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In: Search

Search Marketing in 2016: Understanding Search Traffic With Google Analytics

by Lyndsay Peters - Feb 25, 2016
understanding search visits

If you’ve spent the past few days looking at your Google Analytics dashboard, you can see that there’s a lot of information being collected for you. Google Analytics can tell you far more than just how your website’s search traffic is performing.

Read the Search Marketing in 2016 Series
How Does a Search Engine Work?
Search Engine Special Features
Introduction to Search Console
Keyword Analysis in Google Search Console
How Does Google See Your Site?
What Is Google Analytics?

Understanding Search Traffic With Google Analytics

This will be the final post in the Search Marketing in 2016 series. For the purposes of this series, we’re going to keep the focus strictly on organic search traffic.

See Your Search Traffic

At the top of Google Analytics section views, there’s a line chart that shows your traffic patterns and trends. Above the chart is an area that says All Sessions. This is the segment of your traffic that you are viewing. Analytics can show you the behavior of your traffic segments in these line charts by selecting what you’re looking for.
Click the rectangle that says “All Users” and a menu will appear offering you a variety of segments to choose from. In our case, you want to select Search Traffic so that you can view the behavior of your searchers.
Once segments are chosen, they will be kept from view to view, so you don’t need to set it if you are switching from Behavior to Acquisition. If you would like to remove All Users and see ONLY your search traffic, click the arrow in the top right corner of that section and select Remove. You can always add it back in later following the steps above.
By comparing all traffic to search traffic, you can get an idea of the proportion of your traffic that comes from search engines, as well as how the behavior of organic search visits compares to all other traffic sources.

Where are Searchers Entering Your Site?

What are the most popular Landing Pages for your search visitors? This is the page that a search visitor first arrives on. See this in Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Landing Pages.
Are these landing pages where you want new visitors to be introduced to your website?
Sometimes, an older blog post or page will be getting a lot of search traffic. If this is the case, it can be making the wrong impression on visitors for being out of date, or in need of some writing adjustments. Make sure your most popular search landing pages are current and interesting to searchers, and they match the searcher’s intent.

How Do I Discover Intent?

Note your most popular search landing page URLs and head back to Search Console’s Search Analytics section. Then filter by landing page URL to see all of the keywords that landing page is ranking for. Easy!

How Do Searchers Travel Through Your Site?

Under the Behavior section, select User Flow. This gives you a map of the paths taken through your website. Using the arrows and zoom functions, you can get an idea of how your website is being navigated, as well as the pages that are most likely to get visitors to exit. Visitors have to exit your website some time, but it’s always preferable for it to be after seeing more information about you, not less.

What Do I Do With My Google Analytics Information?

First of all, you store it and protect it! The longer you collect data, the more informed your marketing decisions can be. If a page your company considers critical to making sales actually has a 93% bounce rate, you’ll know something is wrong. If you’re getting a ton of traffic to a dusty, neglected corner of your website, you’ve got your work cut out for you – update the copy and photography.

Keep Monthly Benchmarks

Build a spreadsheet where you track keyword position month over month, as well as key numbers like Total Sessions, Total Pageviews, Average Time on Page, and Average Pages per Session. Watch how this data is changing.

Mark Your Changes

Use Google Analytics Annotations to mark when something is done to change your website, or when you make a new marketing effort. Make an annotation by clicking the small arrow below the line chart in any Google Analytics view. You can select the date, and leave a note to mark the changes you made.
Annotations can be useful to record blog posts, email marketing sends, social media promotions, and anything else that’s going to affect the traffic to your website.

Be Patient

Remember that the changes you make to your site may not have a search impact for weeks, or maybe even months. Search Marketing is a long-term game, and short-term adjustments can bring you small jumps in traffic, but rarely a lasting improvement. Put in the work, keep records of your decisions and changes, and take a long view toward improving search performance.

Keep Learning

Google Analytics offers a blog, email newsletter, and free tutorials for webmasters. There are also great bloggers like Annie Cushing, Rand Fishkin, and Avinash Kaushik who share beginner- and advanced-level analytics knowledge.
If you see something unusual in your analytics, investigate it and then look it up with a quick search. See how others have solved the problem! Luckily in this regard, we all get to stand on the shoulders of giants.

If you’re running an ecommerce website that could use custom design and SEO, get in touch with us here at ATAK Interactive. Our team of marketers and developers can build exactly what you need.

Lyndsay Peters

Lyndsay Peters is Director of Search Marketing at ATAK Interactive. She's also the one who brings a dog to work to keep everything around the office just a little more human.

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