For those who love and practice Search Engine Optimization or SEO for their websites, it is important to understand all of the resources you could/should be using to maximize the ROI (return on investment) for your efforts. In case you didn't already know, Google Analytics is currently undergoing and update to a brand new interface complete with a SEO feature. This tutorial is meant to help you understand how you can use this new aspect of Google Analytics to maximize not only your traffic but also your earnings. Note: this article is meant to act as a supplement to my five part tutorial on the Standard Reporting interface of Google Analytics. I would strongly recommend you look over parts I-III of the tutorial. To read Part I, click here; for Part II, click here; for Part III, click here; and for my supplemental article detailing the viewing options for Standard Reports, click here.
For the sake of this tutorial I will be using a few self-created terms to make things more understandable and less repetitive. If you have read my other articles related to this tutorial then you can skip over this part, if you have not there are a few things I need to explain as a preface to the main explanation. First, I will be referring to what I call Primary Menus, Secondary Menus, and Tertiary Menus when looking at the Standard Credit: https://www.google.com/analytics/Reporting interface. Primary menus are written in the blue bold-face, all-caps type font and are located on the left-most sidebar after you click through the home screen to one of your website reports. The primary menu that the search engine optimization feature is under is the Traffic Sources menu. Search Engine Optimization is a Secondary Menu, these are written in gray and have arrows next to them which can be clicked to expand a list of what I call Tertiary Menus. Most secondary menus and tertiary menus have Tabs; depending on the menu, some have multiple tabs and some only have a single tab. The most commonly found tab is the Explorer Tab, which I will briefly explain now. The Explorer Tab shows information for different specifiers as well as listing data based on the primary dimension selected. The primary dimensions will vary among different tertiary/secondary menus and will include data related to the selected secondary/tertiary menu. For example, the primary dimensions of the Explorer Tab used in the All Traffic menu would include primary dimensions related to traffic sources. Most Explorer Tabs have multiple specifiers to display certain information when selected, but in all of the tertiary menus used under the Search Engine Optimization secondary menu, there is only Site Usage.
1. Site Usage - this data includes metrics for Visits, Pages/Visit, Average Time on Site, Percent of New Visits, Bounce Rate (as a percentage), Goal Completions (set up in your AdWords account), and Revenue (earned from sales on your site).
Also, a commonly found primary dimension is Other, which is explained in the following description:
- Other - this shows metrics for a variety of different things for further specification by Visitors, Technology, Traffic Sources, or AdWords including all secondary menu options described below:
- Visitors - Language, Continent, Sub Continent Region, Country/Territory, Region, Credit: https://www.google.com/analytics/web/#report/and City
- Technology - Browser, Browser Version, Operating System, Domain, Screen Colors, Screen Resolution, Flash Version, and Java Support
- Traffic Sources - Source, Medium, Keyword, Campaign, Ad Content, Visitor Type and Landing Page
- AdWords - Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword, Match Type, Matched Search Query, Placement Domain, Placement URL, Placement Type, Ad Content, Ad Distribution Network, Ad Format, Display URL, or Destination URL; these metrics are in the context of the Google AdWords interface so please refer to Google AdWords for their descriptions
Now moving onto an explanation of the secondary menu Search Engine Optimization and its tertiary menus.
Search Engine Optimization
This secondary menu includes three tertiary menus which are Queries, Landing Pages, and Geographical Summary. I will explain each of these tertiary menus independently, but first it is important to understand that in order to view analytics data for these menus it is necessary to first setup Webmaster Tools data sharing. Before I explain this there are two things you need to confirm:
1. Do you own the domain(s) of the website(s) you are trying to perform search engine optimization for?
This is important because, in many cases, content writers do not own the domains they write for though they have access to some channel of monetization through Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, etc. Unfortunately, this is true for Info Barrel writers; we do not own the domain for infobarrel.com, so we cannot add individual tracking codes to our sites. This is because tracking codes are used for what Google calls "verification of ownership." Obviously if you do not have ownership you can't verify it, so unless Info Barrel or whatever site you may write for offers some sort of option to verify "ownership" of a subdomain or your individual pages, you will unfortunately not be able to use this feature.
2. If you do own the domain(s), have you verified ownership with Google Webmaster Tools?
If you have verified then this screen should display the Explorer Tab for each of these tertiary menus and should be showing some data. If not, Google will display an explanation about what Webmaster Tools is, how to set it up with Analytics, and how to use it within Analytics. It will also provide a button which links to the necessary interface for setting up the data sharing. Simply follow the steps as Google instructs you and everything should be fine. Otherwise, an in-depth explanation of how to verify ownership can be found here.
Now assuming you have everything in place you should see some data displayed for each of the tertiary menus under the secondary menu Search Engine Optimization. I will now take you through each of these tertiary menus individually.
This tertiary menu shows the top 1,000 daily queries (by clicks) that resulted in impressions, clicks, an click-throughs to your website. This menu uses the Explorer Tab and includes the primary dimensions Query and Other. You can also add secondary dimensions to this including Country or Google Property by clicking the "Select" drop-down menu and selecting from the available options. I will now explain these terms for both the primary and secondary dimensions.
- Query - this refers to search queries which are keywords or phrases entered into the Google Search Engine that display a listing of search results which may lead visitors to your site(s) if they are ranking in the top 1st-nth pages of search results. This dimension shows metrics for Impressions, Clicks, Average Position, and CTR (click-through-rate).
- Impressions - number of times any URL from your site has appeared in search results for any search query; this does not include any impressions you may be paying for to appear in search results through Google AdWords campaigns
- Clicks - this is the number of times a searcher has clicked on URLs from your website or the number of times a searcher has clicked on one of your site's impressions that showed up in search results; this does not include any clicks on impression you may be paying for to appear in search results through Google AdWords campaigns
- Average Position - this is the average ranking of your website's pages for a search query or multiple search queries. Average means that this number is created by adding together your URL's positions in search results and dividing by the number of times your site's URLs have appeared. For example, if your site is ranking 5th for "cats" and 10th for "cat toys" then your average ranking position for these two search queries is (5 + 10)/2 = 7.5 which is adjusted by rounding to 8, meaning your average position is 8. The equation for calculating this metric is: (Ranking Position for Search Query 1 + Ranking Position for Search Query 2 + … Ranking Position for Search Query n)/ Total Number of Ranking Positions
- CTR (click-through-rate) - this is the percentage of clicks on URLs from your site compared to the total number of impressions of URL's from your site have been displayed in search results. The equation for calculating this metric is: Clicks/Impressions x 100
- Country - this secondary dimension shows the same metrics as the primary dimension, Query, but adds the Country metric. This is straightforward enough, and simply displays the country of the IP address(es) that visitors are coming from to your website and its pages
- Google Property - this secondary dimension shows the same metrics as the primary dimension, Query, but adds the Google Property metric. This metric displays information which specifies the type of web property that the search activity for these queries occurred on. The four options for this metric are: (1) web search, (2) mobile search, (3) video search, and (4) image search.
Additionally, these reports can be customized to display information in different ways. To learn more about the types of report views that Google Analytics offers please refer to this article.
This tertiary menu shows the top 1,000 daily landing pages for your site. In other words, this table provides a listing of the top landing pages for your site from visitors who have found your site's URLs within Google search results. ThisCredit: https://www.google.com/analytics/ menu shows the Explorer Tab which includes the primary dimensions Landing Page and Other. You can also add secondary dimensions for Country or Google Property, just as in the Query tertiary menu. Since I have already discussed these metrics in full, please refer to the previous explanation of the Query tertiary menu for more information on the specific metrics used in the Explorer Tab of this interface; these metrics are: Impressions, Clicks, Average Position, and CTR.
- Landing Page - to start off, a landing page is the page that visitors first came to when they arrived at your site. This information is important because it will describe which pages of your site are most likely to be ranking for search queries (keywords) based on the number of impressions for each landing page. Landing pages with a high number of impressions would indicate that these pages are probably being ranked for one or more keywords. You can also get an idea of each landing page's ranking by looking at the Average Position metric (lower numbers means a higher ranking).
This tertiary menu shows the same metrics as those used in the other two tertiary menus and the Explorer Tab includes the primary dimensions Country and Google Property. Since these metrics have been previously discussed I will not go into too much detail. To reiterate briefly, the Country metric designates the country from which visitors are coming based on their IP address of the visitors, and the Google Property designates the web property that visitors come through when entering a search query into the Google search engine. This menu's Explorer Tab also offers an option for adding secondary dimensions which include Date, nthDay, Google Property/Country (depends on which primary dimension you've selected), and Site.
- Date - this shows the number of impressions displayed by some primary dimension and by date; the date is written as simple numbers which follow the order of year, month, day (ex: 20111128 would express November 28th, 2011).
- nthDay - this shows the number of impressions displayed by some primary dimension and by nthDay, which is the number of days since the page(s) which appeared as impressions were indexed (this goes up to 9999 days since index). For example, a site that has been indexed 100 days ago would be displayed as 0100.
- Google Property/Country - this has been discussed previously
- Site - this simply shows the number of impressions by some primary dimension and by site, which is basically just the main domain URL of your website.
This concludes my explanation of the Search Engine Optimization feature of Google Analytics. Please feel free to offer me any feedback so I can continue to improve my tutorials and writing style.