How To Use Google Analytics To Measure Effectiveness of Organic SEO Efforts

Google Analytics Key Performance Indicators Measure Organic SEO Effectiveness

Google Analytics (GA) can present an amount of data that is almost overwhelming for those new to using it.  For beginners, there are a few key performance indicators that are the most important in evaluating the result of Search Engine Optimization Efforts.

On the top GA menu, select a recent time frame to study, such as one week or one month.  Then right below, click compare to previous period.  Now, on the left hand menu at Google Analytics, scroll down to the acquisition section and choose overview.

The first key performance indicators to study to evaluate SEO results would be Sessions and New Users as well as Bounce Rate.  The first group of Other Traffic is not broken down and can be from email or other efforts.  In this article, I focus mostly on the Organic Search group because this measures the amount of traffic coming from natural search engine placement as separate from paid placement, social media work, or any other factor.

There is some overlap in the learning points in this article about SEO, which covers Visitor Acquisition – and a little about Visitor Engagement as well.  I touch on Engagement because getting visitors is only part of the story.  It is crucial that you realize there is only one main reason people use Search Engines.  Search engine users have a need, desire, or question they want to solve.  Generally they don’t want to find YOU or YOUR COMPANY NAME as much as they want to know something.  They don’t care how great your company is, or how many awards you have won until they know if they are going to get their need met on this web page.  So, when people feel tricked into visiting your site by ‘click-bait’ that creates an expectation which is not met on your site, they will BOUNCE off your site, going back to the search engine or another website ASAP.

What Can Be Learned From The Google Analytics Report Shown Below:

  • Organic Search Engine Traffic shown in the Sessions Column improved from 417 to 1083, an increase of roughly 160% compared to the previous 31 day period!  This indicates that something pretty powerful is happening!
    • Hopefully you know what you did to produce this result so that you can repeat it!
  • The New Users column shows a similar increase from 296 to 724, or roughly 145%
    • Again, hopefully you know what you did to produce this result so that you can repeat it!
  • The Bounce Rate column shows how many visitors clicked away from the site after looking at only one page.  This is a strong measure of several things that are related to SEO and to Visitor Engagement which is an indicator of how “Sticky” your site is.
    • With regard to SEO work it indicates if visitors found that your page actually provided what they were looking for.  Did it live up to the expectation created when they read the page description on the search engine result page?  If not they click away quickly.
      • Improving the <alt description> tag on your home page can control the expectation created by managing the ‘story’ told about your site in the few words under your domain name on the search results page.
      • Improving home page or landing page content so it matches the promise made in the search engine result page description is another way to make sure people stay on your site and start clicking around once they get there.
    • With regard to Engagement, which is not exactly SEO work but is also crucial to lead generation:
      • Simplifying the home page or landing page so that it is simple, direct, and immediately clear how to find the answer promised on the search engine result page is a good way to improve Bounce Rate.
        • If there is too much information on one page, a visitor can decide to look elsewhere for fast and simple answers that don’t require a lot of reading.
        • Keep it Simple, Sam is good advice these days when people have so much access to information at their fingertips. Overload happens fast.
        • Don’t overload your visitors.  Break complicated pages up into several pages and you will improve engagement and lead generation.
        • The faster they find what they want, the more likely they are to stay on the page and read or click something.  The more they read or click on a few pages, the more likely they will choose to contact you and become a lead.

A look at the Social row in the same Acquisition section will reveal similar details about how engaging your “click-bait” posts are in social media, and how well the page meets the expectation created.  Just as with inaccurate or ‘trick’ Search Engine Descriptions, visitors don’t stay long if they feel tricked into clicking something on social media just to see a page about how great you are.

For each row, such as Organic Search, or Social, you can click the blue highlighted row description and see a breakdown of which search engines or social media sites are sending traffic.  Once you see a particular search engine listed on the next page, such as Google, you can click that search engine name to find out which keywords have produced the traffic.

Google Analytics and Toledo SEO

Google Analytics and Toledo SEO Example

Yes, there is a lot more data to monitor in Google Analytics.  But until you have this part down pat, and make it work as a measurable proof that your Organic SEO efforts are on the right track, the other data will probably just distract your or make your eyes glaze over.  Once you have mastered the basics, then you can move into the deeper granularity of finer details.

More on learning to use Google Analytics…  soon!