Google Analytics is a free tool that aggregates information about a website’s visitors. The information that is collected by Google Analytics covers such topics as how many people visited a website, how long a visitor stayed, which pages they viewed, how they found the website, how often they have visited the site, what browser they were using, even the screen resolution they viewed the site with, and much more. All of this information can be used to increase the functionality of a website, and give insights into how people are interacting with any website. Because the capabilities of Google Analytics are extensive I will only be focusing on the essential tools that are utilized when performing initial SEO for a website. Those tools will include:
- Monitoring key terms
- Overseeing visited pages
- Analyzing bounce rates
- Studying user’s reaction to landing pages
- And keeping track of where users are coming from, which is also known as referral sources
It also just so happens that an updated version of Google Analytics has recently been made available, so I will also be providing a brief overview of its new layout and functionality.
The picture above is the login page. If this is your first time seeing this page you will need to create an account and install the Google Analytics (GA) coding on each of your website’s pages. Adding the code to each of your pages is not that complicated, as long as you have admin capabilities for your site, and you can follow the instructions on this page. Once you are logged into GA, and you have set up an account, you will be directed to the Overview Page. On the Overview Page you will be able to choose which website you would like to review. On this page the old and new versions of GA start diverging in design, and because of the simplicity at which clients can now be found, I am already impressed with this revamped version.
Once a client is chosen from the Overview page, or the Account Home page, they are taken to the My Site page, as seen in the image below:
One of the most important aspects of a website’s SEO efforts is the tracking of Key Terms. You can find the organic Key Terms report by clicking Traffic Sources, in the left hand navigation. Then click on Incoming Sources, then Search, and finally Organic.
On the “Organic Search Traffic” page you will be able to see the top Key Terms, and how many visits, or links to your site they each brought in. On this page you can determine the bounce rate, average time spent on the site, and pages per visit for each Key Term. This page can be used to understand how your Key Terms are contributing to the overall traffic of your site, and the average experience each specific Key Term is accountable for.
The next useful observation that GA provides for SEOs is Overseeing Visited Pages, with the ability to focus on landing pages. There are two ways to find statistics on a site’s landing pages, but because this blog is focusing on SEO or organic results, we will stay on the same page that we found the performance of a site’s Key Terms. In case you need a refresher on how to get there, click on the Traffic Sources, then Incoming Sources, then Search, then Organic. In order to view the top landing pages, generated by organic search, click on the option “Landing Page” below the graph.
The information found on this page can help webmasters understand where their potential clients are initially entering their site, and how they interact with the site once they are there. The deductions made from this information can help SEOs better direct their traffic, which would improve each visitor’s experience.
The next piece of information that is important to every SEO campaign is understanding the bounce rate for each page Key Terms are linking visitors to. This information provides insight into how people are responding to the page they are sent to, and the quality of the information on that landing page. This is great information for webmasters because they can keep track of their landing page’s success rates over time, and revise the information on these pages appropriately. This information can be founds on the same Organic Search Traffic page that the Landing Page information was found on.
The last essential tool that I will be covering for SEO campaigns is the Referral Sources tab. This information can be found on the same page we’ve been working on, between the Landing Page and Keyword tabs, on the Organic Traffic Sources page. Understanding where clients are coming from helps SEOs tweak their campaigns to cater to their incoming audience. One aspect of each of these tools that I have not mentioned yet, is the capability to use “Secondary Dimensions” to determine even more specific aspects of a site’s visitors. For example the Referral Sources tool allows users to determine what language a website’s typical guest speaks, or what content, country or city they are from. These secondary searches allow GA users to get very specific on how to revise their sites, or SEO campaigns. This insight is priceless to webmasters in their efforts to attract more people to their site.
If you would like to learn more about the very helpful tool Google Analytics, here is the official blog to keep you updated.