What is the Difference Between Google Analytics and Google Search Console?

Written by Ryan Jones. Updated on 26, February 2024

When first starting in SEO, a common question comes to mind. Given that Google Analytics (for this article, we'll be talking exclusively about GA4) and Google Search Console are Google's two premier SEO tools, what exactly is the difference between the two tools?

In this article, we will answer exactly that. We will also go into detail about what Google Search Console is what GA4 is, and we'll also share whether GA4 and Google Search Console can be used together.

Let's dive into it.

What is Google Analytics (GA4)

Google Analytics 4 (commonly abbreviated as GA4) is Google's latest iteration of their premier analytics tool for tracking a website's performance in search, whether organic or paid. It also covers more areas of acquisition, including social search, direct traffic and referral traffic from other websites.

GA4 is one of the most widely used analytics tools today. There are a few reasons for this. However, the primary reason is that it is still the best tool on the market for website analytics and is completely free to use.

This software change came about from the changes in how countries allow cookies to be used. GA4 uses event and parameter-based measurements, whereas Universal Analytics uses user information to track website events. The tool's fundamentals have completely changed, meaning the way the tool works has changed completely, too. That being said, it is still one of the market's most widely used analytics tools.

Screenshot of Google Analytics 4 showing user acquisition over time with various traffic sources.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a similar tool to Google Analytics. However, there are a few key differences. The main difference is that the click data you get from Google Search Console is focused entirely on organic traffic and will not give you any data on clicks from social media, paid advertising, referral traffic, or direct traffic.

Google Search Console also goes a little further than GA4 by telling you whether there are any indexing issues your site is facing at the moment, and it will also tell you whether everything is working as it should with your sitemaps, website's page experience, and Core Web Vitals.

Google Search Console overview graph displaying total web search clicks over a period of time.

Can GA4 and Google Search Console Work Together?

Yes, GA4 and Google Search Console work together without issue. Once you have integrated the two tools (we'll show you how to do this in the next section), you can see all of your relevant Google Search Console data directly within GA4, meaning you will not need to switch between tools constantly.

It will look something like this:

Google Analytics 4 report showing organic Google Search queries and corresponding clicks over a month.

Linking these tools together will allow you to understand better how your website performs in search, what pages are being indexed without issue, and which pages require further attention.

Steps to Integrate Google Search Console with GA4

Integrating Google Search Console into Google Analytics is, luckily, a very simple process. To start, open up your GA4 dashboard:

Google Analytics 4 interface showing a user acquisition graph, highlighting various channels like organic search and direct traffic.

In the next step, click on the settings icon at the bottom left-hand side of your screen. We've highlighted this in the screenshot below for you:

Dashboard of Google Analytics 4 showing new user metrics, event counts, and a real-time user count, with an arrow pointing to the Admin button.

Once done, hold your mouse/cursor over the product links section so the additional dropdown menu appears:

The admin panel in Google Analytics 4 showing account settings, property settings, and product links for configuration.

Scroll down to the bottom of this section and then select Search Console links.

Google Analytics 4 admin section highlighting the Search Console links option with an arrow pointing to it.

Click on this link, and you will be able to see all of your current GSC links, or you will be given the option to add a new one.

Details of the Search Console links in Google Analytics 4, showing a linked domain and web stream.

Critical Differences Between GA4 and Google Search Console

To round off this blog post, we will go into the key differences between GA4 and Google Search Console so you can understand where they differ and how each tool can be used to the best of its abilities.

Purpose and Focus

Whilst they do similar jobs, Google Analytics and Google Search Console play different roles and have different purposes.

Google Analytics is geared towards helping you understand how your website is performing online. This is through different mediums like organic search (across all search engines, not just Google), social media traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic, and other sources. This will allow you to change your site over time to increase the views your website receives.

Google Search Console, on the other hand, is geared towards helping you understand how Google sees your site as a search engine. It does show you click data, but it is much more helpful when you use it to understand which pages are being indexed without issue and which pages are having problems so you can go ahead and fix these.

Data Collection & Reporting

There are also differences in how the two tools collect and report on data.

GA4 collects data based on user interactions. This can be in the form of page views, events (like clicking a link, downloading a file, or even just scrolling through the page), and ecommerce activities like purchasing products or adding products to your cart. It offers reports on different user demographics, the technology used, acquisition sources, and conversion paths.

Google Search Console, meanwhile, provides data on the search queries that people search on Google to find your site, your site's performance in Google search results (through the reporting of clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and average position), indexing status, and issues related to site usability and security issues on your site.

Integrations with Google Products

Both tools feature integrations with other Google products in their unique ways.

GA4 integrates closely with Google Ads and the Google Search Console integration we showed earlier. The integration with Google Ads allows for creating different audience segments for ad targeting and analyzing how your campaigns are performing directly within GA4.

Google Search Console integrates with Google Ads to an extent, but it focuses much more on integrating with Google's indexing and search powers. This allows you to submit sitemaps, request pages to be re-indexed, and see how Google crawls and indexes your website.

User Interaction Tracking

There are also differences between the two tools in how they track different user interactions.

GA4 uses an event-based data model, which is entirely flexible and allows you to create custom events to track and measure specific interactions on a site. This is great for many different website types, whether ecommerce, SaaS or anything in between, as it allows you to create an infinite number of events and track them.

Google Search Console does not track user interactions on your site. Instead it focuses on external interactions, focusing on how users find your site through Google search and how your website is displayed on search.

Audience and Conversion Analysis

There are differences in how the two tools perform when used for audience and conversion analysis.

GA4 will provide in-depth analysis and the tools required to understand your audience, segment your website's users, and analyse conversion paths and funnels to understand how users convert. In other words, you can use GA4 to track how leads become customers on your website.

Google Search Console focuses on your site's technical and search visibility aspects without providing detailed insights into conversions or the customer journey on your website. It doesn't provide the type of audience and conversion analysis that GA4 does.

Technical SEO and Site Health

When it comes to your site's technical SEO and site health, Google Search Console is by far the better tool for looking into these metrics.

Google Search Console excels in identifying technical SEO issues. Things like crawl errors, mobile usability issues, and security problems help you stay on top of your site and ensure it is accessible and indexable by Google.

While GA4 provides some insights into your website's performance, its primary focus is not on technical SEO or site health.

Wrapping Up

This article has given you all the information you need about the differences between Google Analytics (GA4) and Google Search Console (GSC).

We've taken you through what each tool is and its strengths and weaknesses; we've also answered the age-old question of whether these two tools work together. And on top of all that, we've listed the main differences between GA4 and GSC.

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