Category Archives: SEO

Google Analytics 101: 18 Useful Custom Google Analytics Reports for SEO

The customizable features in Google Analytics are great for extracting maximum value from your data. 

Here I’ve gathered together a selection of custom reports, dashboards and advanced segments to help you measure SEO efforts more effectively.

Some you’ll need to create yourself, following the instructions, while the rest you can just click and download and save lots of time and effort.

Just click the download links when logged into you Google Analytics account to add them to your profile…

Custom reports

Custom reports are easy enough to create, even a relative novice like me can put one together.

They can be very valuable though, as they allow users to customize views according to their own business needs and the ability to allow others to access reports is great for sharing knowledge.

Here are some ready-made reports that you can install straight away.

SEO reporting

This one comes from James Gurd, and is a useful SEO reporting suite showing keywords, landing pages and ecommerce metrics.

Download SEO reporting suite

Keyword analysis

This report looks at your most popular keywords (minus the ones that Google aren’t telling you about) and shows various metrics, including conversion rates, goal completions and page load time.

Other tabs also show engagement and revenue metrics.

Download keyword analysis report

Keyword analysis report

Non-branded keywords report

This report filters out the branded keywords and shows visits, goal completions and revenue.

You will need to go in and edit the report to exclude your own branded keywords, whatever they may be.

As you can see from the screenshot, I’ve excluded ‘econsultancy’ but I should also remove the hyphenated and other versions:

Download non-branded keyword report

404 pages report

This custom report from Peter Meinertzhagen is one you’ll have to complete yourself, but it’s worth the effort. It’s very useful for catching inbound links that are returning 404’s.

The screenshot below shows what the report settings look like. You need to enter the title for you 404 page on the ‘page title’ filter. You’ll then get URLs looking a little like this in the report:/404.html page=/pageonyourwebsite/&from=http://externalwebsitelinkingtowrongpage/

SEO goal breakdown report

A useful collection of SEO metrics here (HT: Dinkum Interactive).

Download SEO goal breakdown report

Referring sites report

This is from Anna Lewis, and shows referring sites alongside goal completions and conversion rates, to help you find out what value you are receiving from referral traffic.

Download referring sites report

Link analysis report

This one from SEObook allows you to see which of your inbound links are sending the most valuable traffic, showing visits, goal completions and more.

Download link analysis report

Which keywords are bringing visitors to your content? 

This custom report filters out the branded keywords and shows visits, goal completions and revenue. It allows you to see which terms are driving traffic to the site, subject to the usual  restrictions.

You’ll also need to go in and edit the report to exclude your own branded keywords.

Download non-branded keyword report

Custom dashboards

Dashboards allow a quick, often real-time view of activity on your site, and are great for monitoring the results of campaigns, and new content releases as they happen.

SEO dashboard

This, from Anna Lewis again, shows key organic search metrics: performance of brand/non-brand keywords, top landing pages and more.

Lots of handy metrics in one quick view.

Download SEO dashboard

Organic monitoring dashboard

This one is broadly similar to Anna’s, but presents a few different stats.

Download organic monitoring dashboard

Find top content and keywords

I had this stored on my Google Analytics profile for so long I’ve forgotten the original source. Anyway, this shows the top-performing content and keywords in real-time.

Download finding top content and keywords dashboard

Realtime organic search dashboard

This one comes from Dan Barker (he has more useful realtime dashboards here) and provides a quick view of organic search volume and keywords.

As you can see, thanks to the fact that 95% of our organic traffic is (not provided), it doesn’t allow much insight for us, but you may have better luck.

Download realtime organic dashboard

Advanced segments

Segments allow you to add filters to existing reports and can be used with any default or custom reports in Google Analytics.

Here’s a quick guide to creating custom segments.

Organic searches without not provided

This one filters out all the pesky (not provided) searches so you can concentrate on analysing the keyword referral data you have left.

Download organic searches minus not provided segment

Google+ traffic

Who knows? There might actually be some coming to your site…

In our case, there’s not an awful lot so far this year, as this segment shows.

Download Google+ traffic segment

Search queries with multiple keywords

This one comes from the excellent Avinash Kaushik, and there’s more in-depth explanation on his blog. You’ll see how much time you’ll save with this if you read how Avinash created it.

It’s a way of measuring long-tail traffic, and shows visits with three or more keywords in the search term.

Branded vs non-branded keywords

Of course, branded keywords are unique to your business, so you’ll need to create this one yourselves. Here’s how…

Click on ‘+new segment’ and select ‘exclude’ from the first drop-down. After this, choose ‘dimension’ and select ‘keyword’.

Then it’s a case of adding your brand keywords to exclude from the non-branded report. If you have more than one, select ‘add AND statement’ and repeat the process for other brand terms.

For the branded keywords, it’s a similar process, only you need to include the keywords you excluded in the non-brand segment.

Filter inquisitive traffic

This is not a custom report, but a very useful custom advanced segment, from Paul Gailey Alburquerque.

It filters out inquisitive traffic which contains the words ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ etc. and shows the related landing pages. Handy for us, to see what questions people need the answers to.

Download ‘inquisitive traffic’ segment

Google Analytics advance segment

Organic traffic with conversions

This segment shows organic search traffic that converts:

Download organic traffic with conversions

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Did You Catch That?: Answers You Should About Mobile SEO

To keep our guides the best they can be, we go to those working at the coalface of search marketing to get their contributions so they are relevant and up-to-date.

One of our contributors is Alex Moss, director at FireCask. Alex contributed to the mobile SEO section of the guide, so we asked him to share his knowledge following Joe Friedlein’s thoughts on on-page optimisation. His thoughts are below…

You’ve written about mobile SEO for our latest best practice guide. What do you see as the main trend which marketers should be paying attention to?

A lot of sites I see do use responsive design which is great. One thing that people don’t do on a technical level is consider content that should be loaded dependent on the device viewing that page.

There are plenty of redundant content blocks I see on mobile versions of a site that are great for the desktop experience but not so useful for mobile.

Understand what content needs to be served and only serve what is needed.

As mobile becomes more significant, do you think the quality of the user experience on mobile will factor into how pages are ranked or displayed in the SERPs? Can companies do anything to rank higher on mobile?

Just keep on optimising as you would for desktop, don’t obsess.

Obsession usually causes paranoia which leads to over optimisation.

Q: What do you think are the most serious issues your customers encounter when they interact with your brand via a mobile device? 

Source: Reducing Customer Struggle Report

Does Hummingbird and natural language search fundamentally change how SEOs should plan their campaigns for mobile?

Yes. Connect more with current events and local. People who use a mobile are higher quality visits but need to know the answer to their search even faster than they would if searching for the same term on a desktop.

Utilising rich snippets (which again is usually part of your general SEO strategy) with local and time-based structured data tells Google that you want to share more information beyond the standard title and META description.

As always, your site and landing pages within your site need to be informative enough to provide an answer to the query being asked. The basic principles are still there.

What do you think Google’s next move could be when it comes to mobile search?

More integration with Maps, Google+ and other related Google apps. I also think it will start to use more collected data from your history to form more contextual results based on your search habits.

What’s one piece of advice you would give for those looking to get the most out of mobile search?

Ranking is one thing, but the landing page is more important. Check in analytics how your mobile visitors behave in comparison to your desktop visitors. Check page loading times by using segmentation to separate the type of visitor.

Is there a higher bounce rate or lower engagement or conversion rate? If so then there’s something that needs to be optimised.

There’s always something to optimise 🙂

Winning!: 3 Things To Consider for a Badass Mobile PPC Campaign

For PPC campaigns this year, one of the key challenges will be ensuring that the opportunity for increased sales via mobile traffic is efficiently and profitably taken.

Before we focus specifically on PPC traffic, there have been some really interesting statistics published recently to help put into context just how important mobile traffic will be this year:

  • 61% of shoppers used a smartphone before a shopping trip, spending more on average than those who didn’t.
  • In 2013, the percentage of in-store sales where mobile phones were used as part of the shopping journey in the UK stood at 6.8%. This equates to £18bn of sales, a figure 45% up on 2012.
  • For John Lewis, sales from click-and-collect jumped 60% compared with 2012.
  • In the grocery market, as much as 15% of UK sales, worth £900m, is thought to have been booked online between 20 and 23 December.
  • Rising consumer confidence coupled with the convenience of purchasing on a hand-held device has contributed to 50% of year-to-year mobile commerce growth in 2013 over 2012.
  • 40% of all PLA (product listing advert) clicks will occur on smartphones by the close of 2014.

As expected, the trend of visits continues in an upwardly motion, but importantly, the role of mobile traffic in the path to purchase is becoming more important (be it by influencing decisions, or as is happening more and more, the purchase itself).

So, to quickly set the scene for optimising your mobile PPC, here’s a…

…brief introduction to AdWords Enhanced Campaigns 

In mid-2013, Google completed the migration to Enhanced Campaigns, a format designed to allow you to better integrate your cross-device strategies.

Previous to this, many PPC experts had segmented their campaigns based on the device (one for desktop, one for tablet, one for mobile). Although this was the preferred method, it’s perhaps sub-optimal, requiring up-keeping three times as many campaigns.

Enhanced campaigns introduced a number of ‘mobile-specific’ features – most notably, the ‘bid multiplier’. What did this mean? Rather than having set a separate amount, your mobile bids would just be a factor of your overall bid (for example, a bid of -100% would turn off mobile activity).

Initial reactions were that this was a less flexible solution, but I’ve found some features to be highly useful for improving the mobile side of AdWords campaigns.

Three important strategies for improving your mobile AdWords results

To make the most of what is clearly now a huge opportunity, what strategies should you be including as part of your PPC campaign in 2014?

Below I outline three areas for consideration as part of your overall PPC strategy:

Use insightful reporting

At a very basic level, you should be clear about the split of traffic/cost/revenue between different device types.

How much traffic is coming from mobile and how does its behaviour compare to desktop and tablet?

To get more insight, we need to start considering the role of mobile in the user journey.

There are plenty of figures around which help to understand why we expect to see a lower conversion rate from mobile visitors: along with reservations about purchasing (#fact#) on a mobile device, the role of mobile visits can be slightly different, giving a need for understanding the value of these visits in the path to conversion.

For single-device paths, we can get good visibility of the touch-points, for example, using the Model Comparison Tool or Multi-Channel Funnels features of Google Analytics:

For cross-device paths, it becomes a lot more difficult for cookie-based tracking to provide this kind of detail. What we do have for AdWords campaigns are Estimated Conversions.

In Google’s own words:

Cross-device conversions start as a click on a search ad on Google.com on one device and end as a conversion on another device (or in a different web browser on the same device).

For example, say someone shops for ‘blue jeans’ on her mobile phone while waiting for the morning train. She clicks on a mobile ad for ABC Blue Jeans.  hen she gets to her office, she goes directly to the ABC website to make a purchase.

This is an example of a cross-device conversion. We calculate cross-device conversions using a sample of data from users who signed into multiple devices.

The last part in bold is important to understand: the ‘estimation’ of your conversion is achieved by aggregating data from a sample set of signed-in Google users.

By analysing data across thousands of advertisers. Google estimates incremental conversions can be somewhere between 2% and 12% depending on vertical.

In AdWords, this report would look something like this:

Taking the full picture into account allows you to make better decisions about your bidding strategies, and when you can see the full value, it enables you to make a better case for pushing for greater mobile presence.

Tailoring your campaigns for mobile

Given we have good awareness of differences in user behaviour depending on the current device in use, we should cater to this by ensuring the advertising is tailored specifically to mobile users.

There are a few options for doing this in AdWords:

Mobile-optimised ads:

Selecting that an advert’s device preference is ‘Mobile’ means that this specific advert will be shown to mobile users. This is useful for ensuring your proposition appeals to the mobile user.

Examples of tailoring ads could be:

  • Calls-to-action which appeal to mobile users (e.g. ‘Mobile friendly site’).
  • Specific offers which appeal specifically to mobile users.
  • Using shorter, more direct ad copy if ‘click-to-call’ buttons are truncating your text:

Mobile-only sitelinks:

It can be well worth creating differing strategies for your mobile and for desktop/tablet sitelinks.  Considerations for mobile sitelinks are:

there are only two shown, ensure that your two key sitelinks are given priority on mobile searches

deep-linking to sites of the section specifically to help mobile users quickly navigate the site (e.g. highlighting the ‘Best sellers’ or ‘New Range’ pages could help ‘fast-forward’ the user journey)

Be pro-active about improving landing page performance

As the lower mobile-site conversion can be a barrier which is limiting your exposure (by making competitive bid prices unprofitable), review the landing pages and find areas of opportunity.

But this is a PPC article, not a conversion optimisation piece? Something I’ve learned through the years of handling PPC campaigns is that, by the nature of the beast (i.e. repeatedly firing traffic at a site and measuring its value), you develop a really valuable, granular view of how well a page is performing, which helps identify issues and areas for improvement.

When conversion is hindering your PPC performance, raise awareness of the issues and, when possible, suggest solutions. A good PPC account manager cares deeply about post-click activity.

Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve picked up some useful thoughts on how to go about improving your mobile PPC presence and results over the next year.

Do you have any favoured strategies for succeeding with mobile PPC campaigns? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

As Easy as 1-2-Huh?: Link Building…What Is It and How To Do It Correctly…

To keep our guides the best they can be, we go to those working at the coalface of search marketing to get their contributions so they are relevant and up-to-date.

Here are some thoughts from Nichola Stott from theMediaFlow on link building below…

You helped contribute to the Link Building section of the SEO Best Practice Guide. In your experience, where are companies going wrong here, and what could they be doing right?

I believe a lot of companies are being misled or “over-sold” on link acquisition as an end rather than a means. Links and associated signals such as the content-quality, proximal text, site quality and authority and page engagement, are used by search engines as an ingredient in the recipe to determine how well (and with what authority) pages on the company website can answer a user query.

So links are a commonly found side-effect of relevance and authority because people link (via social activity) and writers link (to credit sources, provide additional context or value for readers).

Link ‘building’ therefore is entirely unnatural behaviour and fakes symptoms to effect a desired result.

Instead, companies should be focusing on the desired result itself – which should be growing the online presence and authority of the company and its products or message.

I’d recommend instead that companies focus on developing stories and campaigns that emphasise why their product or mission deserves to be most relevant and authoritative.

Work with a good SEO agency that can devise creative marketing content, educate your PR teams to understand where and when links can add value to media coverage and how to position that to journalists they are working with.

What sort of process should companies have when it comes to link building?

I’d suggest a content development process with the goal being “linked-coverage” (for external media) and amplified content e.g. social shares, engagement and links-attracted for content that lives on the owned and operated sites.

Is it more important to have a structured approach to building links, or be able to seize opportunities quickly?

It’s important to have a strategy that can accommodate both kinds of approach.

At theMediaFlow we have year ahead editorial calendars and a publishing schedule for client content, but in addition we use a lot of monitoring tools that allow us to react to news opportunities and such.

It can take some skill and experience to understand what kind of opportunity is worth dropping everything for and depending on the size of the company we’re working with it can be more effective to empower the PR team to be mindful of link opportunities when taking the lead on reactive opportunities.

What are your preferred tools when it comes to link building?

Knowing how to search the Google index thoroughly is the single most valuable tool for identifying online media to pitch to, and we also find Linkdex helpful in assisting us to identify networks of influencers in the respective social spheres for our client sectors.

Can PRs be valuable for building links? Or is this a job best left to SEOs with relationship skills?

Yes, PR professionals are often best-placed to ensure that writers link where it adds context and value to do so.

However, it seems to me there’s an implied assumption in the question that an SEO with “relationship skills” is somehow unusual.

SEO is quite a broad spectrum and to make most efficient use of an employee’s skills and abilities may mean that outreach isn’t the best use of time for a technical analyst for example, but I think that to reinforce stereotypes around more technical skills going hand in hand with less-developed people skills becomes counter-productive for the marketing industry as a whole.

To go back to an earlier point about having the most relevant and authoritative content on the site in question the work of a technical SEO helps to architect and surface that content so that it can have greater potential to attract links. Focusing on the role of the person who may “seal the deal” creates division and loses sight of the broader marketing objective.

If there’s one key piece of advice when it comes to link building, what would it be?

Concentrate on why your business, your message and your product deserve to be linked to and ensure that is reflected on your site and in the content you create first and foremost.

Google Me Baby: DIgital Marketing help for small business in 2014

Lost in the new age of Digital Marketing? Do the words SEO, PPC and backlinks confuse you? Ready to jump on the social media bandwagon you’ve for so long avoided to getting your business out there?

We’re here to help! Digital Marketing guru’s here to help break down everything you’ll need to get your business’s online marketability up to par with others in your field.

Ready set, lets go!