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  • Writer's pictureHuw Neale

Why Analytics Is Important For SEO

Updated: Jan 24, 2019

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a continuous activity that requires longer term strategy and thinking than other forms of marketing tactics.

SEO refers to organic traffic which essentially is free traffic to your website through users finding you through keyword searches rather than paying for your traffic such as pay per click (PPC) ads.

Paid advertising can turn on the tap and deliver an instant burst of traffic. The difference with SEO is that the investment is more associated with time (other than the cost if you need to outsource to a digital marketing agency or SEO specialist) but the results will have lasting effects. Paid advertising stops generating results as soon as the advertising budget has been used up.

Analytics plays an important role in SEO. It can help to understand whether your website is performing optimally for search, what is generating traffic and what isn’t and where to invest your time and money.

Analytics Help You Understand if SEO Will Generate a Return of Investment (ROI)

Analytics will inform whether SEO is a worthwhile investment and how much budget you should allocate to make sure you can generate a ROI.

The first place to begin is analysing your Google Analytics report Audience > Channels, as seen below.

Google Analytics SEO

If you have conversion tracking already configured then you can simply analyse how much revenue organic search is delivering for your business.

If you have not, then the first step in the process is to set up conversions or goal tracking and run it for one month. This will provide you with a sample analysis based on monthly revenue for your organic search traffic and provide you with an estimate of potential ROI.

Analytics Will Tell you Where Your Traffic is Coming From

Traffic that comes to your website from other websites is known as a referral source. And yes, you’ve guessed it, Google Analytics will also track how much traffic you receive from each referral source as shown in the image taken from Google Merchandise demo account below:

Google Analytics SEO

Understanding which referral sources provide you with the most traffic is not only important to know how to attract more potential visitors but it also helps to build domain authority.

Domain authority is another of Google’s key ranking factors, which requires building credible backlinks from other sites to yours.

Sites that are referring the highest proportion of traffic to your website are sites you should target with backlinks to increase your referral traffic and also to increase your domain authority to rank higher in search.

Tools such as SEMrush and Moz provide a domain authority score on a rank percentile of 100 to help you monitor and understand how authoritative your website is.

Analytics Will Tell You What Keywords to Rank For

Keywords are a major ranking factor for websites and digital content to place higher up the search engine rankings so its important to know which keywords you should be trying to rank for.

Analytics can help you achieve this. The first step is to integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics. This will enable you to know which keywords visitors are using to find your website.

To locate the search console report in Google Analytics follow the following steps Acquisition > Search Console as highlighted in the image below

Google Analytics Report

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t give you all of the keyword information. You may notice that “other” will attribute for a lot of your traffic based on keywords.

This is where tools like SEMrush, Moz and Ahrefs again provide useful information. They will not only provide you a list of keywords that your domain is ranking for but also your competitors.

This will help you decide which ones you should target to place higher or achieve page one listing on search engines by understanding the data behind how competitive and how attractive each keyword is to target.

If you do not have access to such tools or historical data in Google Analytics, I recommend using the keyword research tool in Google Ads. This will provide data on potential search volume of specific keywords and also the cost per click on each particular keyword.

Tip: The higher the cost per click the more competitive the keyword.

Analytics Will Help You Track Your Progress

Once you have planned out your SEO campaign you need to assign metrics or KPI’s to ensure that you can track your progress.

Depending on your campaign, metrics you can choose to measure in Google Analytics are:

· Organic traffic

· Bounce rate

· Returning visitors vs new visitors

· Landing page and click through rate

· Page load speed

· Conversion rate

Google Analytics default reports provide all of these except conversion rate which will require either goal or ecommerce set up depending on your type of business.

Through tools such as SEMrush, Moz and Ahrefs you can also assess

· Keyword ranking

· Domain authority score

· Number of backlinks

· Number of social media followers

These are very useful metrics to track as they are direct measures of how your campaign is impacting your SEO performance. If you do not have these tools in house it is worth investing in a marketing agency that can also work with you to plan out the campaigns effectively.

Analytics Will Generate Insights That Optimise Your SEO Campaigns

Metrics such as the list above can help you to understand not only if you are receiving increased traffic from your campaign but also how the visitor behaves once they land on your website or content.

Receiving lots of traffic is one thing but if the visitor does not interact and immediately bounces away from the site or does not convert into a lead or customer then the campaign will need to be reviewed and improved.

The insights you develop cannot only help you to improve your campaigns but also where to invest more time and money.

SEO needs to be a continual process as the environment is so dynamic. For example, competitors may also be trying to rank on the same keywords and you need to be a) monitoring how you rank against competition on specific keywords and b) maintaining a plan to ensure you stay ahead.

One way of staying ahead to the completion is to generate insights that can help optimise your strategy. To achieve this you need to be asking the right questions about your data and analytics. Such questions you should be trying to answer are:

· How do I compare to my competition?

· Which keywords am I improving or losing my rank position?

· Which backlinks are contributing best to my authority score?

· Which landing page is receiving most traffic?

· Which content has the lowest bounce rates?

· What is causing my best content to rank high versus my content that ranks lower?

· Which content is contributing most to lead generation and sales?

· Which platform and device is receiving most traffic?

These are just a snapshot of questions that can be explored to generate actionable insights. By asking these questions you can build a picture of how your customers find you, interact with your content and proceed to contact or buy from you.

This allows you to optimise the process and personalise the customer experience to generate relevancy with your audience.

Optimisation is continual and is often termed a “peel and stick” process. You may not get all the answers from one campaign or in the short term. But as you continue to manage and optimise the campaigns you will drip feed important insights that can help improve the effectiveness of your campaign and improve ROI.

So, the next time you start to think about launching your SEO campaign, make sure you leverage all of the analytics available to you to remove guess work and develop your campaign based on data insights.


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