I recently gave two informal presentations about Google Analytics for WordPress Pittsburgh (of which, the introductory presentation was recorded here). In passing, I mentioned that you can (and should) connect your website property in Google Analytics (GA) to Google Search Console (GSC, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools). I want to clarify here the wheres and hows of connecting Google Analytics to Google Search Console, along with some of the issues with new and existing sites that use HTTP, HTTPS, WWW, or non-WWW in their website’s URLs.
What Is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a website tool that collects data from your website visitors so that you are able to understand them better. It answers those questions so that you can take those insights and make them actionable for improving your website, and its goals.
At its core, it helps you answer five questions:
- Real-Time: What is happening in real-time on my website right now? (This is useful if you have a spike (expected or unexpected) in website traffic and you’d like to determine possibly why. Otherwise, the next four questions are on what you’ll spend most of your attention.)
- Audience: Who are my website visitors? (generally, as you can’t find out anyone specifically through personally identifiable information)
- Acquisition: How are website visitors finding and getting to my website?
- Behavior: What are website visitors doing on my website?
- Conversion: Are website visitors doing what I want them to do?
(If you want to learn more, I suggest watching this recording. I cover setting up Google Analytics in the recording so that will not be duplicated here. Head over to the video walk-through to do that.)
What Is Google Search Console?
At its simplest, Google Search Console is a way for you to advise Google on the content you have on your website and see whether Google is indexing that content.
Setting Up Google Search Console for Your Website
The first step in connecting Google Analytics to Google Search Console is getting your website setup in Google Search Console. (I’m presuming for these purposes you have already implemented GA on your website and it’s tracking data. If not, go back to that recording link above and start there.)
Visit Google Search Console and log in with the same Google/Gmail/G Suite account. You will be taken to a screen that says “Start Now” and you can click on that to advance to the page where you can add your first property.
Here you will enter your primary website’s URL. In our case, we use the secure website protocol, HTTPS, (and so should you!) and we use a naked domain (non-WWW. before the domain name): https://w3cinc.com/. Also, your website’s URL might have a trailing forward-slash at the end. If you go to your website, if it automatically adds that forward-slash, go ahead and add it in the field before clicking “Add Property.” Then, follow the prompts.
If you already had a Google Search Console account, you will be taken to the Google Search Console main screen. Click on the three-bars icon in the top-left of the screen, then “Add Property” at the bottom of that list of options. From there, follow the instructions on the screen (screenshot displayed above). Thanks to the new Google Search Console update, the left side is for the entire domain (including all subdomains, secure and non-secure, etc., so you don’t need to add them all as you once did) and the right side is for a specific URL (such as https://w3cinc.com but not https://w3cinc.com). Click “Continue” from there and follow the verification proceed.
Connecting Google Analytics to Google Search Console
Now it’s time to head over to Google Analytics, which should already be setup. Browse to the Admin dashboard, which should look like the screen above.
Then, in the center “Property” column, choose “Property Settings” and then scroll down in the far-right column to the section named “Search Console.”
You click on “Adjust Search Console” and you’ll be taken to the next step. You will see “none add” and you’ll click on the “add” link. This will open a new tab or window in your browser and take you to GSC to select your URL.
Make sure to select the URL you entered in the “Welcome to Google Search Console” screen earlier. Scroll down, click “Save” and then “OK” the prompt that this will add a new association and sever any prior GA-GSC ties for that domain. (It can take a while for the association to appear in GA under the Property Settings > Search Console > Adjust Search Console page. But, simply check back in a few hours, then if not, a day or so and it should show the association.)
That’s it! You’ve done it. Now, Google Analytics and Google Search Console are speaking to another, which means that you can see the data feeding back and forth from both tools. This is particularly helpful to see that data from GA in the GSC performance dashboard.