7 Google Analytics Tips to Improve Your SEO
You know search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to generating and converting business on your website. And you know that Google Analytics, that free behemoth of a data reporting tool, should be able to help you improve the SEO of your website.
But how, exactly?
While you can dig deep at multiple layers to monitor, measure, and
improve SEO, by looking at a few metrics in Google Analytics (I’m
sharing some basic ones with you), you can get a solid start on
improving the SEO of your website. You can see what you’re doing right
that you should celebrate and replicate. You can also see where you have
room for growth. As your SEO improves, watch your traffic, leads and
conversions improve along with it.
Before you get started, be sure to sync your Google Search Console with your Google Analytics account so you can review and measure all aspects of organic traffic. You can do this within Analytics. Just follow each provided step once in one of the Search Console options (Acquisition > Search Console > click one of the Search Console options).
Measuring SEO Performance in Google Analytics
Metric 1: Organic Search traffic (Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels)
The organic traffic to your site is one of the best indicators of your SEO strengths and weaknesses. If your site has strong SEO, it will generate organic traffic from specific targeted search terms—and not just brand search. But sometimes generating organic traffic seems a little mysterious. Some pages get it, some pages don’t. How do you control and increase your organic traffic (and the SEO associated with it)? Here are a few tips to get started.
- Start by looking at what pages have the highest organic traffic.
- Make a list of the topics addressed on those pages and the keywords that people search to find the pages.
- Create more content about those topics using the same or similar keywords. Consider using those keywords in the titles of your new pages and in the metadata that you use to tag the photos on the pages.
- Create ongoing content around a targeted, specific keyword set. Format your content as Questions & Answers for added SEO benefit.
- Review what is not performing and create a content development strategy.
Metric 2: Page loading time (Behavior -> Site speed -> Page timings)
As internet speed has increased, attention span of the user has decreased. They expect everything to load quickly and seamlessly. A slow page load - no matter what the device - is considered a bad user experience. The slower it takes for your page to load, the quicker someone clicks off of your page. And search engines notice when people quickly click out of your page.
Work with your web development team to assure your site page speeds are fast. By checking your page loading times, and making adjustments (whether the issue is your server, large images on your page, or something else) to decrease the loading time, you can improve your SEO.
Metric 3: Site content (Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages/Content Drilldown/Landing Pages/Exit Pages)
This is a great place to review what content pages are successfully pulling in traffic and what pages are under-performing. If you have different content development strategies in place, this is a great place to pull data on the performance of those strategies.
Metric 4: Referral sources (Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Referrals)
Referral sources are the places that direct traffic to your site by linking to your pages. When other people link to your pages, search engines will often direct more organic traffic to those pages because the content has been seen as valuable by another source. So it’s worth your time to check what pages and social channels are referring visitors to your page and try to maximize that traffic.
Here are a few examples of how you could maximize that traffic: If you’re getting traffic from a guest blog you wrote, foster relationships to write more guest blogs on additional relevant sites. If a particular group is writing rave reviews about your product, create content customized for that group and engage with them in other online spaces and social channels.
You will also want to monitor referral traffic being skewed by spam bots. Be sure to filter out any/all spam bots on a regular basis - so your referral traffic metrics are true.
Metric 5: Social (Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Social)
Why is social important to your SEO strategy? There are many reason why you should use social media for SEO. Users engage, interact, and share on social channels and if you are doing it strategically, you are bringing those users onto your website to convert. Social channels can then become a large referral source of traffic to your site. And if you have a blog, that content can be amplified on social channels for additional engagement. This is something you will want to use Analytics to measure and track.
Metric 6: Mobile traffic (Audience -> Mobile -> Overview)
As people spend more time browsing the internet on mobile devices, a site’s “mobile friendliness” has begun to affect a site’s SEO. You can use the rate of mobile sessions on Google Analytics to act as a gauge about how mobile friendly your site is - and the trend of your visitors. Are there more users on mobile?
While this isn’t a foolproof method because each business' visitor is different, it is a good gauge to see how people are accessing your site. You can improve the mobile experience by writing easy-to-scan content that uses subheads and white space, using call to action buttons and making sure the design is easy to navigate on a mobile device.
Metric 7: Geographic location (Audience-> Geo -> Location)
The geographic location indicator in Google can help your SEO in two important ways.
First, if your company is tied to a location (for example a deli or real estate business), you can optimize your location on your website to increase the amount of traffic you get from local leads. For example, a search engine will be more likely to point traffic toward a deli in Scranton if the search term is “Scranton restaurant” or someone searching for “restaurant” in the Scranton area. So use your location to benefit you by including references to your business’s location on your website with individual optimized location pages . You can monitor how this changes your audience’s location through the metric in Google Analytics.
Second, you can learn from the geographic location metric to tailor content to your customers’ locale. For example, if you make specialty wine glasses in Florida that are quite frequently ordered by 20-somethings throwing bachelorette parties in Reno, tailor your content to people who are planning to be out on the town in Reno. When the content is more specific, your SEO gets better, and you generate more leads for your business.
Local SEO is a big part of the mix in optimizing your overall web presence, so be sure to implement all elements of local optimization, including schema.
Google Analytics can be intimidating. But by starting with a few practical metrics (organic searches, page loading time, referrals, mobile traffic and geographic location), you can get a start on improving your SEO, your online leads and your site’s conversions. And those outcomes can make a big difference for your business.
Reach out for a free 30 minute conversation if you need help deciphering your Analytics.