If you spend your life buried in keyword research, hinting for broken links or writing keyword copy, then news of something new on the horizon does generate a buzz of excitement.
The new beta version of the Google Search Console or Google Webmaster Tools, as it was formerly known, is just that.
A revamp of Google’s lesser known analytical platform has been long overdue. Outside of SEO and digital marketing circles, few people even know what it is or what it does, so any simplification is welcome and at first glance the beta version is much more user friendly and significantly stripped down from the old version.
That said, it is early days and there are is a big change in the amount of data you have access to in the new version when compared to the old.
What Google has given, it has also taken away in some areas but a lot of the important information remains intact including search queries and click data, as well as performance data by page, country and device.
What’s Missing from the New Search Console?
When I mentioned stripped down, I mean this new Search Console is significantly stripped down with most of the old ‘search experience’ section now absent as well as any information held on backlinks – both internal and external. Whether these are present or are set to be added later is unclear. For now, the old and new versions run side by side and this could well be the case for many months while development work is ongoing.
Spot the Differences
New Version (note the missing sections on the left):
What’s good about the new Search Console?
As we have mentioned Search Console is much easier to navigate around than before. There is often information overload in digital marketing when you just want a nice easy way to find out who’s clicking, how are they finding your site and when.
All of this is present in the new version and the data now goes back much further than the three months you got with the old version.
From what I have seen so far, keyword data goes back as far as August 2016 but it may go back further depending on how long a website has been linked up.
This marks a major shift with the extra data being extremely valuable. It will now be possible to look at performance over a much longer period of time and enable SEO teams to see any gaps that need to be looked at to ensure keyword ranking performance is maintained.
Google Search Console has long provided a useful way to detect keyword opportunities and is normally an integral part of the keyword research process on established websites.
Overall the new search console is a step in the right direction but when it comes to analysing backlinks, the old version is still the place to go with Google yet to include it in the new version. Backlinks are still an important part of SEO both for building site authority and detecting any malicious negative SEO, so the hope is Google will eventually move this data over to the new version in time.
One thing is certain, SEOs should be able to rest easy in the knowledge that Google isn’t out to get us with this new platform even if it appears to be squeezing us out in others.