Analyzing your organic search traffic on a regular basis can help you identify any changes that could indicate a problem with your search presence, such as a penalty or algorithm change that may be affecting your rankings. It can also help you find the strongest and weakest points in your search optimization strategy.
In this post for beginners, I am going to show you some ways to analyze organic search traffic using Google Analytics segments, dashboards, and reports.
1. Create Your Own Segments, Dashboards, and Custom Reports
Three popular ways to analyze your Google Analytics data are custom reports, dashboards, and segments. According to Tom Demers, “The best way to use these tools is to understand both the types of insights that are available, and the problems you are looking to solve. ”
Custom reports allow you to see your organic search analysis in report view. This is the view you are used to when browsing the standard reports throughout Google Analytics.
To create a custom report for your organic search traffic, you will go to your website profile in Google Analytics, click on the Customization menu, and then click on New Custom Report. Then you will configure your custom report.
For example, if you want a report that shows you the organic search traffic to your landing pages with number of sessions, average time on page, and number of goal completions, you would configure your report as follows.
You would then see the following report.
You can have custom reports emailed to you on a regular basis by clicking on the Email button at the top of the report.
Dashboards allow you to see your organic search analysis in widgets within a dashboard. You will see detailed pieces of data from various reports in one view.
To create a dashboard, you will click on the Dashboards menu in the left sidebar menu and then click the New Dashboard link. Then you will configure widgets for your dashboard.
For example, if you want to create an organic search overview dashboard, you would add widgets based on organic search traffic. The first widget could be a simple metric showing the total number of sessions from Google organic search.
The second widget could be a timeline showing Google organic search trends over time.
The third widget could be a table showing the countries from which Google organic search traffic originates.
As you continue to add widgets, you will eventually have a dashboard that looks like the following image.
You can have custom dashboards emailed to you on a regular basis by clicking on the Email button at the top of the dashboards.
Segments allow you to filter all of your Google Analytics data (standard reports, custom reports, dashboards, etc.) to show only traffic from organic search.
To create a segment, you will click on the Add Segment button in the explorer view of your Google Analytics reports. Then you will configure your segment to show only traffic from Google organic search as follows.
When you save the segment, you will be able to see all of your Google Analytics Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions reports based on visitors from Google organic search.
You can also go to all of your custom reports and view them based on visitors from Google organic search by selecting the segment you just configured.
2. Tap into the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery
If you don’t have the time to create your own custom reports, dashboards, and segments, you don’t have to. Plenty of SEO experts have already created their own specific ways to analyze their organic search traffic. Best of all, many of them share their work with others freely in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.
According to Rachelle Maisner, “It’s [an] invaluable resource not only for those that are new to digital analytics, but also for analytics veterans looking for fresh ideas and new approaches. ”
The GASG allows you to browse various types of Google Analytics analysis tools such as Attribution Models, Channel Groupings, Custom Reports, Dashboards, Goals, Remarketing lists, and Segments created by others to use in your Google Analytics account. The Organic Search category within GASG contains 827 tools from which to choose. Users have rated 797 of these as four to five-star analysis tools.
You can further filter the results by type to find the specific way you want to analyze or use your organic search traffic. You can also use the search box at the top to filter results by what you are looking to analyze. For example, if you search for a report that helps you link your top content and keywords, you will find the following.
You can click the Import button to add this custom report to your Google Analytics account. You will then be able to view your data through this report configuration.
You can also edit the report to see how it is set up and customize it to your specific needs.
This strategy can help you create even more in-depth custom reports for your website.
3. Look for Changes
Once you have created your own custom reports, dashboards, and segments (or downloaded some from the GASG), you should start monitoring changing trends. Specifically, look for changes in the number of sessions from Google organic search, the number of conversions, the top landing pages, and the countries from which you receive Google organic search traffic.
A change in any of these should be investigated as they could mean a change in Google search rankings linked to penalties or algorithm updates. If you believe something has happened, you can further investigate using tools like Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker. It allows you to connect to your Google Analytics data and identifies specific Google updates that could have affected your website.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways you can use Google Analytics to analyze your organic search traffic. It can help you identify any problems that might need to be addressed on your website as early as possible so you can continue to grow your visitors from Google organic search.
Featured Image: DollarPhotoClub
All screenshots taken March 2015
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!