If you’re old in SEO years, you remember the day [not provided] was introduced. It was a dark, dark day. SEOs lost a vast amount of trusty information. Click data. Conversion data. This was incredibly valuable, allowing SEOs to prioritize their targets.
Google said the info was removed for security purposes, while suspicious SEOs thought this was a push towards spending more on AdWords (now Google Ads). I get it — since AdWords would give you the keyword data SEOs cherished, the “controversy” was warranted, in my opinion. The truth is out there.
But we’ve moved on, and learned to live with the situation. Then a few years later, Google Webmaster Tools (now Search Console) started providing some of the keyword data in the Search Analytics report. Through the years, the report got better and better.
But there’s still a finite set of keywords in the interface. You can’t get more than 999 in your report.
Guess what? Google has more data for you!
The Google Search Console API is your friend. This summer it became even friendlier, providing 16 months worth of data. What you may not know is this API can give you more than 999 keywords. By way of example, the API provides more than 45,000 for our Greenlane site. And we’re not even a very large site. That’s right — the API can give you keywords, clicks, average position, impressions, and CTR %.
How to easily leverage the API
If you’re not very technical and the thought of an API frightens you, I promise there’s nothing to fear. I’m going to show you a way to leverage the data using Google Sheets.
Here is what you will need:
- Google Sheets (free)
- Supermetrics Add-On (free trial, but a paid tool)
If you haven’t heard of Google Sheets, it’s one of several tools Google provides for free. This directly competes with Microsoft Excel. It’s a cloud-based spreadsheet that works exceptionally well.
If you aren’t familiar with Supermetrics, it’s an add-on for Google Sheets that allows data to be pulled in from other sources. In this case, one of the sources will be Google Search Console. Now, while Supermetrics has a free trial, paid is the way to go. It’s worth it!
Installation of Supermetrics:
- Open Google Sheets and click the Add-On option
- Click Get Add-Ons
- A window will open where you can search for Supermetrics. It will look like this:
From there, just follow the steps. It will immediately ask to connect to your Google account. I’m sure you’ve seen this kind of dialog box before:
You’ll be greeted with a message for launching the newly installed add-on. Just follow the prompts to launch. Next you’ll see a new window to the right of your Google Sheet.
At this point, you should see the following note:
Great, you’re logged into Google Search Console! Now let’s run your first query. Pick an account from the list below.
Next, all you have to do is work down the list in Supermetrics. Data Source, Select Sites, and Select Dates are pretty self-explanatory. When you reach the “Select metrics” toggle, choose Impressions, Clicks, CTR (%), and Average Position.
When you reach “Split by,” choose Search Query as the Split to rows option. And pick a large number for number of rows to fetch. If you also want the page URLs (perhaps you’d like your data divided by the page level), you just need to add Full URL as well.
You can play with the other Filter and Options if you’d like, but you’re ready to click Apply Changes and receive the data. It should compile like this:
Got the data. Now what?
Sometimes optimization is about taking something that’s working, and making it work better. This data can show you which keywords and topics are important to your audience. It’s also a clue towards what Google thinks you’re important for (thus, rewarding you with clicks).
SEMrush and Ahrefs can provide ranking keyword data with their estimated clicks, but impressions is an interesting metric here. High impression and low clicks? Maybe your title and description tags aren’t compelling enough. It’s also fun to VLOOKUP their data against this, to see just how accurate they are (or are not). Or you can use a tool like PowerBI to append other customer or paid search metrics to paint a bigger picture of your visitors’ mindset.
Sometimes the littlest hacks are the most fun. Google commonly holds some data back through their free products (the Greenlane Indexation Tester is a good example with the old interface). We know Search Planner and Google Analytics have more than they share. But in those cases, where directional information can sometimes be enough, digging out even more of your impactful keyword data is pure gold.