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Search console v Google Analytics

And what can be done to reduce last non-direct attribution inflating stats

2:38 pm on Jan 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 13, 2014
votes: 2

I know, I know, this is as old as time itself. But the ability to filter by URL, which is amazing, has lead to some obvious massive discrepancies.

Obviously I don't expect them to match but was surprised by the fluctuations. I'd assumed there'd be some blockers and also that last non-direct attribution would inflate the search traffic in GA, but on average clicks in GWT were about 34% of sessions, and 40% of new sessions. One article had more than 12k new sessions in GA from Google and about 3k in the search console, others with lower numbers were much closer.

This sets it out nicely
"This last non-direct attribution can cause dramatic differences between GA sessions and Search Console clicks. If your site has a large proportion of direct sessions and non-new sessions, there’s a good chance GA is inflating true organic traffic by quite a bit."

So two parts I guess
1. How accurate is search console data?
2. What can be done to cut down on this inflating?
7:05 am on Feb 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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joined:Sept 16, 2009
votes: 79

1. I don't know in this regard. Here's two things I've noticed about GSC data:
- Whereas Analytics includes (not set) in the 'Acqusition > SEO > Queries' report, GSC does not show this data (verified on multiple sites).
- When it comes to ranking data, GSC seems to show a 'raw' ranking position before a link penalty is applied that would lower it (observed on one site only a few years back, it was a 50-70 place difference)
So, although you might think you're plugging GSC into Analytics, I think it's more like both of them take data from another source and each modifies it in their own ways.

2. As far as overall stats go I don't know if something can be done. However, if you set Goals in Analytics, and then go to 'Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths' then you can see 'Direct' as an attribution - including the last attribution - in all the reports that can be run there.

There's a 20 goal limit per view but you can set multiple views to increase this number.
10:14 pm on Feb 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 13, 2014
votes: 2

Hi FranticFish, thanks for the interesting response. I think you're right that it's more of a pick your poison choice. I don't read either as gospel, but was just musing about which way I should break ties, the joy of known unknowns. I hadn't considered a penalty altering GSC/reality. Something to remember. And the Top Conversion Paths is one I'll definitely have a look at working with for this.

Many thanks!