You look at your analytics data occasionally and do some SEO work, but have you considered using analytics to determine how things are going with your site’s SEO? Here are a few items to consider about SEO while you are digging into analytics.
Performance Over Time
Start simple by viewing organic traffic only over a period of time, such as six months. Hopefully, you will see this number go up each month as you work on your site’s SEO. If the reverse happens and this number has suddenly gone down significantly, there could be some kind of penalty from Google. This is why it is so important to stay away from sketchy SEO practices. Many people engage in these because they want ranking immediately, not realizing it will hurt them in the long run.
You may already be checking out your top pages report once in a while to see which pages are popular. But have you looked at it by the source of organic traffic only? As with most things in analytics, it’s useful to look at the good and the bad. Is there a page with a lot of visits originating from organic search, but with a high bounce rate? If so, it’s possible these pages may need some optimization to keep people on there a bit longer, which is what you especially want with a content site. You can also look at these pages compared to the site as a whole by using the “Comparison” icon. Using your own website as a benchmark for performance is always a great place to start.
It’s great to see your top pages, but which ones are your top converters? Converter pages are those which lead people to make a purchase or complete a goal, such as signing up for a newsletter. Which ones are your top converters specifically for the SEO traffic?
The site search report tells you what visitors are seeking once they arrive on the site. How does this differ for organic visitors? If they spend a lot of time on internal search when they first arrive on a site, there could be some needed SEO adjustments on those pages. Your page titles and meta descriptions are what searchers see in the search result pages. These may need to be changed to be more reflective of what a specific page is about to help direct people to the correct page.
Have you dug into the demographics reports yet? This is another way to drill into your user data. You can look at age and gender. You can look at organic traffic. But what is even better is looking at age and gender with organic traffic and comparing your types of visitors to your different traffic sources. You may find a potential target market in your organic traffic that you haven’t considered. For example, if you target your paid display ads to women who are 55-64 years old, yet find the majority of your organic visitors are women who are in the 25-34 range, that indicates there could be a whole new market you are missing out on. Although demographic data is not 100% accurate in analytics, it can still be used to do some small paid ads as a discovery tool.
Wait? Isn’t referral traffic and organic traffic two different things? Technically, yes. Google does break these down separately. In this case, I’m talking specifically about referrals that come as a result of link-building efforts which is an SEO activity. Link building does have a bad rap. People may buy links on useless directory sites or beg for links. Solid link building can bring positive organic results when you have fans who are talking about you on their site.
One example of a link referral could result from a partnership. These are people you work with so you can recommend their services and they will hopefully do the same for you. I would look at this traffic to see if it converts. If a partner site is sending you good traffic, then you definitely want to thank them for being a partner and continue that relationship.
Another one are referrals you may not be cultivating. I happen to be a big reader and when I do a review on my site, I often link to the author’s site. Authors may be surprised to find some hidden fans out there and can cultivate that relationship by offering book giveaway or early release copies to be reviewed if a particular blog is found to be a good source of future fans.
The biggest mistake people make with analytics is going no further than creating fancy reports and pretty pie charts. The value comes when they dig into it for different pieces of their overall marketing strategy. This particular post was all about what analytics can tell you specifically about your organic efforts. The same thing can be done with filtering only by paid traffic.