Explaining The Other In Google Analytics Search Console Reports

November 16, 2017 | Jon Meck
Explaining The Other In Google Analytics Search Console Reports

We hear it all the time – how do I unlock that secret data that only Google knows about? Sometimes we’re getting asked about (not set) in Google Analytics reports, but lately I’ve been hearing it about the (Other) category inside of the Search Console reports in Google Analytics. Let’s set some expectations and clear the air once and for all.

Background – A House Divided

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about where we were just last year. Google Analytics updated the connection between Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics, bringing data from the Search Console into easy-to-read reports in the Acquisition section in GA.

Michael wrote a great summary article about that here:

The new connection is better than it was and it certainly alleviated some common pain-points. It makes it easier to compare queries/devices/locations/landing pages with the behavioral data that we get from Google Analytics. It does not go so far as to connect organic queries to sessions and subsequent conversions, but that’s a different story.

Good so far?

But What About My (Other) Question?

When they connected these tools, we had a new items show up in the report – a big line at the top labeled (Other). Yikes! Why is it here? What did we do?

search console queries GA

Previous issues of (Other), like in our All Pages report, indicated high-cardinality and obfuscated really important info. Is that what’s happening here?

Well, no. It’s not hiding anything that we used to be able to see, and it’s not possible to see what’s inside there.

Essentially, you’re getting the same data that you would see in Search Console. In Search Console, they actually filter out certain queries for a couple of reasons – if they are low volume or if they contain private information. In that Search Console, they just hide these terms completely.

When they introduced Search Console reports in Google Analytics, they actually chose to show how many queries were being filtered out. Originally called “(Not set)” – they just call that “Other” now. Here’s the official wording: “To protect user privacy, Search Analytics doesn’t show all data. For example, we might not track some queries that are made a very small number of times or those that contain personal or sensitive information.

John Mueller addressed the issue on video a few years ago on a English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout.

“It’s not something completely different. It’s essentially just showing that difference, that you’d have to kinda calculate yourself if you looking at just in Search Console.”

So What Can I Do?

There’s not really anything to do. You’re not really missing anything, nothing has really changed! There are other keyword tools out there that might be helpful, but there’s nothing wrong or broken with your reports.

Check out a few of these other posts for ideas on keyword tools.

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