I love segments! I like how you can use them to specify your data. How you can use them to give more context to your data. And by specifying your data, you gain more insight and you get closer to understanding your audience. Being closer to understanding your audience, in turn, means being closer to a successful marketing campaign. I’ve written a post about why you should use segments in Google Analytics. In this post, I want to share five segments you can use to check three aspects of your blog’s audience: engagement, loyalty and traffic source. And you won’t even have to code! Let’s get started!

1. Engaged traffic

What’s the definition of engaged traffic? You can define blog engagement as any interaction people have with your blog posts. This could mean that they read the entire article. That they placed a comment, or shared it on social media. Perhaps they saved the blog post as PDF. Or they clicked on a relevant article that seemed interesting. If you look at these items and how you can measure them in Google Analytics, some of them need to be implemented manually. And that probably needs a bit of coding.

But, there are some standard metrics in Google Analytics that you can use to measure engaged traffic. For example, sessions that contain more than one pageview. And have a certain minimum session duration. It’s best to base the number of pageviews per session and session duration on your own data. You can look at the averages in your Google Analytics stats. You can find these averages in the Audience overview:

Engagement stats in Google Analytics

For this particular blog site, there’s an average session duration of 00:52 and visitors view 1.47 pages per session. This is how I would build a segment for this blog:

Building an engagement traffic segment in Google Analytics

    segment 1: engaged traffic

It’s a segment based on sessions, and I used the AND command so that it takes both conditions to create this segment. In the segment builder, there’s a real-time check that shows if your segment works and how many users are in the segment. In this case, the number of users is pretty small. That makes it hard to draw valid conclusions; you’d rather see a larger sample size. There are a couple of things you can do in this case: take a larger date range, or adjust the segment and make it less strict. The latter option has its downsides, of course, because you might no longer be measuring engagement. But that’s up to you, really. If the number of users stays small, then the numbers you see are an indication and you’ll just have to test whether your assumptions are valid or not.

2. Loyal traffic

What’s the definition of loyal traffic? Loyal visitors are returning visitors that regularly come to your website and engage with your content. There are a couple of metrics in Google Analytics you can use to measure loyal traffic. In this case, we want to look at visitors that have started 3 sessions on our site. By setting a time frame, you can say that you want a segment of visitors that started 3 sessions in the last week, that didn’t bounce and had a session duration higher than 30 seconds. That segment would look a bit like this:

Building a loyal traffic segment in Google Analytics

    segment 2: loyal traffic

Now, the power of this segment lies in the comparison. You can create the opposite segment and call them non-loyal traffic.

Building a non-loyal segment in Google Analytics

    segment 3. non-loyal traffic

If you apply both segments, you can compare them and try your best to understand both audiences. Analyze how these two groups differ; what’s their behavior? What kind of posts do both read? From which categories or tags? Understand the differences, so you can adjust your marketing strategy based on these findings.

3. Traffic sources

Knowing where your traffic is coming from and analyzing how visitors behave per traffic source, is very valuable. Checking the country they’re coming from, the pages they land on from each source, the device they’re using to go to your site, all these things tell you something about your audience. Looking at traffic sources and going beyond the information you find in the ‘Acquisition’ section in Google Analytics gives you so much more insight than sticking to aggregated reports.

Looking at traffic from search engines says a lot about your SEO. There’s a predefined segment in Google Analytics that will only show traffic from search engines:

Organic traffic system segment in Google Analytics

    segment 4: organic traffic

And looking at your traffic from social media sources says a lot about what works on social and what doesn’t. So you can adjust your social media strategy. Building this segment is a bit more work because you have to identify your social media sources. And there are different ways these sources are recognized by Google Analytics. So a good first step is to check the ‘Network Referrals’ report in Google Analytics to see which social networks you can include in the segment.

Network referrals to identify social traffic in Google Analytics

The following is an example of a social traffic segment:

Building a social traffic segment in Google Analytics

    segment 5: social traffic

As you can see, I’ve used the OR statement so that traffic has to follow one of these conditions.

Don’t you just love segments? And the cool thing is, you can combine the segments in one segment. Specifying your data even more.

Conclusion

Specifying your data gives you so much more valuable information about your audience than aggregated data. There’s a lot you can do to specify your data, one of those ways is by segmenting. Creating a segment might look scary but you can take these blog segments as an example to create your own. All that without having to code! Start analyzing like a pro and get those insights that help you optimize your marketing!

Read more: How Google Analytics wants to help you »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: 5 Google Analytics segments for your blog appeared first on Yoast.

The landing page, perhaps a dimension you take for granted. That you look at, but don’t actually look at. Just like looking at what time it is without actually knowing or understanding what time it is. In my opinion, the landing page is a powerful dimension in Google Analytics. Let me explain why I think that.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is the first page of a session. Let’s say Sarah is visiting your site. She starts her session on your site on blog post X and then reads blog post Y. In this case, blog post X is the landing page. You can translate that to the first page people land on when visiting your site. Google Analytics offers you a landing page report. You can find it in the Behavior section, Site Content, Landing Pages:

Landing pages report in Google Analytics

What do landing pages tell you?

A landing page is the first page people land on from a particular source. It’s the page they start their session with. Now let that sink in for a minute. What can landing pages tell you about people who come from a search engine (organic)? It tells you something about how your SEO is doing. What can landing pages tell you about people who come from your newsletter? It tells you something about what they’re interested in. And what to think of people who come from Facebook or any other kind of social medium? The landing page says something about what made them click. How awesome is that? In that sense, landing pages give you insight in your audience. Think about that, think about it in the shower. And think about what it means for each and every one of your sources.

Landing page metrics

Sessions tell you more about how many sessions started with page X. You can use this metric to see how popular and important the landing page is. But it gets more interesting. Bounce Rate which in this case also means Exit page because this is the percentage of people that didn’t do anything after landing on page X.

Landing pages vs. pages

Landing pages and pages aren’t the same. In fact, they’re measured differently. Ever noticed that the data table you see in the ‘All pages’ report differs from the data table you see in the ‘Landing pages’ report?

All pages metrics in Google Analytics

All pages report

Landing pages metrics in Google Analytics

Landing pages report

The all pages report contains information about page views, time on page, metrics that contain information about the page itself. It’s about interactions with the page itself, this data is collected at ‘hit’ level. If you compare the All pages metrics with the metrics in the landing pages report, you notice that the metrics in the landing page report are session based.

Perhaps you’ve added Source or Campaign as a second dimension in the All pages report. But you might be looking at data that’s not what you think the data is. You see, if you add a session based dimension, like source, it sees Page as a landing page because that’s the first page of the session.

Source as secondary dimension in all pages report in Google Analytics

So you might as well add Source as a secondary dimension in the Landing pages report.

Conclusion

The landing page report is an audience insights report if you ask me. It contains information about what kind of pages make people click. Information about what made them decide to visit your website. And if you discover differences per source, you can adjust your marketing campaigns per source. Customizing the content of the newsletter based on what worked before. Optimizing your SEO because you know what kind of keywords your page fits best in search results. Awesome stuff!

Read more: How to create and use dashboards in Google Analytics »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: The power of the landing page in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

Aaah, lovely Google Analytics. A tool some people love to hate. And I must agree, I have a tough relationship with Google Analytics as well. It has so many functionalities and so much to offer, which can make it quite overwhelming. But Google Analytics is really trying to help you get along with its data tool. In this post, I discuss some of the features Google Analytics offers to help you get to know and understand the tool.

Google Analytics Academy

One of the ways Google Analytics is trying to help you, is by offering instruction videos within the tool itself. If you go to the ‘Real-time’ section in the left sidebar and click on ‘overview’, you’ll notice an academy icon on the right. This is Google Analytics Academy.

Google Analytics Academy in Google Analytics

They used to have this feature for every section in Google Analytics. Unfortunately, that’s gone. But you can go to Google Analytics Academy to watch all videos about pretty much every section in the tool. On Google Analytics Academy, you can find free online courses that help you to learn Google Analytics.

Search bar and help functionality

Like any good tool, there’s a search bar that helps you with navigation. You can find it at the top left. You can look for all sorts of things like how to go to the Acquisition report. Or the mobile devices report. At the top right is a help functionality in which you can ask questions about the theory of Google Analytics. It beholds information about definitions, how Google Analytics tracking works and so on. It’s a portal to Google Analytics’ knowledge base. You can also visit the Help forum from here, email or chat with Google Analytics support.

search and help functionality in Google Analytics

Dimensions and metrics question marks

Understanding what you’re looking at, is pretty important. In Google Analytics there are a lot of dimensions and metrics of which you need to have some context to understand the report you’re looking at. There are question marks near all dimensions and metrics. If you hover over them, you immediately see an explanation.

Hover over question marks in Google Analytics

And I must agree, not all of them are explained very clearly. Some even make things more unclear than clear. But, that’s what search engines are for, Google it to get a better understanding of what you’re looking at.

Commonly used secondary dimensions

One of my favorite features is adding a secondary dimension because it gives your reports more context. But not all dimensions are useful to add. And Google Analytics is trying to help you with adding the proper secondary dimensions as well. There’s a recommended section when you want to add a secondary dimension.

recommended secondary dimensions

So you’ll know what other dimensions are commonly used. And that these are secondary dimensions that make sense. And that they can help you to get more specified data. For example, you can add landing pages as a secondary dimension to the source/medium report. Then you’ll know the first page people land from a particular source, like Google.

System segments

Another one of my favorite Google Analytics features is segments because it allows you to specify your data. Giving you more context and insights about the data you’re looking at. Google Analytics gives you a lot of segments by default. You can find them in the System section when adding a segment.

System segments in Google Analytics

There’s this segment called ‘Organic’ that you can use to find out how your SEO is doing in Google Analytics! But the other cool thing is that you can check how these segments are built. You can use this information to create your own segments, which I highly recommend!

Google Analytics insights

Just clicking your way in Google Analytics is fun at times, but you can get lost easily. Asking yourself a question before opening Google Analytics prevents you from getting lost and will make your analysis a lot more efficient. But asking questions can be hard, especially if you don’t know where to start. Google Analytics is helping you with that as well. At the top right you can find something called ‘Insights’.

Google Analytics insights

Opening up the Insights section, they show you questions you can ask yourself. And showing you the report where you can find it. They show you possible insights that might be interesting. And alert you with issues or anomalies in your data. This is the perfect place to begin if you want to do more analyzing and more understanding of what you can do with Google Analytics.

Import dashboards, custom reports and segments

In the left sidebar is a section called Customization. This is a place where you can create your own dashboards and custom reports. It might sound a bit advanced but here’s the cool thing, you can import dashboards and custom reports from others! You can even import segments. There are complete packages to add to your own Google Analytics reports for free!

Import Google Analytics dashboards

If you click on ‘Create dashboard’ you can see a button called ‘Import from Gallery’ which leads you to a gallery where you can import all sorts of dashboards, custom reports and segments.

Dashboards, segments, reports gallery in Google Analytics

There’s a package from the Google Analytics team itself, and there’s a popular package from Avinash Kaushik and Justin Cutroni. You can filter by category and check how the ratings are per package. That’s pretty awesome! Just a heads up: take the time to really understand what each dashboard or report actually means and what kind of insight it’s trying to give you.

Conclusion

Improve your technical SEO skills!

  • Which technical SEO errors hurt your site?
  • Solve them and climb the rankings!
  • Improve your site speed on the go
  • On-demand SEO training by Yoast
More info
Google Analytics is a tool with a lot of sections and a lot of features. Trying to get to know every aspect of the tool can be hard. Luckily, Google Analytics is offering you a lot of help within the tool itself. Which is an easy way of learning how to use Google Analytics and a very good first step if you’re a beginner.

Read more: 3 exercises to have more fun with Google Analytics »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: How Google Analytics wants to help you appeared first on Yoast.

I love segments! And for those of you wondering why I love them, or for those of you wondering what the heck segments are: I’ve written a post about segments in Google Analytics, that I invite you to read. In short: using segments makes your Google Analytics life a whole lot more interesting because it specifies your data, which allows you to get more insight into the behavior of your audience. And that’s what you want, an insight that you can turn into action.

What are sequences segments?

A sequenced segment is somewhat more advanced than just a regular segment because you can add steps to this segment. Using sequences in segments adds a lot of opportunities especially for those of you who run an online shop and/or have implemented goals and events in Google Analytics. If you have a certain funnel in mind, then you can test this funnel through a segment that’s sequenced-based. Let’s say you have a contact form on your website, you suspect people entering your website through page X which is step 1. You suspect that after reading this page, they want to contact you so they visit the contact page, that’s step 2. Then you’ve implemented an event in Google Analytics that measure the form completion, that’s step 3. These 3 steps can be added in a segment. And when you compare that segment with the same segment but then with people that didn’t complete a form, you can check where the differences are and how you can optimize so that more people complete a form.

How to create a sequenced segment?

To create a cool sequenced segment, you need to go to the segment area in Google Analytics. You can find it almost always at the top of a report:add a segment in Google Analytics

Click on ‘Add Segment’ and that will take you to the following screen:Click on New Segment in Google AnalyticsClicking on the red button will take you to the place where you can create the actual segment:Aspects of sequences in segments in Google AnalyticsIn the left sidebar you can see an item called ‘Sequences’ this is the place to go. If you click on that, you see where you can add steps. And you can choose if you want to include or exclude the sessions/users. If you don’t want to create a session based segment, you can also choose a user based segment. And you can choose how you want your segment to start. Do you want it to start with ‘any user interaction’ or ‘first user interaction’?

To fully understand how this works you need to understand a bit more about users and sessions. A user can have more sessions. And sessions can consist of more pages. If you choose first user interaction, then the first step of the segment you’re building has to start with that step, so it’s the first step of the session. If you choose any user interaction, then this means that the step can also be in the middle of a session.

Examples of sequence segments in Google Analytics

Now you’re probably wondering, what can I do with this? And the answer is: a lot! For example, if you’re running a campaign because you’ve launched a new product, a keyword research training for instance. You can create a segment saying:Example of sequence segments in Google AnalyticsThe first interaction must be through this campaign, so the session starts with someone coming from this campaign, and buying more than 1 product (transactions > 0). If you create the same segment but then without sessions containing a transaction, you can compare sessions that converted with sessions that didn’t convert. Then you can try to find out what a successful user flow looks like and what an unsuccessful flow looks like. Especially for conversion questions, sequence segments are very useful. You can also add all the steps of your checkout process for instance in a segment. You can even create a segment that shows you insight about shopping cart abandonment. And what to think about what comes before the cart. What’s a more successful flow? People adding a product to the cart from the overview page or from the specific product page?

Improve your technical SEO skills!

  • Which technical SEO errors hurt your site?
  • Solve them and climb the rankings!
  • Improve your site speed on the go
  • On-demand SEO training by Yoast
More info
Another example: let’s say you offer a free ebook on your site. You’re probably hoping that this ebook will lead to sales or people hiring you for your expertise. But how do these people behave on your site after they received that ebook? Do the calls-to-action in your ebook work? You can create a user-based sequence segment where step 1 is the form completion and step 2 is a page where people land on after clicking on a call-to-action.

With a sequence segment, you can also discover what the conversion rate is of people who add a product to the cart (step 3) by clicking on the product page (step 2) from a banner on the homepage (step 1). And compare that conversion rate with people whose first step was the product page.
And how about people coming from social media (step 1), do they return via a Google search (step 2)? These are just a couple of examples of how you can use sequence segments, but the possibilities are endless.

Conclusion

Adding steps in segments is an awesome feature in Google Analytics. It can bring you more insight about users or sessions that convert or don’t convert. It can specify data, for instance how many users come from mobile and then return from a desktop. That’s information you can’t get from the aggregated data you’re seeing in standard Google Analytics reports. You can go all out with segments, use your creativity when building segments. There’s a lot you can do! And as always, think about the question you want answered and base your segment on the question you have.

Read more: How to track your SEO with Google Analytics »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: Sequence segments in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

I’m a visual thinker; I love looking at images. If I think about my search behavior, I catch myself looking at images quite often, for instance when I want to know what city X looks like. Or if I’m looking for a product I’ve seen somewhere, without knowing the brand or where I can buy it. You can imagine that there are a couple of cases when an image says more than a thousand words (I know, cliché) and that image search can be more useful than an overall search. The question is: how can I find out if I get traffic from image search? Let’s find out!

Google image search

First off, some basics: what’s a Google image search? Google offers a search service that allows you to search the world wide web for images. You can go to https://images.google.com/ or just click on the images tab on https://www.google.com.

yoast seo - Google Image Search

If you search for Yoast SEO in an image search, you’ll see something like this. We consider our images very important and put a lot of effort into them, as you can see in our awesome illustrations. They’re an important part of our branding, a lot of people recognize Yoast just by looking at the image. But for search, images are less relevant for us. People searching for our SEO plugin or one of our SEO courses won’t use image search. The same goes for a lot of SEO terms people search for.

But for businesses that depend heavily on images, image search is a vital part of their marketing. For online shops, travel agencies and food blogs, for instance, image SEO is important. And if something’s important, you want to know how it performs right?

Image search traffic

If someone clicks on an image in the Google image search results and decides to click on the link that directs you your site, you can detect this data in Google Analytics. And the way to do this is actually quite simple! I’ll show you how.

If you want to know how people end up on your website, the ‘Acquisition’ tab is the place to go. Expand the ‘All Traffic’ tab and click on ‘Source/Medium’. Here, you can find through which source people came to your site. You need to look for google images / organic:

Looking for google images in source/medium in Google Analytics

If you can not find it immediately, like in the screenshot above, you need to go look for it. You can do this by expanding the number of rows of the table and scroll around to look for google images / organic. Or use the search function and search for google images / organic:

Expand rows of use search function in Google Analytics

One of the benefits of expanding the number of rows is that you can see the position image search has compared to your other traffic sources. Plus, you can compare metrics like Bounce Rate and the number of sessions. The benefit of using the search function is that it’s a quick way of looking for image search traffic.

image search results in Google Analytics

Even better SEO with Yoast SEO Premium!

  • Optimize your site for the right keywords
  • Never a dead link in your site again
  • Previews for Twitter and Facebook
  • Get suggestions for links as you write
More info
In the case of this particular website, 30 users (cookies) came to this website via an image search in Google, and they all bounced back immediately. So, for this website, image search doesn’t really lead to anything. It’s possible that image search isn’t important for this website, or that they should put more effort into their images and image SEO, making sure that it matches the expectations of the visitors more.

Conclusion

If you’re curious to find out if people come to your site by doing an image search in Google, then Google Analytics offers you the data to find out. Simply look for ‘google images / organic’ in the ‘source / medium’ report, and you’ll know if you attract any traffic with your images!

Read more: Image SEO »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: Check your image search traffic in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

Generic reports in Google Analytics contain aggregated data, data from all the things on one big pile. That’s a lot of information, but not very specific. So, if you’re just monitoring your data, you might manage that by looking at the standard data you see in Google Analytics. But, if you want to go beyond that, to thoroughly analyze your data, you need more context. One of the (easy) ways you can add context to your data is by adding secondary dimensions. Gotten curious? Read on!

What are secondary dimensions?

To explain what secondary dimensions are, we need to explain what dimensions are first. I’ve written a post about dimensions (and metrics) in which you can read that:

A dimension is a description, a characteristic, a feature or aspect of your data. It’s not a quantitative variable but more a qualitative variable.

So, it’s quite often letters instead of numbers. Let me give you a concrete example: in Google Analytics’ reports, the first column of the table is always a dimension:

First dimension in Google Analytics

In this case, ‘Country’ is a dimension. Now, what you can do, is click on the first country you see in your reports. This will take you to a more specified report about the country you’ve clicked on: you’ll see regions. Now, these regions can sometimes be clicked on as well. That depends on the country. If you want to see cities, you can add a secondary dimension. Here’s how:

Add city to region report in Google Analytics

Click on the ‘Secondary dimension’ button you see above the first column. If you know the name of the dimension you want to add, you can enter that in the search bar. Otherwise, you need to scroll around a bit to find what you’re looking for.

Optimize for synonyms and related keywords and prevent broken pages on your site with Yoast SEO Premium! »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Why should I use secondary dimensions?

In the previous example, you can see that adding a secondary dimension adds more information to your report. For instance, you could initially have concluded that it’s a good idea to run an advert campaign for all of California. But, if you had looked at city data as well, you might’ve concluded that it’s a good idea to run that campaign in LA only because that’s where all your traffic is coming from.

Another example to show you why you should use secondary dimensions in Google Analytics. Perhaps you’re interested in SEO: then you want to check your traffic coming from a search engine. That’s called ‘Organic traffic’ in Google Analytics. Seeing how much traffic you’re getting from Organic is fun, of course. But, it has the potential to be much more informative than just knowing how many users and sessions you’ve had. It’s really interesting to check which of your site’s pages users land on (called ‘Landing Page’ in Google Analytics). Here’s how you do that:

Going to the Medium Organic report in Google Analytics

  1. Go to the ‘Acquisition’ section in the left sidebar
  2. Click on ‘Source/Medium’
  3. Then click on ‘Medium’, it’s above the table
  4. Click on ‘organic’ to see all traffic from search engines

Adding landing page to organic report in Google Analytics

Then, it’s time to add the secondary dimension: ‘Landing Page’. Click on the button above the first column of the table and look for ‘Landing Page’, and click on that. Now, you have a nice overview of all pages that people land on that come from a search result in a search engine. Look at the numbers you’re seeing: what’s the bounce rate? Did they stay for long? Did they buy anything? And are the pages you’re seeing, the pages you want to rank with? What can you do to optimize further?

Which secondary dimensions should I use?

Now, doing all this can be very hard, that’s why you should always have a question in mind when opening your Google Analytics reports. Because that question will dictate which dimension you should add to your reports. Of course, if you’re like me, you often open Google Analytics without a question in mind because you just want to play a bit, have a look around.

For those of you who play and also for those of you who have a specific question, there’s a new feature in Google Analytics that helps you with picking a useful secondary dimension. Look at this:

recommended secondary dimensions

Now that’s awesome! It shows you which dimensions are commonly used in a report, in this case, the ‘Source/Medium’ report. That’s valuable advice!

If you’re using UTM tags properly, the secondary dimension brings a lot of context to your reports. Let’s say you’ve started a campaign and also added the utm_content UTM tag: you can add that as a secondary dimension, called ‘Ad Content’ in Google Analytics. Then, you can find out which item of your campaign, for instance, a text link or a button was more successful.

Conclusion

Using secondary dimensions in Google Analytics gives your data so much more meaning. It adds context to your data, allowing you to understand what you’re seeing better. And with more understanding about what your data actually means, it’s easier to draw the right conclusions. In other words, using secondary dimensions is a MUST in Google Analytics.

Read more: Annelieke’s analytics: What are dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics? »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: Secondary dimensions in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

This post is for those of you who want to use Google Analytics, but feel a threshold to start with this tool. For everyone that wants to see the fun of Google Analytics, but is having a hard time finding that fun. This is a post for people that are scared to use Google Analytics because they’re afraid to break something. This is a post I needed when I started with Google Analytics.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Google Analytics’ Danger zone

If you’re afraid of skewing data, removing data, or harming data, if you will, then the following should release you from that stress: as long as you are in the reporting section of Google Analytics, nothing bad can happen.

The Admin section is the place where you can do real damage. Here, you can add filters that could harm your data if not used right, here you can adjust time zones. In other words: the Admin section is the place where you implement changes that affect your data.

You can’t adjust the actual data in the reporting section. You can only adjust how you’re seeing your data, the section of data you want to see, but underneath it all, the data stays the same. So, the reporting section is for everyone, even for people who don’t have a clue what the heck they’re looking at.

Reporting section aka play zone

Know what you’re looking at

If you can’t harm your data when in the reporting section, this means you’re in a playground where you can do anything you like and just play with what you’re seeing. Of course, it helps if you have a little context. Knowledge about what you’re seeing. Luckily, Google offers a lot of information about how to handle Google Analytics. These pieces of information are in Google Analytics, you just need to know where to find them.

Every dimension and metric in Google Analytics is accompanied by a question mark that explains what you’re looking at:

Hover over question marks in Google Analytics

I really like this feature because it gives you so much more context. And if the explanation is too vague or complex, Google it. There’s always someone that can explain it better on the world wide web.

There’s also a section in Google Analytics called ‘Intelligence’ that’s set to guide you through Google Analytics by asking you questions (and showing you some answers) and notifying you about anomalies in your data:

Intelligence and Help function in Google Analytics

And at the top of the page is a question mark where you can ask for help. Especially the ‘Intelligence’ section is a nice starting point for your Google Analytics journey.

Let’s play!!

I want to share some very basic exercises with you that made me realize Google Analytics is a fun tool to play with. If you understand how the following exercises work, and the opportunities they’ll give you, then you can find the joy and insights you’re looking for.

Exercise number 1: use the search bar

There are a couple of search functions in Google Analytics. One that helps you with how to use Google Analytics or helps with navigating quickly to your destination.

search navigation in Google Analytics

But that’s not the one we’ll be using for this exercise. I’m referring to the search bar in the data table. This lets you search in the first column of the table. Here’s the assignment:

  1. Go to the ‘Acquisition’ section
  2. Click on the ‘Source/Medium’ report from the ‘All traffic’ dropdown
  3. Enter in the search bar “organic”
  4. What do you see?

This is very awesome if you need to find very specific information, or want to see totals of a category or a group of data. Like in this case, the group ‘organic’. Or, if you want to check a specific page or just pages that have /category/ in common for example, the search bar comes in really handy. And it saves you a lot of time scrolling.

Of course, there are other ways to see just your organic traffic, but this post is meant to be simple, so I’m keeping it simple. Or at least, I hope you don’t find it too hard.

Exercise number 2: add a secondary dimension

Context is not just the SEO word of 2018, it’s vital for doing a proper analysis. Adding a secondary dimension gives you more context because it adds more information to the data you’re seeing. Without proper context, you might draw the wrong conclusions. So, follow these steps to add more context to your report:

  1. Go to the ‘Behavior’ section
  2. Click on ‘Landing Pages’ from the ‘Site Content’ dropdown
  3. Click on ‘Secondary dimension’
  4. Select ‘Source’ in the dropdown
  5. What do you see?

Now, this is awesome, you can check per source where people land on. Go over all metrics, hovering over the question marks to understand what you’re seeing. Can you see differences per landing page, per source? And what does that tell you?

Exercise number 3: use a segment

This challenge lets you specify things even further, giving the report even more context. In Google Analytics, you can add segments and this enables you to see just a specific piece of data. I absolutely love segments because, for me, they make the data I’m seeing much more understandable and less abracadabra.

  1. Stick to your current report
  2. Scroll all the way up and click on ‘+ Add Segment’
  3. Search for the ‘Organic Traffic’ segment
  4. Hit ‘Apply’
  5. Remove the ‘All Users’ segment by clicking on the downward arrow
  6. What do you see?

So, what do you see? How does this relate to SEO? You’re seeing pages people land on who are coming from a search engine. What’s the most popular search engine? And are the pages you’re seeing, pages you want to rank with? So much information about SEO in Google Analytics right here! Very cool right?

Conclusion

Google Analytics can be scary, especially if you’re afraid you might break something. But if you stay in the reporting section, everything you do is for your eyes only. After doing the exercises in this post, I invite you to just click around. Click on everything that’s clickable and try to understand what you’re seeing after that. If you do that, Google Analytics is far more easy to digest. And, hopefully, more fun, too. Good luck!

Read more: Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: 3 exercises to have more fun with Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

Dashboards. There are a lot of people out there that absolutely love dashboards. And I agree, creating a good dashboard can save you a lot of time as an analyst. It’s very useful for monitoring data and reporting back to your colleagues. And dashboards can make clear when something’s off the charts, the moment for you to show the rest of your company what kind of analyst you are. In this post, I want to show you how you can create a Google Search Console dashboard in just a couple of steps using Google Data Studio.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What’s Google Data Studio?

Google Data Studio is part of Google’s marketing platform. It’s a free tool you can use to create dashboards and reports. It helps you with visualizing your data and lets you share it with whomever you want to share it with. For instance, you can connect Google Data Studio easily with Google Analytics, or Google Sheets. You can import a lot of types of data and play with it in Google Data Studio. This tool can make your data come to life. Not just for you but also for the people you want to share your data with. It’s highly customizable and has a lot of cool features. So if you haven’t looked at it yet, you’re missing out.

Create a Google Search Console dashboard

Connect Google Search Console and Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is part of the Google suite and because of that, connecting with other Google tools is very easy. This means that connecting Google Search Console and Google Data Studio is very, very simple. There are a couple of things you need though, a Google Search Console account with your site verified and a Google Data Studio account obviously.

There are a couple of ways to connect Google Search Console with Google Data Studio. The screenshot below shows you the homepage of Google Data Studio.

Default Google Data Studio page

I’ve highlighted a couple of features that you can use to add Google Search Console to the data studio tool. Since you want to import data from Google Search Console, you can do so by clicking on ‘Data Sources’ or ‘Connect to Data’. But Data Studio will also ask for a data source when you want to create a new report, or dashboard if you will. You can do so by clicking on the ‘plus’ sign at the top or at the bottom.

I’m going to show you how to connect Google Search Console with Google Data Studio through the ‘Connect to Data’ option. If you click on that, you get the following screen:

Data Studio Connect to Data

Here you can see all types of data you can connect with for free, there are paid options as well, allowing you to connect Data Studio with Facebook Insights for instance. But in this post, I’m going to focus on just Google Search Console. If you click on that item, it’ll connect with Google Search Console and you can select the website you want to create a dashboard for.

connect Google Search Console with Google Data Studio

You then need to choose between Site Impression and Url Impression. You can actually add both to one report, but this means adding two Google Search Console data sources. One for Site Impression and one for Url Impression. Select one and click on the blue Connect button at the top. You’ll then see an overview of all Google Search Console variables it’s making a connection with:

overview of Google Search Console variables

You can then click on ‘Create report’ or ‘Explore’. If you click on the ‘Create report’ you’ll be asked to add the data to the report. Click on the blue button and voila, you’re good to go!

Use a Google Search Console template

I can understand that the first time you create a dashboard with this tool, it can be a bit hard to understand. Because just like Google Analytics, there are so many options here. Read posts or watch video tutorials about Google Data Studio, that really helps.

You can also choose an existing template Google Data Studio is offering. I really like these because you can see how they did it, and then repeat it yourself. Or adjust the existing template to your likings of course.

use Google Search Console template in Google Data Studio

At the top of the Google Data Studio homepage is a template section, including a Google Search Console template. If you click on that, you see an example of the report. And you can use this template and connect it to your own Google Search Console data.

Want to bump your SEO to a higher level? Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO training! »

Technical SEO training Info

Use Search Console Report template

If you click on the ‘Use template’ button, you’ll be asked to select a new data source. In this case, you want to select your own Google Search Console data source, the Site impression as well as Url impression.

Connect your own site to the Search Console Report

Once you’ve added the correct Google Search Console data sources, click on ‘Create Report’ and you should see a Google Search Console dashboard with data about your site.

In this dashboard, you can find impressions, clicks, CTR, and position in a more understandable way than in Google Search Console itself. It also lets you compare date periods. And you can filter the data by country or device. You can see how your site’s SEO is doing in just one place. No need to click around in Google Search Console a lot. And you can share this dashboard with others, no need to add people to Google Search Console itself anymore!

Conclusion

Google Data Studio is a very neat data visualizing tool that lets you create dashboards and reports for Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google sheets and so on. It’s very convenient to have this kind of information in one place. With all the options available, you can choose the best visualizations for your type of data. You don’t have to add accounts to Google Search Console anymore to let others see that data; you can create a dashboard in Google Data Studio and share it with them. No hassle, no fuss!

Read more: The beginner’s guide to Google Search Console »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: How to create a Google Search Console dashboard appeared first on Yoast.

The new Google Search Console is out! Since the beginning of this year, more and more users have gotten the pleasure of the new functionalities in Google Search Console. After you get used to the totally new interface, you see all the cool stuff it has to offer. One of those awesome features is the 16 months of data in the Search Analytics report. Curious about where you can find this bunch of data? Well, read on then.

Want to learn practical SEO skills to rank higher in Google? Our Basic SEO training is just what you need! »

Basic SEO training Info

16 months of Search Analytics data, where?

The new Google Search Console dashboard looks completely different and uses other words than the ‘old’ Google Search Console does. So first, let’s find out where you can find your precious 16 months of data.

going to performance dashboard in Google Search Console

You need to go to the performance dashboard, which used to be Search Analytics. When you get there, you’ll see a cool bunch of stuff already. Like total clicks, impressions, Click Through Rate and your average position. And there are filter types possible, at the top of the page. You can even add new filter options. I’d recommend you play with that – just a little pro tip. One of the filter options is Date, set by default to 3 months.

Changing date in Google Search Console

If you click on that Date filter, you can see all the date options available:

16 months of data filter option in Google Search Console

Comparing dates in Google Search Console

 

 

 

 

 

Next to seeing 16 months of data, you can also compare dates. For instance, the last 7 days compared to the same 7 days last year. And at the bottom of all options, you can customize your date range. Clicking on the ‘Last 16 months’ filter will give you an output that looks a bit like this:

16 months output in Google Search Console

To get something like the screenshot above you need to select the Average CTR only. You can click on all four of the items to see all four in the graph. Now another thing I noticed is these little small grey balls near the x-axis. These are messages from Google Search Console that something happened on a particular date. For this particular website, an event occurred that could’ve affected the data. Now, this is very valuable information because you then know that the data before this date is less precise. And that knowledge is especially useful when you want to compare dates because you now know that you can’t compare a recent date range with a date range before this event.

What to do with 16 months of Google Search Console data

The first thing that comes to mind is that it resolves a lot of frustration. In the ‘old’ Google Search Console, the oldest data you could get was 90 days old. People then just downloaded months old data every month and created their own Google Search Console database. But now, there’s no hassle anymore with getting a lot of data in your dashboard by exporting data sheets and adding it to your main Google Search Console data sheet. If you work for clients who want to see how the website’s done over the year, because they want to know if it’s in line with their KPI for example, that data is now just a few clicks away. Saving you a lot of time – time you can spend on actually optimizing websites – and making them better.

When it comes down to the actual data, having over a year of data means you can do year-over-year comparisons and see if you can spot a trend. Are you doing better than last year? Have your efforts been successful? Analyzing year-long trends in your data in just one click. Looking for things like seasonality is now easier, for example: is April a month in which you get more clicks than in other months? Or how is this June doing compared to last year’s June?

Comparing June in Google Search Console

As you can see in the screenshot above, June 2018 had fewer impressions than June 2017 had. June 2018 also had fewer clicks, a lower average position. The only thing that went up was the Click Through Rate (CTR). Looking at a wider time frame will give you more context and can tell you if June 2017 perhaps was an above average good month or if this website is performing worse than it did last year. Those are signs for you to work on your SEO more or that your SEO efforts aren’t taking any effect.

In the Performance report in Google Search Console, you can see more information than just this graph. I’ve set the data comparison to the last 3 months compared to the same months in 2017. If you scroll down you can see more specifics about where your possible drop or rise is coming from.

More specifics on your performance in Google Search Console

I’ve sorted this grid on where the biggest difference between the last 3 months in 2018 and the same time period 2017 is. Enabling you to quickly identify the difference between the 3 months. If you notice important keywords having fewer impressions now than in 2017, that might be a reason to act. Time to work on your SEO!

You can see Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices and Search Appearance in this grid, and you can add Clicks, CTR and Position to the grid as well. Making it very informative for you to check where your priorities should lie, which keywords and pages to tackle first.

Be critical about the data you’re seeing

Please think about the time frame you’re using when comparing dates. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense to compare June 2018 to June 2017. Perhaps it makes more sense to compare June 2018 with May 2018. You know your website best, you know when you started optimizing for a certain keyword for instance. Think about what questions you want answered before diving into this bunch of Google Search Console data. Those questions will be the answer to what to look at when you open the Performance dashboard.

At the beginning of this post, we noticed Google Search Console is showing notifications about things that occurred that can affect data:

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

16 months output in Google Search Console

If you see something similar, please do not compare data with data before these notifications because your data isn’t reliable anymore and you might be drawing the wrong conclusions.

Conclusion

The Performance dashboard in the new Google Search Console lets you analyze 16 months of data. This wider time frame prevents a lot of hassle and there’s no longer need for shoestring solutions to create your own useful Google Search Console database. Making it so much easier to do your reporting. 16 months of data also allows you to make meaningful comparisons and to spot trends. But as always, think about the questions you want answered before diving into a big dataset. Otherwise, you might be drawing conclusions that don’t make any sense.

Read more: How to connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO and fix errors »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: 16 months of Google Search Console data appeared first on Yoast.

Most people find it difficult to go from reporting the basic stuff in Google Analytics, like pageviews and sessions, to analyzing data. Drawing valuable and actionable conclusions based on data is even more challenging. Everyone searches for ways to do this, and learns while doing so. Here, I want to discuss a metric in Google Analytics that can help you with putting data into actions. It’s called: Page Value.

What is Page Value

Page Value is a metric you’ll find in the All Pages report in the Behavior section. This metric tells you if the page has contributed to a conversion or not. Google’s definition is:

Page Value is the average value for a page that a user visited before landing on the goal page or completing an Ecommerce transaction (or both).

You can only see a true value in the Page Value column if you have implemented enhanced eCommerce tracking and/or if you’ve set up goals and assigned goal value to them.

If you have none of the former, the Page Value of your pages will be $0.00. As you can see in the screenshot below:

zero page value in Google Analytics

Goals and goal value

The Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik is pretty clear when it comes to goals.

If you don’t have goals, you are not doing digital analytics. You are doing I am wasting earth’s precious oxygenalytics. 

And he has a similar opinion when it comes down to assigning a value to your goals.

Without goals and goal values you are not doing web analytics, you are doing web I am wasting your life and minelytics.

I tend to listen to Avinash Kaushik and I’d recommend you do the same ;-). If you have a clear goal for your website, which means that you know what you want your visitors to do on your site, then translate that into goals. And assign a value to your goals. This means that every website should have goals, for I hope that every website has a goal to exist.

Start with reading this awesome post about goal values on Kaushik’s website. It’s about how to add economic value to goal conversions that don’t directly lead to revenue for your website. Because these conversions probably lead to indirect revenue for your business. Once you’ve set up goals with a Goal Value, the Page Value metric in Google Analytics gets more and more interesting.

Page Value for eCommerce sites

If you’ve implemented eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics, Page Value will be added automatically. Please don’t add Goal Value to the eCommerce goals you’re creating. The eCommerce tracking will take care of that for you.

How Page Value is calculated

Like a lot of things, Page Value is best explained with an example. In this case, I’m going to use the example Google gives:

Example by Google: How Page Value is calculated

In this example we’re going to calculate the Page Value of Page B. The formula is:

(eCommerce Revenue + Total Goal Value) / Number of Unique Pageviews for Page B

We see two sessions in which page B was viewed. Each session had a unique pageview so the number of unique pageviews for Page B is 2. We also see that the Goal of Page D is completed two times and Goal page D has a goal value of $10. Which adds up to $20. Then in Session one, an eCommerce transaction of $100 has taken place. This will result in the following formula:

($100 + $20)/2

This means that the page value of Page B is $60.

What does the Page Value of a page tell you

Your pages should have a purpose. Some pages sell stuff / convert and some merely inform readers about a certain topic. Others assist in making a conversion. If pages that are meant to sell or convert have a low page value, something is going wrong. And if you see that pages you’re not actively using in your strategy have a high Page Value, you might want to consider adding that page to your strategy.

It also works the other way around. If you notice that some pages have a lower than expected Page Value, then these pages are driving people away from a conversion. The same goes for pages with high traffic but low Page Value, and pages with low traffic but high Page Value. As you might’ve guessed, looking at page value is insightful and useful to optimize your conversions!

Blog and Page Value

It all depends on the goals and goal values you have. Let’s say you have a blog and one of the goals of your blog is to get newsletter subscriptions. So you want to set up that goal and add a certain goal value. By doing so, you can identify which blog posts lead to more newsletter subscribers than others. This gives you information about what kind of interests your audience has. You might even conclude that putting posts of interest in your newsletter will lead to more engaged newsletter subscribers.

Also, if you want to start a campaign or promote something on Facebook, for instance, you can choose to share a post with a high Page Value. This makes sense, because you know that it will lead to more conversions / newsletter subscribers (or whatever the goal is) than a post with a lower Page Value. Think about the information the Page Value metric can give you for your marketing as well as your website optimization strategy!

Online shop and Page Value

You can use this principle if you have an online shop as well. If you’ve enabled and correctly implemented enhanced eCommerce tracking, you can see those transactions in the page value of your pages. Of course, you want high page values for your product pages. And you want to find out which other pages lead to conversions. Use this information to identify which pages can be used best in your marketing campaigns. And check where these pages are on your website, can people access them easily?

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an actionable metric in Google Analytics to optimize your website and your marketing campaigns the Page Value metric is the way to go! It gives you information about what works and what doesn’t work for your business. Of course, Page Value doesn’t come by itself, you need Goals with Goal Values and/or eCommerce tracking if you have an online shop. But it’s worth to set this up. Good luck!

Read more: ‘Perfecting your goals in Google Analytics’ »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: What is Page Value in Google Analytics? appeared first on Yoast.