Google Defines Search Analytics in New Help Document

Understanding your Search Analytics reports just got a lot easier.

Google has released a help document called “What are impressions, position, and clicks?” The report provides details on the three core metrics found in Search Analytics.

Before, it was a guessing game for figuring out what recorded an impression, or what exactly counted as a click. But now, we’ll all be able to make more informed observations on how visitors are interacting with our sites in the search results.

Impressions, position, and clicks can help you understand how visitors are interacting with your site in the search results.

If you are meticulous about providing informative monthly reports, the information in this document can help you show your clients’ SEO campaigns are bearing fruit.

Here are some essential takeaways from the document:

What are impressions?

  • Impressions are recorded whenever a link URL appears on a user’s search results page.
  • Impressions are dependent on the type of search element (10 blue links, article carousels, Knowledge Graph cards, etc.)
  • Google may not record an impression for the visible URL (below the title)
  • The visible URL isn’t necessarily the same as what’s shown in the title.

For elements with more than one URL, impressions can be counted by site or page.

  • By site – One impression counted per site, regardless of how many URLs.
  • By page – Every URL will generate an impression.

What is search results position?

Calculating your position means navigating the various search results elements on the SERPs. There are the typical ten blue links, article carousels, Knowledge Graph cards, and much more.

  • Search results made up of many different elements (blue links, carousels, etc.)
  • Most search elements have a numeric value that describes their page position.
  • Positions are calculated from top to bottom, left to right.
Google position is calculated from top to bottom, left to right, across all possible Search Elements.
This graph shows how a Search Results page may be laid out and how Position is calculated for each Search Element.

This graph shows how a Search Results page may be laid out and how Position is calculated for each Search Element.

  • Links within a single element have the same position.
    • Ex: All links in the AMP carousel will have the same position.
  • Location can vary by device type, search features, and screen size.
  • Ads do not occupy a search position.
  • This calculation might change in the future.

The document also shows examples of how to better understand position value.

What is a click?

  • A click “sends the user to a page outside of Google.”
  • Clicking a search result, returning to the SERPs, and clicking the same link = 1 click.
  • “Query refinement” – clicking a link in Search results that performs a new query
    • : Searching for “fat cats,” then selecting Images or Videos
  • Query refinement links do not count clicks and impressions

Impressions, Position, and Clicks by Search Element

Impressions, Position, and Clicks all vary depending on the type of Search Element they’re viewed on. For example, for an AMP page, clicking an AMP page in the carousel = 1 click. Viewing the page in the AMP viewer = one click, one impression, but an impression can be counted merely for being visible in the carousel.

This is all highly detailed and useful information for understanding and defining what counts as Impressions, Position, and Clicks. Use it to make your Analytics reporting more substantial, or to adjust your clients’ SEO campaigns back on the right track.

Please note: the document has a disclaimer that states “the heuristics here… are subject to change.” Meaning the definitions it provides could change. We’ll keep this page updated, so bookmark it to make sure you don’t miss out on anything crucial.

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