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How to read Google Analytics data to improve your SEO

Effectively using your Google Analytics data can be a significant asset to your SEO strategy. The key to successfully using this data is knowing which indicators to look at and how to interpret the data to benefit the SEO campaign.

Following is a breakdown of some of the analytics to focus on and how to interpret the information:

#1. Search Engine Referring Visits

Not every search engine is going to drive an equal percentage of traffic to your website given their relative market share in the country in which your website operates as well as the demographic market to which a particular engine appeals. 

Google covers over 80% in most countries except for a select few in which local search engines dominate the market.

This information is important because it helps to put your SEO priorities into perspective. If Yahoo! delivers 5% of monthly traffic while Google contributes over 70%, then is becomes clearer what role each search engine plays in the SEO strategy. Fluctuating rankings on Yahoo! should not be as large a priority as on Google – given the share of traffic that each engine contributes.

It is also worth remembering that Yahoo! offers a paid inclusion program in its natural search results, so paid organic listings may be getting preference over yours.

The analytics data can also be useful in getting visibility to drops in traffic. If you notice that traffic has dropped over all the search engines, this may indicate a visibility problem, however, if the ranking drop is for one particular search engine this may indicate a penalty on that search engine that needs to be more closely investigated.

By tracking search engine traffic you can also analyse the effects of particular SEO efforts on relative search engines. Every search engine will have a slightly different weighted algorithm, so on-page SEO changes on a website may have a greater effect on one engine vs. another. It is a great way to test SEO strategies.

#2. Traffic Driving Search Terms

Your ranking report reads like a top grade report, with top 5 search engine rankings for all the targeted SEO keywords, but does your keyword analytics report tell the same tale?
Google Analytics keyword data is very useful in shedding light as to how effective the SEO keywords are in:

  • Driving traffic to your website – in the keyword research phase, were the right keywords recommended for your business?
  • Do keywords convert beyond the click and how long do searchers stay on your website?
  • Long tail SEO – how many hundreds of other keyword variations drive traffic to your website?
  • Is your website positioned in the SERPs to convert searchers on long tail SEO searches?

Keyword data can be effectively used to optimise the SEO strategy by targeting keyword variations + modifiers that had previously not been identified.

High converting keywords that may be ranking lower in the SERPs should perhaps be focused on, to drive the terms into higher positions and thus drive further conversions.