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Link GA4 & Google Search Console to Get More Data

February 3, 2023
Tamara Hellgren
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8 minutes

If you connect Google Search Console (GSC) to your GA4 property, you’ll gain access to two additional built-in reports:

search console reports in GA4 side navigation

These reports won’t show up until you:

  1. Connect GSC to GA4
  2. Publish the reports in GA4

Let’s get started!

How to Connect Google Search Console & GA4

Linking your Search Console and GA4 properties is simple. 

You have two options: you can link the two properties in GA4 or in GSC. They’re equally easy, so take your pick.

<div class="post-alert">First, make sure you’re logged in with an email address that’s a verified site owner in GSC and an editor in GA4.</div>

Method One: in GA4

<div class="post-action">Add search console to GA4 by going to Admin (gear wheel) in the lower left, then go to the Property column. Scroll down and click Search Console Links at the bottom.</div>

search console links option in GA4 property column

<div class="post-action">Click the blue Link button on the right.</div>

add a Search Console link to GA4 property

<div class="post-action">Click Choose accounts and select the Google Search Console account you want to link to your GA4 property by clicking the check box. Then click the blue Confirm button in the upper right.</div>

choose a search console property to link to GA4 account

<div class="post-action">Click Next.</div>

<div class="post-action">Choose the web data stream for your site and click Next.</div>

<div class="post-action">Double check the Search Console property and Web Stream, then click Submit.</div>

If you see green Link Created text on the right, Google Search Console and GA4 are now linked! 

Helpful to know: 

  • Your GSC data won’t show up immediately in GA4—you have to wait up to 24 hours.
  • You can only connect one GSC property to one GA4 web stream. 
  • If you ever want to edit the Search Console link, you have to delete it and start fresh.

Method Two: in GSC

<div class="post-action">Connect Search Console to GA4 by clicking Settings, near the bottom of the left-hand navigation.</div>

Search Console settings in side navigation

<div class="post-action">Click Associations under General Settings.</div>

Search Console associations setting

If you already have your Universal Analytics account linked to Search Console, you’ll see it there. You should also see a panel to click to associate GA4 with your Search Console property.

<div class="post-action">Click Associate next to Google Analytics (GA4).</div>

associate GA4 property with search console property

<div class="post-action">Select your GA4 property in the pop-up window and click Continue.</div>

<div class="post-action">Select your GA4 web stream in the next pop-up window and click Continue.</div>

<div class="post-action">Confirm your selection and click Associate.</div>

confirm association between search console and GA4 properties

You’re all set - GSC and GA4 are now connected. 

How to Find GSC Data in GA4 

<div class="post-alert">Remember, no matter which method you used to link GSC and GA4, you will have to wait up to a full day for GSC data to appear in GA4.</div>

You can access your Search Console data in GA4 by going to Reports <span class="material-symbols-outlined">bar_chart</span> > Acquisition > Acquisition overview. 

<div class="post-action">Scroll down and look for two panels labeled Google Organic Search Traffic and Google Organic Search Queries. Click on the blue link at the bottom of either panel to view the report.</div>

two search console reports under Acquisition overview in GA4

The same rules apply to your Search Console data whether you access it through GSC or GA4: 

  1. Historical data only goes back 16 months
  2. Fresh data is available 48 hours after collection

<div class="post-alert">All of your historical data in GSC will not show up in GA4 right away. Search Console data availability in GA4 depends on when you created your GA4 data stream, when you verified your site in Search Console, and which one you did first.

If you created your GA4 data stream first, then verified your site in Search Console, your GSC data will be available in GA4 from the date of site verification.

If you verified your site in Search Console first, then created a GA4 data stream, your GSC data will be available in GA4 from the date when you created the data stream.


How to Make GSC Reports Show Up in GA4 Side Navigation

<div class="post-action">In the left-hand side nav in GA4, click Reports<span class="material-symbols-outlined">bar_chart</span>, then scroll all the way down and click Library.</div>

Library in GA4 side navigation

Look for a panel called Search Console labeled as Unpublished. This is the Search Console collection of reports.

<div class="post-action">Click the three dots in the upper right corner of the Search Console collection. Click Publish.</div>

Now you can find the Search Console report collection in the side navigation below the ‘Life cycle’ report collections.

Search console report collection in GA4 side navigation

Being able to customize the report navigation panel is just one benefit of GA4 compared to Universal Analytics.

What the GA4 Search Console Reports Can Show You

Before diving into Search Console reports in GA4, it’s helpful to understand some differences between how GSC and GA:

Google Analytics shows you data about user behavior on your website. Google Search Console shows you data about your website’s performance in Google Search results. 

Certain dimensions and metrics are slightly different in GSC and GA, even though the same terms are used:

  • Landing pages in GSC are aggregated under the canonical page. GA reports the actual landing page URL.
  • Clicks in GSC are only clicks from a Google Search results page. Clicks in GA can be from organic search results or Google Ads.
  • Click-through rate (CTR) in GSC only applies to Google Search. CTR in GA applies to organic search results and Google Ads.

There are also some differences in data reported by GSC and GA:

  • Search Console only records up to 1000 URLs as landing pages per website, per day. Google Analytics does not have this limit.
  • Search Console is only associated with a single domain. Google Analytics can collect data from multiple domains.
  • Search Console uses Pacific Daylight Time. Google Analytics uses the time zone you choose in settings.
  • Search Console collects data whether or not JavaScript is enabled. Google Analytics only collects data if JavaScript is enabled. (There are browser extensions that let users opt out of GA data collection.)

So when you are looking at Search Console reports within a Google Analytics platform, be aware that there could be differences in the data compared to the native Analytics reports.

Organic google search query report

The Queries report shows you Google organic search queries and is limited to the same dimensions and metrics you’ll find in Search Console. You can’t apply any Google Analytics dimensions or metrics to the Queries report, so it’s just an alternate way to look at GSC data.

<div class="post-note">So why bother with this report if it’s the same data you can already find in Search Console? For one thing, you can customize the order that dimensions and metrics are displayed, which you can’t do in Search Console. By viewing your GSC query data in GA4 you also have the option to use different visualizations, including a bar chart and pie chart.</div> 

<div class="post-action">To customize the Queries report, click the pencil icon <span class="material-symbols-outlined">edit</span> in the upper right.</div>

GA4 customization options for the Organic google search query report include:

  • Change default order of dimensions/metrics (drag and drop)
  • Hide or display the line chart and bar chart (click the eyeball icon)
  • Add a new data visualization using a Summary Card

<div class="post-action">Click Create new card.</div>

create new summary card to customize search console report in GA4

<div class="post-action">Add the dimension(s) and metric(s) you want to visualize. Choose a chart (Visualization) type. When finished, click Apply in the upper right.</div>

Google organic search traffic report

Unlike the Queries report, the Google organic search traffic report lets you apply some metrics from Google Analytics.

GA4 metrics available in the Google organic search traffic report are:

You can customize your Google organic search traffic report by clicking the pencil icon <span class="material-symbols-outlined">edit</span>. You can make the same customizations that available for the Queries report, with seven additional GA metrics.

<div class="post-alert">For any GA4 report that you customize, you have the option to save your changes to the current report, or save as a new report. Saving changes to the current report will change how the report looks for everyone who uses the GA4 account, so keep that in mind.</div>

Summary: the Value of Connecting Search Console with GA4

Here’s a summary of things you can only do by linking Google Search Console and GA4:

  • Customize the order that Search Console dimensions and metrics are displayed
  • Visualize Search Console data using a bar chart or pie chart
  • Drill down into Google organic search traffic data using 7 different Analytics metrics

Limitations of Search Console Data in GA4

Limitation #1

GA4 will let you add a comparison in Search Console reports—but it won’t work. 

adding a comparison to a GA4 report

After you create and apply a comparison, the data no longer displays and you get this alert:

GA4 report incompatible request message

Limitation #2

When you create a new summary card for a Search Console report, GA4 lets you add a filter (condition)—but that won’t work either.

adding a filter to a new summary card in GA4 report

Limitation #3

As noted earlier in this article, your access to Search Console data in GA4 is limited by the date when you created your GA4 web stream or date when you verified your site in Search Console, depending on which one you did first.

Limitation #4

You can’t visualize any Search Console data in Looker Studio using GA4 as the data source—you have to use Google Search Console as the data source. 

<div class="post-note-cute">Speculation: Google will either remove these dead-end options from GA4 Search Console reports, or it will let you use them someday. It’s also possible that in the future you’ll be able to visualize your GA4 Search Console reports in Looker Studio. Google platforms are continually evolving, so stay curious and keep exploring possibilities.</div>

Limitation #5

When viewing Search Console data in Universal Analytics (or in Search Console) you can use Regex to filter the data, but not in GA4.

How accurate is Search Console data?

Google Search Console data is accurate, but it’s not complete. Learn more about why almost half of GSC data is “hidden” and how you can find more of it for free using the Search Console API.

<div class="post-note-cute">If you need help with GA4, Google Search Console, or interpreting your report data, don't hesitate to reach out:</div>

Resources used to produce this article:

No AI tools were used to write this article.

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