SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) reports in Google Analytics provide information about Google Web Search queries that have returned URL results from your site. These reports are available if you have done two things:
- Added your site and verified it with Webmaster Tools.
If you have not yet used Webmaster Tools, you will need to add your site to Webmaster Tools to begin collecting search query data for the SEO reports in Analytics.
- Configuring SEO reporting within Google Analytics.
Using the SEO Reports in Analytics
With the SEO reports in Analytics, you can easily compare Google Web Search impressions and clicks for your site to other traffic source data from Analytics, such as paid AdWords impressions and clicks. By identifying the Google Web Search queries that drive traffic to your site, you can also learn which AdWords keywords make the most sense for your business objectives. In addition, you can identify how to optimize your website for both content and search quality.
The SEO reports in Google Analytics appear under the Traffic Sources section in the My Site tab of Analytics. These reports provide the following general data about your site’s performance in Google Web Search results:
- Queries users typed to reach your site
- Number of impressions of your website’s URLs in search results pages
- The number of clicks on your website’s URLs from search results pages
- The ratio of clicks to impressions for your website’s URLs
- The average position of your website’s URLs in search listings
- The pages users landed on when clicking on search results listing your site
These metrics are described in detail in The SEO Reports article.
Using Webmaster Tools
If you already use Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, the SEO reports provide a site performance view designed for Analytics. If you have not yet used Webmaster Tools, you will need to add your site to Webmaster Tools to begin collecting search query data for the SEO reports in Analytics.
In either case, see the Webmaster Tools Help Center for the following information about setup and analysis beyond the SEO reports in Analytics:
- Step 1 – Get your site working on Webmaster Tools
- List of Site Links
- Content Keywords
- Internal Links
You will not see any reporting data under the Search Engine Optimization section until you enable Webmaster Tools data sharing for your web property in Google Analytics.
Configuring SEO Reporting for your Analytics Reports
Contact your site administrator if you don’t manage web search optimization for the website. Otherwise, ensure that you have added your website to Webmaster Tools and that data collection is working. Read Getting Started with Webmaster Tools for more information.
The Web Property Settings screen for your site contains the SEO configuration information (All Accounts > [your account] > [your web property] > Web Property Settings). In the Webmaster Tools Settings section, you should see the URL of your website, which confirms that the website is verified in Webmaster Tools and that you have permission to make changes. If you do not see the URL in this section, you need to add your site to Webmaster Tools.
By default, SEO reporting is activated for all views that collect data for the website. You can disable SEO reporting for selected views by clicking the Enable Views button and deselecting checkboxes next to the views you want to disable. Click Apply to save changes.
Data Availability in Reports
Once you enable SEO reporting for your Analytics reports, any available historical SEO data for your website will appear in your reports. However, historical data in these reports is affected by two factors:
- The starting date of the Analytics view.
Once a website is set up correctly with Analytics tracking, one or more views can show report data for the site. For each view, the report data begins on the creation date for the view. Any data from before the view creation date is not available.
- The starting date of the Webmaster Tools collection for the website.
If you have Webmaster Tools data collection already set up, the SEO reports will display historical data back to the creation date of the view. If you have just enabled Webmaster Tools data collection for your site, data will appear in your reports within 24 hours of site verification. Webmaster Tools will show any data collected for that site, but historical data previous to site verification may not be available.
The following scenario illustrates:
- Jan 1 — View A in Analytics set up for your website.
- Feb 1 — Webmaster Tools data collection set up for your website.
- March 1 — View B in Analytics set up for your website.
- April 1 — SEO reporting enabled for View A and View B.
In this case, the data availability for each view is as follows:
- View A — SEO data begins on Feb 1.
- View B — SEO data begins on March 1.
The SEO reports in Analytics provide Google Web Search performance data about the website that you have set up using Webmaster Tools. You can use this data to identify opportunities and prioritize efforts to increase the amount of traffic to your site. This article describes the reports and how to use them. If you do not see any data in your SEO reports, readEnabling SEO data in Analytics. To understand how Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics work together, see About Search Engine Optimization.
The SEO Metrics
The Search Engine Optimization reports in Analytics use four metrics specific to Google Web Search data:
- Impressions—the number of times any URL from your site appeared in search results viewed by a user, not including paid AdWords search impressions
- Clicks—the number of clicks on your website URLs from a Google Search results page, not including clicks on paid AdWords search results
- Average Position—the average ranking of your website URLs for the query or queries. For example, if your site’s URL appeared at position 3 for one query and position 7 for another query, the average position would be 5 ((3+7)/2).
- CTR—clickthrough rate, calculated as Clicks / Impressions * 100
The SEO Geographical Summary Report
The Geographical Summary report provides a general view of Impressions, Clicks, and CTR by country. At a glance, you can see which countries are generating the most search activity for your site on Google search. You can also selectGoogle Property as a primary dimension to see a breakdown of search activity on Google search by the following:
- Web search
- Mobile search
- Video search
- Image search
The SEO Queries Report
The Queries report shows the Google search queries that generated the most impressions for your website URLs. You can sort by other columns—such as clicks—to order queries in descending/ascending rank by those metrics. By using this report, you can identify search queries for which your site has a good average position, but poor clickthrough rates. These are queries for which your pages get attention, so improved content could lead to more traffic.
Keep in mind that the most typical search queries return only a single URL from your site, and the average position for a search query is based on this single URL position. In the case where a query returns more than one URL from your site, the average position is based on the most prominent URL in the search results when only a low number of URLs from your site are displayed.
The SEO Landing Pages Report
The Landing Pages report shows the URLs to your website that have generated the most impressions in Google Web search results. With this report, you can identify landing pages on your site that have good click through rates (CTR), but have poor average positions in search results. These could be pages that people want to see, but have trouble finding.
In addition, a single URL is typically associated with many unique queries. For this reason, the average position ranking for a given page can be influenced by more generic queries, and if you are comparing the top landing pages to the top queries with respect to Average Position, you should keep this in mind. For example, for a website dedicated to classic automobiles, a query such as classic automobiles might return the URL for the home page only, whereas a query such asclassic automobiles Ford might return the URL for the home page as well as other pages in the site. In this case, the generic query improves the position ranking for the home page over the ranking of pages that are more specific in nature.
Tips for Using Webmaster Tools and Analytics SEO Reports
The following table identifies terms that are used in both Analytics reports and in the Webmaster Tools reports.
|Term||Analytics usage||Webmaster Tools usage|
|Impressions||Used for both AdWords impressions and Google Search impressions||Used exclusively for Google Search impressions|
|Clicks||Used for both AdWords clicks and Google Search clicks||Used exclusively for Google Search clicks|
|Average Position||Average ranking in Google Search results||Average ranking in Google Search results|
|CTR||Clickthrough rate. Clicks/Impressions for both AdWords and Google Search clicks.||Clickthrough rate. Clicks/Impressions for Google Search clicks.|
|Keyword||When used in paid search or AdWords reports, describes a paid keyword from a search engine results page. When used in the organic search reports, describes the actual query string entered by a user from a web search.||Applies to the key terms used in the written content of the website pages. These terms are the most significant keywords and their variants Google found when crawling your site. When reviewed along with the Search queries report and your site’s listing in actual search results for your targeted keywords, it provides insight into how Google is interpreting the content of your site.|
|Query||Only used in the SEO reports. Applies to the actual query entered by a user in Google search.||The actual query entered by a user in Google search.|
The following techniques are useful for SEO and Google organic traffic analysis. These techniques build upon each other, so use them together.
- Landing page analysis that focuses on google/organic traffic
- Segment analysis of google/organic traffic
- Multi-Channel Funnels and attribution analysis
- Keyword analysis with Webmaster Tools data
- Generating content ideas
- Internal site search analysis
Landing pages are a good signal for analyzing organic search traffic because each landing page has likely been created around a focus keyword, product, or theme. As a result, incoming keyword searches generally relate to the focus of the page. You can see which organic searches on Google relate to which landing pages on your site.
Begin by downloading this custom report (link will take you to your Analytics account). This report shows which landing pages receive traffic from Google organic search and how well this traffic performs. (Remember that you can customizethis report to meet your needs.)
- The over-time graph shows the trend of Google organic traffic over your active date range. If you are actively working to optimize your website, then you should see this content increasing over time.
- The table shows all the landing pages that received traffic from Google organic search. The metrics shown are:Session, Bounce Rate, Avg. Time on Page, Avg. Session Duration, % New Sessions, Goal Conversion Rate,Revenue, and Per Session Value. These metrics help you measure the quality of Google organic search traffic for each landing page on your site. In particular, look at the Goal Conversion Rates, Revenue, and Per Session Value to quantify the value that Google organic traffic adds to your business. While it’s great to get traffic and have an engaged audience, it’s critical that organic traffic lead to conversions and revenue. Learn more about goals and conversions.
As mentioned in Landing Page Analysis, content is often created around a central theme. You can group your content, based on these themes, using Segments and see how each group or theme performs. For example, you might want to see how a particular product category performs, like “digital cameras,” or explore a more general category, like “cameras.” Define your segments to be as granular, or as broad, as you need them.
To define an advanced segment for a theme, create conditions based on Landing Page (e.g., “Landing Page Containing/digital_camera”). You can use your own knowledge of the site to identify the landing pages that are related to a theme. You can also use Google Webmaster Tools data to identify landing pages (see Keyword Analysis with Webmaster Tools Data, below).
Here are a few segments you may want to create.
- A segment that includes “google/organic” but excludes brand landing pages. This allows you to compare overall trends for both brand and non-brand organic keywords.
- A brand segment that includes your homepage, “about us” page, and other brand message pages.
- An organic brand segment that includes both “google/organic” and brand landing pages.
- Organic brand segments for different geographic locations. You can also create segments for the geographic areas you are analyzing and apply them to the custom report in Landing Page Analysis, above.
Just as you can create Segments that are based on landing pages, you can create channel groupings for Multi-Channel Funnels and Attribution analysis. Once you’ve identified your brand landing pages (see Keyword Analysis with Webmaster Tools, below), you can create brand and non-brand channel groupings. You can then see the roles that brand and non-brand channels play in initiating, assisting, and completing sales and conversions. You can also compare the monetary value of these channels according to different attribution models.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to see search queries that drive traffic to your site. There are two ways to access Google Webmaster Tools data: via your Webmaster Tools account, and in Google Analytics, under Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization.
In your Webmaster Tools account, navigate to Search Traffic > Search Queries. This report can be filtered, so use theFilters field (screenshot below) to filter for queries that included your branded or non-branded term(s), depending on which segment you’re analyzing.
A few ways you can use this list:
- After searching for the branded content, click on the top branded queries to discover which landing pages they lead to.
- Review the list for expected keywords. If you keywords you expect to see don’t appear your site may not have enough useful content relevant to those keywords.
- Compare Impressions and CTR to identify potential areas for improvement. There are several steps you can take to make your content appear more compelling so that users click your site in search results pages. Your page title appears in the results, so make sure it’s relevant and accurate. Google can display the text in your pages’ meta descriptions in search results, so review your meta descriptions.Refer to the Webmaster Tools help center for more tips and techniques.
Much of the analysis that we’ve discussed so far focuses on the performance of what you’re doing now. One technique for identifying keywords or clusters of keywords that would work well for SEO is to launch an exploratory campaign using Google AdWords. Here are a few analysis ideas:
- Use the AdWords > Keywords report to better understand which keywords generate conversions and revenue for your business.
- Segment out the paid keywords that are working and analyze why (best keywords for each geography / language, for each product, and for each customer segment).
- Analyze the relationship of keywords to different types of micro-conversions (email signups, adding to cart, store locator, PDF downloads).
- Use Multi-Channel Funnels to analyze where clusters of keywords sit in the conversion funnel; use this to valuate upper-funnel keywords that might not be obvious.
Just as you can segment “google/organic” traffic to see landing pages, you can segment it to see which queries were performed using internal site search. This allows you to see what users who arrived via Google organic search look for once they’re on your website. These queries are usually related to the searches they used to find the website.
Use this Google Organic segment (link will take you to your Analytics account) and navigate to Content > Site Search. You will see the the search terms used by users who came to your site via Google organic search. Use the terms to refine your existing content strategy or create new content ideas.
On the same report, you can add a secondary dimension to identify the landing page for each of the internal search keywords. This information is an indication of sub-optimal keyword targeting: if the user is using internal site search to refine what they are looking for, it means they didn’t enter your site from an appropriate landing page.