For those logging in to Google Webmaster Tools for the first time this year, you’re in for a nice surprise. The 7th of January brought with it an announcement from Google that they’d updated one of the popular reports within Webmaster Tools update, and it’s an update that will no doubt please those who who use GWT as part of their Search efforts.

We mentioned in a recent post, about the growth of “(Not Provided)” within Google Analytics Keywords reports, that one alternative method of analysing organic keyword data was to use the Search Query report within Google Webmaster Tools.

One of the limitations of the Search Query report was that the impression and click data was rounded, and therefore not accurate, though consistent enough that it could be used as a guide.

Google has improved this limitation.

So what exactly has changed?

If you log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account and visit the Search Traffic > Search Queries report, you’ll see a vertical line through your graph on 31st Dec 2013. If you hover over the line, you’ll see a notification of

“An improvement to our top search queries data was applied retroactively on 12/31/2013”

An improvement to our top search queries data was applied retroactively on 12/31/2013

“An improvement to our top search queries data was applied retroactively on 12/31/2013” … notification in Google Webmaster Tools

The change is in the detail of impression and click data. Until now, Impressions and Click information have been rounded. At this point, it doesn’t look like the same update has been applied to the data being pulled in to Google Analytics from Google Webmaster Tools, so it’s possible to demonstrate what impact the change has had.

Impression & Click data in Google Analytics

Impression & Click data pulled in to Google Analytics from Google Webmaster Tools

Impression & Click data in Google Webmaster Tools

The same Impression & Click data in GWT after the update

Google has announced the updated on its own Webmaster Tools blog, saying …

“To help jump-start your year and make metrics for your site more actionable, we’ve updated one of the most popular features in Webmaster Tools: data in the search queries feature will no longer be rounded / bucketed. This change will become visible over the next few days.”

Benefits of the Search Query Update?

In short, better data to analyse. The above screenshots show differences of around 16% in impression data since the update. That’s quite a significant change, even if the overall number of impressions is relatively small.

If you haven’t been using the Google Webmaster Tools Search Query report in your analysis, this update is as good a reason as any to start!

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This entry was posted in Google Webmaster Tools and tagged , , , on by Brian Tait.
Brian Tait

About Brian Tait

Having been involved in and around the web since the late 1990's, Brian went on to setup Aillum Ltd in 2010. While he spends much of his time advocating the use of Analytics and the general use of data to improve online performance, he's also an experienced coder, online marketer, and an MBA graduate - and can often be found dabbling in and contributing to those fields and other related projects / ventures around the web.

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