Do you ever find yourself scrolling social media and stumbling on marketing “experts” with dozens of different strategies for success? Do you feel like you’ve tried a bunch of different things when it comes to your website and marketing efforts, but aren’t really sure what is and isn’t working? Could you use more consistency in your businesses? If so, you need to dive into data.
After your site is up and running and you’re consistently putting out valuable content, it’s time to analyze how well your site is performing so you can make informed marketing decisions going forward. This is where using Google Analytics for SEO and Google Search Console for performance can make a big difference. These Google tools can help you understand who is visiting your website, what they’re searching for while there, where they spend their time, how you’re ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs), and areas for improvement.
Google Analytics tracks all the traffic to your website and creates reports you can use to see which pages of your site are doing well and where end users spend the most time. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can help you improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. By tracking key metrics like traffic sources, bounce rates, and user behavior, you can gain valuable insights into how your site is performing and make data-driven decisions to improve your SEO efforts. Using Google Analytics for SEO can boost your website’s visibility and drive more traffic to your pages.
Google Search Console helps you improve your site’s performance in search results and identifies any technical issues that are keeping you from ranking well. Using Google Search Console keywords can also improve your rankings in search results.
If you’re brand new to these tools, you might want to visit this post on Google Tools to Improve SEO first. Then come back here to learn how to utilize these tools to make improved marketing decisions for your small business.
Connect Your Website
Note: All the information in this post is geared towards installing and utilizing Google Analytics 4 (GA4). The older version Universal Analytics (UA) is slated to be phased out summer 2023. If you are currently using the older UA, you need to migrate your site to GA4 using this guide first.
Before you can start tracking your data, you need to connect your website to both tools. Google won’t start tracking your data until these steps are complete.
Link to Google Analytics
To start measuring your website traffic and user behavior on your site, connect Google Analytics following these step-by-step directions from Google. The directions show you how to set up your analytics account, add your website to your account as a property, and set up data collection for your site by adding your unique Google tag to your website.
There are multiple options for adding the tag to your site, but I recommend adding the code directly to your website header (those directions are provided in the step-by-step instructions above). If you run into trouble, the plugin MonsterInsights can be used as an alternative or you can hire me to help.
Link to Google Search Console
Linking to Google Search Console is an easier process. Follow these direction to verify ownership of your site. It should take about 48 hours for data to begin populating. If this doesn’t occur, try one of the following steps.
- Add a sitemap through Google Search Console. This speeds up the crawling process and ensures your site is indexed for Google search results pages. This is especially vital if your site is brand new.
- Check the URL. When adding a property using the URL-prefix method, you will need to ensure the correct prefix and subdomain were used. If your site has multiples of these, you will need to create additional properties for each one or use the domain method instead. (ex http://design.christifultz.com tracks separately from https://design.christifultz.com or www.design.christifultz.com)
Whew, you made it through the tough steps of linking your site to the tools! Now it’s time to explore the tools and start using them to make informed marketing decisions.
Using Google Analytics for SEO
Before diving into using Google Analytics for SEO, it’s important to understand the basics of the metrics and reports available. Google Analytics provides valuable information on who is viewing your website, where they’re from, how long they stayed, etc. When you understand this data, you can focus more on what’s working, improve what could perform better, and weed out what isn’t working at all.
Some key metrics to pay attention to include sessions, bounce rate, average session duration, and goal completions. Sessions refer to the number of times users visit your site, while bounce rate measures the percentage of users who leave your site after only viewing one page. Average session duration measures how long users spend on your site, and goal completions track specific actions taken by users, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. Understanding these metrics and how they relate to your website’s performance can help you make data-driven decisions to improve your SEO strategy.
The Google Analytics dashboard can be overwhelming, but once you find your way around it’s worth the time and effort. Here’s a look at my favorite reports and how to use them to make informed marketing decisions.
While the data on the dashboard homepage provides an “at a glance” check on your recent traffic volume, you need to click “report” on the left sidebar to look deeper into your data.
The acquisition reports identify which channels (sources) led visitor to your site. My website scores high on “direct” traffic, which means people are intentionally visiting my website directly from its URL. This isn’t surprising since a lot of my business comes from “word of mouth” referrals.
Organic Search is my second most popular channel. This indicates visitors who find my site “naturally” in search results, which very important for business growth. Consistently adding valuable content to your website and paying attention to SEO will boost this channel.
Referral traffic is another key data point here because you can see where visitors were directly before they visited your site through a link. If the referral channel is low, you need to increase the number of backlinks to your site from other domains. Understanding the types of websites that send you the most traffic is an important part of marketing. How could you gain more links like those and grow even more? Would any of them be a valuable affiliate for you? Could you run a collaboration that’s mutually beneficial?
Engagement reports show how long visitors stayed on your site and which pages they visited.
Knowing which posts and pages are most popular helps you make informed decisions on adding new content. If your visitors are spending several minutes looking at content related to math test prep, create more quality content around it!
Pages that aren’t getting a lot of traffic can be an indicator that those pages aren’t a good fit for your audience, but that isn’t always the case. It can also mean those pages just need extra SEO attention to get more eyes on them organically. You could also make share them on your social media accounts or incorporate them into email marketing campaigns.
I also pay extra attention to my most popular “landing pages” here. Those pages are frequent first impression points, so they need to represent my best content.
Consider Your Acquisition and Engagement Reports Together
Once you understand where your traffic is coming from and how individual pages are performing, you can adjust your marketing strategy. For example, if the organic channel is bringing a high volume of people to your site, but they aren’t staying long enough to explore your content, review the pages they’re landing on and build out the content on those pages to offer more value.
If you have an ecommerce website, you can use these reports to track how often your products and services are being viewed compared to how often they’re being added to a cart and purchased.
If you have an item with high view rates, but low added to cart events, it means your target audience is interested in your offers, but need more encouragement to purchase. You might need to rewrite the copy on the page to better describe the product, share better photos of it, etc.
Google Analytics Explorations
Sometimes the Google Analytics reports can’t provide the exact data you’re looking for. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can use Explorations to create custom reports to find specific information not found in the auto-generated reports.
Search terms are a good example. When you know which keywords are leading visitors to your site from search results, you can focus on those terms and build more content around them. You can create a new exploration focusing on those specific variables.
Use Google Analytics FOR SEO To Identify Top-Performing Pages And Keywords
One of the most valuable ways to use Google Analytics for SEO is to identify your top-performing pages and keywords. By analyzing which pages are receiving the most traffic and which keywords are driving that traffic, you can optimize your content and improve your search engine rankings. To do this, navigate to the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report in Google Analytics. This report will show you which pages on your site are receiving the most traffic, as well as metrics like bounce rate and average session duration. You can also use the Search Console integration (more on Google Search Console below) to see which keywords are driving traffic to your site and how your site is performing in search engine results pages. Use this information to optimize your content and target high-performing keywords in your SEO strategy.
Analyze User Behavior And Engagement On Your Website
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for analyzing user behavior and engagement on your website. By tracking metrics like bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session, you can gain insights into how users are interacting with your site and identify areas for improvement. Use the Behavior > Overview report in Google Analytics to get a high-level view of user behavior on your site, or dive deeper into specific pages or sections using the Behavior Flow report. By understanding how users navigate your site and where they are dropping off, you can make data-driven decisions to improve the user experience and ultimately drive more conversions.
I also recommend tracking your page views, sessions, bounce rate, etc. to monitor your progress month over month and year over year. For example, many teacherpreneurs have a spike in website traffic during back to school time. Knowing that allows you to ramp up your posts, social media marketing, and email campaigns around that time. When traffic is lower during the summer months, you can work more “behind the scenes” and even enjoy more time off.
There’s even more you can do with Google Analytics, but focusing on these basics will get you started on the path toward making informed decisions based on your actual website traffic data. As you make changes to your site, remember to review the data to look for month-over-month changes to see if your decisions are having the impact you wanted.
Maximizing Your SEO with Google Search Console Keywords
When you’re looking to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), Google Search Console Keywords is another powerful tool to consider. Google Search Console provides data directly related to search results and performance. By analyzing the keywords that are driving traffic to your site, you can make strategic changes to your content and improve your rankings in search results. Here’s how to use this tool to improve your website’s SEO and drive more traffic.
The performance report is one way Google Search Console can guide your marketing strategy. This report shows how many people are viewing your page in search results, the number of clicks your URLs are receiving from those search results, and the average position your site will rank in them.
The query list below takes this information a step further to help you understand which search terms are leading people to your site. These are the keywords your website is currently ranking for. If the keywords you’ve been working to target don’t show up here, you know you need to do more work on them. Analyze the data to identify opportunities for improvement, such as optimizing additional content for high-performing keywords or targeting new keywords with low competition.
For example, “reading intervention strategies” might show high impressions (which means many people are seeing it come up in their search results), but low clicks (which means no one is clicking through to your site). A result like this would indicate you’ve nailed the keywords your target audience are searching for, but the preview needs more work. You might need to improve the title or rewrite your snippet text to encourage the click.
Page indexing is another important tool (and my personal favorite!) in Google Search Console. This report provides information about the different pages of your site that Google has crawled and whether or not they’re indexed (available to show in search results). Pages that aren’t index show why: 404 errors, redirects, marked to skip (noindex), etc. You can click into each list for more information about the pages that have been excluded in order to make edits and resubmit as needed.
The experience reports assess your website’s structure and performance according to Core Web Vitals, mobile friendliness, etc.
Finally, you can use the URL inspection tool when working on specific pages of your site. This is useful when you’re trying to get a specific page to rank– homepage, landing page, new course page, etc.
Monitor and Track Google Search Console Keyword Progress
One of the most important aspects of using Google Search Console keywords is the ability to monitor and track your progress over time. By regularly checking your keyword rankings and performance, you can identify areas where you need to improve and adjust your strategy accordingly. This can help you stay ahead of the competition and continue to drive more traffic and conversions to your website.
Monitoring your site can also help you identify any technical issues or errors that may be impacting your SEO, allowing you to quickly address and resolve them.
Your marketing strategy should take all of this information into account as you work on your site’s SEO and look for future areas to improve.
Why These Google Tools Should Drive Your Marketing Strategy
The world of SEO is complicated and ever-changing. It takes time and effort for your site to show up in search results, but it’s worth it! Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide you with behind-the-scenes data you can use to assess which areas of your marketing strategy are thriving and which areas need more work. They provide valuable data… all for free!
Your marketing decisions need to be driven by this data to effectively lead your target audience to your site and convert their click-throughs to sales.
Let’s Work Together on SEO
If you need help connecting your sites to Google, using Google Analytics for SEO, understanding your Google Search Console keywords, or fixing errors… let’s connect. Contact me today for virtual assistance and you’ll be making informed marketing decisions in no time!