I often get new ideas for content from Quora and today is one such example. This morning I came across a question regarding Google Search Console vs Google Analytics and whether one is better than the other.
This is a curious question to me (there are many curious questions on the Quora platform!), since in a way it’s like asking if glass is better than a window. However, I sort of understand where it comes from.
Fortunately for all of us, both tools are free so we don’t have to flip a coin to decide which one we should use over the other. Both also offer different but related data, so it’s not as if one cancels out the other. We can use both to give us a slightly different view of our how our blogs perform to inform our approach to how we grow them.
So… although I won’t answer the original question of which tool would win in some imaginary Search Console vs Analytics 15 round bout, I will explain the differences, similarities and general benefits of both. You can then decide if you believe there’s a winner.
Hint: in my opinion there isn’t one!
What’s the Difference Between Google Search Console and Google Analytics?
Both Google Search Console and Google Analytics provide incredibly useful information about how your blog is performing according to the gospel of, erm… Google. However they both come from a slightly different angle, though as I say there is some crossover.
Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a web-based tool that anyone with a website or blog can use free of charge. In general, GSC provides you with clear insight into the relationship between search position and your SEO approach and gives you tools to help improve your visibility in search.
It provides a whole bunch of useful features to help you understand how people engage with your blog in Google’s search results, showing you things like the:
- Keywords and phrases people use to see your pages as a result in Google search.
- Number of times your pages appear for a given keyword.
- Average position your pages appear in Google search results for a given keyword.
- Number of times someone clicks a link to your landing pages.
- Click Through Rate (CTR) where the number of times someone clicks a link to your page divided by the number of times it is shown as a result in Google search.
It also provides more technical details of your blog performance that you can use to improve SEO:
- Google web crawler errors.
- Links from external domains.
- HTML problems with your blog.
- Security issues.
- Warnings about aspects of your blog that break Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Finally, Google Search Console provides useful tools to directly support your SEO efforts:
- URL submission for indexing pages.
- Sitemap submission.
- Link disavowal.
- Page speed analysis.
- Mobile usability.
Google Analytics is also a web-based tool but it’s much more focused upon your visitors and how they interact with your blog than Google Search Console. It provides general information about about:
- Number of visits.
- Entry pages.
- Exit pages.
- Bounce rate.
Google Analytics differs from Google Search Console because it presents much more visitor-centric insight. As such it provides clues about how you can improve the experience your visitors have when they arrive at your blog.
But more than generic insights, Google Analytics provides extremely detailed data on the:
- Journey visitors take through your blog (funnel analysis).
- How long they spend on each page.
- A heatmap of the links they click (if you use the Google Analytics Browser Extension for Chrome)
- eCommerce conversion tracking (if you want to analyze signups or you sell things).
Combined together, Google Search Console and Google Analytics give you a pretty sophisticated degree understanding of:
- How your blog appears in Google search
- The way in which visitors interact with your blog.
- Your blog’s search friendliness.
In fact, you can literally join the two systems together to import data from one to the other. This is extremely useful for a number of analysis tasks, but indispensable in one particular case: the (not provided) keyword in Google Analytics, which hides the search queries associated with visits to your blog.
However, there is a way to see keywords again in Google Analytics, as long as you have a Google Search Console account. I’ve written about it here: The Infamous Not Provided Keyword in Google Analytics. Make sure you check this article out becasue it significantly helps Google Analytics provide a more 360 view.
Google Search Console vs Google Analytics: My Thoughts
Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console are indispensable tools to check your SEO and visitor behavior. They should be elements that feature in your default toolset to carry out analysis on your blog.
One is not better than the other, since they provide information on different aspects of your blog… although there is some overlap regarding landing page analysis. They’re both powerful tools… extremely so when you are able to combine the insights they provide.
- Google Search Console can help you understand the relationship between your search position and inform the SEO approach you take.
- GSC also helps to advise you on technical aspects of your blog that might not be working properly and is a more search engine focused tool, which can help inform your approach to increasing the visibility of your blog in search results.
- Google Analytics is a tool to show you how visitors engage with your blog.
- You can connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console and import data from GSC to GA. This enables you to tie together the SERPs benefits of GSC with the engagement benefits of GA. It also enables you to see actual search queries in GA normally hidden behind the (not provided) keyword.
- Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console should feature in ANY bloggers toolset. I recommend you set them both up today if you haven’t already done so!
That’s it for now!
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I’d be interested to know if you think there’s a winner in the Google Analytics vs Google Search Console debate! Leave a comment below and tell me about it!