How To: Tracking your SEO using Google Analytics
At Yoast, we’re known for giving you any number of useful tips to improve your site’s SEO. However, how do you know whether those tips actually working for you? There are a number of tools out there that can help you track your SEO, but most of them will actually cost you money. And in the end it’s obviously just about increasing your website’s traffic. So today I’ll explain how you can keep track of your SEO using Google Analytics. We feel this is useful, because almost everyone uses Google Analytics, and of course, because it’s free!
In this post I’ll be giving you a step by step instruction on how to find the data that will help you track your SEO using Google Analytics. I’ve also added a video (without sound) showing you exactly which steps to take. Please note that the post is quite long, which coincidentally also makes it quite extensive.
Tracking your overall SEO
Obviously the first indication of how your website is doing traffic wise, and thus (partially) SEO wise, is the overview (Audience > overview in the Reporting section). This tells you how many sessions your website has had in the given time period.
However, this doesn’t tell you what part of that traffic is actually due to your SEO. To find the traffic that’s coming directly from the search engines, you’ll need to go somewhere else. These steps are all taken in the video below. If you go to Acquisition > All Traffic, you’ll see a list of sources where your traffic comes from. Usually, the traffic from search engines (more specifically, Google) is somewhere to be found in the top 3. Find the search engines you want to know the volume of traffic for, and select the check box before it. If you hit “Plot Rows” after that, you’ll get a nice graph showing you the total traffic and lines in other colors for the sources you’ve selected.
If you want a view that’s a bit more precise, you can click the piechart icon to see exact numbers and percentages of the total. And if you want to see all the organic traffic (traffic from search engines) combined into one simply click the medium tab. Of course you can again plot the row for the line graph here as well.
Unfortunately the keyword tab doesn’t do much anymore, only showing you where people end up and the keyword set to ‘np’ for not provided.
So these datasets will give you an overall view of how your website is doing SEO wise. However, a lot of the time, you want to focus on more than your entire site. You want to focus on a specific page or post.
Page-specific SEO monitoring
If you want to see your analytics at a per page level, you’ll have to go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Here you’ll see your site’s top 10 pages, ranked on amount of pageviews. If you have a specific page you want to be looking at, you can simply fill in the url (without domain name) in the search bar. You’ll now be able to see that page’s data.
However, these are still all the pageviews, not specified to traffic coming from search engines. To find the traffic specifically for search engines, you have to click the “Secondary dimension” dropdown and click Acquisition > Medium. Alternatively, you can click Source/Medium if you want to specify per search engine. Clicking the check box before the “organic” medium and hitting “Plot Rows” again, will give you the line graph for your total and organic traffic. Again, if you want a more specific view, click on the piechart icon. Comparing the percentages of organic traffic for your specific page to your total organic traffic can also give you a good idea of how your page is doing. And obviously you’d ideally want to see a line that’s moving up (or at least not downward).
Tip: To make the data a lot clearer, add another filter (using the search bar) to only include medium containing “organic”. This will give you just the organic traffic data for every page.
Obviously, everything I mentioned here is related to monitoring your SEO and not actually finding issues that might be related to your SEO. During our Website Reviews we always look at a lot of things, a few of which I’ll explain now. These things will help you find issues that might be related to your SEO.
If you click on Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, you’ll get a list of pages through which people enter your site. These are important pages, because they’re the first thing your visitors will see. An important metric on this screen is the ‘Bounce Rate’. This metric gives you the percentage of people that left your lading page without having done anything on that page. And since Google actually looks at your bounce rate too, it’s important for tracking your SEO.
To get a good idea of which pages have a high bounce rate, click the Comparison icon. In the last column, select bounce rate. This will give the bounce rate compared to the site average for all your pages starting from the most visited page. Any page that has a red bar is below your site’s average bounce rate. Anywhere between 0-10% in the red is basically fine, but anything above 20-30% should definitely be pages you look at. Especially for pages in the top 10.
The bounce rate is so important because it’s one of the rankings factors for Google. If people quickly leave your landing pages after landing on it from Google, that means they haven’t found what they’re looking for. Google takes this to mean your page isn’t relevant enough for the keyword the person has searched for, and rightfully so.
Internal site search
If you click on Behavior > Site Search > Overview, you’ll find a list of search terms people have searched for on your site, using your site’s search. This is always a good dataset to keep track of as well, since it can give you a good idea of what your audience expects to find on your site. If there are any search terms there that you haven’t created a page for yet, it’s probably a good idea to try and fit a page on that subject in.
Obviously, you do need to have your Site Search set up the right way. You have to enable site search and fill in the right query string for searches. You can check this Google Analytics documentation for more information.
If you go to Audience > Mobile > Overview, you’ll get a dataset that shows you how many people are entering your site using a desktop, a mobile phone or a tablet. Once again, click on the pie chart icon to get a good view of how many mobile visitors you have. If that’s more than 10%, you should definitely make sure your website is looking good on a mobile phone.
Google is taking responsiveness of websites more and more seriously, so it’s really imperative that you optimize this as much as possible and keep tracking this for your SEO.
Have I missed anything?
In fact I have, since we’ve released an update to our Google Analytics by Yoast plugin yesterday. If you’re on WordPress, this is obviously the first (free!) tool you should be using.
Do you think I’ve missed anything else? Or do you have some other great tools you use to track your SEO? Let us know in the comments!
This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!