The problem: missing data in Search Console
On a new website with very low traffic, Google Search Console shows a small number of clicks in the graph on the front page, but when you click through to the more detailed analytics reports, it says “There is no data for this set of filters.” In my case, my site had page views in the low 100s, because it was nothing more than a simple “coming soon” placeholder. Still, if it’s getting traffic from the search engine results page, I’d like to know more about it! Unfortunately, Search Console won’t tell me anything.
The homepage in Search Console shows me that five clicks happened:
However, when I click through to Search Analytics it give me an error message, even though I have no filters set. I can’t see what search query terms led to these five clicks.
The unsatisfying solution: (not set)
If you search for this error message, almost all the results will tell you that you’ve got something misconfigured. Perhaps you have a www and a non-www version of the site and you’re looking at the wrong one. This wasn’t the case for me. Yet the other common suggestion, “your site is too new and doesn’t have any search engine traffic”, is also obviously not true because I can see those five clicks on the Search Console homepage.
In the end, Google Analytics gave me the information I need. I have my Analytics connected to Search Console, so when I went to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimisation -> Queries I was able to see what was going on.
As you can see, the query term is “(not set)“, which just means Google is choosing not to report query terms in full. The explanations for why they don’t show all data are pretty unsatisfying, but it’s always happened. On a busier site that I manage, “(not set)” accounts for 25% of all queries in this report.
While Google Analytics at least tells you what it’s not telling you, Search Console doesn’t. For a busy site, this just means that the numbers won’t match between the two reports. For a new, very quiet site like my yet-to-be-launched one, it means that Search Console gives you nothing but an error message.
So, what to do?
- If your site is very new/quiet, and you get this error message, connect Analytics to Search Console and look in Analytics for now. You’ll be able to see your position and CTR, at least.
- Wait until you get more traffic; when you do, some of it’s sure to be other than (not set), and will start to show up in Search Console.
Unsatisfying, I know, but that’s the best I could figure out.