GOOGLE ANALYTICS & SEO

 

The Search Engine’s Mission

The role of search engines is to crawl the web and index the pages that they deem worthy, in an order that provides value to users.

In doing so, their mission is to ensure users can quickly and easily find the information, products, services or content they’re looking for.

Google’s mission statement, written in 2013, is as follows: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Source: https://www.google.com/about/

 

Bing’s mission statement, also written in 2013, is as follows: “At Bing our central mission is to help you search less and do more. To that end, we’re constantly looking for ways to make your search experience more efficient.”

Source: https://blogs.bing.com/search/2013/08/23/find-it-faster-with-bing-product-search/

 

Yahoo’s mission is to “make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining.”

Source: Yahoo.com

 

What can we take away from this?

Essentially, search engines exist to send us away from them and to what users search for. Ironic, isn’t it?

Google Search Console on Google Analytics

Google Search Console on Google Analytics

 

Think about it. You visit a search engine, perform a search and then leave. The better the experience you have with a search engine (i.e. the greater success you have at finding what you want) the more likely you are to use that one again. With that in mind, you can rely on them wanting to return search results that are as closely related as possible to what it thinks” you are truly looking for.

There is a lot to learn from this.

My grandpa used to say, “Tell me what someone wants and I will tell you how to control him.” And I tell you today that if you want to control how your web property shows up in search engines, you have to understand that the primary mission of the search engine is around what people want and nothing else. Yes, the companies behind them want to make money through advertising, sales, etc., but they know that these things are most profitable when driven by that primary mission of providing value.

User driven metrics control search, and likely always will.

If you are able, through your site, to provide useful, accessible, engaging, inspiring and entertaining information, then you are golden. If people want you, search engines will want you. This should be the guiding principle behind your SEO strategy.

Thankfully, GA can help you understand what searchers want, like, enjoy, engage with and how you can act on that knowledge to improve your ranking.

Google Search Console on Google Analytics                                                               

Going back to chapter 14, where we installed Google Search Console, you may recall that GA alone is not enough for us to capture adequate data to take a knowledge-driven approach to SEO.

To be able to make educated SEO decisions, you need Google Search Console. Once you connect Google Search Console data to your web property, you will have access to a wide array of reports that will help you understand how pages are performing, what keywords are sending the most traffic, what pages are getting the highest engagement, what is relevant and what is not.

The goal of this chapter is to help you capitalize on GA to optimize your site’s organic search performance in the best way possible.

Let’s jump back to the GA dashboard.

Under “Acquisition” scroll to “Search Console”.

Without Google Search Console, the default analytics results are extremely limited. In fact, GA will often return “Not Provided”.

With Search Console, you will have access to extensive data, which is enough to optimize, improve and plan ahead.

Also, Google Search Console is the best SEO tool out there that you can use for free. Make sure that you are using it and learning from it as much as possible.

 

Search Console Landing Pages Report

Search Console Landing Pages Report

Search Console Landing Pages Report

As you can see in the report above, GA provides a list of the most popular landing pages on your site that visitors have arrived at through organic search.

The table shows a lot of valuable info, which is the result of the merge between Google Search Console data and on-site behaviour data. This helps you not only know what people did to find your page, but what they did once they arrived there, and whether they took the actions that you want them to take.

These are the terms you should know to get the most out of this report:

SERP (Search Engine Results Page) Impressions – This is the number of times your pages popped up in search results.

Clicks – The number of times people clicked on your page from an SERP.

CTR (Click Through Rate) –  The number of clicks/the number of impressions * 100, meaning, it reflects the rate at which people see your listing in organic search results and choose to click through to your site.

Average Position – This is the average ranking of your page in organic search results, taking into account all the keywords that this page ranks for. If your page has an average position of 3, for example, that means your page usually shows up around the third spot in SERPs (which is a very good position to have).

Sessions – This is the number of visits that you get to your site from organic search.

Bounce Rate – This tells you how many visitors to your site (from organic search) left without taking any action.

Goal Metrics – This shows how your traffic from organic search is converting on the site.

The Landing Page Report gives you a view into how your different pages are performing from an SEO perspective. It helps you see what pages are performing well, which ones can be improved, and which pages you can capitalize on elsewhere, maybe through paid search or social campaigns.

 

 Acquisition Google Search Console Countries Report

 Acquisition Google Search Console Countries Report

 Acquisition Google Search Console Countries Report

In this report, you can see the amount of organic search traffic you’re getting from each country.

This insight can help you tailor future content for different countries, with different languages and different information that caters to specific audiences.

I use this report to understand who is coming to my site and how I can tailor new content for them. It also helps me identify opportunities I may be missing out on. For example, if I’m getting a lot of traffic from a specific country, but it isn’t converting, I can start looking into why that may be, and what I can do to better serve that traffic and increase conversions.

In the sample report above, you can see that the US is the second biggest source of traffic to my site. Because of that, I try to tailor some content to that audience instead of only concentrating on Canadian traffic or local traffic.

 

Acquisition Google Search Console Device Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Device Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Device Report

As small as this report is, it packs a big punch.

This gives you a quick overview of where you stand as a brand and site, as it shows your average position on mobile, tablet and desktop.

If you see that you have a lower than usual CTR on mobile, for example, it may be a sign that you are not appealing to users of these devices. You may find that you need to a better job with meta title and meta descriptions, or even that your site isn’t rendering properly on mobile devices

Acquisition Google Search Console Queries Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Queries Report

Acquisition Google Search Console Queries Report

This report is, for SEO purposes, the most important one in the Google Search Console reports, as it shows what terms and keywords visitors used to arrive on your site.

This shows what you’re good at and what you can improve, in terms of keywords.

It is a great place to see what type of content to concentrate on more, and gives you the start of a model for how to approach future content and what types of terms to concentrate on for a more targeted and sustained approach to the details on your site.

 

Takeaway

GA, in partnership with Google Search Console, helps you understand how visitors search for your site, how they perceive it and if they find it relevant, giving you a starting point from which to build and improve on your content strategy for better SEO.

What makes GA so important as a tool, is that it taps into user metrics, and these user metrics are the main ranking factors of any website, as of this writing.

 

This is based on chapter 18 from the book “The Secret to Capitalizing on Analytics”

 

Analytics Will Matter Even More in 2019

I often say to my students, “A business without analytics is a blind business. After all, how can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are?”

To best predict your future, you need to have a really clear picture of your past and present.

 

Analytics: Past & present

What once involved intense manual data mining, report creation, repetition and a whole lot of human error has become more and more automated as the years have progressed.

And, because machines tend to move faster than humans (certainly where data processing is concerned), the rate of change in the field of analytics has been getting faster and faster.

The existence of change has always been there (and always will be), it’s just now happening at unprecedented speeds, with updates, upgrades and plenty more “ups” happening on a daily basis.

 

Analytics 2019

Marketing: Past & present

When the speed of change in analytics increases, so too can the speed at which we adapt our marketing and business strategies. And that’s a good thing.

Being able to make informed business decisions that are fully aligned with your dreams and objectives is a powerful thing. The more efficient analytics becomes, the more efficient we become at making those amazing decisions.

Your Business: Past & present

I’m not clairvoyant, so I can only offer guidance, but let me ask you this: Are you investing ⅔ of your marketing efforts in analytics?

Looking ahead to 2019, you may be surprised that trends show about ⅔ of all marketing is now, and will continue to be, based strongly on analytics and data.

So, if you are spending the majority of your efforts on implementation, think twice.

Back to marketing

Given the current trends, I see marketing in 2019 summarised by three key pursuits: Research, Implementation and Measurement.

Both Research and Measurement (making up ⅔ of the above-mentioned pursuits) require a strong understanding of analytics.

Additionally, as you likely already know, the value of analytics goes beyond marketing. It also plays a key role in other areas of business decision making. Therefore, making the investment on the marketing side will pay off beyond that.

 

Analytics 2019

Why is Analytics important for businesses in 2019?

Here are 5 critical uses of analytics to pick up in 2019:

 

  1. Match the message to the traffic.

Analytics gives insight into which types of traffic are most engaged with what types of content and who is most likely to buy your product or service.

By understanding your different audiences, you can create campaigns that target them with relevant content and aligned strategies, leading to higher conversions.

Essentially, you’ll know who responds to what, taking a lot of guesswork out of implementation.

 

  1. Understand how people navigate your site.

It’s important to know who your visitors are, and more important to understand how they behave on your site.

Understanding how visitors engage with your web property shows you where they enter, what they interact with, where conversions originate and where people quit. Understanding specific user flows on your site empowers you to make changes that address your business goals, whether it’s keeping people on your site longer, funneling them to specific content, or taking specific actions.

 

  1. Know your traffic sources.

Simply put, when you know which sources drive the most (and best quality) traffic, you know exactly where to direct further investments of time, money and/or effort.

 

  1. Get clear on the actual interests of people visiting your site.

The better you know your clients and visitors, the better you can cater to their needs, the greater your business will grow.

Analytics gives insight into valuable demographics, which you can capitalize on. Those can include age, gender, interests, device type, location… it goes on.

Having access to this information helps you create more relevant personas and exceptional targeting.

 

  1. Recycle your analytics in other business areas.

The thing about information is that you can use it over and over again, for as many different purposes as you like.

The idea that analytics is only for analytics experts or marketing professionals is flat out wrong.

Knowledge empowers everyone. Circulate that knowledge throughout your organization so whether someone is working in customer service or product design, they have a wealth of information right at their fingertips to help make better business decisions.

 

Planning for 2019

Remember that, ultimately, it isn’t about the information you get from analytics. It’s about what you do with it. Invest in bringing that critical knowledge and insight into your business, then use it!

How to use analytics to create good content.

Are You Missing the Boat on Data-Driven Content Marketing?

Do you want high performing content? Don’t we all!

In working with a variety of companies, from small startups to Fortune 500s, I’ve learned that analytics is a tool not capitalized on enough, especially when it comes to content marketing. Even big companies, with huge marketing budgets, are missing the boat.

Interestingly, analytics (whether Google Analytics or another tool) tends to be looked at only after a paid campaign, end of the season, or before the end of the year. Sadly, most companies don’t even consider looking at data pre-campaign, which is a huge missed opportunity.

The more I work with analytics, the more I realize this powerful data should be considered in all phases of a campaign, especially when it comes to content marketing.

Why? Because analytics doesn’t just tell you what worked, it can also help you predict what will work in the future and what to use to make it work… if you look in the right place!

That’s why, when the time comes to create relevant, engaging content, I look to 5 main Google Analytics metrics.

Here are 5 ways to use Google Analytics in your content marketing strategy:


1. Site Content

In Google Analytics, just under Site Content, you can see the pages on your site that get the most visits. This gives you insight into your most popular topics or content types, allowing you to predict the topics and formats that are most engaging and appealing to your visitors.

Look at your bounce rates, exits, and avg time on page as well.

With this data, you will be able to plan future content either by using similar content structure, similar topics, or even a similar general approach.

Site Content Report from Google Analytics


2. Site Search

If you have site search capabilities built in, Site Search metrics is the best way to see what people look for once they arrive on your site.

Are people searching for something you don’t have a lot of content on? Or maybe you do, but they’re using different terms and not finding what you have?

Knowing what people are looking for is like having a crystal ball, telling you what content to create or enhance.

This can tell you how to cater to new visitors, align your content strategy with current customer needs, and know what content to use in ads and promotions.

Site Search Report


3. Audience Details

What type of people are visiting your site? This can help you determine the type of content to deliver. For example, you may discover you have a large millennial or baby boomer audience you can tailor content to. Perhaps you have high traffic from a particular country and you can adjust some existing content to have a more local flair.

When it comes to audience details, there can be many factors to consider.

To make better sense of the numbers, I usually look at at least 3 months of data to get more content-worthy metrics, and look at these key metrics:

  1.       Demographics (age and gender).
  2.       Interests (affinity categories and in-market segments), which help me understand the general and related interests that my visitors have, allowing me to create better content and target them in my social or search campaigns.
  3.       Geo (language and location). Pay close attention to language. Over time, you may notice a growing traffic segment associated with another language, or that there is potential for expanding your market.

Knowing these metrics will help you create the right content, for the right age group, at the right place, at the right time.

Demographics (age and gender)


 

4. Channels

‘Acquisition’ is the way in which you acquired visitors. It is where you will find the top sources of traffic to your site. For example, you can acquire visitors from Google, referrals from other sites, article mentions, newsletters and more.

Knowing how you got your current visitors will help you understand how your content is being shared, searched and viewed, and which content is best at drawing people in.

Knowing this empowers you to create content catered to the different visitors in your different channels, and create even more of the type of content that is best at bringing new visitors to your site.

 


 

5. Search Console

Under ‘Acquisition’ in Google Analytics, there is an important section called ‘Search Console’. This section is functional when you link your Google Analytics with Google Search Console.

Search Console reflects traffic from organic search, meaning you can see which keywords or queries in Google are leading people to your site. You will also see how well you rank for these keywords, and the number of impressions you get for them.

This data will allow you to assess what is working as far as search goes, help you further capitalize on these topics, and empower you to work on better and more relevant content for your site.

Google Search Console Tools Report on GA


Takeaway

Analytics can be a big part of creating great content. Taking advantage of analytics BEFORE creating or modifying content makes it part of a truly powerful cycle of creating content, seeing how it works on your web properties and sites, realigning your content strategy in accordance with the data gathered, and back to creating content. The big difference being, your content gets better, more relevant and more engaging each time.

If you use analytics (and you should), make sure you are using it to its fullest potential and your fullest advantage. Always check your data and analytics. Listen to what they are telling you. Make them an essential part of your overall marketing strategy and you will begin to see your content performing better than ever before.