SEO in Depth: Using Google Analytics Effectively for SEO
How to Use Google Analytics Effectively for SEO
Google Analytics has always been a fundamental tool for any SEO campaign, offering insights into user engagement, showing areas of growth and giving you the information you need to make effective online marketing decisions.
But what if you need a deeper understanding of Google Analytics and how it can directly help your SEO campaign? Are you using the tool to its full extent and making the most of the available data?
In this first part of our Blog Series on breaking down an SEO campaign, we look into using Google Analytics effectively.
Tracking Info – How does it collect your data?
To understand how tracking works, we must understand how Google Analytics collects the data it displays. When you visit a webpage your computer/mobile/tablet is requesting a file from a web server on which the site is located. This request is called a HTTP request. This request contains details such as the browser type, referrer, language, screen resolution and referring sites.
There are a wide range of GIF Requests Google uses to capture data:
For a full list of Gif Requests you can visit the developers.google.com page.
Traffic Filters – Are filters important? How do I set up traffic filters?
There a several reasons that you action traffic filters on your website, all are as important as each other in ensuring you are receiving accurate user data in your reports. Filters are used to help in:
- Excluding Spam Visits
- Excluding Internal Traffic
- Excluding Poor Quality Referrals
- Track activity from certain referrals or sources
- Track subdomains in separate reports
- A range of custom filters to aid in bespoke solutions
At Win Media, we work with brands that hold a large staff base, using their website as a tool for their business. With such a high volume of internal traffic, filters can help in
Google Analytics likewise has had an historic problem with filtering out spam visits, and whilst they are working to fix the issues (believe me when we say we have talked to them enough times about it!), the responsibility lies with you or your web team to ensure you are receiving accurate data in your reports.
To combat false visits, we have put together a little checklist to help you stay on top of your filters:
Actively review your referring websites. Spam visits or ‘Robots’ visits will often have an extremely low average visit times and often have a full bounce rate of 100%. Visit the sites your are seeing visits sourced from and take charge of your online presence, by reviewing what sites are pushing real visitors you can better understand your market.
Filter out known spam websites. There are a large number of common websites that are known to send fake visits to websites, when setting up a new Google Analytics profile or updating your current profile you can add a list of known websites to your filters. A list we commonly use can be sourced from: https://perishablepress.com/blacklist/ultimate-referrer-blacklist.txt
Perform a backlink review of your website, understand which of your links are high quality and which are potentially harmful. There are a number of great tools to help you review your backlink profile effectively, including Moz. If you are unsure how your website is perceived online, talk to our organic marketing experts today.
So how do I set up filters?
Whilst there are multiple confusing codes & actions to learn in Google Analytics, adding and implementing traffic filters are one of the easiest tasks! We will run through the two main filters you will need:
Filtering out Internal Visits: After logging in to your Google Analytics account, click on the Admin link shown at the top of the page. Select ‘Filters’ shown in the column to the right. Give the filter a name, for example the office location you are excluding data from e.g. ‘Wolverhampton Office’. From the dropdown lists select [Exclude] and [traffic from the IP addresses] and [that are equal to]. Finding out your IP Address for your location is easy, simply search for “What is my IP Address” within Google.
Filtering out External Referral Sites: Click Admin in the menu bar at the top of any page. In the ACCOUNT column, use the dropdown to select the Analytics account that contains the property (website) you want to work with. In the PROPERTY column, use the dropdown to select a property. Click Tracking Info and navigate to Referral Exclusion List. To add a domain simply click +ADD REFERRAL EXCLUSION and enter the Domain name. Click Create to save.
User Engagement – How can I encourage users to interact with my website?
It’s one thing to drive traffic to your website, it’s another element all together for ensuring users engage with your content. There a number of ways to ensure your website attracts a high level of user and actively engages with them:
- Landing Page Design: A clean design with clear content areas & calls to action as well as the use of data visualization & visuals.
- Relevancy of Content: More & more important in SEO, not only for end users but search engines also.
- Provide a clear journey: Clear calls to action into how users can continue their journey through your website, never let a user hit a dead end.
All these areas are covered as standard in all Win Media website designs, with a full team of search, development & design professionals working on each project we ensure that our clients websites not only look great, but provide continuous calls to action throughout content. A good example would be the design of the Kare Plus website:
Each page not only boasts bespoke calls to action, each page is rounded off with “What’s Next?” areas to ensure the user is never left in the dark of where to go next. Actively encouraging users to get in contact with your brand gives you the opportunity to take their interaction with your business to the next level.
So What Results are Good Results?
Whilst Google has suggested that User Engagement results do not necessarily have a direct impact on your websites ability to rank within the SERPs (search Engine Result Pages), you should still treat them as one.
SEO’s & Webmasters can get too caught up in how they can gain that extra one or two positions within the SERPs, without thinking how they can actively encourage more of their current traffic numbers to convert. User engagement results can act as a great tool for you to make informed decisions into developing the content of your website.
Bounce Rate, Avg Visit Time, On-Page Analytics and Pageviews are the headline indicators webmasters use in measuring their user engagement results. The trend goes that a 30% Bounce Rate boasts success for a website, with a visit time over one minute at least.
However, all results are relevant to their industry. There is no universal bar for measuring how well your website attracts users vs that of other websites online, we must look at each site individually.
An example of bespoke results can be seen through the current result seen for the Win Media client: A1 Autolocks Birmingham.
A1 Auto Locks approached Win Media looking to attract a higher percentage of the Birmingham Emergency Car Locksmith market. Whilst the site was driving a high proportion of users, few of those users were picking up the phone to call.
Despite this impressive increase in converting users, we saw user engagement results decrease vs that of their historic results. This is due to the nature of the user attracted to the site. By looking at our typical user, we identified that a customer in an emergency situation would want contact details quickly for an instant service:
Clear click-to-calls for mobile devices in the header showing Avg response time for emergency car key situations.
The website currently holds an average visit time of under a minute as well as a high proportion of users exiting on the homepage. Yet is converting more visitors within the Birmingham area than ever before, as well as boasting top Birmingham UK rankings for the likes of “Car Locksmith Birmingham”
Having an in-depth knowledge of Google Analytics is not needed to help it prove a useful tool in improving conversions on your website. By understanding how to digest the data available to you, you can make informed decisions into the development of your website.
All Win Media search marketing professionals boast a wealth of knowledge through Google Analytics thanks to extensive training and real world experience. If you want to find out how to get more out of the performance of your website, talk to us today for a free non-obligation chat!
Stay tuned to the Win Media online marketing blog to find out how to unlock the door to an effective organic campaign!