Search Queries in Google Webmaster Tools

Search queries

The Search Queries page shows those Google Web Search queries that have returned URLs from your site. You can also see information about the pages on your site that were seen most often in search results (top pages). We compare daily averages for the selected period to daily averages for the previous period. We show the last 30 days of data by default, but you can set the date range for the report using the calendar selectors above the graph.

View Search Queries:

  1. On the Webmaster Tools home page, click the site you want.
  2. On the left-hand menu, click Search Traffic, and then click Search Queries.

Search Queries data

The Search Queries report shows the following elements:

    • Queries: The total number of search queries that returned pages from your site over the given period.
    • Query list: Specific user queries for which your site’s URLs appeared in search results. Webmaster Tools shows data for the top 2,000 queries that returned your site at least once in search results. This list reflects any filters you’ve set (for example, a search query for [flowers] on google.ca is counted separately from a query for [flowers] on google.com).
    • Impressions: The number of times pages from your site appeared in search results. With change also shows the increase/decrease in the daily average compared to the previous period.
    • Clicks: The number of times a user clicked your site’s listing in search results for a particular query. With change also shows the percentage increase/decrease in the daily average compared to the previous period. (These numbers can be rounded.)
    • CTR (clickthrough rate): The percentage of impressions that resulted in a click to your site. With change also shows the number of percentage points increase or decrease in the daily average CTR compared to the previous period. For example, if your CTR went from 40% to 30%, this column would show a change of -10.
  • Average position: The average top position of your site on the search results page for that query.  With change also shows the change compared to the previous period. Green indicates that your site’s average top position is improving.To calculate average position, we take into account the top ranking URL from your site for a particular query. For example, if Jane’s query returns your site as the #1 and #2 result, and David’s query returns your site in positions #2 and #7, your average top position would be 1.5.

You can view up to 90 days of historical data. However, you can only see change data for time periods of 30 days or less.

Filtering query data

The default Search Queries report shows combined query stats for all searches.  ClickFilters to get stats for specific kinds of queries:

  • Queries containing (or excluding) a certain word or phrase. Select Containing(or Not containing) in the Queries list and then type the search terms to include or exclude.
  • Queries you have starred.
  • Queries for specific media (image or video). Image and video searches are queries constrained to that specific media.  Choose the specific search type you want from the Search drop-down.
  • Queries from specific devices (desktop or mobile). You can also use the Searchdrop-down to filter queries made from mobile and desktop devices, respectively. For example, you might want to see which mobile queries drove visitors to your mobile-specific website. Note: The combined tally of queries for each search type might not match the total number of queries across all types because the same query phrase can appear in several different views.
  • Queries by location.
  • Queries that generate more than 10 impressions or clicks.

Query details

To see additional information about a query, such as the position of your page on the Google search results page, and the URL of the page returned by the search query, click the query.

The Query Details page provides a list of pages on your site that appeared in search results for that query, along with impressions, clicks, and CTR. In addition, the Position column shows how often your site appeared in a specific position in search results. For example, if Position 1 has 36 impressions, it means that there were 36 searches for the query in which your site was the very first site listed in search results.

The Query Detail data reflects any filters you set on the main Search Queries page.

How to use Search Queries data

This data can provide valuable information about your site. We recommend the following actions:

    • Review the Query list for expected keywords. If keywords you expect to see don’t appear, your site might not have enough useful content relevant to those keywords. If unexpected words (like “Viagra” or “casino”) appear, it’s likely that your site has been hacked.
    • Compare Impressions and CTR to identify how you can improve your content.(Tip: Sort by Change to see queries with significant new activity.) There are several steps you can take to make your content appear more compelling so that users click your site in search results pages. Your page title appears in the results, so make sure it’s relevant and accurate. Google can display the text in your pages’ meta descriptions in search results, so review your meta descriptions.
    • Compare desktop and mobile versions of your site (e.g. m.example.com). If both mobile and desktop versions of your site exist, you can display queries made by mobile devices to your mobile site and compare them to those made on desktop.  Just be sure you have selected your mobile site from the site selector and that you have set the Searches (under Filters) to Mobile. As of December 31, 2013, the Searches report displays all impressions and clicks that came from mobile visitors, including those queries that resulted in a skip redirect to your mobile site.  Learn more about building search-friendly mobile sites in Building Smartphone Optimized Websites. You can read more about Skip Redirect by searching the Webmaster Central blog.

About Search Queries data

Webmaster Tools aggregates query information. Once the count of each query reaches a certain threshold, it will appear on the Search Queries page.

Webmaster Tools data may differ slightly from the data displayed in other tools, such as Google Analytics. Possible reasons for this include:

    • Some processing of our source data might cause your stats to differ from stats listed in other sources (e.g., to eliminate duplicates and visits from robots). However, these changes should not be significant.
    • Some tools, such as Google Analytics, track traffic only from users who have enabled JavaScript in their browser.
    • Some tools define “keywords” differently. For example, the Keywords tool in Google AdWords displays the total number of Google searches for that keyword across the web. The Webmaster Tools Search Queries page, however, shows how many of those keyword searches returned your pages in Google search results, and this is a smaller number.
    • There can be a lag between when the numbers are calculated and when they are visible to webmasters. Although data gets published in intervals, we continually collect it. Normally, however, collected data should be available in 2-3 days.
    • Time zones matter. Search Queries tracks daily data according to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). If your other systems use different time zones, your daily views may not match exactly.
  • To protect user privacy, Google doesn’t aggregate 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.

If you can no longer see a search query you saw recently, make sure you haven’t filtered the results by country or type of search.


More detailed search queries in Webmaster Tools – 20140107

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.

The search queries feature gives insights into the searches that have at least one page from your website shown in the search results. It collects these “impressions” together with the times when users visited your site – the “clicks” – and displays these for the last 90 days.

Before and after:

We hope this makes it easier for you to see the finer details of how users are finding your website, and when they’re clicking through. Should you have any questions, feel free to visit our help forum.


Improved Search Queries stats for separate mobile sites

Search Queries in Webmaster Tools just became more cohesive for those who manage a mobile site on a separate URL from desktop, such as mobile on m.example.com and desktop on www. InSearch Queries, when you view your m. site* and set Filters to “Mobile,” from Dec 31, 2013 onwards, you’ll now see:

  • Queries where your m. pages appeared in search results for mobile browsers
  • Queries where Google applied Skip Redirect. This means that, while search results displayed the desktop URL, the user was automatically directed to the corresponding m. version of the URL (thus saving the user from latency of a server-side redirect).

Skip Redirect information (impressions, clicks, etc.) calculated with mobile site.

Prior to this Search Queries improvement, Webmaster Tools reported Skip Redirect impressions with the desktop URL. Now we’ve consolidated information when Skip Redirect is triggered, so that impressions, clicks, and CTR are calculated solely with the verified m. site, making your mobile statistics more understandable.

Best practices if you have a separate m. site

Here are a few search-friendly recommendations for those publishing content on a separate m. site:

  • Follow our advice on Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites
    • On the desktop page, add a special link rel=”alternate” tag pointing to the corresponding mobile URL. This helps Googlebot discover the location of your site’s mobile pages.
    • On the mobile page, add a link rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the corresponding desktop URL.
    • Use the HTTP Vary: User-Agent header if your servers automatically redirect users based on their user agent/device.
  • Verify ownership of both the desktop (www) and mobile (m.) sites in Webmaster Tools for improved communication and troubleshooting information specific to each site.
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