: What Does It Tell Us?
GSC records all the global organic search impressions, by keyword and keyword phrase, that your website shows up for, no matter what your site ranking is. It’s a very helpful tool to see what queries (search terms) your site is showing up for and the volume of impressions (searches) for those queries. You know if you see thousands of queries for specific terms but no clicks to your website, then you are largely invisible to those search visitors. Maybe you are on page 3 or 300.
We like to use GSC to get a sense of search volume for specific keywords, which we use for SEO on-page optimization and for PPC Google and Bing ads.
What does GSC Position Really Mean and Is It Useful?
So this is an important question! GSC position data is helpful for trends – upward, downward, and steady-state. Because this position ranking is pulling search query results from anywhere in the globe, it may not be as helpful as a location-based search position result. For example: white water rafting. If you are in position 20, it means on average your site is showing up in position 20 for this term, no matter where the search occurred. Yes, that means it’s a worldwide result. Sometimes, that is really what you are going for. For example, if you are a Peru tour operator and your customers come from all over the world.
Contrast that with a ranking position of 3, for example, in the Atlanta, GA, USA market. If that market is where a high % of your customers come from, optimizing your search results to win in that market, is much more likely to convert than optimizing to show up for the term anywhere in the USA. Ranking well in Seattle, WA isn’t helpful if your customers are mostly coming from within driving distance locations of Atlanta, GA!
We see clients get a bit wrapped up in global search positions. We focus on the trend – are we improving in position and clicks relative to impression volume, or not? For location-based search, we focus very much on top 3 position rankings for our client’s target market locations – those we want to win and can pull more SEO levers to get success.
Here are 2 very different trend views of organic search activity in GSC for 2 very different businesses. Can you tell what might be going on?