Why don’t Google Search Console and Google Analytics data match?

Why don’t clicks and visits add up in our SEO reports?

If you’ve ever found yourself puzzled during reporting week as you compare your Google Analytics session data with your Google Search Console click data, this post is for you. In the attempts of interpreting the story of your search performance, these two pieces often appear inconsistent and may not appear to tell the best story of your data, leaving you with more questions than anything. It’s not just you, it happens to us all. The best thing you can do is to arm yourself with knowledge (and explanations for clients) and take into account the following reasons for why this is happening, you can resume reporting with confidence.

Why Google Search Console “clicks” and Google Analytics “sessions” often do not match:

  1. Sessions in Google Analytics are sourced via last non-direct attribution. Meaning, if there are any direct visits that happen after entering a site via search (bookmarks, anything that GA doesn’t recognize), those direct visits following my search visit will count as organic visits.

  2. Clicks and sessions are actually different metrics. GA only counts when the JavaScript snippet is loaded (so PDFs and other elements that don’t contain it won’t get counted). Also, session timeouts can influence the session count if the user becomes active again after 30 minutes of inactivity and if their on the site at or around midnight.

  3. Clicks only counted for searches that occur from a Google search. This also doesn’t count for clicks on links that say inside search results. Also, clicking a search result the site, returning, and then clicking the same link again only counts as one click (depending on the type of search result).

  4. Redirects from external sites don’t count in Google Search Console. Clicks, impressions, position and all GSC search analytics data are assigned to the URL to which the user is directed by Google search. Since many of these external sites are still indexed for their respective local terms, when a user searches for those local terms and the redirected site is displayed in the search results and clicked, this is still counted as an organic session for the new site but will not register in GSC search analytics because it was another web property that was shown and clicked.

Happy reporting, and I hope this helps! What issues or strange things are you seeing between your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data? Fire away in the comments below.

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