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Top tips for using Google Analytics to measure SEO results

Written by Brett Sidaway, March 23, 2011

Top tips for using Google Analytics to measure SEO results

Using Google Analytics to measure SEO

In any search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign, it is imperative to measure the progress of your SEO efforts when it comes to your website and how it ranks in the search engines.

This is an ongoing task that includes thorough evaluation of the keywords that are driving traffic to your website and their conversion rates. No longer can you rely on your SERPs (search engine ranking positions) for the keywords that you are trying to target, especially if these keywords are not driving enough traffic or not converting well on your website. Here are some questions you need to ask:

  1. Are your targeted SEO keywords generating more traffic?
  2. Are new visitors finding your website interesting and engaging? You can measure this through factors such as bounce rate, average page views etc.
  3. More importantly, are visitors converting on your website?

All of these questions can be answered using Google Analytics, a free tool which can be used to measure your SEO efforts and results.

Google Analytics – Our Top Tips

Tip #1 – Have some benchmark KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

When it comes to SEO it has to be part of a bigger marketing, communication and business picture. A good example – if your marketing team are about to launch a TV campaign it is important that words and phrases associated with that campaign will lead straight to your website should people search online. Ideally this needs to be via organic search, maybe with Pay Per Click methods filling in the gaps. Google Analytics allows you to track this and adapt your SEO and search engine marketing strategy based on actual results. The first step is separating your organic visits e.g. segment your organic search engine traffic from the rest of your visits (e.g. referring websites, social media, direct access). KPIs usually involve you extracting data from the standard Google Analytic reports in order to make the calculation specific to your organisation. Good KPIs to use include :

  • Keywords
  • Traffic sources
  • Bounce rate
  • Number of unique visits
  • Average Visits per Visitor ratio
  • Length of visit
  • Conversion rate

Tip #2 – Research your keywords

The Keyword report can be compiled from the Traffic Sources Keywords section. This report will show you the metrics for all keywords, both organic and paid key words. And, as with the other reports, you have the option of viewing this information in the context of goal conversions and e-commerce value. If you use the Show Links, you can also change your view to analyse just paid or unpaid keyword results. Of course, you also have the segment drop-down menu to further segment the keyword data by campaign details, geographical location, or technological capabilities. Ensure you are using these keywords in your external campaigns and look for new insights. For example, you may think everyone refers to your product as ‘makeup’ when in fact there could be a significant number that use ‘cosmetics’ or something more specific like ‘foundation’. Your Keyword reports will tell you this and enable you to further look into targeting alternative keywords.

Tip #3 – Direct traffic analysis

The Direct Traffic reports analyse those visitors who come directly to your site by selecting your site address from a favourites list or by typing your URL directly into the address bar of their browser. The Direct Traffic report is measurements of how many of your site visitors qualify as coming directly to your site and not through some outside source. Direct traffic can be an indicator for a couple of factors about your web site. First, direct traffic can point to the popularity (or lack of popularity) of your brand. A brand is the image that users have of your company. The stronger your brand, the more likely people are to access your website directly. For example, software and you think Microsoft and when you think of online search, you probably think Google. That’s because Microsoft and Google are more than just company names. They are also well known brands and both get monthly searches into the tens of thousands.

Tip #4 – Referring sites analysis

A couple of questions you need to ask yourself are, “Where do my visitors come from?” and “Who refers them?” Knowing where your traffic comes from makes it easier to target marketing efforts. It also lets you know if your current marketing efforts are working. So, where does traffic come from? People may come to your site from all manner of sources. To see what those sources are, look at the Referring Sites report. This report lays out the referral sites for your visitors and then illustrates how those visits translate into goal conversions and e-commerce data. It tells you if visitors who come to your website from a newsletter campaign buy more than the visitors who come from your social media marketing campaigns. Or maybe the visitors who come from a high cost referral link spend less time on average using your site than visitors from many free referral links? The only way you’ll ever know is to look at this report.

Tip #5 – Search engine analysis

Search engine optimisation is highly important when it comes to creating traffic for your site. Some people spend virtually all their time learning which search engines brings the most traffic and how to target those search engines so they’ll rank higher in search results. Google Analytics shows specific data for search engines that refer visitors to your site. The Search Engines report lists all of the search engines that have referred visitors to your site and how many visitors came from each search engine. The default view for this report shows all traffic. In other words, when you click on this report, you will see all of the traffic that was pushed to your site by search engines, no matter whether that traffic is the result of organic SEO or Pay Per Click . However, you can change that view using the Paid and Non-Paid links to look at only the segment you require.

Getting support with Google Analytics

Google Analytics can be a very powerful tool, but it’s likely that you will need some support. If you are a based in the West Midlands and looking for a credible Birmingham SEO company and perhaps even a consultant that provides SEO training courses to help you to get the ball rolling in setting up Google Analytics and successfully monitoring traffic to your website. Don’t forget to use blogs and forums where possible as there will be lots of people who are happy to provide further support and talk about their own experiences using Google Analytics. Over the next few weeks we will be covering a series of SEO topics in more depth. Please follow us @opaceweb on Twitter for information on blog updates. Find us on Facebook, and feel free to subscribe to our feed.

Image credit – Search Engine People Blog

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