Build your SEO Toolbox - Reveal FREE traffic boosting data
- Google Analytics: Getting the Basics Right
- Goals, Filters, and Optimizing Marketing Funnels in Google Analytics
- Different Types of User Data in Google Analytics
- A Google Analytics Marketing Dashboard: Customer Acquisition and Traffic Channels
- Getting Keyword Data into Google Analytics
- How Google Search Console Benefits Your Marketing Efforts
- Website Speed Improvements and Site Searches
- How to Filter IP Addresses from Google Analytics for a Remote Team
Kristen: Welcome, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. Before we get started officially, I did just want to give a brief introduction of our presenter and our panelists today so that everyone can get more familiar on our backgrounds and what really brought us here today with you.
We're very excited to have two experienced and knowledgeable digital marketing professionals with us, very well-respected in the community, a ton of information from these two here. Tristam, after working over 10 years in a variety of different roles, he is now the co-founder of Purple Smudge. In addition to doing technical SEO, that's really where his main experience lies, he also has a specialist field in data management. We're going to dive into that a bit more today and kind of pick his brain around what he knows there.
Adam is the director of operations at Enleaf, a marketing firm as well. He's constantly helping organizations to increase their revenue and exposure. What's interesting is his career started in software development. I'm sure a lot of the SEOs have experience working with people on the dev side of things as well, but his natural creativity really brought him into marketing so we're happy again to have him here today with us. He has over 10-plus years of experience in B2B and B2C industries.
Myself, last but not least, I'm currently leading digital marketing initiatives at RapidMiner, a data science software. I came from a B2B marketing agency as well so I really specialize in everything from SEO, PPC, social media, but SEO will always have my heart. That's really where my passion lies.
We're going to be talking about what everyone needs to include in their SEO toolbox. Whether you're just starting off in SEO or you're more experienced in the profession, leveraging the right tools can make all the difference in moving the needle for you.
Really what we're exploring today is some of those free tools that we can leverage, the Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and really how to be using those on a daily basis to get those quick wins for your site.
I will pass things over to Tristam to really take us through the presentation here, and then afterwards we'll save some time for some questions.
Tristam: Perfect. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. I'm going to be talking to you about building your SEO toolbox, and how to reveal free traffic-boosting data.
Why are we here today? When I initially looked to put this presentation together, I felt there's lots of awesome stuff that you can do with your website. There's a lot of awesome content and presentations at quite a high level, but I still feel there's a huge number of people who need guidance on what can be unlocked in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
As I've said time and time again, I do hear people saying, "We do SEO, but we don't really check Google Analytics," or, "We do SEO, but we don't know where to look in Google Analytics." Today we're going to be seeing what you can uncover, and drive more traffic, get more conversions, get more out of your marketing efforts, really.
Google Analytics: Getting the Basics Right
I'm going to jump into a Google Analytics demo account. Just some areas around installing Google Analytics, checking your codes and GA account checks, because if you don't have these elements set up correctly the rest of what we look at can be null and void. And lastly, we will be looking at where to look in these programs and what to look for.
The Google Analytics demo account is a fully functional Google Analytics account that any user can use and access, and it's a great way to look at real business data and experiment with Google Analytics features. It also means that you don't have to worry about ruining your own data.
We'll be looking at the Google Analytics demo account today for a few reasons. First is, I didn't have to blank out any sensitive data and information, and the second point is that you can gain access to this and have a play around, touch the skills, and as I say, don't worry about breaking any data.
It's all well and good looking at Google Analytics, taking this valuable data and making smarter marketing decisions, but what if it's not set up correctly? Google Analytics, installing it can be done in a couple of ways. One of the main ways is that people just put the code straight onto the page or pages you want to record, and then you can also deploy it through Google Tag Manager, which is becoming more and more the norm.
But I understand that not everyone's in a position to learn how to use Google Tag Manager, so just to say there are a couple of ways to do that. Before I jump into any account or even have access to a particular account if I'm tendering a new client, I use what's called Google Tag Assistant. You can download this as a browser add-on from the Chrome store and other stores. It's straight into your browser.
Click it on the website, and then there's the enable function. You restart or refresh the website, and then it will bring up where your Google Analytics code is on the page, what your Google Analytics code is, along with other codes that are on the page. This quickly gives you a snapshot of possible issues with the website's GA tracking code.
From there, you should always check to see if the code's in the right place and this will alert you to that fact. If it isn't, you could be having a leaky bucket which includes missing code, which is, therefore, missing valuable data. Or you can have things like double tracking which is leading to skewed metrics, which is not good.
Duplicate code: this occurs when you have duplicate tracking code. This means that GA is not recording and counting your data correctly. It could have happened in a number of ways, such as a developer adding a second set of code in the staging server without knowing it. These things happen. It's definitely worth checking.
Missing code: in an ideal world, we would have the correct code on every single page we want to track. But again, similar to duplicate codes, you could be in fact missing code on critical pages.
When was the last time you checked your GA code on your website? There's a couple of tools that you can use to check this. Gachecker.com, which is quite useful. I haven't used that in a while, because I use things like Screaming Frog, which you can actually get a free version of that which crawls up to 500 pages, and that you might be able to get some information out of that.
If you pay for a tool like Screaming Frog, you can actually check how many instances of your GA code are on each page and how many instances of missing code you might have. It's worth doing that, because there are common issues if you have duplicated tracking or missing code, and you could just be missing out on valuable data.
Your GA account checks: as you can see in this example on the screen, there's three views in this Google Analytics account. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into people's accounts where they only have one view.
Now, why is this necessary? Your master view would be for your data set reporting, the one that you're in all the time, the second one would be your test view, so you can test goals, filters, tinker around, don't worry about breaking things, see if it works, and you make it live.
Then the last one, possibly one of your most critical ones, is your raw data view. If you somehow messed up the other two views, this raw data view literally just has the code installed, very basic additions to this view, and this just keeps everything backed up for when you might need it.
If you haven't, go away, set up three views and make sure you've got those set up. And again, if you want more in-depth information, be happy to jump into that for a further discussion.
Just a quick few things on GA account checks and your property. Make sure you've checked your property permissions, who's got access to your data? There might be old staff, developers, et cetera who don't work for you anymore but might have access to your data. That's not great. Only you and the critical people within your company and team should have that access.
Referral exclusions: this is really great to jump into and see whether you've got any referral exclusions included in there. One example of what you might want to put in there is if you've ever been into your referrals section of your GA data, and you might see something like PayPal in there referring all this data and attributing lots of revenue and conversions. Well, that would actually need to be put in your referral exclusion because that's stealing data conversions and revenue data from those other channels that you've worked so hard on to push.
With a little tweak, you can actually stop that happening, stop that appearing, and you will then find that maybe your Google Ads channel or your organic traffic channel is actually doing far better than you thought before. That's why it's so imperative, getting some of these checks correct.
Make sure you're linking your products within this check, so if you're using Google Ads, make sure that's linked to your Google Analytics account, and make sure your Google Search Console is added to your Google Analytics account.
The final checks within your view section of Google Analytics: jump into your view settings, make sure you've got the correct URL in there. Make sure you've got the correct time zone, currency. Again, some of you might be laughing going, "This is obvious."
Bot filtering, make sure that's ticked on. It by no means excludes all spambots and all that spam traffic, but it certainly should be ticked and I believe it makes some steps forward in removing some of the more well-known bot traffic that would be skewing your data.
Goals, Filters, and Optimizing Marketing Funnels in Google Analytics
Make sure you set up goals, filters, and in those filters you can set up things like excluding IP addresses. A quick example of that would be if I'm working for a company, I'm going to be on that website quite a bit. But I'm not a customer, so therefore I don't want to be tracked in Google Analytics.
You might have a customer services team that are always on the phone speaking with customers, helping them place orders, answering queries, and they'll be taking customers through that chain on the website. Again, you don't really want the customer service team being tracked and skewing that Google Analytics data, so just one of the many filters that you can add, and we can be here probably talking for another session about filters and goals, et cetera, but make sure you add IP addresses into your filters.
Just a bit more about goals and funnels. A goal can be applied to a specific page or screen your user is visiting. How many pages and screens they view in a session? How long they stay on a site or app, and the events they trigger while they're there? Every goal can have a monetary value, so you can see how much that conversion is worth to your business.
If you don't have goals, I would suggest that you set some up for things like leads, sign-ups, newsletter sign-ups, account creations as an example, white paper downloads, e-book downloads, and there's much, much more.
It's not necessarily just doing one thing that's going to make a huge difference. It's about doing a number of small steps sometimes that will add to your overall sort of data security, as well as bolstering your SEO traffic, et cetera. By setting up goals and funnels, you can start to see which pages are converting and which ones aren't, so that starts to give you a little bit more insight into how your page and your sites are functioning.
If we look at funnels...you can set up a goal on an e-commerce funnel and see where people are dropping off. Are there any trends that might highlight a sweet win for you? Some have found that on mobile and desktop devices there might be a sticking point in the conversion funnel on one or the other that you weren't necessarily aware of.
It also can highlight things like form rendering, how many forms do you have in a step of filling in forms? People might get bored, fall out. There might be steps in the process that aren't clear. There might be unclear or lack of information in an e-commerce payment gateway process, and they might also highlight any areas and issues in a process.
I would pose to you, when was the last time you looked at the website through the eyes of a visitor or a customer? When did you last purchase a product through your website, try to find some content or submit a lead? If you build these checks in sort of a monthly course or yearly plan into a spreadsheet with a dashboard, your data could become more critical.
Imagine if you're having errors that were kicking people out of your purchase funnel. You think everything's fine, not worry about it, and you're just losing money. Right now, we don't want to be doing that.
Adam: And Tristam, that stuff happens. We see that all the time where different frameworks and content management systems, you roll out updates or your development team rolls out an update and lo and behold, something breaks. If you don't have that coverage, it's pretty easy to go weeks if not months and realize like, "Okay, we just thought sales were dropping off, but really a barrier was inadvertently introduced to the end user."
Tristam: Yeah, that's it. And I think that's going to be more of a kicker, isn't it? Rather than, "Oh, sales are dropping off." Is it due to weather, time of year? Are people getting paid, not paid, around payday, stuff like that?
Different Types of User Data in Google Analytics
Where do we look for this data? For anyone who's not familiar with Google Analytics too much, you've kind of had the A, B, C model. What's your audience on your website? How are you acquiring that data? What's the behavior of users on your site, and then how are things converting?
One of the first areas I wanted to jump into is demographics. Demographic data is a lot more valuable than you may think. It can help shape your website, paid advertising channels and even your overall business model, and it's readily available to you, so a great way of discovering who your audience and website users are. Are you creating content for the correct person? How could you refine what you are doing and get a clearer idea of what your overall website's demographics are?
This data gives you a clearer understanding of who's actually using your website, and so that can really start to shape things a little bit more for your content, your website, your journey, what you're delivering, who you're talking to.
Quickly, we'll jump into interests. Here you can get an idea of where your customers spend their time online. This is great to help craft content and even helps target your PPC campaigns.
Geo-location, this is a fantastic one...here you can dive into where visitors are coming from. Is it where you thought it was? Are there places that you weren't aware of, and does that now lead you to think differently about your content?
You can look at countries and language. Is there a gap for translated content, or are you translating lots of content and finding that it might not be as necessary as you thought, or is everyone an English speaker in these countries?
And then we've got behavior. How many people are new versus returning, and what business and services do you offer? Do you need more returning visitors than new ones? This would help you start to understand the landscape of your website visitors and determine what direction you might want to move it.
We've got mobile here, so under this tab you can jump in to overview and start to see what the breakdown of desktop, mobile and tablet usage is on your website. If you've ever wanted to know the split of devices that use your website, this is the place to go. This highlights which devices are using your website, along with which ones are converting and generating revenue, if you sell through your website.
How can this be useful to you? When was the last time you looked at your website through different devices? Do they all work beautifully and seamlessly as the next? I will hazard a guess that that's probably not the case. This may lead you to see that mobile, for example, doesn't actually function as well as your desktop site, and I know there are many sites out there that work like this.
A Google Analytics Marketing Dashboard: Customer Acquisition and Traffic Channels
Then we've got this nice little dashboard here, so this is all the things we've just discussed in this first section opened into a nice little dashboard. This was created in Google Data Studio, which is free to use, which is awesome.
This is incredibly useful for a number of reasons. Understand who your customer actually is. Target localization, localized content. Were you writing for a different customer? Is the device different to how you thought it was working? What does it mean with your content when you've been creating it? Have you been creating long pieces of content, like blog content, but found that users are mainly using mobile, and so they may never actually get to the end of that page? Is it time to trial more things like video content?
This dashboard, which I'll be happy to share afterwards, just simply pulls in all those other reports in Google Analytics into this one place, so you don't have to do all the hard work of going into each one, pulling it together. You go into Google Data Studio, select your elements, and then this is just constantly updated to whatever time range you want to look at, which is pretty neat.
Let's move on to acquisition. Do you want to know how people are finding your website? When you know your biggest traffic sources, you get a better idea of where people are spending time and money on your site.
Google Analytics Acquisition Reports can help you drive traffic and sales. But note; one way to get the most out of the Google Analytics data is to set up conversion goals, so if you haven't done this already, as we've discussed, set them up and get the easiest ones set up by reviewing the first points that we discussed earlier in this presentation.
Acquisition section tells us where your visitors originated from, such as search engines, social networks or website referrals. This is a key section when determining which online tactics are bringing in the most visitors to your website.
Which channels are driving the most traffic? Where can your efforts be directed? Which channels can be improved upon? If you have e-commerce tracking, which channels are driving the most conversions in revenue, and did you know those channels were winning as much as they were for you? How can you capitalize on that and drive more winning traffic?
If we jump a little bit further in, so if we jump into the organic channel, and then if you had a look at primary dimensions, where the beautiful little arrow is going, and change that to the landing page for the time period that you're looking at, which pages are driving the most traffic versus which pages are driving the most conversions, and how can this be harnessed and improved upon?
Some websites might find a particular blog post is a great entry point for search traffic, yet are you helping these customers move seamlessly through the site to purchase or submit a lead? A blog post may be driving traffic to that landing page, but you may have actively set up a blocker.
What I mean by that is, let's say you sell bikes and you've written an amazing article. You've done all the work you needed to do to get it ranking, about the benefits of an electric bike. That's driving lots of traffic, but what I've found with certain sites and further investigation is you've just blocked anyone moving to the site.
A visitor lands on that article. They read it and then they leave, and that's because the website owner did not lead them on to a page with more relevant content, or links to particular e-bikes that you might be selling. I've seen this time and time again where people go, "We've written an amazing blog. It's great." But you need to help people, and as I put here I said, "Think of it more than leading the horse to water. Help the horse drink that water."
If someone's coming to the site, think like the user. Where would you want to go? You've read the article. "Great, so I'm really interested in e-bikes. What do I do now?"
Adding to that, with tools like Hotjar, which is a website heat map and behavior analytics tool, you can start to see what actions visitors take on a page, so you can really start to see deeper where people are clicking, scrolling, moving through that, just as this example, that piece of blog content, to think about the actions that you want the user to take and create a page around that.
Adam: There's also another tool that's probably not as visually appealing as say a Hotjar, but Page Analytics by Google is a Chrome extension which is also free. And so if you're on a budget or just getting started with kind of on-page optimization or heat maps, that's a low-hanging fruit. You can install that. You get some really good visual data on how users engage with your website, so definitely recommend that as well as a supplement or an alternative to some of the more enterprise-level heat tracking-type systems.
Getting Keyword Data into Google Analytics
Tristam: That's it there. How do you unlock organic keyword data? Keywords were taken out of Google Analytics a number of years ago. A lot of you might have seen that provided in the organic keywords section, but there are other ways to help you unlock this goldmine of information.
There's a little tool called Keyword Hero that's out there, and it's here to the rescue. This handy piece of software will help you bring back keyword data into your Google Analytics. You set up a new property and view for this.
In short, Keyword Hero helps connect the dots with missing organic keyword data in Google Analytics. It helps collect data from Google Search Console and adds this to your GA data, and now you populate into your keyword data back into GA. This gives you the power to see clearly what pages rank for, what terms?
If we take that new keyword data or landing page data and the content that we've already created in this scenario, if you're a SEMrush user or looking to start using SEMrush, it has the SEO Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant. This allows you to enter specific keywords and content into this lovely page in front of you, and then it gives you SEO recommendations of suggestions and competitors.
In the right-side panel, it gives you a readability score, word count, title issues, content issues, target keywords, recommended keywords, all attribute issues, tone of voice consistency, and originality. If you're finding yourself in a situation where you're now writing content or looking to start writing content, this is a real help.
How Google Search Console Benefits Your Marketing Efforts
We’ll jump into Google Search Console. Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site's search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google search results. Make sure you have the correct Google Search Console properly linked to your Google Analytics account. Many times I've found that sites have migrated from HTTP to HTTPS, yet they either haven't set up that Google Search Console property for the HTTPS or they haven't linked the HTTPS property, so then you've got the wrong data in your Google Analytics account.
Some neat things that you can do in there, you can see which landing pages are getting the most impressions. Are these pages getting a good click-through rate? Are they getting any clicks at all? You're spending time creating these pages, writing content, putting new products up, so a couple of areas to focus on is if a page is getting strong impressions but not getting the clicks that you thought, do you need to optimize that page further?
Are they getting lots of impressions, but maybe it's in the search results what you've put isn't enticing people enough to draw them through? Are there content and keyword improvements that could be made to that page? You can use this cross-referencing search query by landing pages and start to see where you can start to improve your content, which is pretty awesome.
Adam: There's another point, Tristam, when it comes to Google Search Console that we find really helpful as well. And that's often the data that you get in there is invaluable for doing audits of your existing content.
Once you get in there and see the terms that your website is getting impressions for, you'll notice terms that maybe you're not specifically targeting. The fact that you're already ranking for them on subsequent content is usually an opportunity where you can expand and create new content based off of those inadvertent ranking terms.
Tristam: Yeah, most definitely. And so we've got a behavior section. In here, you've got a great section so you can gain site speed suggestions. Where the arrow is, that highlights where there are some site speed issues. And so by clicking that, where it says eight total, nine total, it will then bring up this little process box and straightaway give you back site speed improvements.
If you shave off that loading time here and there, you'll be able to add that to your overall SEO checks that you're making. Look at badly-performing pages. Are there higher volume pages that are really slow? They're ranking well, but they are quite slow, but with some tweaks you might be able to get that working better and actually improve your rankings.
Website Speed Improvements and Site Searches
Then, what tweaks can be made? I see things like still people have crazy-sized images on their website. You don't see that through the eye, but actually, it's impeding your load time on your website, and so that's something you, most individuals could do themselves by resizing an image. There's tests that are done where it's like every second a page takes to load, you're more likely to see people abandon. The quicker your page loads, hopefully, the more conversions you're getting on your site.
You can take this even further if you want to. You can use tools like Gtmetrix, Pingdom, WebPage Test and Google Lighthouse, which again is a neat little Chrome plugin and plugin on other browsers.
Lastly, an area I really love and I just feel it gets missed is site search. It's one of my favorite areas in Google Analytics. Do you have a site search facility on your website?
Why is this useful? Say you run a shop that sells T-shirts. For example, you sell white, black, blue and gray t-shirts, yet when you look in your site search data you can see there's a large volume of people searching for “striped T-shirts” or “green T-shirts”, yet you don't currently stock those colors. This could lead you to bring those products into your store.
Also under the same circumstances, say you do sell those stripey T-shirts and green T-shirts. This may lead you to see that people are searching for these in the site search box, so how's your navigation not working for people to find those products? Can you change your navigation, your signpost on your website, to increase the visibility of those particular products that people seemingly are searching for and not being able to find?
Once you've made those improvements, you can start to see if people are searching for those less and hopefully, in turn, making more sales.
Please annotate. Because you also might leave a company and somebody else comes in, and then this helps them get a storyboard of what's been happening. That wraps us up, so question time.
How to Filter IP Addresses from Google Analytics for a Remote Team
Kristen: Well, we have plenty of questions. One of the questions in particular that came through was around, "Is there a way apart from IP to filter out some of those team members?" Thinking about everyone working from home right now, how would you recommend going about that?
Tristam: I would say someone should take responsibility for making sure they collate everyone's IP address, add it to the filters, but also make sure you kind of do that depending on how long we're still all going to be working from home, or how your team's going to work, how you do that on a more periodical basis?
Because you have an issue with your Wi-Fi router, turn it off, turn it back on, your IP address could change. You make all that effort one week, everyone plays around with their Wi-Fi and then there's another issue next week.
Adam: It's actually a really great question. I see a software application in the making here because it's not one I think that is easily tackled. I think right now it's literally that scenario where you'd have to go walk your staff through a process of getting their IP address. Whether it's static or dynamic is going to play into that.
It's much easier in the scenario where you have two or three offices, you find out the global IP. You extract it from your data. Yeah, that definitely is a new challenge that I think is probably going to become ever-prevalent, so if there are any cutting-edge software developers out there, we just gave you your next product.
Tristam: Someone should really be looking at your data management. They should take responsibility of your Google Analytics data. All these things I've talked about can just be set up in a flow for if you're in a blessed situation every month. But if not, just make sure you're doing some of these checks once a year, because yeah, you could be losing opportunities, money, all sorts.
Adam: This is where segmentation of traffic becomes helpful as well. Because even in the scenario where let's say you can't exclude everyone that's in your organization, their traffic, you can make certain assumptions about them. They're likely going to be doing branded search because, "Hey, I need to go to my company's website. I'm going to do a branded search instead of typing the URL in."
There's ways to extract that, both in SEMrush and Google Analytics, et cetera, so that you can build better profiles so at least you get some cleaner data, even if you're not in the position to blacklist all of those IPs. That's where segmentation is always going to be your friend when it comes to this stuff.
Kristen: I can't believe we already ran out of time. I feel like there's so much more to talk through, but I think that we should definitely encourage people to reach out to us on social media.
Tristam: Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you for everyone joining today. Apologies if we spoke too much. I wanted just to give everyone a bird's eye view of what's possible if you've not really delved into Analytics or Search Console, and how that can help your business.
Kristen: Yeah, thank you, guys. And I think there's a ton possible that probably is what led to so many different questions too, so we can do deeper dives either on social media or maybe another round with us.