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Search Analytics Report: The new GWT keyword report

A few days ago I’ve been granted access in one of my accounts to the new Search Analytics Report on Google Webmaster Tools. Previously named Google Search impact, this is gradually rolling out to random webmasters.

I didn’t know about the Alpha and when I first saw the report, first reaction was cursing. This is because what you’ll see on the first glimpse, is that you no longer have access to all the keywords but only to the top 999. While this might not seem like a big problem, in fact it is. After Google restricted access to keywords in all the analytic tools, I found refuge on the GWT reports and found the data there to be more efficient. Was more efficient, because you had access to all the keywords your website was ranking for and was a very good way to plan an optimization strategy on important keywords placed on page 2.

More important, for the past year, I’ve built a custom reporting dashboard for the clients that used a lot of GWT data. Among the data there were:

  • overall number of keywords
  • number of branded keywords (for brand signals)
  • number of non-branded keywords (to show SEO improvements)
  • keyword distribution on SERP (Page 1, Page 2, Page 3+)

Now all of those are gone.

This is bad but not a tragedy. Things change and we have to adapt to the environment (after all this is free data and you cannot bitch too much about it). Replace a few columns, add a few new ones and move over.

But this is where things start to be very (VERY!) bad. Some data remained the same (impressions/clicks/CTR). You would think so, but not.

Here is the data from 2 clients

Client 1

Old GWT report for March 2015:

  • All impressions: 1,615,249
  • All clicks: 108,563
  • CTR: 6.72%
  • Branded impressions: 60,663
  • Branded clicks: 22,163
  • Branded CTR: 36.53%

New GWT report for March 2015:

  • All impressions: 1,944,832
  • All clicks: 130,674
  • CTR: 6.72% (!)
  • Branded impressions: 29,658
  • Branded clicks: 23,326
  • Branded CTR: 78.65%

Client 2

Old GWT report for March 2015:

  • All impressions: 45,497
  • All clicks: 4,731
  • CTR: 10.40%
  • Branded impressions: 872
  • Branded clicks:529
  • Branded CTR: 60.67%

New GWT report for March 2015:

  • All impressions: 56,160
  • All clicks: 5,956
  • CTR: 10.61%
  • Branded impressions: 795
  • Branded clicks: 621
  • Branded CTR: 78.11%

What does this mean?

  • At the first look, while you should have the same data (or relatively similar), it’s not. So, comparing the same factors (impressions/clicks) is apple to oranges
  • 1st interesting fact is that even though the overall impressions and clicks are very different (the new report shows bigger numbers), the CTR stays the same. This could mean that the data in the old report was toned down (for reasons that I cannot see)
  • the 2nd interesting fact is in the branded queries department. As you can see, the CTR on the old report was way down than expected for branded queries. The new report seems to have better data

Conclusions

  • Take all the GWT data with a grain of salt and don’t look at absoluite numbers, look for patterns
  • Comparing new data with old data is futile. Apples to Oranges. And the old data seems to have been worse than the new one
  • Google doesn’t seem able to deliver a finished functional product. Just great ideas with great potential but always lacking a proper finish

 


5 Reasons Why SEO Projects Fail

Over the years I had plenty of SEO projects from small businesses to enterprise (in collaboration with other SEOs) and from publishing websites to ecommerce websites. As in life, some were successful and some failed.

Due to a certain context, I asked myself what were the reasons that make a project a failure and why other projects keep growing in time, no matter what animals Google is unleashing from the cage.

So far, here are the main reasons that I managed to find:

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9 years later

In 2005 I started this blog. At that time I had no clear goal with it, beside experimenting and trying to learn as much as possible. Now, 9 years later, a few jobs later and plenty of projects later I feel it’s time for a new stage. A stage where this place is a place for others to learn and grow. A place where past and future clients and other freelancers can come and find valuable information.

So. Let’s start