If you’re granted three wishes by a magical genie, we’re sure you’d use all three on ensuring that your website gets a higher ranking. After all, in a world where close to 95% of web traffic goes only to the first page of Google, you can’t afford to slip back.
Enter Google Analytics- your saviour. Google Analytics generates an enormous amount of data- a veritable treasure trove if you’re willing to spend the time to mine insights from the same. Be aware- this is a process that will take a while for you to implement, but the results will definitely be worth the effort (remember- Rome was not built in a day).
So, here’s the need for the hour. The most comprehensive guide of all the things you didn’t know about Google Analytics, how to use Google Analytics, and how you can action it to improve your website.
1. Get the Google Analytics report emailed to you
One of the most common complaints we hear about how to use Google Analytics is how complicated and time consuming it can be. However, there is a simple trick that can free up a lot of your time, and make sure you don’t break your head trying to physically mine through Google Analytics every day. Google Analytics allows you to get an email with snippets of all your top reports (so you have a quick way of analysing data that is relevant to you). Here’s how you can set up email reports:
- Log into your account, and select the ‘Admin’ option.
- Here, you’ll find the ‘View’ option. Select the ‘All Website Data’ tab, and you’ll find a ‘Custom Alerts’ tab.
2. Set up custom alerts for your specific triggers
The more sophisticated your website gets, the more variables you’ll have to keep a track off. There will be frequent fluctuations in your ranking and traffic, and time will be of the highest essence. It’s always better to be too prompt than be too late – and Google Analytics has your back covered in this regard.
You can set up custom alerts for specific triggers of your choice, not just a broad weekly dashboard. Say, you want to be alerted every time there is a steep drop in your search traffic, all you have to do is go to ‘Admin’ > ‘View’ > ‘Custom Alerts’, and specify what kind of Alert you want to track, and the alert conditions for the same.
3. What are your sources of traffic?
This is a fairly straightforward use of Google Analytics- but one that can make a huge impact, especially right when you’re starting off. Tracking where your traffic is coming from (is it organic, is it paid, are there some sites that are bringing in more in comparison) will have a huge impact on your marketing strategy, and will let you determine what kind of social media, content and marketing plan you want to adopt going forward.
- Go to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘All Traffic’ > ‘Sources/Medium’, to get this information.
4. Optimize and improve paths on your website
Analysing your organic landing page takes high importance if you’re trying to increase user engagement with your site. This is one of the basic parameters you need to analyse in order to understand what keywords of yours are working well, and what pathways users are using once they’ve arrived at this page.
- You can find the organic landing page report at ‘Acquisition’ > ‘Search Console’ > ‘Landing Pages’.
Ideally, we believe that users will follow the set navigation path we kept in mind while designing the layout of the website. But, the moment you start making the most of Google Analytics, you’ll understand that might not always be the case. In fact, in most instances, it will be the pages other than your homepage that get maximum traffic. Maybe a majority of the traffic actually comes from your blog, curated with the perfect keywords, and only a slight portion comes from your homepage.
- Go to ‘Behaviour’ > ‘Site Content’ > ‘All Pages’. Each page here will have its own navigation summary.
5. Optimize pages that are driving a lot of your traffic
You’ll find all the landing and exit pages here, and this correlation will help you get a holistic picture of the traffic on your website.
- Now that you have data to understand how your users follow the Yellow Brick road, you can focus on building navigational pathways that will convert this traffic into result. This might involve removing navigation that’s irrelevant, removing dead ends, or just strategically placing catchy actionable slogans in the right place.
6. Optimize pages that are driving a lot of your traffic
- We’ve already spoken about how 95% of web traffic only gets information from page 1 of Google. In such a cut-throat world, you’ve got to be up to date on all the search terms that are currently driving traffic to your site. This might have been hard to track earlier on, but now that you’re making the most of Google Analytics, all you have to do is go to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘Search Console’ > ‘Queries’.
- Here, you can find what your search queries are, how many impressions of the same you get on your website, and what the average position of the query is.
- You can set Advanced Filters in order to find and track the keywords whose performance you want to improve (it’s a good rule of thumb to aim for an average position of 11- as there are 10 results on the SERP, and the 11th result would be a good target to push into the first page.
7. Use a location filter to understand your true web statistics
Filters always make life easier. Especially when it is something as crucial as a location filter. All of us spend a lot of time on our own websites- and this can seriously skew the number of sessions, traffic and bounce rate. To make sure that the information you’re getting is not skewed, you can set up a location filter, and get a clear idea about your website engagement.
- Go to Admin > All Filters, and add the filter of your choice.
8. Use onsite search terms
If a user lands on your website, and finds it too complicated to use, there is a very high chance they will bounce, instead of searching for hidden information. Here’s where a search bar would come in handy. By analysing the search bar data, you know what people are coming to your site for, and you also know what they’re having trouble finding.
- Go to ‘Behaviour’ > ‘Site Search’ > ‘Search Terms’.
9. Locate and attack the leaks in any of your top pages
Have you done an audit to see if any of the top pages on your website have any leaks? Have you been seeing a lot of traffic to certain pages, but seeing very little conversation- whether it is a purchase, or brand awareness, or even an email subscription? That’s a leak, and if you don’t fix it, you might be losing on a tonne of traffic and sales opportunities.
How can Google Analytics help here? Well, here’s how.
- First of all, go to the ‘Behaviour’ tab on your account, and head to ‘Site Content’ > ‘All Pages’. Here, you’ll be able to see all your pages, and how they’re performing.
- Cross-reference the pages with the highest unique pageviews, with the ones that have a high bounce rate, and you’ll be able to identify what are the pages that have the leaks.
- How do you fix these leaps? You can optimize the page- make the users an offer they cannot resist. You can also use qualitative tools like Qualaroo, or Crazy Egg to determine exactly where the leak is, and how you can fix it.
10. Focus on user engagement statistics
Google Analytics has an option where you can track how long people spend on your website (along with the path they are taking to get what they want). This will help you identify their drop off point, and how long it takes to get them there. This will help you identify what are the changes you could potentially make- should you add more internal links, or update the existing content?
You can also track information on returning visitors, an average number of pages, etc. to get a more holistic view of the user engagement on your page.
- Go to ‘Reporting’> ‘Audience’ > ‘Behaviour’, and you’ll be able to track engagement, new vs returning users, and more.
11. Use the Behaviour Flow to improve the sales path
The ‘Behaviour Flow Report’ can really change the way you use your website. First of all, it can definitely break assumptions that a majority of the users coming to your website can be converted to sales (in fact, only 25% of leads are legitimate in this regard). These users all go through three steps- Awareness, Consideration, and Decision before they decide to engage. The Behaviour Flow report will let you understand the pathway the users follow before buying. If you track a new user in this pathway, you’ll be able to understand how they landed, how they reacted to the site, and where they left.
- Head to ‘Behaviour’ > ‘Behaviour Flow report’ to get this information.
12. Use geographical data to analyse potential new markets
Google Analytics offers you an opportunity to explore potential new markets (whether physical or virtual) by understanding the geographical data behind your users. Co-relating the geographical access to your site with the conversion rates can help you determine what markets you should be focusing on, and what potential new markets you could start out in.
- Go to ‘Audience’ > ‘Geo’ > ‘Location’, and you will be able to see the geographical breakdown. You can set the various Goals that you want to track geographically, and set an advanced filter on the same, so you can get an alert on any markets that you’re currently tracking.
13. Optimize internal linking by keeping your content fresh
Now that you know the navigational path people are using on your website, you can utilize this information to drive traffic to other pages on your site. You can do this by improving internal deep linking- a tactic that can increase your traffic and rankings, and also prevent any leakages from other pages.
In order to do this, you have to identify what are the pages where the most users get converted, and funnel these pages into the others that aren’t doing so well.
- Go to ‘Conversions’ > Reverse Goal Path. Now, analyse the primary ‘Goal’ you want to focus on. Here, you’ll be able to see the path the user took before they could accomplish their goal, and pinpoint the page where they got converted.
- You can refresh your old pages by linking them to the more successful ones, or even to your new post. This will increase the freshness of your content, and result in greater organic search ranking.
14. Use geographical data to create local content
Mining geographical data, and creating localized content focused on the same can take you a long way. Let’s compare two searches: ‘hairstylists’ and ‘hairstylists in Melbourne’. The latter is way more likely to turn into a sale, and if the long tail keywords on the site are tailored for these search terms, you’d not only be able to drive more traffic to the website, you’ll also be able to increase engagement.
15. Improve traffic with the Site Speed Report
Let’s face it- all of us have left websites because it just loads too slowly. There’s data to back it up as well- 40% of users are more likely to abandon websites if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load! Noticing a sharp bounce rate on some pages? See a sharp drop in user traffic? Check the Site Speed, to fix that leak!
- Go to ‘Behaviour’> ‘Site Speed’ > ‘Overview’
16. Optimize the pages based on keyword intent
Understand the search queries and keywords that led a user to your page can yield unbelievable results for your website ranking. However, you shouldn’t just focus on the actual keyword, but the intent behind the same. This will determine whether or not your website is getting the right traffic, thereby resulting in the right kind of conversion.
Broadly, there are four types of keyword intent: transactional (where a purchase is involved), navigational (where a website is being searched for), informational (where an answer is sought), and investigational (where information is sought for future engagement).
When mining Google’s data on your search queries- try to identify what kind of keywords you wish to drive. For example, if you’re trying to draw traffic to purchase a subscription from your site, your focus should be driving more transactional keywords.
17. Set up a custom SEO dashboard
Search engine optimization is the very backbone of your website, and if you’re seriously trying to drive more traffic and conversion on your website, you really need to get your own custom SEO dashboard. This custom dashboard will consolidate all the different SEO reports, so you have to spend less time perusing them, and can get to action instead.
Google Analytics has several downloadable SEO dashboards, where you can determine the metrics you want measured. Clean, effective, and to the point. What more can you ask for?
18. Spend time on the websites that refer a lot of traffic to your website
Your focus should not only be on how much traffic you’re drawing, but also from where? You need to know the sites that are referring traffic to your website. Why are some sites on the top of this list (is it because your site featured them recently), and why are some at the bottom? Which social media platform is working better for you? Are there any surprising referrals on this list? This information will go far in identifying your engagement strategy with external sources!
- Go to ‘Acquisition report’ > ‘Referrals’ data.
19. Use annotations to clearly trace the impact
We bet that one of the things you don’t know about Google Analytics is the annotation option, and quite honestly, that’s quite a crime. Annotation is a hidden gem- one that allows you to manage your website better (want to know all the changes you’ve made to your website- just log in and check the annotations, and find all the new alt-tabs, keywords, and pages added). But an even bigger advantage of annotations is that it lays out a clear path of success for you.
You see, once you’ve annotated a change that you’ve made on your site, you can track the direct impact it has had on your web traffic and ranking- no more relying on myths!
All you have to do is go to any report, click the down arrow tab at the bottom. Here, you’ll be able to ‘Create New Annotation’. To see the list of annotations, and their impact, just click the down arrow tab again.
20. Compare information between mobile and desktop engagement
Most people access websites through their mobiles- and not their desktops. While this does not mean you ignore the desktop users, you need to spend some time on mobile phone user engagement as well. By analysing the traffic, engagement, and sales conversion information between mobile and desktop, you’ll be able to determine how much of your focus should be on which element.
- Go to ‘Reports’ > ‘Mobile’ > ‘Overview’.
21. Learn the keyboard shortcuts!
Wield the power of Google Analytics at your fingertips- quite literally- by mastering the art of keyboard shortcuts. You can save a lot of time trying to find the relevant data and insights, and learning the core keyboard shortcuts will let you navigate through the platform with a lot of ease. All you have to do is press the ‘?’ key when you’re on your dashboard, and you’ll get the full list of keyboard shortcuts available!
Drop your comments and let us know whether you find this guide help. Email to us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a first free SEO consultation.