google analytics search terms how to

Google Analytics Search Terms: Link GA4 and Search Console

If you are looking for Google Analytics search terms you are looking for one of two things. If you’re looking for searches that took place on your website, you need to use the view_search_results enhanced measurement event. If you’re looking for what specific search terms your visitors typed into Google before they found your website, you need to link Google Search Console with GA4.

The good news is that either is a pretty quick process. You should be able to complete it in 4 minutes or less.

Google Analytics Search Terms

If you are looking for what searches take place from visitors who are already on your website, you need the view_search_results event.

This event will tell you when people conduct a search on your site (like this one below), and what specific terms they searched for.

google analytics search terms site search

This guide has all you need about site search tracking.

But what about if you want to know what specific search terms your visitors searched for in Google before they found your site?

For that you’ll need Google Search Console and you can link it up with GA4.

Search Terms For Visitors Arriving From Google Search

You will need to have rights to the associated Search Console property that you want to link. The benefit is to bring in some of your Search Console data into GA4 so you can have more of your website information consolidated in one location. This is nice bonus set up step. If you haven’t already done the core configuration tasks like session timeout, data retention, and internal traffic filtering, you might also want to check this 10 step set up tutorial.

Getting Started

To begin, access “Search Console Links” from the Admin property settings.

Now, hit the blue “Link” button as you can see below to initiative a link to a Search Console property.

link search console and ga4

Now, hit the blue “Link” button as you can see below to initiative a link to a Search Console property.

search console links

How to Link Search Console and GA4

After hitting the “Link” button you’ll have 3 steps to create and submit your Search Console link.

As you can see in the image below, the first step is to choose a Search Console property to link from your list of existing Search Console properties. Hit the “Choose accounts” button that you can see on the right side of the screen and you’ll see a list of all Search Console properties to which you have access.

set up search console link with ga4

Choose the Search Console property that corresponds to your GA4 property by selecting it with the checkbox to the left side of the screen. Note, you will need to have access to both Search Console and GA4 with the same Gmail or Google linked email address in order to create this link.

Hit the blue button to “Confirm.”

Now choose “Next” and then pair the Search Console property that you’ve just selected with your Data Stream in your GA4 property. Hit “Next” again.

Finally, review the link and “Submit.” You’re all done.

Search Console is Now Linked

Once you’re complete, you’ll see the linked Search Console property name in your Search Console links section.

search console now linked

Google Analytics Now Has Search Terms From Search Console

You’ll now be able to see a preview of your Search Console data in your “Acquisition overview” traffic report. Note: you may need to wait 24 – 48 hours to see the data show up here. This Search Console data will show up as two “cards” towards the bottom of this screen. Here’s an example below.

google analytics search terms

If you’d like, you can create your own custom Search Console reports. Clicking the two blue links that you can see in the image above will take you to dedicated reporting pages for Search Console data. You can customize and save these reports to add them to your reporting collection.

To do this, click on one of the blue links shown above. After the new reporting page populates, click the pencil icon in the top right of the screen to “Customize report.” You can see that in the image below. From here, follow the steps to customize the report and save it your collection of standard reports.

ga4 now has search console data

Some Notes and Limitations

Google has a helpful support article about the Search Console integration.

Here is a summary of what Google says about the limitations:

  • A single data stream can only be linked to a single Search Console property
  • A single Search Console property can only be linked to one GA4 data stream. You can also link it to a Universal Analytics property, although that’s not going to help much very soon!
  • There can only be a single Search Console link within a GA4 property. In other words, if you have multiple data streams for websites in your property, only one of them can have a Search Console link.

To be able to set up the link you must be a verified owner of the Search Console property. You also need to have a least Editor level access in the associated GA4 property.

Wrapping Up

If you’re still someone learning about GA4 (as I am), I’d recommend checking out this GA4 vs. UA comparison or this list of updated GA4 questions. You can also subscribe to the Root and Branch YouTube channel for an updated video every week or so. I’ll see you there! There are explainers and tutorials for tracking like this.

About Root & Branch

Root & Branch focuses on paid search (PPC), SEO, Local SEO, and Google Analytics. You can learn more about us here. Or hit the button below to check out YouTube for more digital marketing tips and training resources.

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  1. […] you can connect your GA4 account with your Google Search Console property. By integrating the property with GA4 you can view data on things such as queries, […]

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