Using Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a valuable and free resource to help you monitor your presence in the Google search results and find the actual search terms for your website.

Exploring Actual Search Terms

Webmaster Tools allows you to see how Google Search sees your website. To find your search queries, log into your Webmaster Tools dashboard and click on your site. Then look for Search Traffic and click on Search Queries. Now you should see a chart and table like this:

actual search terms

The most important part of this report is the table data. Here you'll find approximate numbers of organic search terms that are usually hidden behind the (not provided) curtain in Google Analytics.

This table contains useful information, including:

  • actual search termsQueries (number of different search queries for which your site was shown)
  • Impressions (times your site was shown in search results for these queries)
  • Clicks (how many times the user actually clicked your site in those search results)
  • CTR (the Click-through Rate based on impressions vs. clicks)
  • Average position (the average position of your site for each query)
  • Top Pages (switch to this tab at the top to see your top pages in organic search)

Although the data are only estimates and approximations, it can be used to evaluate your current organic performance and identify areas in need of attention. For example, if one of your most important search queries and pages has a low CTR or average position, it would be worth concentrating on that to better optimize it for search engines. Also remember to not just consider what search terms are performing well but also which ones you would like to see doing better.

The data can also be sorted just by clicking on the column headers. To sort by more than one column, you can download the table into a CSV file which can be opened with Excel or you can save it into Google Docs.