Why Google Webmaster Tools Shows Minimal Queries and Impressions
I’m back in the saddle for another SEO ride on a different day, and many more SEO issues to tackle pertaining to GWT queries and impressions.
Today, I’d like to share with you an SEO experience that has driven myself and a customer nearly crazy trying to figure out.
The issue at hand was trying to identify why Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) shows minimal queries and impressions for their website.
Not to long ago, I wrote a post about performing SEO using multiple GWT accounts.
To my surprise, I thought that we had remedied the customer’s situation and all was well.
But as time passed since that post, nearly 30 days, we noticed that the GWT profile was showing minimal data for both queries and impressions.
Hmm, something must be wrong, right?
The fact that there is no improvement in search rankings, and both queries and impressions led me to be believe that there was something inherently wrong with the domain name.
After all, the website has been thoroughly audited, optimized, and pristinely coded via WordPress, so the site has nothing more to do than to start ranking.
The interesting thing to note that throughout this process, the customer’s website traffic has been normal and steady.
But like I stated previously, the same can’t be said for GWT queries and impressions.
With the customer on the phone discussing a different issue today, pertaining to why their website was ranking for a keyword using an incognito browser window, we discovered yet another issue with GWT.
I inadvertently pulled up the GWT account and low and behold, there are non www. and www. GWT profiles in the same account.
Previously, the customer and I had decided to use and verify the www. version of their website.
So how and where did we go wrong that the non www. of their website was now back showing in GWT?
That was the exact question I was in search of answering.
Fortunately, the customer told me they added the non www. version back to the profile and removed an owner.
This is where things got interesting for us both.
Does it matter if our website is associated to https in GWT?
Looking at both the non www. and the www. versions of their website, the customer asked the question of does it matter that the GWT profiles are not using https when added.
Of course, in all of my years of using GWT, I had tried adding https to the domain for a previous customer years ago with no success.
With nothing to lose but deleting the GWT profiles and being able to retrieve the information by simple re-adding each one.
So that was my plan, trying to add the https www. version of their website and then deleting the GWT profiles for the non https www. and non www. versions of their website.
To my surprise, I typed in https://www.website.com/ and had successfully added the website.
No sooner than I added the entire website address in GWT, I was met with a success message and then a please verify website.
I verified the website and was utterly amazed to see a daily average of 175 impressions across the past 30 days.
But before we celebrate too hard, I noticed the queries over the last 30 days are reading a big goose egg, 0.
I’ve yet to figure out why there are no queries and will do so over the next couple of days.
Too many cooks in the GWT kitchen leads to multiple website profiles
Before I rush off, I had to finish deleting the other GWT profiles for www. and non www. versions of the customer’s website.
To do so, I had to unverify and remove all owners using the original account of ownership for GWT.
After successfully removing other users, I then had to unverify the original owner for both www. and non www. GWT profiles.
So the interesting thing about this experience is that if your website is not setup correctly in GWT, you could very well think your website is penalized due to the lack of queries and impressions being shown.
Now this doesn’t mean that a website is not algorithmically penalized should there be no manual penalty visible in GWT.
However, as this customer and I found out the hard way, you could have too many cooks in the kitchen managing and optimizing your website.
In our case, we had too many people doing a multitude of things correctly and incorrectly, yet canceling one another out.
Downside to Google not providing explicit GWT instructions
That said, I made a mistake in not realizing that GWT could accept http:// and https:// when entering the domain into GWT.
I’m fortunate to have been wrong and have found this data, but even more fortunate to have a customer that was thinking outside of the box at that very moment to suggest the https idea.
I didn’t think adding the https www. version of the website would work based on previous experience of it failing, and to my surprise, it did!
In my humble opinion, Google could do a better job of allowing a selection of http or https before entering the www. or non www. domain of choice.
On further investigation in a deep Google dive, I find that GWT will allow you to enter a multitude of various types of domains, including ftp domain addresses.
These various domain addresses are not listed on the GWT page as a helper when entering in the site you want to track.
Using GWT to detect canonicalization and duplicate content issues
Now that we have the correct website being tracked in GWT, another thought or side to this post is that having the additional http www. and http non www. versions of the website tracked in GWT displayed nominal to no data.
In short, GWT was doing what it was suppose to in showing nominal to no data due to the website being an all https website.
In actuality and although I don’t recommend anyone performing the following, the http www. and http non www. profiles could be used to verify that there are no links in search using non https addresses — which will possibly help detect duplicate content or canonicalization issues with your website.
Identify why GWT queries are showing 0
Again, as much as I would like to celebrate the find, the customer and I are still not out of the woods as we now have to figure out why 0 queries are showing in GWT viewing the https www version of the website (the correct one).
I’ll be sure to keep you updated as we go through this process and peel the onion back even further to this never-ending and winding path of ongoing SEO towards achieving optimal search engine rankings across major search engines.
And if any of have experienced this issue of impressions showing but no queries and your website is exclusively https www, please do chime in and offer ideas as well as your experience.