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How To Use Google Analytics To Monitor Traffic: The Master Google Edition

March 29th, 2012 8 comments

SANTA MONICA, CA — Recently we gave you an introduction to Google Analytics. We have also mentioned analytics as part of other free online SEO technique tips in the blog series of our CEO, Ali Husayni’s blog series: Google SEO Simplified Parts One, Two, and Three. But what does using this information mean for your business?

All About SEO: Understanding Where Google Analytics Fits In

When implementing all-inclusive SEO strategies and including social media, Google Analytics is the perfect tool to show you how your efforts are paying off with real results, according to Husayni. While Husanyni believes that you must be full-time with your SEO efforts, free online SEO tips like the ones on our blog encourage companies to be proactive, regardless of using our services.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for understanding how traffic is driven to a site, which is really all about understanding how vital SEO is to a business. If no one is visiting your site, no one will link to you, and more importantly, no one will care about your site’s efforts, whether it be for koi fish advertising or for dental patient marketing (yes, we have quite the variety of clients who see results) – the audience must be driven there.

“You cannot just sit and wait for others to link their sites to yours,” Husayni says. “That simply won’t happen. In a world where there are thousands of new sites built every day, your prospective site visitors have no way of finding you to read your content.”

Simplifying Analytics: Which Reports Matter To You

BuzzMaster’s Mastermind, John Hope-Johnstone (Courtesy of BuzzMaster.Wordpress.com).

In analyzing which content drives traffic, it is important to know how to generate a report that means something to you, as explained in a recent post by John Hope-Johnstone of BuzzMaster.Wordpress.com. Google Analytics is as maddening as it is amazing because of the amount of material. It is noted by Hope-Johnstone that Google Analytics can generate up to 85 different reports, so it is important to know which to use, as how you look at it is more important than what it contains.

“The bottom line is that you are going to have to create your own dashboard that has meaning to you and from which you can take meaningful actions,” Hope-Johnstone said. “It is daunting in the amount of data that can be obtained. I love to use the expression in our seminars that we’re ‘drowning in data and starving for knowledge.’”

To improve business steadily over time, a company must be willing to steadily work toward improving itself, including its shortcomings, and Master Google is no different. In a recent post, Husayni analyzed what it would take to become the best SEO Company. Husayni puts it best when he compares results to customer satisfaction:

“Any business is given value based upon its profitability as well as revenue, but I want to add customer loyalty, satisfaction and beating our competition in any market as factors into the equation of what it means to be the best,” he said.

Part of being the best comes from understanding where to find your strengths (and flaws), and in this case, we’re using Google Analytics to find these things. One of the ways to best use Google Analytics is to combine some of their reports and make a new number that makes sense to your business, according to Hope-Johnstone.

“An example might be, rather than just measure Unique Visitors, I combine the number of ‘Unique Visitors’ plus ‘Page Views’ into a new combined metric,” Hope-Johnstone said. “When something goes wrong with the website, I will look at each metric individually, but to create our own dashboard, I use combined metrics that tell me more.”

Since optimization is only about 5-10 percent of the total SEO work, according to Husayni, the rest lies with content development and popularity, vital pieces to the puzzle that cannot be ignored. Hope-Johnstone puts all of the parts of SEO together to give an analogy to making a website fly, the same way a plane would. In this analogy, Hope-Johnstone explains that you, the website owner or optimizer, are comparable to airline pilots in control of an aircraft. Airline pilots have ‘key’ instrumentation needed to soar into the air. They rely on these instruments to tell them that all is going well. According to Johnstone, the inspection checklist of those vital instruments looks like this:

  1. Check the artificial horizon.
  2. Check the air speed indicator.
  3. Check the rate of climb or descent. (Now there are many more instruments on the cockpit’s dashboard, but those are the first a pilot will look at if something odd is going on with the aircraft.)
  4. Check another row of instruments until the dashboard is exhausted.
  5. After all of the instruments are exhausted, make a manual checklist of action items.

Google Analytics is an excellent automatic tool for telling you where you traffic is coming from. To make an accurate Google Analytics checklist for your own records, though, it is important to note what is not there as much as what is.

Filling in The Blanks of ‘Not Provided Data’ in Google Analytics

Courtesy of PayoffMarketing.com

At the end of last year, we couldn’t help but note that there was an item labeled “Not Provided” on Google Analytics traffic reports under the “Traffic Sources/Google Organic” section. We found that this section was “protecting” Google users who were using their account when conducting the search, as Google wants to further protect their users’ privacy by encrypting their search results pages. Google seems to have support from the general public, according to the Pew Research Center. Seventy-three percent of people said they would “NOT BE OKAY with a search engine keeping track of your searches and using that information to personalize your future search results because you feel it is an invasion of privacy.”

While we appreciate the privacy, we have thus far missed thousands of organic Google search keyword insights, and it accounted for 19.6% of our total Google organic search traffic last November. Husayni has not been happy with this function of Analytics:

“My opinion is that Google needs to find a way to fully show the keywords people use in finding sites,” he said. “Otherwise, we may have to use other software to monitor our clients’ traffic.”

Still, the changes are a challenge that Husayni has risen to, and the Master Google team has remained successful at optimizing websites. Husayni encourages other businesses to use the same strategy to stay on top of SEO.

“The only thing not changing with SEO is that it’s always changing,” Husayni said. “Be diligent in keeping up with those changes as [you handle your] site’s SEO, or partner with a qualified SEO provider to handle that task.”

To increase the likelihood that Google Analytics will work for your website the way it should, Contact Us to see if we can provide SEO services for your website.