Once a business gets its website up and running, it’s important to activate a Google Analytics (GA) account and add the code to every page of the site. By simply adding this code a website owner is provided with a wealth of information about the performance of the site. There are plenty of other Analytics programs out there but what’s great about Google Analytics is that it is information straight from the source. You obviously want your website to perform well in Google, so wouldn’t it be beneficial to have the data from Google?
In addition, Google Analytics is completely free so there should really be no hesitation. Without GA set up on your website you are essentially operating it blindly and have no idea what’s working and what’s not.
In order to improve upon an SEO campaign it’s important to check certain items within Google Analytics on a regular basis:
1. Referral sources
To find the referral sources within GA, go to Traffic Sources, and then Sources, and then All Traffic. It will generate a list of all of the sites that sent visitors to your site. In many cases the top referring sites are the search engines for organic and paid search and any site that you may advertise on. If you want to see organic search engine visitors only you can click on “Non paid search traffic” within the Advanced Segments section. This will provide you with a breakdown of which search engines are sending visitors to your site. Most likely the top search engines are Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
Reviewing referral sources allows you to evaluate the success of your link building. It’s no longer recommended to build a link just for the sake of getting a link. Link building should also be viewed as a way to generate traffic from target audience members. After a few months, take a look and see if any of the places that you publish content are generating traffic. If not, look for alternate opportunities.
2. Entrance keywords
To find the entrance keywords within Analytics, go to Traffic Sources, and then Overview. The Overview page contains a list of the Top 10 keywords that generated visitors within the designated time period. Clicking on “View Full Report” provides up to 500 keywords. It includes the number of visits and the percentage of organic visits that each keyword generated.
At the start of an SEO campaign you will probably notice that a majority of keywords are branded, which is a credit to other marketing efforts in addition to SEO. The goal of an SEO campaign is to improve the number of non-branded keywords that are generating traffic over time. These keywords that are generating traffic should be in line with the keywords that you are targeting. Pay attention to any long tail variations and add them to your keyword list to incorporate into future content if it makes sense to do so.
3. Top performing pages
To find the top performing pages, go to Content Overview and for a more in depth look, click on “View Full Report”. This will show you data for each page including page views, unique page views, time spent on the page, and the bounce rate. This will show you which pages of your site are the most popular and what people are typically looking for when they land on your site.
If you are adding pages of content regularly (blog posts, articles, etc.) check to see which posts are the most popular and focus your efforts going forward on similar topics.
There is a wealth of information available in Google Analytics. The ability to drill down further and further into the data provides opportunities for you to discover what is working with your site and what needs to be tweaked. If you are new to analytics, start with these three basic data points and gradually expand your viewpoint as you begin to feel comfortable with how the data is presented, what it is telling you, and how you can set up specific variables and tracking to find out even more about the performance of your site.