Weekly Wisdom with Ross Tavendale: Reclaiming Traffic

Ross Tavendale

Jan 15, 201911 min read
Weekly Wisdom with Ross Tavendale

Editors Note: Today we are kicking off a new feature, Weekly Wisdom. Each week we will feature someone in our industry offering valuable insights via video on a variety of topics related to SEO, PPC, Content and Social Media. So, check out the blog each Tuesday for fantastic and useful information, and to see which industry insider will be featured.

Today's video by Ross will help you with reattributing your Google Analytics and Search Console traffic. You can watch the video or read the transcript below.

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Analyzing Search Reports: Other and Not Set

So you're doing your end of month reporting, and you're going down looking at things month on month, year on year, feeling proud of yourself. You've got some kind of general upward trending movement right?

Then you look at your channel reports and all of a sudden you see this thing called, 'other' and you're like, 'other? What the hell is other?'

And then you think, 'well, I only really care about organic search, I'm just gonna scroll down and see what's going on there.' And then all of a sudden you see this 'not set,' and you're like 'in the name of the wee man, what is not set?'

And then, of course, staring down the barrel of a gun is not provided too. Much like that better twisted ex-girlfriend of yours, it's been an on-off weird relationship the last couple years since Google introduced that.

The thing is, as SEOs, our data informs our strategy, and our strategy is really everything. So if the data that GA's giving us is completely broken, then technically our strategy is broken as well.

Methods to Reclaim Website Traffic

Therefore we're gonna look at a bunch of methods to reclaim that traffic, and rebuild it.

First thing's first, if I was to go to our website, typeamedia.net, now you have to share that through something like Slack. The URL that it provides, guess it drops you straight back in, but I really want that to tell me that that's come from some sort of messaging app. But then I click on my analytics, it says that it’s come through direct and the medium is none and it doesn't actually know where it's come from. The same thing happens on Messenger, WhatsApp, etc, etc.

So the question is how do we get around that? So other things are things like redirected traffic, so if we jump out of this again, we recently had a cite from a dot agency which is a super cool hipster name that no one could get right or actually link to, and then we migrated it with the 301 redirect over to typeamedia.net.

Problem with that as well it's a no secure URL being 301 redirected up into secure. So again when you look at your analytics, it also thinks it's direct, which is kind of pointless. And the same thing goes for a lot of different traffic sources like things coming from a third party social network, going through weird redirects, traffic from apps in general.

All of this is getting lumped into "direct" or it’s being put as "not set", and ultimately "not provided". If you're looking at your organic traffic and your direct traffic, and there's a negative correlation between the two, despite you not actually doing a lot of, let’s say above the line advertising and never tried direct, this is probably something that you'll wanna have a look into, because it’s probably just being misreported in Analytics.

A Strategy for GA: UTM Parameter

So the way we get around that is using this thing called term tagger. It's something created by Google Analytics, it's really useful. It gives you these UTM parameter codes to stick into your link.

So here's a couple of places where I'd recommend that we start putting them. First and foremost, my Google My Business profile, so we're gonna drop in the website URL here, then add a source and a medium, and then gonna describe the campaign content.

The way to think between source and medium is that this source is usually the platform so think Google or Twitter or Facebook, or something like that. And the medium is if it's paid, if it's organic, or if it's a subset of it. In this case, I'm gonna say, 'Google My Business.'

So what we can do here, is we can literally take this and I can edit or google my business profile.

So if I wanted to edit the business profile you can see here when we click on the website now, it's putting in the UTM parameters and the interesting thing about that is, when I now look at the analytics, there we go, it’s coming through as Google My Business. So I'm starting to push away from it being direct and none and I'm starting to define where it’s actually coming from, which is really useful.

Dealing with Dark Social

Now you may be thinking, 'well Ross, that doesn't actually get me round the problem of dark social.' And you'd be 100% correct.

The way in which that your URLs are shared when it comes to social is using something called Open Graph. So if you go inspect element, and look for OG colon, you can see here this is the kick-off of the open graph.

What I wanna do is just jump into this and I can see that all of these properties is what they're gonna use in order to share the website. So, I can see here that the URL is actually https://typeamedia.net, which is correct, but it doesn't actually have any UTM parameters, so first thing I'm doing is going into my site template, I'm adding UTM parameters into that so that if someone shares it on direct social, it will come up in show me direct social.

Hat tip to Mr. Arnout Helleman's for showing me that one. Really interesting stuff, definitely want to look out for and got some amazing advice coming from that guy.

Alright. So as you Google My Business one, another one would be tagging up things like Twitter, but bear in mind you wanna do this in two different ways. So we can see here what I've done is I've tagged this up with UTM parameters to show that it’s coming from Twitter so Twitter medium's organic, Twitter is coming from my bio, and again if we have a little look at that and the state of analytics, eventually it will kick in, there we go. It’s coming from Twitter. Much better because again that would have just come through as weird direct traffic.

Another thing I'd like to do if there are any other kind of URLs that are maybe pointing into other Google properties, you see here that it says that I'm the host of the Canonical Chronicle. And what it actually does, it pushes people into my YouTube channel where all of the videos actually are. And you can see here, UTM source Twitter, yada yada yada, I've got Google Analytics running on YouTube as well. So that's all gonna be tied up and I know where all my video traffic's coming from as well. Really useful and helps me understand the channels that are actually best at promoting this sort of stuff.

And of course, there's a million and one different ways to use this and loads of different places you can put it so make sure you put it on your Facebook, on your LinkedIn. Essentially any third party where there are links coming into this site, you wanna start tagging that up so you can understand a little bit more about the traffic.

Google Analytics: Prevent Overinflated Direct

So why don't we actually just jump back into Google Analytics itself and jump into the admin section.

So one of the first things you probably wanna do in here as well so that direct isn't overinflated is get your IP address, and dump that into your Google Analytics. If you're doing this for a client account as well, I highly recommend you get all of theirs as well as their home addresses if any of them watch from home. Go ahead and get that kind of filtered out as well. So it's gonna be called office IP address, we're gonna exclude it, and it's gonna be an IP. I'm gonna bind that in there, and we can save. And there we go. So now that's gonna stop showing that as any sort of direct traffic.

Payment Platforms

So another one to kind of be reticent of is the referrals for any sort of, you know, strange payment platform. So for example if you're getting a bunch of referrals from PayPal because you're using them as your payment provider but it takes them off-site to do the transaction in a secure environment, then it brings them back into the site, what you're gonna want to do is start removing that domain from the left. So have a look at your referrals and make sure that there's nothing in there that looks a bit weird, or if there's any spam bots or anything like that, get them in there and that will bring that down as well.

URLs: Keywords and Traffic for Each

So the next thing to be aware of is if there are URLs on your website that rank for multiple terms, that's fantastic but I wanna see how they rank for these terms, so if they rank for like 10 different terms and 1 ranks for like average percent of let's say 20 or 30, you can probably dig into that and see if we can actually enhance the quality of the content to get that bumped up a little bit so that we get a little bit more traffic.

And also similarly, if there's a URL that only ranks for one term, we can look at how we can prove the quality of that content or maybe find similar URLs and take the content off and put it on 1. So you're kind of concatenating the pages down.

So the way in which you do that and kind of see that, go in search so and so, as usual, when you go into your queries report. You see all these different queries here which is great. What I like to do is click into the page and select an individual page itself so in this case I've selected the home page which we've blacked out because it was a client. And you click queries and again we've blacked all these out as it's client data. You see that there's quite a lot of queries in there and you can't see this but I can, but a lot of them are very very different and they're not getting a ton of clicks from them as well so what I wanna do is see if I can actually optimize for that. And note, if you've got a website with thousands and thousands of URLs on it, you're not gonna sit and do this manually as it's gonna take you absolutely ages, so this is where we need to use something like Supermetrics plugged into Google Sheets.

So essentially Supermetrics is a plugin for Google Sheets, let me show it to you here. So you can choose from tons and tons of data sources as you can see, in this instance we've decided to go with Search Console, so you can select the site you want, the amount of time you're gonna look at it over, the metrics, I just wanna see impression clicks now in position.

Here's the interesting one though, so I don't just wanna split by query and just split by URL. I want them both side by side so I'm gonna get tons and tons of duplicate URLs for each of the different keyword that's in there. Now it's only an example so I'm gonna put 1000 and click get data to table, and this ultimately the table that you get. Now you can't see half of this stuff, because as I said it's client data, but you can take my word for it, all of the keywords are here on the left-hand side.

Well, first thing we do is we wanna get all of the unique URLs that search console are giving us so we use this formula called Unique, and all we're doing is referencing column B on this rota, which is the essentially all of the URLs, great. So we wanna pull all of those in there.

And then after that, I'm not particularly concerned about the keyword as of this point, I just wanna see how many of them there is. So all I'm using a count f that says "go to row BB" and if you see this URL count it up. And in this instance, there are 99 keywords related to that URL. That is a lot of keywords.

You'll see there I've just closed out with an f error so f, you know, nothing comes back, it says sent out, so that means the URL is indexed but it doesn't actually rank for anything.

Next one, really simple. We're gonna do a sum F, so I now wanna see of all those 99 keywords, how many potential impressions, what was the demand for those terms that's going to this one URL. So it’s really simple, sum F. So we look at what we wanna sum, the thing we're comparing it to and then the column that's actually getting summed up itself. And then here we've got traffic per term. All I'm doing here is I'm taking this and dividing by that. So I'm taking this 100 and so thousand impressions, I'm diving by number of keywords, so I can see that when I pair keyword bases, where is all the power coming from, and what is the highest amount of keywords that potentially ranking for, but not getting enough traffic for.

And now really simply I'm gonna start doing things like show me all the top keywords, so I'm gonna filter this down from top to bottom, that's gonna give me all of the ones with the most keywords in it which is excellent. Or if you want to look at the ones with the highest potential traffic, I’d start looking at it from this point of view. So give me all the top things, at the top here so we can start playing around with this as well.

Alright, so really easily, when we decide on our URL that looks like it’s got a bunch of heading traffic there, all I'm doing is going back to the raw Search Console information, doing control f and paste to actually find where it is, and then what I actually wanna do is filter by that to bring it up so I can see the term that's connected to it. So in this instance, let me just see, there we go. So this one particular one is about floor lamps, so I can pull all the different floor lamp terminologies in there, check the main page to see if actually we had those keywords that we've got enough content about them and then if we don't, we can start writing a bit more, we can do this across the entire website but I’d start looking at highest value pages, the ones that show you the most demand and we should be good to go.

And that's reattributing your Google Analytics and Search Console traffic. Done.

Author Photo
Ross is the Managing Director at Type A Media, an independent search agency that work with FTSE250 companies and mid-sized brands to help them find the optimal way to talk to more people online. When not obsessing over his clients rankings, he hosts the Canonical Chronicle, a weekly web show watched by 100k people every month. If you want to ask him a direct question you can find him @rtavs on Twitter.