Last Updated on 27 October 2020 by Lukasz Zelezny
There’s no getting around it— Google Analytics is an incredibly useful (and free) tool for digital marketers, detailing vast data into website performance, traffic and conversions.
However, for anyone who isn’t an SEO expert, getting the best from this tool, and using the data to boost performance in both search engines and sales, can be quite daunting.
What is ‘analytics’ in SEO?
The dictionary definition of analytics is information resulting from the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics.
When it comes to SEO, this data relates to organic traffic. The value of those data and their useful analysis is used to create growth in engaged organic traffic. This act is performed off the back of its measurement, analysis, implementation and updates.
What we’re looking at then, is finding out who’s visiting your site, how they’re getting there, where from, on what device, when, and why. There are more demographics than that, but at least those give us a basic understanding of how in-depth a tool Google Analytics is and how much there is to glean from it.
But the big question is: how? And when you’ve figured out how to track down all the useful information, what do you do with it?
Google Analytics is an excellent tracking tool, delivering facts and figures about your traffic, yet, if you combine that information with the analysis of the keywords driving that traffic, then you’ve got a far broader, and ultimately more useful picture.
- Understand the search queries that trigger impressions and earn clicks
- Detail device types for more appropriate optimisation
- Find out where your best markets are coming from
- Confirm your best and worst performers using landing page results, and the elements that drive your best traffic
How to measure SEO in Google Analytics
There are so many tools and reports within Google Analytics it’s often hard to know where to start, or which are your best means to achieve relevant guidance.
You need to spend time getting to know how each of the areas of the GA system work. There’s a lot to understand, so getting used to its navigation and where each section leads, and the useful statistics they supply, is a great first step.
The primary areas of interest, once you can comfortably find your way around, are:
How much organic traffic your site attracts
You’ll find this in the Acquisition > Overview > Source/Medium link. You’ll find a breakdown of organic traffic for each channel in the overview, and then a range of additional charts and figures in the Source/Medium section.
The keywords that drive traffic to your site
Keywords are at the root of how you get found, so head to the Search Engine Optimisation > Queries link to see a breakdown of those driving traffic to your site.
- Query = the keyword search phrase
- Impressions = how many times your link ranked and appeared in a search for the keyword phrase
- Clicks = the number of times someone clicked through from those impressions
- Average position = your average page position for your impressions
- CTR = Click through rate – the percentage of times you earn a click from your impressions
How to track SEO rankings with Google Analytics
There isn’t a particular number, percentage or grade to dictate a ranking when it comes to SEO; the key metric is to see how your organic traffic is performing—for the whole of your site and individual pages.
There are a couple of ways to check your data here, but however you do, you should expect to see a steady increase in numbers to show that the work you’re doing to boost your SEO is paying off.
Tracking your organic search traffic
We’ve already chatted about where you can find the organic traffic for your complete site, but to ascertain more detailed and useful information, you need to examine individual pages. You can see which are doing well, why, and consider how to use those elements to improve other areas of content.
Navigate to Behaviour > Site Content > Landingpages. You’ll see them ranked by the number of sessions they’ve achieved. If you insert the URL of each page in the search bar, you can access the data for each page by clicking the Secondary dimension > Acquisition > Medium, and then click the Organic checkbox.
Alternatively, you can create a segment that only includes organic traffic. Segments make Google Analytics so much more accessible and easy to use. GA already has a ready-made segment called Organic Traffic, so why not use it? Check out your pages in the Behaviour section for upward trends.
Does Google Analytics affect SEO
There are a range of myths and legends surrounding this topic. Almost all of them have been debunked and disregarded.
There is no physical or direct impact on your SEO just because you sign up for, and access the service. The only advantages to come from GA are all to do with how you choose to utilise the data you gather from it.
So, does Google Analytics help SEO? Only by helping you detail where you can or need to put your efforts. That could be to do with the content, keywords, links and more. And by linking to your Google Search Console, you’ll have a more complete picture into all sorts of data to help you drive your best practices schedule.
How to improve SEO with Google Analytics ?
How do you use this great tool to track and drive traffic, and improve your SEO? There are too many ways to list in one short article, so here are a few ideas you can try to get used to the system, and track improvements.
Republishing pages to boost interactions
If you monitor the organic traffic of a particular page, there’s every chance numbers could drop as well as climb. If you notice traffic dropping, head to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages and select a page. This is the time to dig deeper into the data to find out why.
Look for patterns regarding the organic traffic through all available metrics, and where they change. Does this explain those dips? And if it does, counteract them with stronger keywords and fresh content. When you’re happy with the changes, republish your content.
Improve SEO on your best and worst converting pages
Again, head to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages, select a goal and examine the conversion rates. From there, type the ranking keywords into Google, and check the backlinks of the top-ranking URLs. If you can use this information to replicate what they’re doing, then that’s a great place to start.
Boost landing page performance with assisted conversions
Rarely will you make a sale from the first click of a landing page. Earning brand awareness and customer confidence helps to convince your visitors to become customers. Once you understand this, you can use the previously visited pages that helped your customer arrive at the decision to buy, to drive more conversions.
Head to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions, and select one of your conversions from the drop-down list. Choose how long you think your sales cycle should take, and then click Organic Search at the bottom of the report. Apply the landing page URL as a secondary dimension, and you’ll see which pages converted with its help.
Using your new data, you can now update your content on other pages to attract even more of the relevant traffic.
Find additional keyword opportunities using your internal search tool
Most websites have a search tool to help users find what they’re looking for, especially on large or eCommerce sites, or it isn’t instantly apparent where the information they need might be.
Finding out what your visitors are looking for gives you a chance to provide landing pages for search phrases that aren’t already covered, and guess what? Google Analytics can help you with that.
By setting up Internal Search Tracking on GA and allowing the software to gather the data, you’re in a position to use the Site Search option as a Behaviour in your Search Terms report.
Monitor for traffic dips and spikes
Automating Google Analytics to send you alerts when metrics change suddenly or by unusual numbers is an excellent opportunity to put something right, or boost your best actions before things get out of hand.
Head to Admin > View Column > Custom Alerts > Create a New Alert to set them up.
Give each alert a name, select the conditions and values and see how well they work for you. If you need to tweak to the values to get the best from each alert, then do.
Dips and spikes uncover all sorts of issues, all providing data that you can use to improve performance.
How to use Google Analytics for SEO
The important thing is to understand how Google Analytics works and to keep building on your knowledge of its tools, data, and how each area can be utilised to your advantage.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you certainly won’t become a Google Analytics expert overnight.
Keep plugging away, searching out new tips and tricks, and when you’ve mastered the majority, you’ll have so many SEO boosts, techniques and best practices organised that your organic search traffic will show the constant climbing metrics you need for success.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a tool which enables you to track your blogs, websites and social networks. As defined by Wikipedia, “Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand.” This service was launched by Google in November 2005 after it acquired Urchin.
It has been noticed that Google Analytics has been the most commonly used service on the web for web analytics. It gives you a customizable and predetermined report. Since it provides more data as compared to others, it is considered as a very dominant tool.
A Software Development Kit is provided in Google Analytics which allows the user to gather usage data from Android and iOS apps. This is named as Google Analytics for Mobile Apps.
Mariam Naficy, Founder & CEO, Minted says “Google Analytics helped us optimize our art marketplace, resulting in 400% year-over-year revenue growth for our art business.”
Various elements that it works on are:
- Number of visits on a website/blog/social media
- Duration of visits
- Source of visit/traffic
- Number of pages visited
It also shows you other details like the preferred sections of your users, the keywords that are used, technical details of the devices of the users.
The most important aspect that makes Google Analytics stand out from other tools is its compatibility with other tools of Google. Also, you can try your hands on the various Analytics resources that are available in Google Chrome.
Why is Google Analytics training beneficial?
Be it an app or a website, Google Analytics is useful for everything, no matter what was the reason for creation. You might have created your app or website for generating leads, for online sales, for sharing some information, for promoting your products or any other thing, Google Analytics helps you in tracking its performance.
Google Analytics training can be really beneficial in learning how to generate reports. You also get to know which of these reports would be really useful for your business and also how to read these reports in order to turn the data into an insight. You also get the figures about who visits your site and what type of device was used to visit your site. In these training sessions, you learn how to identify the issues that the visitor may be facing while browsing your website through different devices like an mobile phone, laptop, desktop etc. The same goes for difficulties that may occur in a particular operating system.
These training sessions can help the professional in analysing if their efforts on email marketing, social media, articles and blogs have been effective enough to attract the potential customers. If you are running a marketing campaign, you need to know which demographic group it is giving results in so that you can make more efforts in that direction and reduce the efforts where the performance is not good. All this knowledge is imparted in Google Analytics training.
With these trainings, the professionals can establish if they have been able to achieve the specific goals they are working on for a website or app.
What will Google analytics training offer me?Learning how to optimize your website or business’ search engine optimization can be a difficult and long process, but there are some resources that will allow you to get ahead of the game and push your website far up the rankings super fast. Understanding your analytics and insights is the first key step to becoming a SEO master and attracting way more traffic online, which leads to leads and prospects, and then brilliant customers!
Google itself offers a program called “Google Analytics Academy” which provides fantastic, top-notch online courses, completely free of charge, which can teach you the basics of making sense of your statistics and analytics, and ranking well for your chosen keywords. This course can teach you a lot about how to optimize your website’s search engine ranking and how to set up reasonable or ambitious goals for your business. If you take the advanced Google Analytics lessons, you’ll learn how to use advanced features, functions and tools and take advantage of the entire suite of Google’s Search Console.
However, Google’s free Analytics Academy might not be perfect for you. It doesn’t go fully in depth and won’t teach you practical ways to create a great content strategy and boost your way up the rankings in real life. While it can teach you what your statistics and analytics mean, it won’t let you know how to use them or why they are even important to your business.
Our paid Google Analytics training on the other hand provides you with an absolutely stellar collection of tools and information which gives you genuine ways to understand your statistics and drive more traffic to your site through search engine optimization.
What is the value of your site?Knowing what your site is worth in search rankings and search engine optimization can be a little difficult. You have a lot of statistics and analytics at your hand but making sense of them and understanding how well your site is doing, and how well it will perform in bringing in leads, prospects and thereby great customers and clients, is a little cryptic and confusing.
Your site’s value not only depends on how far you are up the search positions, but also on how you are interacting and engaging with your online viewers, and encouraging them to take action. User retention, bounce rate and page viewing time are extremely useful factors which can point you to how to increase your site’s value through a good content strategy.
As well as holding the value of online traffic, your site is also valuable based on how Google favours it, on a scale of positive to negative. The Google algorithm punishes sites it sees as spammy, fraudulent or low quality. Building your traffic and moving up the rankings depends on how high standard content you put out, whether you’re using dodgy SEO techniques or not, and whether other low quality sites are linking to you. If you find links from a fraudulent or unrelated website linking to somewhere on your page, then you should disavow the links to increase the positive value of your website.
Where can I find lite support?You may want to optimize your site for search engine rankings, increase your position in search results, drive more traffic and understand your analytics and statistics, but don’t have a huge budget to pay for an SEO expert or to purchase some overpriced course. Even if you cannot afford to pay for some very affordable training, such as our Google Analytics training, there are a lot of completely free options online which can teach you everything you know to excel at SEO and improve your business or website’s online performance.
Like we mentioned in another answer, Google offers its own “Google Analytics Academy” course with numerous lessons which go over the basics of how to make sense of your traffic and ranking stats, and some ways to improve your search results positions, as well as a little overview of the advanced and technical SEO tools. This is great for a beginner, but if you need more practical information, there are other options.
There are huge collection of blog articles, videos, podcasts and infographics which can teach you how to search engine-optimize your website, drive more traffic and market your business better. His company does charge for premium services and consulting but the enormous wealth of free information he puts out online for people who don’t want to break the bank is truly astonishing!
If you want to hear what other marketers and webmasters have done to improve their search engine performance, we recommend browsing through the Google Analytics forums, and some other free SEO forums online to learn some more. It’s all free and can teach you a lot if you pay attention and act on the instructions.
How can I suggest a new feature, contribute or report a bug?Whether you are using the free version of Google Analytics or the paid subscription Google Analytics Premium, there are many options if you want to suggest a new feature, give tips for improving the platform, make a complaint or report or bug or glitch! For one, the GCAP forum is a great place to share your problems and report bugs, so others can look into fixing them or find workarounds. Google Analytics also has a dedicated “get help” page where you can read common issues and workarounds, and get in touch with someone. You can also report a problem here, or contact them to make a suggestion for the platform. On this page, you can find the link to the Analytics Developer Documentation and use their Issue Tracker to point out a problem with the website. The Analytics API Support Request Form can help you get in contact with someone who will try to resolve your issue, but if you have purchased the premium version of Google Analytics, you will have a designated account manager who can help you fix the problem as soon as possible. That’s one of the benefits of having Google Analytics Premium.
Why use Google Analytics vs Wordpress Stats?If your website is built with the WordPress platform, you have built-in access to some handy traffic stats, such as page views, unique visitors, retention time, and which keywords you are ranking for in all the main search engines, with numerical stats to show you how much of each one is being searched and leading to one of the pages on your business’ website. If you install the Jetpack plugin for WordPress, you get a new stats dashboard with some more analytics.
However, there are some pretty huge limitations to WordPress’s built-in stats and the Jetpack plugin. They lack the full range of analytics and statistics which are so important and helpful for marketers and SEO experts. Although WordPress and Jetpack do provide some rough stats, they are not always accurate and do not always reflect the actual performance of your website. They are also more targeted towards understanding how much traffic you get and to which pages, rather than how well your site is performing in the search results.
Google Analytics however provides a wide variety of tools which can help you practically improve your SEO. There are tools which can help you gain and lose backlinks, and statistics which show you where you are going wrong with your search engine optimization strategy. These are so much more useful than just knowing how many visitors you have. If you go with Google’s premium Analytics subscription, you get access to a designated account manager who can help you, too. You can also hook up your same Google Analytics page to other sites, which is handy for showing you where your traffic is coming from so you can double down on the marketing methods which are obviously delivering great results.
Can I use MonsterInsights together with another Google Analytics plugin?MonsterInsights is an absolutely fantastic analytics tool which provides you with outstanding statistics from Google Analytics right in your native WordPress dashboard. It is highly user friendly and designed to be super friendly to use. However, is it possible to use MonsterInsights along with another insights plugin on WordPress?
Unfortunately, as of writing, it is not recommended to use MonsterInsights with any other Google Analytics plugin which performs a similar function. Because both MonsterInsights and the other plugin(s) will be using your traffic data, they can skew each other's recordings, which will actually do harm to your search engine optimization strategy and content marketing campaign if you are fed incorrect numbers from your plugins.
Especially since MonsterInsights uses real time statistics, which are very important and respected by its users, it is highly suggested not to install any other Google Analytics plugins, and to uninstall or disable any others you have so MonsterInsights can run efficiently and do its job properly. MonsterInsights tells its installers to remove any other Google Analytics tracking codes from their WordPress websites.
Why does MonsterInsights load Google Analytics in the header section?When you’re trying to install Google Analytics on your site and track your traffic, views, visitors and SEO rankings, it can be confusing where exactly to put your tracking code. Where you insert it has been known to change what readings you get, so where exactly should you put your Google Analytics tracking code so MonsterInsights can do its job properly?
Well, according to MonsterInsights, putting your Google Analytics tracking code in your footer could seriously harm the readers you are fed by MonsterInsights, which is not good for your search engine optimization strategy and content marketing campaigns. Knowing exactly the views and performance of each page is super important! Google Analytics says the best place to insert your tracking code in the HTML of your website is actually in the header section of your site, or around that region. When a user clicks onto your website, one of the first parts of the site which is loaded is the header. If the tracking code was in the footer, you might not be recording all the visits! But when MonsterInsights is recording your analytics from your header, the moment someone arrives on your page, their visit will be clocked.
MonsterInsights recommends putting your tracking code in the header of your website because it will record all site visits way more efficiently and accurately, and it also doesn’t decrease the speed of your page’s loading or impact your page setup at all. It’s really convenient and improves precision!
How does MonsterInsights help with Google Analytics GDPR compliance?Running a business site nowadays is tricky and you should be aware of the laws regarding how you market to your customers and prospects. You now cannot send unsolicited marketing without the consent of the receiver. This, and other regulations, are outlined in the recent General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. All companies have to obey these strict rules, and to market effectively to your demographic, it is important to stay within the GDPR boundaries so you don’t get into any legal issues or are sued.
That is why MonsterInsights is so helpful for your Google Analytics statistics and website performance. In fact, MonsterInsights is widely known and respected as the best, GDPR compliant Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. The plugin hides personal user details from people browsing your site, so you aren’t fined for breaking the GDPR in any way. It also sets up a gateway which requires consent before it records any users activity on the page, meaning that you aren’t tracking someone’s online activity on your business page without the explicit approval! All these GDPR compliant features are fantastic and keep you and your business safe from legal complications and possible fines if you are caught using an analytics feature or plugin without your users’ consent. Furthermore, MonsterInsights protects anonymous statistics being shared with your Google Analytics account if the user has not consented to them being shared. Even more security for your business and SEO campaign.
Which eCommerce plugins are compatible with MonsterInsights Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking Feature?So, you run an ecommerce store? That’s great. As an online shop manager or marketer, you need all the sales analytics you can get to improve your service, attract new customers and see where you are going wrong in your marketing and sales strategy. So, it’s very handy to have a few useful plugins to provide you with store insights.
MonsterInsights is great for search engine optimization and customer analytics, and in combination with a number of other compatible ecommerce plugins, you can learn a lot of insights about how your customers browse your store, which products they like, and how you can sell more to your customers and clients. MonsterInsights is built to work in harmony with several great ecommerce plugins for WordPress.
For example, MonsterInsights can bring together in one place all the relevant data you need from plugins such as WooCommerce and MemberPress, plus many more. With Google Analytics’ ecommerce tracking features and the dedicated MonsterInsights Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking Feature, you can add a new ecommerce report section to your statistics section, which will show you your sales, traffic and SEO data from your ecommerce plugins for WordPress.
With MonsterInsights features for adding ecommerce plugins and presenting their insights and analytics in clear, understandable form, you can take your online store to the next level, and keep adding the best ecommerce plugins to get all the data you want, all together in a convenient location on your dashboard.