SEO Customizations for Google Analytics

As part of the presentation I put together some Google Analytics customizations for measuring SEO. As long as you’re using Google Analytics :)

Custom Reports

I love customizing Google Analytics reports. I can create exactly what I want and reduce the number of clicks I need to make to report or analyze data.

All of the data in these reports is available in other places. But I’ve made some small tweaks that can save time, especially if you’re doing SEO daily.

Each report has metrics about the acquisition, engagement and conversion of your customers and potential customers:

  • Visits [Acquisition]
  • Unique Visitors [Acquisition]
  • % New Visits [Acquisition]
  • Bounce Rate [Engagement]
  • Avg. Visit Duration [Engagement]
  • Conversion Rate [Conversions]
  • Revenue [Conversions]
  • Per Visit Value [Conversions]

You get a full-funnel view of the visitors. One thing to note: you need to update the Goals metric to reflect your Google Analytics setup.

General SEO report

It can take a lot of clicks to navigate to the Organic Keyword report in Google Analytics. Sometimes you just don’t have that time for those 4 clicks :)

So this is a generic SEO report that I use to monitor SEO on a weekly basis. This report is actually more elaborate than it seems. There are multiple tabs along the top that let you quickly change the data inthe reprot. All of it SEO related.

SEO Basic Search Engine Report Tabs in Google Analytics

The first tab is all about search engines. This will give you the basic trend of your organic traffic from different search engines.

Tip: Use the Plot Rows to see feature in the data table to trend multiple search engines on the graph.

And if you’re looking to dig deeper into each search engine just click on the name to view the keywords.

Next tab is the Organic Keywords. This let’s you jump directly to a keyword view of the data. So if you don’t care about the search engine, use this tab.

Finally landing page. This is a flat-table view of landing pages and the keywords that drive traffic to those pages. This is a great way to understand if your keyword optimization is driving traffic to the desired pages.

I decided to exclude the (not provided) keyword just to focus on actual keywords that are known. Don’t worry, (not provided) analysis comes next.

Add the Google Analytics General SEO custom report to your account.

(not provided) Analysis

We all know that Google blocks keyword data for logged in users. This is not going to change. But we can still gain some insight into SEO efforts by looking at the landing page for Google Organic traffic.

This report has metrics about which landing pages are getting the most traffic and the behavior of people landing on those pages. Do they bounce? Do they convert?

Google Analytics (not provided) Analysis

To use this report, look for increasing traffic and conversions to the pages you are optimizing. Even though you don’t know the keywords, if organic traffic is increasing to these landing pages, chances are your SEO efforts are working.

Add the Google Analytics (not provided) Custom Report to your account.

Non-Branded Keyword Performance

A lot of SEO is focused on non-branded keywords. Those keywords that make up the long tail of search. Sure, Google does block those keywords for logged in users but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any data.

This report uses a simple filter to exclude your branded search terms from the report. Remember, you need to update that filter for your business.

I also included a filter to exclude the (not provided) keyword, just to make the report easier to use.

Google Analytics Non Branded Keyword Filter

Once done, you’ll have a list of non-branded terms. Click on a term to see the search engine that generated the search.

Add the Google Analytics Non-branded Keyword custom report to your account.

Referring Pages Report

The last I checked, people are still doing link-building. It’s not dead yet :)

So how about a report that makes it easy to see which sites, and the pages on those sites, are sending you traffic?

The Referring Pages report has the domain and page of all sites that are driving traffic to your content. You’ll notice that this report looks different. I moved to a flat-table view so you can see the full referral URL.

Google Analytics Referring Pages

Sure, it’s in two columns, but it’s all there. You don’t need to manipulate the data in any way.

If you’d like to see trend data just change this report to a type of Explorer report. But you’ll need to manually drill into each domain to see the referring pages. It’s up to you :)

What’s the value here? You can easily see if you’re getting valuable traffic from links. You can also look for opportunities to partner with high-value sites that you may not know about.

Measure and know!

Add the Google Analytics Referring Pages report to your account.

Other Reports

There is one other piece of CRITICAL data that every SEO needs to know: how SEO helps, or assists, other channels in generating conversion. This data is found in the Multi-Channel Funnels reports.

Unfortunately you can’t add that data to Custom Reports! Boo.

So don’t forget to use these reports, they’re unbelievably helpful.

Also use the Goal Flow and the Flow Visualization reports. THese reports help you understand how visitors move through the content on your site.

I especially like the Goal Flow because it’s very actionable. It shows how people move through, and drop out of, your conversion processes.

Tip: customize the Goal Flow report it by segmenting it based on Organic traffic sources and keywords.

Segmenting Google Analytics Goal Flow by Search Engine

Custom Alerts

If you’re responsible for SEO then you’re probably in the data every day. But sometimes you might take a day off, or a vacation. In these cases it’s good to have a someone else monitoring the data.

Why not automate that with a Custom Alert? I like custom alerts because you can configure them to compare your data week-over-week. If something changes dramatically from Tuesday to Tuesday (for example) you can trigger your alert.

Here are a few that I would use.

BTW – You can’t share custom alerts in Google Analytics. You’ll have to set these up on your own. Read more about how data alerts can save your ass.

Organic Bounce Rate Increase

If the bounce rate for your organic traffic spikes then something is wrong. Terribly wrong. One of the main objectives is to get traffic from keywords to land on the appropriate content. Something is wrong if the bounce rate increases dramatically from week to week.

Google Analytics Organic Bounce Rate Increase Alert

Organic Revenue/Conversion Drop

Is organic doing what it’s supposed to i.e. add value to your business. Use this alert to monitor revenue, or a specific goal. This one is really really important! You need to know if organic is not generating it’s share of direct conversions or revenue.

Google Analytics SEO Data Alert for Revenue Drop

How should you configure this alert? It’s up to you. It depends on your threshold for pain :)

Custom Advanced Segments

The last part of the customization is Custom Advanced Segments. These are the nuclear-bomb of analysis. Use these to segment every report in Google Analytics in real time.

This is especially handy if you want to analyze the content reports (like Pages and Site Search).

Remember, for both of these, you need need to change the keyword condition of this segment to include YOUR specific brand terms.

Non-Branded Traffic

This segment creates a view of your long-tail search terms. Instantly view where they land, what products/pages they look at, how they search internally. It’s eye opening.

Just set it up like this:

Non-branded Advanced Segment in Google Analytics

Add the Non-branded Organic Advanced Custom Segment to your Google Analytics account.

(not provided) Traffic

This is especially useful when you apply apply this advanced segment along with another advanced segment. You can easily compare the behavior or (not provided) people other organic search.

Add the (not provided) advanced custom segment to your Google Analytics account.

Multi-Word Organic Data

Segmenting your data based on the number of keywords can be really, really useful.

People are using a lot of terms in their search. As people use search engines more they understand that they can be very descriptive and what they search for. And they’ll get their desired result quickly.

Comparing search phrase length in Google Analytics

And multi-search terms are usually very profitable!

Add the one-word search terms Advanced Custom Segment to your Google Analytics account.

Add the two-word search terms Advanced Custom Segment to your Google Analytics account.

Add the three-or-more words Advanced Custom Segment to your Google Analytics account

Customizing Your Code For MORE Data

In addition to customizing the reports for easier reporting and analysis there are some code customizations you can do to add additional data to Google Analytics.

Specifically you can add new search engines to GA. For example, if you live in Hungary, and there’s an AMAZING hungarian search engine, but it’s not recognized by Google Analytics, you can add it!

You would need to modify your tracking code by adding the following line:

_addOrganic("[NAME OF SEARCH ENGINE]","[PARAMETER USES TO PASS SEARCH TERM]");

So if the awesome Hungarian search engine has a referring URL like this:

www.searchHungary.com/?search_t=FOOBAR

Then you would add this code to your GA tracking code:

_addOrganic("www.searchhungary.com","search_t");

You can read more about adding additional organic search engines in our developer section.

A few resourceful people have put together some files that contain a whole lot of search engines so you don’t have to. Check out this file full of search engines from my buddy Brian Clifton, it has over 200 additional search engines. Wow!

There you have it. If you;re into SEO try some of the customizations.

Did I miss any? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

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    Comments

    1. says

      Hey Justin, When I use your two word advanced segment and look at my list of keywords, they get screwed up a bit. The two words advanced segment shows visits from keywords with 3 or more keywords (actually, when I look at the segments together, they contain the exact same data for searches with 3 or more keywords).

    2. says

      Hi Justin – so great to add these reports to my profiles. Thank you. I find going through others custom reports is one of the best ways to learn about how they are constructed. Just noticed that the first link to a custom segment, non-branded organic, shows up as (not provided) traffic instead….

    3. says

      Hey Justin, its really a nice piece of work all together, Reporting is major part of SEO. Its helps our customers keep track of improvements. Reporting assist us in monitoring implementation of our advertisement planning. reporting is crucial in getting feedback, entertaining client in a better way and building long term relationship.

    4. Ajaz says

      Great custom reports, especially the single and multiple keyword segregation. I was planning to do it since a long time as it will probably provide me a much better insight from conversion’s point of view. I think for complementing Goal Flow, you shall also mentioned the great feature of “Multi Channel Funnels”. It helps SEO quantify their long term influence of SEO efforts and paths customers are taking to make the purchase.

      Ajaz

    5. says

      Appreciate the good info. I and my partner associate with a SEO business in Miami , FL and will definitely be advising this with family.

      Cheers! :)

      Abe Valez

    6. says

      Thanks for all this Justin. Great stuff.

      I have a question / thought about the “(not provided) Analysis” report. Is that just looking at traffic for (not provided)? (Yes, I could look at the report but I wanted to table this for everyone. Fair enough?) If so, might there be a way to aggregate all the “provided” traffic and then set up a report to look at the two buckets side by side?

      What I’m suggesting – I think :) – is trying to understand the behavior of the (not provided) in the context of the provided and then perhaps being able to extrapolate the (not provided) visits from that. For example, if 25% the traffic is (not provided) and a number of comparison reports shows those visits to be fairly (or not) similar to provided visits then perhaps distributing the (not provided) visits over the provided would be a good report to have and to hand off / distribute to stakeholders. More or less trying to make an educated guess on what the analytics would say if the (not provided) was in fact provided.

      In short, try to make the (not provided) unknown a known or at least a more understood unknown. What do you think?

      • says

        @Mark: Absolutely, you can do that with Advanced Segments. My suggestion would be to start with branded and non-branded keywords. Then maybe move into product or category related keywords. But you’re right on the money, comparing (not provided) to other segments is a great way to gain more insights.

    7. says

      Hey Justin

      Awesome post, thanks for sharing.
      I wonder could you share (here or in a post) how you dig into direct traffic and how to try to better understand it… Maybe even to attribute more detail to that… Ie start to understand what’s caused that direct traffic to occur.
      Is this even possible?
      Corey and Dave mentioned something about it at a google engage event, but figured you’d know more :)

      Thanks in advance
      Mike

    8. says

      Hey Justin, Thank You! I downloaded the reports to my GA account… Now I have to go through it all and do some analyzing… ;) What does it mean one the SEO: Basic Search Engine Report, Organic Landing Pages & Keywords tab when it says keyword (not provided). Thanks again for being so generous with this post!

      • says

        @ Frances: Google blocks the keyword referral information for users that are logged into Google. This means that no analytics tool can detect what the user search for. Google Analytics buckets those searches into (not provided).

    9. David G says

      Hey Justin

      Thanks for the great tips and the reports which I am now customising for use – really helpful!

      One question: On the ‘Non-Branded Keyword Performance’ – one of my clients owns lots of different sub-brands and they get traffic for the sub-brands as well as the overall brand. So in order to assess non-branded keyword performance I need to exclude around 20 sub-brand terms as well as the overall brand term.

      But it seems like I can only add a maximum of 5 filters (3 of which are used for include organic, exclude main brand term and exclude ‘not’)

      Any ideas how I could get round this?

      Thanks David

    10. says

      I wish I had found this site when it was written. “ADD to ………… to your Google Analytics account” has saved me loads of time. Thanks for the cracking article Justin. Keep up the great work.

    Trackbacks

    1. [...] Note: You may have noticed that the #1 organic keyword from Google is (not provided). Google blocks the search query for those that are logged into Gmail, G+ and other services. Here’s a technique you can use to analyze what users from (not provided) are searching for. [...]

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