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How to Use Google Analytics for SEO

In this article I'm going to share with you some useful reports in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) that you can use to help track, measure and improve your SEO strategies.

Before deep-diving into how Google Analytics can help you track, measure, and improve your SEO efforts, let’s take a general look at SEO analytics.

What is SEO Analytics?

SEO analytics refers to the process of collecting, tracking, and analysing your marketing data with the core aim of growing your website’s organic traffic.

This is exceptionally useful as it allows you to identify improvement opportunities, gain a deeper understanding of your website’s data, and ultimately maximise ROI on your SEO efforts.

Luckily, there are great SEO analytics’ tools available for measuring your SEO data. One of the most commonly used free SEO analytics tools is Google Analytics 4 (GA4) (previously known as universal analytics).

How Does Google Analytics Help SEO?

GA tracking: Google Analytics 4 contains valuable data that your business can use to monitor (and improve) SEO performance. If you haven't converted to GA4 yet then here is a really handy Google Analytics Set Up guide for you.

So without further ado, here are 8 ways you can use Google Analytics for SEO:

SEO checklist

How to get SEO insights from Google Analytics 4 and Make Improvements

Now you know why Google Analytics is so helpful, it’s time to look at how to use it. Here are 8 questions you should be using your data to answer to help improve your website.

1. How much organic traffic are you getting and is the volume growing?

Google Analytics recognises all the most popular search engines and aggregates traffic from them in the Organic Search traffic channel.

Here's how to do it:

1. You’ll see the data for organic search analytics in the Traffic Acquisition report under the Acquisition section.

2. Select Session default channel grouping and you’ll be able to compare how much traffic you get from SEO against the rest of the channels. You can also select different time periods and compare them.

2. Which search engine brings the most traffic i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo etc

If your website is targeting different markets, you might need to take into account alternative search engines that are quite popular in particular countries. That way, you can see if Bing, Yahoo!, Baidu, or any other Google alternative drives your traffic.

Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the Traffic Acquisition report

2. Under Acquisition, select Sessions source/medium as the Primary Dimension.

3. Then, type ‘organic’ in the search bar to filter out traffic from other mediums.

In the table, you’ll see the stats on users, sessions, and conversions coming from different search engines.

3. How to find your traffic referral sites/backlinks

Many digital marketing experts will tell you that content is super important. The same marketers will tell you that backlinks and referral traffic are equally important. You can use Google Analytics to find your traffic referral sites. This means you can see how people are finding your page, and which sites are bringing you the most value.

Google Analytics SEO referral data can find links that aren’t necessarily documented in other tools. You can also find relevant reporters or bloggers to connect with based on those that have already linked to your website.

Here's how to do it:

To see referral traffic, you should use the Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition. Choose the Session source / Medium dimension and type “referral” in the search box to filter all sources of referral traffic in the table.

Seeing the amount of traffic from referring domains you’ll be able to estimate if partnering with them brings the desired results.

Good referral traffic proves that these websites have readers that belong to your target audience, which means you should publish more guest posts on them. You can also check if your guest posts generate more referral traffic after they were featured on the website’s homepage or promoted in their email campaigns.

4. Are there any technical issues with page load or design?

One of the reasons that may stop your organic site visitors from converting is a poor user experience. Low page load speed or design issues on mobile devices can make people bounce from your pages.

It’s even more convenient to control the technical performance of your website in the new version of Analytics. You’ll quickly spot technical issues harming user engagement in the reports grouped under the Tech section. Just select the dimension of your interest from the dropdown list.

5. Which pages bring in the most traffic from new users?

Understanding which content brings in the most organic traffic will help you fine-tune your content marketing strategy.

Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the Pages and Screens report under Engagement.

2. Click All users at the top of the screen.

3. Change the dimension to First user medium.

4. Select organic as the dimension value.

5. Click Apply.

6. Click the New Users header to sort the table in descending order by traffic volume.

These organic landing pages are bringing in the most new users (first-time visitors) to your website. You will want to create more articles like these.

On the flip side, click the header a second time to sort the table by ascending value. If there are organic landing pages with zero user traffic, you will want to reevaluate their relevance to your business goals and adjust your strategy accordingly. This may include republishing the content or removing it from your site.

6. Where do my best customers come from?

If you’re investing in ads or multi-location SEO, you need location-specific insights to understand where to increase or decrease marketing efforts.

You can use the Demographic details report for this. This report is very useful for fine-tuning Ads location targeting.

If you want to get more specific with your segmentation, click the Country dropdown in the first column of the table and change it to Town/City or Region.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to the Demographic details report under Demographics.

2. Sort the table by engagement rate, specific event, or total revenue.

7. Which pages have dropped in traffic?

If you spot a significant decrease in traffic, there may be ways to improve this. It may be that you are ranking lower in the search results than you were previously, so consider the content on the page - can this be updated with more current information or better optimised with the keywords you are targeting?

Also, consider the time of the decrease relating to changes in Google’s algorithms. Is there a drop in traffic coming from a particular device (mobile, desktop or tablet)? Try playing around with filters to home in on exactly where the problem lies and which pages on your website are affected. You can use this same method to optimise your most successful content.

Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the Pages and Screens report under Engagement.

2. Click All users at the top of the screen.

3. Change the dimension to First user medium.

4. Select organic as the dimension value.

5. Click Apply.

6. Choose 2 timeframes to compare and then analysis the percentage increase/decrease to see any significant changes

Alternatively you can set up a customer alert to tell you if here has been a significant drop or increase by creating Traffic Insights in the Report Snapshot section.

8. Does my organic traffic convert better or worse than other channels?

Comparing the traffic for a page against the conversion rate on that page gives you an idea of trends and can help guide your conversion strategies on low performing pages.

If many people are visiting a page but not many people are converting, instead of trying to get more traffic to that page, your focus should be on getting the people who do visit to convert. How strong are your calls to action? Does the content need to be improved or does your website navigation need tweaking to help people move further down the sales funnel and towards converting? Looking at your data in Google Analytics can help you figure out what to focus on.

Here's how to do it:

If you go to Conversions (in the left menu), you will see the list of those predefined conversions (they will be displayed there if you have received at least one event of that particular name).

If you want to track other event as a conversion you just have to go to the list of Configure > All Events (on the left sidebar) and then switch the toggle next to the event that’s important for your business.

So, for example, if you have an event called ebook_downloaded, then you can flip the switch and turn it into a conversion.

Bonus: More SEO Tips

When you are working on improving your website for SEO make sure you use the best keyword research tools to get the right keywords and learn how to use keywords for SEO. To make it easy for you we have created a simple on page SEO checklist for you to follow. You'll discover what your website is missing and how you can fix it Download now!

And if you're using Wordpress this is a great article about wordpress SEO and how to optimise your wordpress website for SEO.

Approach Google Analytics Wisely!

You can hardly get a complete understanding of your SEO results without knowing how to use Google Analytics. It will help you check if you’re taking the right SEO steps for a new website and adjust your strategies and tactics at later stages. Yet, you should know what reports to look at and how to interpret data correctly.

All of this means that you should approach Google Analytics in the following way:

  • Make hypotheses about your whole SEO strategy success and every particular page performance.

  • Formulate questions that will help you clarify where you’re standing.

  • Configure GA reports that will answer your questions with data and provide actionable insights.

  • Act, observe the changes, and measure your results.

Google Analytics can truly change the way your website operates, and help you put the customer first. Remember: if your visitors are happy with the content, product, and website layout, they’re more likely to make a purchase.

If you have your own hacks on using Google Analytics for SEO, share them with us in the comments.


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