What does Search Term Mean?
The precise word or phrase(s) entered into a search engine by a user (also called a “query” or “search term”).
How to Find Meaningful Search Terms
You may have tried to find the answer within Google Analytics, in which case you probably came across the unhelpful term “(Not provided)” where you expected to see the keywords. So, does that mean you’ll never know what people are searching for to find you? Thankfully not!
Although Google Analytics no longer displays search terms, you can now use Google Search Console to get some insight into what search terms people are using to find you.
How to find search terms in Google Search Console
The first step, if you haven’t already, is to get your website set up on Google Search Console. Once you are set up and have been collecting data for at least a few weeks, login and go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics.
When you first click on “Search Analytics, you should see the “Queries” radio button selected and the “Clicks” checkbox ticked.
This will show you an overview of all the queries which people searched for and subsequently clicked through to your website over the last 28 days.
The total number of clicks is displayed in the top left-hand corner, and the line graph displays clicks per day. Underneath, you’ll find the information you’ve been looking for – the search terms that people have been clicking on to find your website. Click on each term to see traffic over time.
Keep in mind that unlike Google Analytics, which stores data since you set your website up, Google Search Console only has data for the last three months, so if you want to keep this information, you’ll need to download and save it (do this by clicking the “download” button at the bottom of the page).
Getting more insights from Google Search Console
You might have found what you’re looking for but seeing which search terms people clicked on is just the beginning. Here is some other search data you can access in Google Search Console.
Selecting the “Impressions” and “CTR” check boxes will show you the amount of times your site has shown up in search results for a term plus the average click through rate (CTR) for each. So, if the number of impressions was 100, and 50 people clicked through to your website, your click through rate would be 50%, as half the people that saw your search result clicked on it.
The position column shows you the average position your site appeared in the search – the higher the better! To see changes in the position over time, click on the search term.
Searches by page
As well as viewing searches by query, you can also view search terms for each page. To see which search queries are driving traffic for a specific page, select the “Pages” radio button, click on the page you’re interested in, then select “Queries”. This will show you the search terms people used to find that page.
3 ways to use this information
Finding out what search terms people are finding you for is interesting, but not particularly helpful unless you act upon your findings. Here are three ways you can use the information you find…
- Were you surprised that people were not finding you for certain search terms? Investigate which terms you aren’t ranking for and make a plan for how you’ll create relevant content in your next content marketing plan.
- Find terms where you’re getting a lot of impressions but no clicks, have a look at the search results page (click the open new window icon next to the term) and see what gets displayed. Could you make your meta description (the text under the page title) more compelling?
- Look out for opportunities to create new content – for example if you spot a search term that doesn’t quite match the page it’s currently ranking for but would make a great standalone blog post.
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