This post will share a few tips to get valuable SEO information into the existing reports and improve SEO analysis opportunities.
Why do standard Google Analytics SEO reports suck?
Within Google Analytics, the Organic Search report section displays traffic from a small number of default search engines. Data from ‘unrecognised’ search engines finds its way into the ‘Referral’ traffic report, making it difficult to see the complete SEO picture. To compound matters, the recognised search engines are consolidated under engine name (e.g. google) instead of the regional domain variations (e.g. google.co.uk .fr .de etc) or, search domain type (e.g. images.google.co.uk). For a business operating across different countries this is a major drawback to understanding SEO by market.
Standard reports provide the ability to see what default search engine domain drove traffic (e.g. google) however, it is not possible to isolate the specific domain:
Solution: Tell Google Analytics to add a new search to the recognised list when tracking the visitor referral.
First of all, locate existing traffic from unrecognised search engines by looking in the ‘Referral’ traffic source report.
Second, visit the search engine site and identify the query string used. For example, unlisted domain BT.com is powered by Yahoo search engine and when looking for the phrase, “what is seo” the search results page URL displays the query keyword identification used as “p”
Next, add a line to the Google Analytics Tracker Code (GATC) for each new search engine domain:
_gaq.push(['_addOrganic', 'search.bt.com', 'p', true]);
If more than one account is being used for reporting purposes (e.g. regional and global accounts) be sure to insert two calls at the appropriate code locations:
Regional Account: _gaq.push(['_addOrganic', 'search.bt.com', 'p', true]);
Global Account: _gaq.push(['t2._addOrganic', 'search.bt.com', 'p', true]);
Download the list used for this site: ga-custom-se-domains-v2-1.js
2. The Big Fat Keyword, "Not Provided
Since Oct 2011, visitors finding a site using Google Search while logged in to their Google Account had their referring organic search term replaced with “(Not Provided)”. This is great at telling us how many people use their Google account whilst searching but, for most site owners this sucks as between 5-30% of traffic can fall into this ‘unknown’ bucket (depending on what audience the site caters for).
The loss of organic search keyword data is here to stay and the volume is set to increase. In March 2012, Mozilla Firefox set the built-in Google Search Bar to secure by default thus encrypting all results. Similarly, the latest release of Apple operating software version (iOS6) on mobile means organic visits from on Safari’s built-in Search Bar will appear as ‘Direct’ instead impacting visit data from October 2012.
3. Keyword Rank
Analysing keyword rank over time can help a business understand if their investment in SEO is paying off. Strangely, a metric like ‘keyword position’ is not available by default in Google Analytics. By linking the profile to a Webmaster Tools account it is possible to see ‘Average Position’ but this only has limited value. Like all averages this metric can hide a multitude of sins.
Solution: Collect keyword position from
Google search engine.
First of all, create a custom filter within the Admin profile area. Select dimension ‘Referral’ for Field A and input: (\?|&)(cd)=([^&]*) Leave Field B empty and select dimension ‘User-Defined’ for the field called, ‘Output To’ and add the following free text: (Rank: $A3). Field B and Case-sensitive options are not required as show below:
Better still, view the cool motionChart or, alternatively export to the data to Excel and manipulate.
Small print - Be sure to test the filter before using with main reporting profiles. This approach is for Google specifically but alternative adaptations can be used for other search engines. Only certain items within results pages contain the keyword position.
Good luck analysing organic search site performance and thanks for reading this article. Now it's your turn to share...
What's the best way to customise Google Analytics for SEO?
We would love to hear your opinion in the comments section below so don't be shy.
About the Author
Alex Brown is a Digital Analytics and Site Optimisation expert who works as an independent freelance consultant. The opinions shared in this blog are based on personal experiences gathered over a decade of data crunching and technology evaluation. The author makes no attempt to be grammatically, politically (or otherwise) correct. Spelling was never a strong point and for obvious reasons, only Google Analytics was referenced in the article - no hard feelings to any other vendor out there.
Related Products & Services
With in-depth knowledge of both the market place and major technology vendors, allow us to help setup SEO web analytics for your business. Contact Us for a confidential and informal discussion to see how our solutions can improve your business today.
|Resources||(In Alphabetical Order)|
|Cardinal Path||Not Provided Keyword Analysis|
|Justin Cutroni||Univeral Analytics|
|Search Engine Land||iOS6 Safari Search Bar|
|Slight Paranoia||Mozilla Firefox Search Bar|
|Yoast ||Original Keyword Position Filter|