5 Handy SEO Hacks for Google Analytics

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It’s fair to say that most of us are running Google Analytics on at least a few of the sites we deal with.

Market share for Google’s traffic tracking platform was estimated last year around 75-80% in a few separate studies – here’s one from Ghostery.

Let’s not get into the whole “Google knows too much” thing. The truth is, the platform is a pretty solid and user-friendly. (Even if it is the lure of an evil empire.)

But from an SEO standpoint Google ANalytics definitely leaves some things to be desired.

Luckily there are plenty of clever SEOs out there who take on complicated and difficult projects that make our lives easier.

Here are five such supergeek gifts that hack Google Analytics into a killer SEO tool:

1. Ranking Tracking with Google Analytics

Ranking Tracking with Google AnalyticsThis guest post on Yoast’s blog from Andrй Scholten walks you through how to use custom filters to pull the referring page from Google – which tells you on which page the site is ranking in search results.

Ideally we’d see which position, but until Google rolls out AJAX search results (or some other version) we’ll settle for this.

Note: it’s a good idea to create a new, duplicate profile for whatever site you’re going to try this on. Filters work on data before it’s collected. That means if you do something wrong and end up filtering the wrong data (or all data) you can’t get it back.

2. Better Google Analytics Firefox Extension

Better Google Analytics Firefox ExtensionThis nifty Firefox extension from VKI Studios uses Greasemonkey userscripts to enhance your interaction with Google Analytics.

First, it allows you enter Google Analytics quicker/easier – for example, it kills that annoying 2nd step of clicking the big blue “Access Analytics” button by clicking it automatically.

Second, and more importantly, this extension gives you better tools and data inside the reports, such as:

  • Allows you to perform Google Insights research on keywords in your reports
  • Adds Social Media Metrics and Yahoo inbound link metrics to reports
  • Ability to export data to Google Docs
  • Converts percent values to absolute values in tables
  • Allows you to jump between profiles while carrying over your current report and settings

That’s not all it does, but you’ll have to install it yourself to give it a try – it’s a good one.

3. Google Analytics Report Enhancer

Google Analytics Report EnhancerThis Greasemonkey script from Jeremy over at ROI Revolution adds a ton of additional data to your reports – including the raw number of conversions (instead of just a percentage) as well as conversion revenue.

If you’ve worked with GA for eCommerce sites you know that having this data in separate reports can drive you nuts. This script pulls them all in.

Jeremy also included a modified segment drop-down menu, which adds the ability to segment individual page/content traffic by both source and medium (which GA doesn’t do out of the box).

4. Initial Referrer Tracking for Google Analytics

Initial Referrer Tracking for Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics, by default, will only track the last referring source/medium that led to a conversion.

This means the last in line gets the credit.

The problem is that users often visit a site more than once before they decide to purchase/sign-up/whatever (especially if what’s on offer is a bigger commitment with a longer sales cycle). Sometimes the conversion credit goes to a branded search term instead of the non-branded term that originally made the referral.

This script, original written by Brian Clifton of Advanced-Web-Metrics.com, was modified by the folks at FreshClicks.net to correct a few small errors. It stores the initial referrer using the User Defined variable for Google Analytics – so you get a more complete story when visitors visit more than once before converting.

5. Tracking Universal Search Traffic with Google Analytics

Tracking Universal Search Traffic with Google AnalyticsMartijn Beijk of SearchCowboys.com was annoyed that Google Analytics didn’t show you traffic that came through the blended universal search results. So he set out to dissect the source code of the universal SERPs.

The result is this how-to guide that walks you through setting up custom filters that pull this data into your GA reports. With this can you segment users who click on images/videos/local/etc from users who click the regular results – which means you can measure how these users behave (and convert).

As #1 above, it’s a good idea to create a new, duplicate site profile before you start tinkering with filters if you aren’t experienced.

Got any SEO hacks for Google Analytics that I don’t know about? Give ’em up!

Mike Tekula
Mike Tekula helps small businesses leverage the web, and search engines, to grow.
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  • jamessvoboda

    FYI – The freshclicks.net link is broken.

    • MikeTek

      Thanks for the catch James – I'll ping SEJ editors about that.

      • If I had a good link for every broken link I've help identify… 😉

        The following is actually from today's SEJ post:

        Check for Broken Links

        Now, for that little something extra. If there is one thing webmaster’s despise, it’s broken links. There is a Firefox plugin called Check Page Links, and all you have to do is right click on a page and run the plugin to highlight broken links. Typically, there is at least one on the page to which you want to be added. Letting the webmaster or site owner know that one of their resources is no longer available means they are more likely to take the time to edit the page. While they are there, they might as well add on your valuable link, especially if it’s a good replacement to one they just lost.

      • lorenbaker

        Thanks James. Maybe we should all not only use that plugin, but also write a post on it 🙂

      • bloginterviewer

        There's also a wordpress plugin that does that for your whole site.

  • The link is fixed. Sorry about that

  • Hello. i have a silly question please

    For a new site with keyword (hotels) what is the chance to be listed on first page on google?

    • MikeTek

      Almost zero.

    • LOL i like your reply specially with your pic raising your finger up:) you really made me laugh:)

      • MikeTek

        Yes, this avatar works best when I'm delivering bad news.

      • Mike tek his right…but if your targeting a specific region … u still have a chance… but for a broad keyword especially like Hotels … its zero 🙂

      • Mike tek his right…but if your targeting a specific region … u still have a chance… but for a broad keyword especially like Hotels … its zero 🙂

  • bloginterviewer

    It's kind of funny that for all the years I used statcounter I can't stop using it. Of course I like google analytics and all its fanciness, but there's something about the free statcounter that draws me in.

  • Clarkson

    Not a fucking chance in at least 2 years. Since you're asking that question, tack on another 5.

  • I use GA's automated reports to send me a traffic report daily… I have all the info I need in the report.
    I only use Google Webmaster to check my target keywords and overall site information.

  • Wow, some very useful hacks there! I'll give them a go.

  • There was also a great post by Will Critchlow a few weeks ago:

  • goodnewscowboy

    Sweet Mike. I could read a post a day on GA. It's that important and complex.

    PS – And they are the evil empire. I can practically hear Darth Vader breathing heavily in the background every time I log into GA.

  • jfitz

    Fyi, the 'Better Google Analytics Firefox Extension' does not work with the current firefox version and is unsupported now. So it's pretty much useless.

    Even Eril Vold who actually developed it says it's “Dead”…

    Would be nice if someone revied it! ;P

  • To bad the Better Google Analytics Firefox Extension doesnt work with the newer version of Fire Fox.

  • Also to bad that GA doesnt even work right in FF 3.6.3


  • Mike tek his right…but if your targeting a specific region … u still have a chance… but for a broad keyword especially like Hotels … its zero 🙂

  • Mike tek his right…but if your targeting a specific region … u still have a chance… but for a broad keyword especially like Hotels … its zero 🙂