Is Google Search Console hiding data from you? – Browser Media

Is Google Search Console hiding data from you? – Browser Media

Following on from Ahrefs recent research into Google Search Console hiding data, we analysed whether this has impacted our clients’ sites.

Account Manager
Just over a month ago I wrote an article covering a fantastic piece of research from Ahrefs’ Patrick Stox. The research took a deep dive into Google Search Console data and found that on average, GSC isn’t showing keyword data for a large percentage of clicks. 
In the data provided by Ahrefs, it was found that keywords were hidden for 46.08% of clicks, so I thought I’d take a look at 10 of Browser Media’s clients to see how they are affected.  
Thankfully, @Bojan_Basrak has created a super helpful Google Data Studio report that helps to identify the number of clicks that are missing keyword data. For this analysis, I have picked 10 different clients, with varying traffic levels and clicks, to see if we can spot any key trends and whether our data matches Ahrefs’. 
I wanted to get a wide variety of clients with varying levels of traffic to get an understanding of the industry as a whole. The date range is the past 12 months, however, it’s important to note that with some clients the date range is much shorter as they are either new businesses or have launched a new site in the past 12 months. In some cases, we only have 3 months’ worth of data for a brand new site.  
Below is an overview of the data: 

The most interesting thing to note is that when combined, the percentage of missing data (46.21%) is extremely close to the 46.02% figure that Patrick identified in his research. My research is obviously on a much smaller scale, only comparing 10 sites as opposed to the 146,741 compared by Ahrefs, but it’s interesting to see how close the findings are, especially with the variety in the number of clicks. 
Thankfully, of the 10 sites I analysed, there are none where no data is present, however, the most data we have access to is 82%, in comparison the site where Ahrefs have the most data which is at 98%. As with the data presented by Ahrefs, we also have a level of variety across the sites, with one site only having known keywords for 34% of clicks. That being said, on the whole of the 10 sites analysed the majority are sat closer to the middle of the scale, with data missing for approximately half of their clicks. Despite the average of 46.21%, when looking at the sites separately you’ll notice most fall around the 50-60% range, and it’s the extremities that are lowering the total. 
Unfortunately, there isn’t too much you can do, Google’s reasoning for not displaying all keyword data is:
“To protect user privacy, the Performance report doesn’t show all data. For example, we might not track some queries that are made a very small number of times or those that contain personal or sensitive information.”
It is interesting to note that GSC doesn’t track data for the more long trail queries where they only have a few searches. I can’t imagine many of the searches for the clients I looked into were private, or included personal information so it’s likely they were mostly long tail keywords. 
This is rather frustrating, as many digital marketers will know targeting the long tail keywords can be an extremely beneficial SEO strategy. We’ve previously discussed how you can grow organic search traffic with low search volume keywords. By not displaying this data, GSC is making it much more difficult to see whether this strategy has been successful. Of course, Google Analytics will help to see whether the pages you have optimised around these keywords are getting traffic, but GSC might not display the exact keywords your site is getting clicks for. 
Overall, this research, and the research from Ahrefs, has further embedded the fact that all data needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. While we are still able to analyse whether our sites have seen a rise in clicks or impressions, we might not be able to see what keywords these clicks/impressions have come from. 
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