My keywords are not visible anymore. How can I optimize my SEO performance?
Accept the situation. Be thankful for all the other data sources that are left and outperform your competition!
You should remember that when things get harder for everyone, there is always an extra opportunity.
That's how I like to look at things!
By reading this article you will get equipped with a lot of new ideas on how to optimize your SEO performance with and without keyword data.
Take a Triangular Approach
Before we explore the different reports together, I need to explain a few more things.
Google Analytics is just one tool. There are more applications that are easily available to us.
I don't make it overly complex here, since I'd like everybody to benefit from this SEO analysis.
Monitoring and optimizing your organic visibility, traffic and conversion should be approached from different angles.
In this article I include the following tools:
- Google Analytics (at the core)
- Google AdWords
- Google Webmaster Tools
Link AdWords to Analytics
In order to collect relevant AdWords data in Analytics, it is a must to link your AdWords to Google Analytics account.
After you set this up, you can expect to see data as shown below:
In almost all reports the ABC structure (Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions) is applied. So that you can easily access relevant data on three different levels.
Link Webmaster Tools to Analytics
Besides linking AdWords you should definitely set up a Webmaster Tools account and link it to Analytics as well.
It's easy to connect Google Analytics to Google Webmaster Tools.
Here is a Google Analytics report example:
This report shows an estimate of the impressions per landing page in Google.
Google Analytics Reports and Organic Search
It's time to move on to the SEO reports in Google Analytics and powerful insights you can derive from them.
I will explain about six different reports you should take a look at. Where applicable I include a few other reports as well.
1. Keyword Impression Data
By now you know that Google Analytics doesn't show session data from organic keywords that came through Google.
There are a few things you could do to gather relevant keyword data for your organic search strategy.
I will discuss three scenarios.
a.) Active AdWords Account with Relevant Impression Data
The best keyword impression (and click) data you can gather through setting up an AdWords campaign.
Budget needs depend on your market and how broad you like to go.
Here is an overview of anonymous AdWords keyword data in Google Analytics:
It's great because you get real insights in keyword volumes, costs and conversions.
You can better decide which keywords to target via PPC, organic or both! This relatively small investment can save you a lot of money later on.
Note: You could also check your keyword query data within the Search Engine Optimization reports if you already have a lot of organic search traffic. I recommend to boost keyword phrases that are on top of page 2!
b.) Passive AdWords Account: Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Here is another scenario. You have an AdWords account, but don't have active campaigns.
No worries, you can set up your AdWords account for FREE (click on image below to log in):
Let's assume you are running a website related to soccer.
With the help of Keyword Planner you can do a search on this keyword:
If you click through on the individual Ad Groups you can derive a great amount of impression data. It gives you a good understanding of what the popular keywords are in your niche.
Please note that these numbers are estimations. In my opinion still instantly useful if you compare the data in a relative way.
c.) Other Keyword Tool: Long Tail Pro
I am a big fan of Long Tail Pro. I have used it in the past to build a few successful niche websites.
Here is how the data looks like if you search on the "soccer" term:
If your budget is larger and you have specific needs to spy on your competition, you should definitely take a look at SEMrush as well.
Setting up a lean AdWords campaign is your best shot, if you don't have a feeling about how keywords convert.
Otherwise Google AdWords Keyword Planner or a specific keyword and/or competitor research tool†can do wonders in better defining your keyword strategy.
A good old post you should definitely read: Segmenting Search Intent by Rand Fishkin.
It talks about four different search queries:
- Commercial investigation
By now you realize you can still do a lot of magic keyword stuff, even in the non-provided world we currently live in. :-)
2. All Traffic Sources Report
One of my favorite Google Analytics reports, is the All Traffic Sources report.
If a client asks me how they are doing, it is one of the first places where I go. It gives me a first indication on how their channels — relative to each other — are performing.
It's easy to get there in Google Analytics:
- Navigate to Reporting
- Click on Acquisition
- Click on All traffic
- Click on Source/Medium
- Select Medium
You can learn quite a few things about your SEO performance here.
Some things to note about this channel:
- 15% of your visits (sessions)
- 15% of your conversions
- It performs on average relatively to the other channels
- CPC (mainly AdWords) has the highest conversion rate; it tends to be the most "commercial" channel in general.
It gives you some good first insights to judge whether your online marketing mix is in balance or not.
As a next step I recommend to take a look at the organic landing pages. This gives you an indication of the balance of brand and non-brand searches and sessions.
3. Organic Landing Pages Report
I use the same data set here so you will recognize the numbers.
Follow these steps to select the right Google Analytics report:
- Click on Organic (in column "medium")
- Click on Other and select Landing Page
Here we go:
Landing page # 1, 3 and 8 are three "homepages" for three different countries this website targets.
I assume that a lot of traffic that lands on the homepage is brand related. On this particular website the homepage doesn't rank for many non-brand terms.
"The more you know about your website and where your brand and non-brand organic traffic lands, the better you can perform this analysis."
I have used Excel to create this table:
In perspective to SEO:
- If we assume that all traffic that lands on deeper pages is non-brand
- Non-brand is responsible for 60% of the traffic and 65% of the conversions
- CR% of non-brand pages is relatively higher than the CR% of the homepage
If you are investing a lot of time and money in SEO, you naturally like to see the relative and absolute performance of your non-brand searches to get better over time.
On the other hand, if your brand gets more popular over time, the effect might be less strong than expected.
4. Organic Conversions Per Device
We all know that internet via mobile devices (including tablets) has exploded over the last years.
Here is a simple Google Trends graph:
I recommend to monitor the following stats on the overall device level:
- Absolute number of sessions per device category
- Relative number of sessions per device category
- Absolute number of conversions per device category
- Relative number of conversions per device category
- CR% per device category
Via the plot rows feature it is easy to create the following graph:
Within this overview you can:
- Monitor any metric on a segmented level (change Sessions to one of your conversions)
- Easily and in one time export Google Analytics data on a segmented level
I recommend to automate your Google Analytics data export if you need to perform a lot of in-depth analysis.
5. Regional Performance
You do want to know where your visitors are coming from. And it is easy to find out.
- Navigate to Audience
- Click on Geo
- Click on Location
Make sure to segment on organic traffic:
In this case 80% of the sessions come from The Netherlands. There is not a huge international focus or potential.
Let's assume that you have visitors coming from all over the world. And a few of the countries deliver a substantial number of visitors.
Well, you need to pay more attention in that case.
There is a smart way to set up Webmaster Tools to target specific countries with regards to SEO.
Neil Patel wrote a great article on this topic. Look at the geographical summary (third topic in this article). And he will guide you on how to derive the greatest benefits from this targeting feature.
6. Site Speed Performance
Site speed is such an important metric.
It influences how your site ranks, but also how it converts!
Here is an overview of how page speed correlates to business metrics at Walmart.com.
The following benefits of having a fast load time are found:
- For every one second of improvement they experienced up to a 2% increase in conversions
- For every 100 ms of improvement, they grew incremental revenue by up to 1%
- SEO benefits for entry pages and reduce bounces
There are literally thousands of experiments that show the positive impact of site speed on business metrics.
If you need some help, read this article on Moz.com describing 15 Tips to Speed Up Your Website.
In short, here are the 15 tips:
- Leverage browser caching
- Enable Keep-Alive
- Enable gzip compression
- Make landing page redirects cacheable
- Use a CDN
- Minimize redirects
- Remove query strings from static resources
- Specify a character set
- Minify your codes
- Avoid bad requests
- Serve resources from a consistent URL
- Reduce DNS lookups
- Specify image dimensions
- Optimize images
- Put CSS at the top and JS at the bottom
You might need to read the full article to implement this on your website.
By now I hope you understand the importance of Site Speed for your organic performance.
The Google Analytics reports in this area can be found in the†behavior section.
Click on Site Speed and you will see these four reports:
I really like the Speed Suggestions report:
You can see the PageSpeed Score for each individual page. You get some good suggestions to improve the speed if you click through on the blue links for each page.
I recommend to focus on the high traffic pages first. At the end it is important to speed up your entire website!
It is also possible to look at the country or browser level for this page speed report.
This is it from my side. I hope you have derived some great ideas from this article!
Which Google Analytics reports do you use to improve your SEO performance? Let me know in the comments!