Do you ever hear or say ‘we do SEO but don’t really check Google Analytics’ or ‘we do SEO but don’t know where to look in Google Analytics’. Then you are in the right place… Keep reading and you will never ask these questions again.
I recently presented ‘Build your SEO Toolbox – Reveal FREE traffic boosting data’ on SEMrush live. You can check out the full video here:
Or you can keep reading for the breakdown of exactly what was covered and see how you can unlock traffic boosting data that will help you increase conversions too.
In the following blog post I’ll be breaking down a few key areas;
- How to get started with GA
- Installing GA
- Checking GA code
- GA account checks
- Where to look for traffic boosting data & what to do with this data
When I initially looked at putting this presentation together, I felt there’s lots of awesome information, strategies and tactics you can execute on your website. I see a lot of presentations that are quite high level. Which is great! I still find there’s a huge number of people who need guidance on what can be unlocked in Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Don’t forget this data is free!
As I say I still hear ‘we do SEO but don’t really check GA’ or ‘we do SEO but don’t know where to look in GA’. This led me to create and present this webinar.
Sadly whilst creating this, the world has been impacted by Covid 19. This has meant that people are now finding themselves with time to learn new skills. People may have found they’re taking on more marketing than they have before. Company owners may now find themselves in a position with furloughing staff that they have to get stuck into GA and work on driving their marketing efforts. Something some of you may never have done before.
Marketing spend is getting tighter, so it may be more relevant than ever to understand what can be unlocked for free to help boost your traffic and conversions on site.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH GA
Let’s dive straight into the first section ‘How to get started with GA’. It’s imperative that you have some particular areas in place when it comes to Google Analytics. If you want to make solid business decisions, yet your GA account isn’t set up correctly (many aren’t) then this data will be skewed.
Google Analytics Demo account
As I’ve just noted about skewed data, it’s good to note that Google Analytics has a demo account. Not everyone knows this exists, but now you do and this can be very helpful.
As the slide above explains the GA demo account is there for all analytics users to use and play with. This is awesome for the fact that you can get stuck in, mine data and test functionality of GA and your skills and don’t have to worry about breaking your data, or account. Always play safe!
There are a number of ways to access the demo account.
Getting Access To the Demo Account
To gain access to the Google Analytic Demo account you need to follow a few simple steps. If you already have Google Analytics access you’re already one step ahead. All you need is a Google log in.
For full details head over to Analytics Help and read all the details explained by Google.
Here’s the general process:
- Click on this link
- Read about the Demo Account and how it works
- On that page, click the link that directs you to ACCESS DEMO ACCOUNT
Next we’ll be looking at how to check the installation and correct setup of your account. You’re probably thinking ‘Yes I have Google Analytics setup correctly’.
But is it though… Google Analytics can be set up in a few ways. A couple of the most common ways are adding the code to each page you want to record data for. The second is to use Google Tag Manager to deploy the code. The second is becoming more of the norm these days. Fear not if GTM seems too big of a job to get underway. The first option is just as effective to get the data you need.
CHECKING GA CODE
Now that you know a little more on the ways to install your GA code. The next step is to ensure that you have checked your code.
Before I jump into any account I run Google Tag Assistant. Download this as a browser addon from the Chrome Web Store. Once the browser addon is installed, simply click the addon, then click enable. Then refresh the page and Google Tag Assistant will return whether your GA, GTM or other Google codes are correctly placed and if there are any issues.
Tag Assistant will help you to verify that you have installed various Google tags correctly on your page. You can also navigate to any page and the Tag Assistant will tell you which tags are present, report any errors it finds and suggest improvements that can be made to your implementation. Most Google tags are checked including Google Analytics, Adwords Conversion Tracking, Google Tag Manager and more.
This quickly gives you a snapshot of possible issues with the website’s Google Analytics tracking code.
From there, you should always check to see the code is in the right place. If it isn’t you could have a leaky bucket, which includes missing code or double tracking…. Leading to skewed metrics.
This is like a silent nightmare that you can’t see but it’s happening. Duplicate tracking is where you have more than one of the same GA codes firing on the same page. Now this might note seem like a big issue, but it definitely is and can really mess your numbers up.
It means GA is not recording and counting data correctly. In fact it can show a very low bounce rate for example. Which some may have looked at and thought, low bounce rate… awesome!! Be warned if it looks too low then there is most likely an issue. In this case it’s duplicate tracking. This is sometimes one of the giveaways that there’s a duplicate tracking issue.
How could this have happened? It could happen in a number of ways. Such as a developer adding in a second set of updated code etc. One code firing on page and one firing from GTM. All I can say is it’s worth checking this. In fact, checking often if you can. As you might find with different people such as developers working on the site that things get missed or in this case added without everyone knowing.
Hey, mistakes happen. It’s more about mitigating these as much as possible.
Again similar to duplicate code, you could in fact be missing code on critical pages. It’s easy to think that your code is on every page it needs to be. In reality you have to check these things to ensure your hunch is correct.
When was the last time you checked the GA code on your website? Possibly never, that’s fine though as you won’t miss this again.
Checking for duplicate and missing Google Analytics code
There’s a number of ways to check your Google Analytics tracking code, placement and how many occurrences you have of it on a page.
You can look at the code on the page to see what code is in place and where exactly it is placed in your code itself.
We’ve already looked at Google Tag Assistant, which allows you to check code page by page. Awesome if you don’t have a large site.
Another free way of doing it is to use a tool like GA Checker.
I’ve not used this for a while but I know people still say they do. If you’re on a budget and don’t have additional SEO tools to help you do this, it may be a good avenue for you.
GAChecker.com – Instruction on checking your missing GA code
Simply head to GAChecker.com enter the domain you want to check, like the image below. Then click Check Your Site.
We ran an example test with the following domain www.domain.com. Once all the URLs were checked, GAChecker.com displays the results.
You will notice that you can take the results and Export to CSV. You can also jump into the tabs above the results and drill into specific types of tracking code that are outside the standard GA code.
This tool is great to ‘sense check’, to see that you have your Google Analytics code on the pages you want and whether there is more than one instance of it on a page. If you want to dive in further and check the tracking IDs etc. then you will most likely want to use some of the other tools described below.
Alternatively if you’re using tools like Screaming Frog and DeepCrawl. You can set up a crawl that will tell you exactly how many instances of your GA code you have on a page.
Simply add in your Google Analytics tracking ID or GTM container ID into the contains/does not contain section within Custom Search, run your crawl and then export the pages to CSV.
Screaming Frog – Instruction on checking your missing GA code
Before we go any further, you will need a paid version of Screaming Frog to perform this task.
In the following section we will be looking at how to use Screaming Frog to check your Google Analytics code on site. This will be checking every page on your website to check the GA tracking number is on every page. Whilst also looking at how many instances or non instances of this code there is on each page.
I’d recommend you use this on smaller sized sites which are around 1000 pages. You will need to scroll through each of the results in Screaming Frog or download the data in a CSV and sort the data in Excel.
- Open up Screaming Frog
- Head to Configuration, scroll down to Custom, then select Search
- Take your Google Analytics account number (example UA-12345678-1) and add it to
- Does Not Contain – list of pages without code found
- Contains – Page with code found and how many times on each page
What we are looking to achieve here is to check and make sure that the Google Analytics code has been installed correctly throughout the website. Also ensuring that the GA code is only on each page once!
You may want to go further in depth on searching your site for GA code. You may be asking why you would want to do this. Along with checking for missing or duplicate content you can also check your site to see if there are any other GA codes lurking around. Due to staff changes, moving agencies etc. you may have different GA accounts and their code attached to the website. I’ve seen this plenty of times, where there are multiple GA accounts linked to a single website.
- Set up the extractor (GA UA ID) and Regex ([“‘](UA-.*?)[“‘])
- Scan the site with Screaming Frog
- Check results and look for other GA account numbers
Similar to Screaming Frog, when setting up a crawl you can add additional crawl information to pull GA and GTM etc. codes with your crawl.
DeepCrawl is a great tool to use to crawl larger websites. Also within the tool is a great addition which allows you to easily check your Google Analytics Code.
When you are setting up your crawl be sure to keep your eye out for NEW EXTRACTION RULE. There is a preset you can click from a few presets. The one we’ll want to choose is Google Analytics Tracking Code. This will run a crawl and also pull out for you whether there is the GA code on every page, duplicates and missing code.
The main thing is that you check your code in some way on a regular basis. If you have missing or duplicate code then you’re collecting incorrect data. Which will affect bounce-rate and page-views, exit rate, pages per session.
So remember to check your code!
GA ACCOUNT CHECKS
Now we are happy with our code and placement of it, we’ll move on to looking at what Google Analytics Account checks you should be performing.
I always like to look at GA in the following way. If you’re a chef and used knives everyday, you would ensure that your knives were sharpened properly. A blunt knife means you’ll be doing a slower, less precise job.
Google Analytics in my eyes is the same. How can you expect to make great business decisions and gain insights from your data if your GA account isn’t set up correctly?
As a very basic you should have 3 views set up for the property you are using. These 3 views should be
- Reporting view – the one you use for your everyday reporting
- Test View – this is literally as it sounds, this view is for testing anything you want in GA as if it goes wrong you won’t have damaged your reporting view data.
- Raw View – this is to be set up as a view and left. If you ever corrupt your data in your Reporting View then this is your backup life line….. Also you can view raw data without filters, etc. in this view.
GA Account Checks ‘Property’
Now we have our 3 views set up, it’s on to the next task. Have you checked your set up of your Property.
Firstly jump into Property settings, here we want to ensure the basics are activated and set up correctly.
Is your property identifiable and unique to your business or client
Ensure your default URL is the one that is displayed in your browser, either with the www. or non-www. Also make sure you have http or https. Whichever version your website is currently using.
Here you are selecting the main view you use to report with
Enable Demographics and Interest Reports
Ensure this is turned on and double check as in the example image below you may need to make a small modification to the code.
I cannot stress this enough that you should have Google Search Console linked to your Google Analytics account. Later in this blog post we’ll dive into this a little further. For now make sure this is done!
Who’s got access to your Google Analytics data? Over time you may have granted Google Analytics access to developers, members of staff, agencies etc. How many of those still work for you and need access still.
This is your data and you should control tightly who has access to this!
Here you can dive into a few areas. The two we’ll be focusing on is Tracking Code and Referral Exclusion List.
Here’s where you can check a couple areas Tracking ID, Status and Website Tracking. If you need to find the updated GA tracking code for your website. This is the place to check for that code.
There are a number of ways this Referral Exclusion list can be used. By default a referral will trigger a new web session in GA. For example if a user started off their journey on www.domain.com then went to www.paypal.com to pay for an item and then returned to www.domain.com. GA could attribute the sale to www.paypal.com. The problem with that is you wouldn’t see where the sale etc. actually came from before the user went to www.paypal.com.
If you’re an ecommerce shop and use PayPal and you haven’t set up your Referral Exclusion list. Jump into Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Referral and search for PayPal. You may note that PayPal is visible as a referral. Although this isn’t actually a true referral.
To remove this issue moving forward and make sure that your traffic and conversions etc. are filed correctly. You will want to take the following steps.
Navigate to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List. Click Add Referral Exclusion. Enter your domain and the click create.
Now you will start to see less and less conversions and revenue etc. attributed to the PayPal referral in the Referral channel and these metrics be attributed correctly.
Did you start to see any other channels (PPC, SEO etc.) start to increase now your new referral exclusion is in place?
Admin > Product Linking > All Products
Here you should double check that you have linked your relevant Google products. The ones that most people will need to check are linked are Google Ads and Google Search Console.
Now you might be thinking why do I need to link these products?
If you’re running Google Ads, that’s great. Did you know that by linking your Google Ads account with Google Analytics you can start to gain greater insights?
For example does it take less sessions to convert a person from a specific campaign, ad group, keyword etc? What channels most commonly assist and help Google Ads campaigns? There’s much more to be uncovered. Just remember by linking Google Ads to your Google Analytics account you are able to uncover more hidden data, trends and ways to boost performance. Seems silly it’s not linked now!
If you want to know how to link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account follow the steps below and all will be revealed.
- Open Google Analytics
- Click Admin and choose which account and property you’d like to manage
- Under property, click Google Ads Linking
- Click + New Link Group
- Select the account you want to link.
- Enter your Link Group Title.
- Switch on all sites where you want Google Ads data
- Click link accounts
Hey presto, it’s all done!
Google Search Console
Have you set up Google Search Console? If you have then this should be linked with your Google Analytics account. Here are a few examples of advantages it will give you once linked. Google Analytics took organic keywords away from GA quite a while ago. Using Google Search Console will help you close some of those gaps.
Once you’ve connected GSC, you’ll see organic search terms (only from Google) right in your Google Analytics standard report in Acquisition > Search Console > Queries along with other valuable data like impressions, clicks, CTR, for devices, landing pages, and countries.
- How are people organically finding your website on Google?
- How did people find you
- Branded terms?
- Service search terms?
- Landing pages that are best optimised for search?
- Geographically rankings, where do we rank highest?
Once the connection is complete, you can see organic search terms (only from Google) right in your Google Analytics standard report in Acquisition > Search Console > Queries along with other valuable data like impressions, clicks, CTR, for devices, landing pages, and countries.
Connecting Google Analytics and Google Search Console makes it much easier to view Organic data from GSC. In GA it is merged together with page-level data. As I’ve noted many times there are still so many businesses that do not do this or have the wrong GSC linked to GA.
The following steps will show you how to integrate Google Search Console and Google Analytics:
Activate Google Search Console in Google Analytics
Head to Google Analytics, sign into your GA account. Then select the website you want to link your GSC to.
Now click Admin in the bottom left hand side
Navigate to the Property column in the middle, the goto All Products.
Now click Link Search Console
Then click Add.
You will now be able to see the websites in your list. Remember to match the URL in GSC and GA.
GA Account Checks ‘View’
Carrying on the checks we need to make sure we’ve undertaken before we move onto View Settings. Sometimes this area gets overlooked. Possibly looked at that one time when the Google Analytics account was set up.
Again, as discussed in this blog it’s about ensuring you have the basics set up correctly.
- Have you got the correct URL here? Does your website resolve at www. or non www. Check your web browser and make sure you have the correct version in the Website’s URL entered.
- Secondary to this is your website http or https. With many sites now https you may find that your website was migrated from http to https. This drop down wasn’t updated at the sametime. Simply determine which version your website uses and make sure the drop down is correct.
- Time zone
- Seems obvious but make sure you have the correct time set up here. I still see accounts with an incorrect timezone set up. This can cause issues when looking at your data and what users are doing on your website. Make sure this is correct to the timezone your business mainly works in.
- If you are an ecommerce website, this is imperative to have the correct currency selected. If you sell in £ then make sure that’s the currency you’ve set.
- Bot filtering
- This doesn’t remove all bots and spiders that are messing up your data but it will certainly remove a particular amount. Unless you want to see bot traffic etc. in your data, which most people wouldn’t want to see as it can skew data. Then make sure you have this ticked (Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders) and saved.
- Linked Accounts (Google Ads)
- Here you can double check you have the right Google Ads account linked with this view.
- Site search tracking
- This is one of the most underused areas I find. Either people don’t know about the advantages of having this set up. This hasn’t been set up or set up correctly and lastly people aren’t using this valuable data once it has been set up. Later in this post I’ll dive into how to use Site Search tracking data. For now we are looking at the set up.
First you’ll need to turn Site Search Tracking on. Second you’ll need to know what the Query parameter is to enter it.
If you need to find the query parameter used on your website, simple click in your search box and type something in to search for. In the example below we’ve used Asos. I’ve entered into the search box ‘Nike’
We click search and get the following results. As you can see we got a returned result for ‘Nike’
The section we need to focus on the search query parameter below, which comes after the ‘?’ character. For example in the URL: https://www.asos.com/search/?q=nike
The query string is: q=nike. The ‘q’ is the valid query parameter you need to put in the query parameter box under Site Search Settings, the same as the example below.
Now, does your website have a site search box? Perform a search to see what your query parameter is.
- In Google Analytics you have what’s known as Goals. These will allow you to track specific user interactions on your website. A user interaction can be anything from product purchases, form submissions, collection of leads and more.
- When you come to your website and perform a specific action you’ve created a goal for, Google Analytics records that as a conversion.
Remember that Google Analytics won’t tell you how your business is doing without some additional setup. You have to tell Google Analytics what’s critical to your business and this can be done with the use of Goals
In Google Analytics, you have four ways to track goals:
Setting up Goals in Google Analytics
Google Analytics allows you to set up Goals. These Goals will help you to understand and keep track of actions of your website visitors.
A goal conversion can take place when a visitor to your site completes a specific action you are tracking—for example, make a purchase, add a product to cart, or sign up for a newsletter.
Viewing Goal data
Once you have set up your Goals there are a few ways that you can view this data in your GA reports.
The image below is of the Google Analytics home report. Here you have a number of data points to reference from. Including conversion rate
Another way to view this data is to navigate to Conversions > Goals > Overview. You can view Goal Completions and Goal Conversion Rate.
You can also find conversion data by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Select the conversion data you want to view, click the drop down for Conversions and select the Goal you want to view it’s conversion data.
Types of goals
When creating goals in GA, there are four types of goals that can be set up. Below is a brief explanation on what each of them do:
- Destination goal: this is used when a particular web page is viewed. For example ‘thank you’ page for subscribing to a newsletter.
- Duration: this tracks how long a person spends on a page, for example, 5 or more minutes.
- Pages per session: a minimum number of pages a user views during the session.
- Event: this is where an Event Goal for a specific user interaction is set up for an Event on your website. These can include downloading content, watching a video, clicking on a social media link etc.
- Smart Goal: to use this Goal you’ll need to have Google Ads linked to Google Analytics. You will also need at least 500 clicks from your ads for this option to be available and work.
- In GA Filters are used by ‘Views’. This is to segment the data in that ‘View’. Filters can be used to only include specific subsets of traffic, excluded unwanted data, such as IP addresses from staff or search and replace certain pieces of information.
- Remember a Filter only changes data moving forward. A Filter will not change your data retrospectively.
- A few Filters I alway recommend is:
- IP addresses
- Spam bot filters
The reason for having at the very least these two Filters is because if you, or any staff/contractors use your website for work purposes.
This could be checking if a piece of content went live. Or it could be you have a customer service team, they speak with and help customers. As part of this role the customer service team need to be on the website to help guide the customer etc.
The problem here is that you will have that customer service team/person’s interaction with the website recorded in GA. Imagine if that customer service team was large or even based around the world. You can see you’ll start to get skewed information being recorded in your data. When you really only want your customer interactions being recorded.
This is where IP address filters come in. Add the specific IP address into the filters set up and now you will have excluded that IP address from being recorded in GA.
Spam Bot Filters
Spam bot filters are a great way to help you reduce that spam traffic that is being pumped into your GA data. You may have noticed in your data that you’re getting a large amount of Referral Traffic. Awesome right?
Have you dug deeper to see where this increasing website traffic is coming from? When a lot of people dive in further they start to see traffic from websites they’ve never heard of. Dig a little deeper and things start to look spammy. In fact you may find that a large number of this referral traffic is from spam sites.
Before we go any further, don’t panic. You have not been hacked. Your website is fine, although your data isn’t.
Setting up Spam Filters will help resolve this situation. It’s not a one time fix as new sites and methods of injecting spam data into your GA data are evolving each day. This is something I would recommend you review on a regular basis, dependent on the scale of the issue you have.
Something I have seen a few times and it concerns me… Don’t make the same mistake. Firstly remember once you have put a Filter in place, it changes data moving forward. Not retrospectively.
Here’s a scenario for you. The worrying thing I have seen a few times is where someone see’s spammy traffic and data in GA. They also determine that a large number of this originates in Russia. So far so good right? They then set up a Filter that excludes Russia as a country.
What’s wrong with that you might think. Well, after speaking with the client I ask, do you ever do business with any customers in Russia. They replied yes we do work with a number of Russian clients. I wanted to know why they would have excluded an entire country from their data. They replied to get rid of the spam from Russia. BTW this Filter was set up 2 years ago!
Without going any further, you can see the issue here. The idea of cleaning up data was there. But due to it being executed incorrectly this caused a larger issue.
- Not all spam was removed
- Russia as a country was removed
- No business data was available for Russia
- No additional Views were set up, therefore no back up data.
In short it’s imperative to do things correctly. Test what you are doing before making it live on your reporting data.
There are many Filters that can be set up, here’s a list of what Filters you can set up.
- Exclude internal traffic
- Lowercase campaign tags
- Ensure data accuracy
- Lowercase page URLs
- Lowercase site search terms
- Add domain name to reports
- Only include a specific domain (or domains)
- Search and replace
Some of you may have read this title and thought, I sell on my website and have ecommerce tracking set up… You’re awesome! Sadly this will not be the answer for all.
Do you sell products through your website? Do you have Ecommerce tracking set up in GA and on your website? I still come across websites that don’t. This is usually because they use their CMS to check order data etc. Yet you are missing out on a gold mine of data.
If you are selling products then this is a must! Get this sorted asap. Ecommerce tracking allows you to correlate sales data with website usage data such as sessions, bounce rate, traffic source/medium, landing pages, etc.
Also looking at what channels convert and sell more products. Whilst also looking at what channels help boost other channels. For example, does Organic attract more traffic, yet PPC helps convert more users?
Check out Optimize Smart where they discuss in depth Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR TRAFFIC BOOSTING DATA & WHAT TO DO WITH THIS DATA
Now that we’ve looked at some of the initial areas that need setting up to gain greater insights into your data. Let’s move onto looking in Google Analytics for critical data that you need to be paying attention to.
When you jump into GA you’ll see on the left hand panel the A, B, C down the side. These stand for who your Audience is, Acquisition how you and your site is acquiring traffic, the Behaviour of users on your website and lastly Conversions, how are people converting on your website.
In each of these areas is a wealth of data and information that will help you uncover a number of questions. You should know when it comes to your site’s performance and who your customers are.
In this following section we will be looking at some of the areas in GA you can start jumping into to gain greater insight.
Head to Audience > Demographics > Overview. Demographic data is a lot more valuable than you may think. It can help shape your website, paid advertising channels and even your overall business model – and it’s readily available. It’s a great way of discovering who your target audience and website users are. Are you creating quality content for the correct people? How could you refine what you’re doing more? Now you have a clearer idea of your website visitors demographics.
Here you’ll gain a greater insight into the ages and gender of your users to your website.
Please note that Google Analytics Demographics and Interests reports does not include and provide data on all of your website visitors. There are a few reasons for this with cookie issues with Ad Blockers, large websites may have Data Sampling and Google uses thresholds. Nonetheless, this is a great place to start looking deeper at who your customer looks like.
Does this align with what you and the team were thinking? How can this change your plans, content marketing and messaging.
Here’s a snapshot of what the tab demographics look like.
Here you get a good idea of where your customers/visitors spend their time online. Great for helping craft quality content and even how to target PPC campaigns. Similar to the Demographics section above. This is not a report that includes every website visitor. Yet it does open a door to greater insight that you may not have been aware of before.
GEO – Location
Head to Audience > GEO > Location. Here you can dive into where your users are coming from? Is this as you thought it was? Are there places that you weren’t aware of that customers are coming from? Does that now lead you to think differently about your content etc. You can look at countries and languages. Is there a gap for translated content? Or is everyone an english speaker from these countries?
You can even change the primary dimension to City and see within a country what cities are driving the most traffic. Could this open the door for more localised great content?
In the behaviour section of GA, as it sounds you can start to uncover the behaviour of your website users.
How many users are new vs returning? What business, product or services do you offer? Do you need more returning visitors?
This will start to help you understand the landscape of your website and visitors. And determine what direction you need to move in.
Head to Behaviour > Mobile > Overview. If you’ve ever wanted to know the split of devices that use your website, this is the place to go. This highlights which devices are using the website, along with which are converting and generating revenue.
So how can this be useful to you. Are you driving a good level of traffic from a particular device? Yet it’s not converting as highly as another device type? When was the last time you looked at your website through different devices? Do they all work beautifully and work seamlessly as the next… Probably not!
This may lead you to see that mobile (for example) doesn’t function as well as your desktop site. Are there any tweaks or quick wins to a particular version of your website that will improve your conversion.
Remember, we want to drive traffic to a website. Yet that traffic is useless if it’s not converting!
With all that information and data points we’ve just looked at, how can we make it easier and more consumable to view this information. As it’s great having access to this information in GA, yet you have to jump into each section to see the data.
Let Google Data Studio come to the rescue. First off it’s free to use! Second to that it allows you to pull in information from different data points (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Ads etc.) and create a visually appealing report. Rather than looking through multiple data points in GA, you can simply run this report and share it with your team. By changing the date range you’ll have updated information in the report at your fingertips.
This is incredibly useful for a number of reasons.
- Who’s your actual customer?
- What does the data tell us?
- Target localised content?
- Were you writing for a different type of customer?
- Is device use different to how you thought.
What does that mean for the content strategies you’ve been undertaking. Have you been creating long pieces of blog content but found that users are mainly using mobile and never getting to the end of the page? Is it time to trial more video content to combat this?
Here’s our free Customer Profile template we created in Google Data Studio for you to get started with.
Do you want to know how people are finding your website?
When you know your biggest traffic sources, you have a better idea of where to spend your time and money.
Google Analytics Acquisition reports can help you drive traffic and sales.
Note: One way to get the most out of any Google Analytics data is to set up conversion goals. If you haven’t done this already, set up the easiest goal types.
Locating Google Analytics Acquisition Reports…. There are a lot of reporting sections under Acquisition in your website’s Google Analytics Account. The Acquisition section tells you where your visitors originated from, such as search engines, social networks or website referrals. This is a key section when determining which online marketing tactics are bringing the most visitors to your website.
Now let’s head to Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic. Here you can start to answer a number of questions such as:
- Which channel is driving the most traffic?
- Where can your efforts be directed?
- Which channels can be improved upon?
- If you have Ecommerce tracking, which channel is driving conversions, revenue etc.
- Did you know which channels were winning?
- How can you capitalise on that and drive more winning traffic?
When looking to improve your SEO you’ll want to be looking in the following area of GA to dive into your Organic traffic data Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic.
We’ll dive in and look at Landing pages from an Organic channel perspective. Why? Because we want to see which pages drive the most traffic organically and how they convert etc.
Navigate to Primary dimensions and change it to Landing Page. For your time period, which pages are driving the most traffic vs which pages are driving the most conversions.
How can this be harnessed and improved upon?
Here’s an example I find when working with clients. Some websites may find that particular blog posts are great entry points for search traffic. Yet are you helping those customers move seamlessly through your site to purchase/or submit a lead etc.
A blog post may be driving traffic but the way your landing page is set up may have actually created a blocker.
For example you may sell bikes and the article in question is talking about the benefits of electric bikes… Awesome, it’s driving lots of traffic! But what I’ve found with further investigation is that the website may have created a blocker. What I mean by that is the content doesn’t link through to any electric bikes they sell. Although these are discussed in the content.
Also the way websites can be setup it’s not clear for the user where to navigate to see what electric bikes you sell. In some cases, if a user is new to your website and brand they may not even know or understand that you sold electric bikes due to the way the article is written and structured.
What I mean by that is the visitor could land on this page read the article and then leave. Because the website owner did not lead this page onto more relevant content, ebikes they sell etc. Just because you have driven traffic to your website and specific pages, does not mean the visitor will know where to go or what to do after they have read the article. More likely they’ll hit the back button to the Search Engine Results Page.
So think more than leading the horse to water, help the horse drink the water.
With additional tools like Hot Jar ‘Website Heatmaps & Behaviour Analytics Tools’ you can start to see what actions visitors are taking on a page too. This is a great tool to see directly what people are clicking on, how far they scroll and much more.
There’s a free account that lets you track 3 pages. Just as a basic in getting the free account and tracking some pages you want to improve upon, you will be sure to uncover some hidden gems of insight you weren’t aware of before.
Think about what actions you want a user to take on a page you create. How can you help the user to complete their task/ get the question they have answered. Lots of tiny tweaks to a page can help you to create a larger improvement to your page or site.
Page Analytics – by Google
For other ‘free’ page insight tools you can download as a browser extension Page Analytics. This isn’t as widely used these days and hasn’t been updated since March 2019. Yet please note that when I put this together, I was looking to help as many people as possible gain more from their SEO, GA and GSC. Therefore I wanted to keep this in. It’s free to use and will give you more insight than not having it and using it.
Cool Hack Time
Who doesn’t like a cool little hack from time to time. Especially when it can open up all that lost organic keyword data.
In this following section we’ll be looking at how to unlock that organic keyword data. Keywords were taken out of Google Analytics a number of years back. But there are other ways to help bring it back and unlock this gold mine of information.
Keyword hero is to the rescue. This handy piece of software will help bring back keyword data into Google Analytics. Setup a new property and view for this. Instructions are included on the website.
In short, Keyword Hero helps connect the dots with the missing organic keyword data (not provided) in Google Analytics. Keyword Hero collects data from Google Search Console and adds this to the GA data and now you’ve populated the keyword data back into GA.
This now gives you the power to see clearer what pages rank for what terms. This is a great starting block to help you start to improve your different types of content. Check out this article we’ve written on ‘Unlock (not provided) Data in Google Analytics with Keyword Hero’
SEMrush – SEO Content Template
Now we’ve worked through a lot of information here. Hopefully you’re now at the point you want to start improving content? If you are, there’s a cool tool from SEMrush. If you’re a SEMrush user or looking to start using it. It has ‘SEO CONTENT TEMPLATE’ and ‘SEO WRITING ASSISTANT’.
This allows you to enter in your specific keywords and content. It then gives you SEO recommendations of suggestions and competitor insights.
It also gives you on the right panel:
- Readability Score
- Word count
- Title issues
- Content issues
- Target keywords
- Recommended keywords
- Alt attribute issues
- Tone of voice
There is also a Google Docs add on which can be used for teams too, so you don’t have to be in SEMrush at that point of writing.
Google Search Console
If you’ve never used Google Search Console, you are in for a treat. There is so much value held in GSC.
‘Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.’
Google Search Console
If you have Google Search Console set up, please make sure you have the correct GSC property linked with your Google Analytics. Many times I’ve found that a site has migrated from http to https. Yet https GSC property hasn’t been set up or hasn’t been linked with the main reporting view of GA. That’s a shame, as you’ll either be missing data or could have been looking at incorrect information 🤪
Linking Google Search Console in Google Analytics
- Open your Google Analytics account
- Go to Acquisition (left sidebar) > Search Console
- Click the Set up Search Console data sharing button
- Choose your Search Console account
Now you’ve set up data sharing from GSC.
Now you’ve GSC linked to your Google Analytics account you can navigate straight to GSC data from within GA. Head to Acquisition > Search Console. In the below sections we’ll jump into some of the key GSC areas you can look at in GA.
Landing pages (Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages)
Which landing pages are getting the most Impressions? Are these pages getting a good click through rate from SERP (Search Engine Results Pages)? Are they getting clicks at all?
A couple of areas to focus on are, if a page is getting strong impressions but not getting the clicks. Do you need to optimise your page further? Is the SERP result not enticing enough to draw the user through. Do you need to update Titles and Meta Description? Are there content and keyword improvements that can be made to the page?
You can cross reference the search queries by landing page and start to see where you can start improving your content.
Similar to when we looked at GEO locations earlier. Are there countries and locations you’re attracting that you weren’t aware of. How can you help cater for these locations? Translations of content? More country/regional focused content?
We are living in a mobile first world. Is your website though?
Similar to when we looked at Technology, what’s your split of devices being used to view and interact with your website.
I’ve found in the past that site owners find there is a huge amount of mobile traffic. Yet they rarely look at their own website through a mobile device. In a lot of cases you can still find that the mobile version of the website doesn’t work and navigate in the same way the desktop does.
Have you tried to perform the same tasks on a desktop and mobile to see that everything works as seamlessly as you’d like. And that there aren’t any blockers in place. You may find that the product page, nav menu, checkout process etc. works slightly differently from desktop to mobile. Inadvertently you may find this slight difference in functionality could be losing you vital conversions.
Is your conversion rate higher on one type of device over another?
Remember sometimes it’s not about doing one big change to your SEO or website that will bring in the mega bucks. But actually a collection of smaller changes could lead to a bigger change and help drive more success.
What can I do with this Google Search Console Data?
You can take search console keywords and ranking pages and in a spreadsheet start to see what pages rank for what terms. Are there any long tail keywords you’re not targeting?
Or export the data into Google Data Studio for easier analysis. Whatever works for you.
What pages don’t include these terms and how can you strengthen your pages ranking by including these into your text? Do some of your findings lead to new pieces of content? Or even consolidation of content. Depending on what you’re finding.
Here’s a link to Aleyda Solis’s article on using Google Data Studio and Google Search Console Performance Dashboard. Or head here if you want the link to the dashboard.
The behaviour section of Google Analytics shows you how people are engaging with your website. Whilst also understanding the interests of your audience and how they are interacting with different pages and navigating through your site.
In the following section we’ll be looking at a couple of critical points that will help you increase conversions and user satisfaction.
Site & Page Speed
Improving your Site Speed and Page Speed will help your SEO as Page Speed is a direct ranking factor.
QUOTE: “Speed is definitely a ranking factor? YES.” John Mueller, Google 2019
Therefore we want to do as much as we can to help improve this. There have been numerous studies in relation to improving site speed. With each second your site takes to load the percentage of abandonment increases. You can see where we’re going with this.
Let’s jump into the following area of GA and see what we can do to improve page and site speed Behaviour > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions.
The Site speed suggestions tab allows you to jump right into which pages have site speed suggestions.
PageSpeed Suggestions, lets you click and the PageSpeed Insights will run a report for you.
Feeding back what improvements can be made. There are many tools out there that can help you analyse your site and help you to improve your site and page speed. If you are just starting looking at improving your speed then there is functionality right in Google Analytics. Remember Site speed matters to SEO.
Continuing on from the previous section we’ll look deeper at tools you can use to further optimise your page speed. Although this is outside of Google Analytics, a number of these tools are free and therefore you may find yourself in the position to get cracking on more page speed optimisation.
By further shaving off that loading time, you’ll add that to your bouquet of SEO checks you’re making.
Look at what pages perform badly, verses pages by sessions and users. Are there higher volume pages that are slow? What tweeks can be made to improve the site speed.
Use site speed tools like GTmetrix, Lighthouse, Pingdom and Web page test and you can see what improvements need to be made. Depending on your resource these may be things you can do, like resizing crazy sized images or if you have a developer they can start working through these issues and improve page/site speed.
This is one of my favourite areas so ensure you have this setup in Google Analytics. Do you have site search facility on your website? Do you know what visitors are typing into your site search box and why does this matter to your website.
Site Search is where google analytics records visitors and what they type into your site search on your website. You’ll need to ensure this is set up correctly. Settings > View Settings > Site search Tracking (turn on), Query parameter (Use ASOS example) (?q=)(q).
There is further instruction on how to set this up in GA earlier in this document.
Now you can enter Search Terms and see what people are searching for on your site.
Why is this useful? Say you run an online store that sells t-shirts. For this example you mainly sell white, black, blue and grey t-shirts. Yet when you look at the site search data (Behaviour > Site Search > Search Terms). You can see that a large volume of visitors are searching stripy t-shirts or green t-shirts. Yet you don’t currently stock or sell these colours. This could lead you to bring these products into your online store.
Also under the same circumstances say you do sell ‘stripy t-shirts and green t-shirts’ this may lead you to look at your sites navigation of products and investigate how to make it easier to find these types of products. Once you’ve made improvements you can now start to see if people search for these products less as they can find them more easily now. In turn product sales increase.
Remember it’s not just about getting large volumes of traffic to your site. It’s what that traffic is doing on your website and helping to improve the conversion path and increase conversion/sales.
Annotations are like a storyboard of events and activity of your website and marketing etc. Annotations allow you to record short notes of upto 160 characters on a selected date.
Why’s this useful?
Have you ever looked at your GA data and seen a spike a year ago and can’t remember for the life of you what that is? Was it a newsletter we sent out? Did we have a great piece of press? Was there something else that attributed to this? I can’t remember as I’m so busy, is usually the answer and quite understable.
If you record marketing activity as annotations it is a far better way of being able to look back and understand what has happened. I’ve seen many times marketers and website owners guess or attribute spikes and dips to things they’re not 100% sure of. If you send an email, take a couple of seconds to annotate that and you don’t have to store it in your mind🙂. Get a great piece of press, annotate it. You see where I’m going with this.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please let us know if you have any questions.
If you’re looking for help with your SEO or Google Analytics data, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can give us a call on 07809204937.
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