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.

Don’t you ever just wonder which pages people look at after they land on your site? How do people click through your website? How do they navigate? Questions like these can be answered with the use of Google Analytics. In this post, I want to show you a very cool feature called: Users Flow.

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training Info

What is a Users Flow?

Google Analytics is known for sharing loads and loads of data. In reports and in graphs. But there are some places in Google Analytics where you can find a visualization of data! Exciting! Users Flow is one of them. Let’s check Google’s definition of a Users Flow:

The Users Flow report is a graphical representation of the paths users took through your site, from the source, through the various pages, and where along their paths they exited your site.

And here’s how it looks:

Users Flow in Google Analytics

You can find the Users Flow in the Audience section when you scroll all the way down. Now, by default the starting point of the User Flow is Country. And if this demographic is important for your business, this is an interesting report. You can analyze if people from other countries have different navigation styles. Something to take into account if you have a multilingual site, for instance.

You can see the starting page, the first interaction, second and so on. The green is the number of sessions on that page, and the red is the number of drop-offs. Please note that it shows relative numbers, not actual numbers.

The User Flow has some awesome options:

  • Selection a dimension of your choosing;
  • Adding a segment;
  • Highlighting traffic from a specific segment.

Dimensions in Users Flows

You can imagine that the reason people visit your site can differ, it can differ per source, per campaign and so on. You can analyze the intent people have with Users Flows. For instance, you can expect people that come from an organic search to have an informational search intent; they’re looking for information. People coming from social, perhaps they’re looking for amusement. And people coming from a campaign you’re running, you probably want them to convert. You can select a lot of dimensions in the Users Flow, allowing you to analyze traffic from different sources, landing pages and so on.

dropdown section of Users Flows in Google Analytics

What does the chart tell you? Do they behave like you expect/want them to behave? And if not, ask yourself how you can optimize their flow. Before you look at the chart, think about how you want them to behave first.

Adding a segment

Not only is it interesting to check how people behave from different sources and so on, but it’s also interesting if you can specify that group of people. For instance, analyzing the behavior of New visitors and then analyzing the behavior of Returning visitors.

Adding a segment for Users Flow in Google Analytics

You can also compare the visitors that converted with visitors that didn’t convert. Analyze their paths and map out the navigation. Perhaps you can optimize your navigation options?

You can think of a lot of options to analyze here; you can go totally crazy! So think about what kind of questions you want answered before going actually crazy :-)

Highlighting traffic

The Users Flow is a lot to take in. And for the ease of your own eyes, viewing just one flow can be helpful, it’ll probably help you with analyzing as well.

Viewing one segment in Users Flows in Google Analytics

You can click on every item to view the segment only or to highlight traffic. Last but not least, you can export the Users Flow to a PDF file so you can share it with someone you think will find it interesting.

Conclusion

Using User Flows will help you understand how people navigate through your website and gives you information on how to improve your navigation. It’ll give you insights into how effective your sources and pages are. It’ll show you where people drop-off. And by specifying the Users Flow further, you can see if some sources or campaigns are more effective than others. Of course, place the information in your own context. Check what the goal is of the source of campaign or what you’d like to investigate before you draw conclusions.

Read more: ‘Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics’ »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: Users Flow in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

Oh, the wonders of email marketing. It can keep your audience up-to-date whilst hopefully resulting in an increase in sales. But how do you measure the efforts of email marketing? Google Analytics can give you insight into how much of your traffic is generated by email. It’s an interesting tool that can break down the email performance, so that – if needed – you can adapt your site accordingly. I’ll explain down below how to monitor your email performance successfully!

Use UTM tags

If you want to track your email performance in Google Analytics, it’s pretty important to get email data into your Google Analytics, right? If you want to know how many people came to your site by clicking on a link in your newsletter, you need to send a piece of information so that Google Analytics can recognize the traffic is coming from your email campaign. You can do so by adding UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tags to all links in your newsletter that link to your site, so-called campaign tracking. As a result of that, a link from your email newsletter might look something like this: x.com/postx/#utm_source=x&utm_medium=y&utm_campaign=z 

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

If you google more information about UTM tagging, you might find a lot of different approaches. And tagging your links isn’t something you should think lightly of. You need to find a way that will help you with easily identifying links in Google Analytics. Browse through your source/medium stats, look at campaigns and ask yourself what kind of elements of links in your emails you want to see in your reports. Think about how you want to handle the following UTM tags:

  • utm_medium
  • utm_source
  • utm_campaign

An example: let’s say you’re planning to do a summer sale and you’re sending out an additional email to your customers. How would you add UTM tag links in such an email? One UTM tag you don’t have to think about is the utm_medium tag. That should always, always be ’email.’ That way, Google Analytics will organize this traffic in the Channel email, and that is something you’d want if you’re going to work wilt Multi-Channel Funnels.

Then you have the utm_source tag. Some say you should use the Branded source, for instance, utm_source=mailchimp if you use MailChimp, or utm_source=helpscout if you use HelpScout for support emails and such. But again, it’s all about how you can identify from which source your traffic is coming from. If you sent multiple emails, for instance, your regular newsletter and an occasional sales email, you can decide that for your newsletter, you use utm_source=newsletter and for your sales email utm_source=sales.

Use the campaign tag for more specified tagging. In the example of the Summer Sale, you want to give that sale a specific tag that is used by all the marketing efforts you do for that sale. Your Social Media efforts and so on should use the same utm_campaign tag. That way you can easily recognize what your email did for that campaign and it it’s the best performing source for that campaign. For  example: utm_campaign=summer-sale-july-18.

There are two other UTM tags you can use to differentiate even further:

  • utm_term
  • utm_content

You can use the utm_term, for instance, to add the subject of the post you’re linking to. And you can use utm_content to differentiate elements of the newsletter. For instance, if you’re linking to the same page twice, but one with a text link and the other with a banner, you can use utm_content=textlink and utm_content=banner.

Where to find your emails in Google Analytics?

If you use campaign tracking on all links in your emails, you can find them in your Acquisition reports when clicking on All Traffic –> Source/Medium. You can find what you used for utm_source in the Source report, and what you used for utm_medium in de Medium report. Or both in the Source/Medium report:

email in aquisition reports in Google Analytics

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can use the search bar that searches in the first column of your report:

search for email in Google Analytics

Then you’ll get a nice overview of all sources for your utm_medium=email. In the screenshot above, you can see the performance of a sales email for a given period. You can see how much users came to your site, how many sessions there are, how long they lasted on average, and in the last column you can see how your email converted for the goals you’ve set. And you can compare this with your other email marketing efforts and check which was most successful.

If you want to know how your email campaigns (utm_campaign) worked out for you, you can add a Secondary dimension: Campaign to your report.

email campaigns in Google Analytics

You can also go to your campaign report that’s filed under Acquisition: Campaigns –> All Campaigns campaigns report in Google Analytics

You can add Source / Medium as a Secondary dimension here as well. But there are other UTM tags you can add as Secondary dimensions, like the utm_term and utm_content tags. For utm_term, you need to find ‘Seach Term,’ and for utm_content you need to look for ‘Ad Content.’

I find it very insightful to click my way through these reports and check if I’m tagging in a way I can understand my traffic sources. If I see a UTM tag that I find useless, I’ll know I have to change the way I’m tagging. This is especially the case if I decide to use utm_term and utm_content tags for links to my site.

utm_term in Google Analytics

utm_content in Google Analytics

Create a segment for email

If you don’t want to deal with Secondary dimensions and want to see more than what the Acquisition reports have to offer, you can decide on creating a segment for your emails in general. Or you can narrow the segment down to just the email you’re interested in using all UTM tags that are in your email as shown in the image below. Creating an email segment in Google Analytics

Just play a little with your segment. If you just want to see Medium=email, create that segment. If you just want to see Source=sales, create another segment. Find the joy in segments; they’re fun!

Reports to look at

Before you look at all the numbers in your Google Analytics report, think about what kind of questions you want to be answered. This will help you with finding what you’re looking for in the jungle called Google Analytics. Do you want to know how many users came to your site via email? How many new users your email drove to your site? How long they stayed and so on: check the Audience Overview report and use a segment to you’ll only see traffic from your emails.

You can also compare email with other sources, see how effective your emails were by checking the stats in your Acquisition report. Did email get the most sessions, conversions and so on? Are the people coming from email more engaged than other sources? What’s your question and hypothesis here?

And using an email segment shows you which pages users saw in the Behavior reports, the products they bought in the Conversion reports, the (goal/eCommerce) conversion rate of your newsletter subscribers. And you can use this data to compare it with other marketing efforts. Which was more effective? Do newsletter subscribers convert better? And do you know why?

One final tip, when sending out an email to your users, check the real-time report. Is what you’re seeing what you expected? Or isn’t there any traffic coming from email? Then there might be an issue with your newsletter.

Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO 1 training! »

Technical SEO 1 training Info

Conclusion

The most important thing if you want to analyze your newsletter performance, is using campaign tracking on the links in your email. There are email services that can add UTM tags automatically, like MailChimp. Otherwise, you have to do this manually. And trust me, you want to do this. Because you want to check your email performance in Google Analytics. When analyzing your newsletters, think about the questions you want to be answered. Using segments will make sure you rock your Google Analytics reports!

Read more: ‘Tools to improve your online marketing campaign’ »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: Email performance in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

The Audience data in Google Analytics beholds a lot of interesting data about your users. Not only does it provide you information about from which country they’re coming or the language they’re using, but it also gives insight in the device they’re using when visiting your site and the browser they’re using for doing that. And that my dear friends, is information you can use to make your site more accessible and user-friendly.

Technology report

Information about the browser people are using to visit your website, can be found in the Technology report. Expand the Audience tab and scroll down:

Technology report in Google Analytics Expanded Technology report in Google Analytics

 

 

 

 

 

The Technology report has some pretty cool features, let me show you:

Technology reporting features in Google Analytics

This is the default report you see when clicking on Technology. You can see the most popular browsers that are used for visiting your website. For this particular website, Chrome is by far the most important browser. But you can also check Operating System, Screen Resolution, Screen Colors, Flash Version and Java Support.

What does it tell you?

Browser

Of course, it’s interesting to know what your visitors are using for visiting your website, but that’s just information that’s ‘cool’ to know. But how can you use this data to optimize your website even further? Take a look at the report and see if you notice anything that’s a bit odd.

A higher bounce rate for a particular browser for instance. It may be an indication that your site looks different on a Safari browser than on a Chrome browser. Take a look at the Average Session Duration too, is there a browser with a very low session duration? Use that browser yourself and visit your website to see if you can understand why.

And if you have particular goals, like a contact form submit goal, you can check if there’s a browser performing poorly for that goal. It might just be that the contact form isn’t working properly for that browser. The same goes if you have an online shop, check the eCommerce stats and go over the report to check if you see anything unusual.

Keep in mind that you base your conclusions on a sufficient amount of data. But it won’t hurt testing your website across different browsers.

Operating System

You can do the same checks for Operating System. How does Windows perform on your site in comparison with Macintosh? Of course, it’s very well possible that people who are using Windows differ from people who use Macintosh. Do iPhone users convert better than Android users like discussed in this article? But again, it doesn’t hurt testing if your site works on your most popular Operating Systems. How awful would it be if your checkout doesn’t work on Android? Check the conversions for each of your goals, which Operating System is underperforming?

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

Screen resolution

When creating a new design for your website or deciding where your most important call-to-action should be, looking at screen resolution is a wise thing to do. You want to optimize for the vast majority of your visitors so check how your site looks on the most-used screen resolutions. Perhaps you’re always using an enormous monitor yourself when browsing while others might just be using laptops. Keep in mind that your site is for your users, take into account the screen resolution your visitors are using and take that as the basis for your design. How’s the font size? Can you see your call-to-action without scrolling?

Conclusion

To keep your site as optimized as possible, checking your Technology reports once in a while is a good idea. It can help you identify technical issues your site might have with particular browsers or browser versions and operating systems. If you’re planning to do a redesign, check if your redesign works on the most popular browsers, operating systems and screen resolutions. And if you’re using new software or plugins on your site, the Technology report gives great insight into whether or not everything works for your visitors.

Read more: ‘Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics: a how to’ »

The post Annelieke’s analytics: Technology report in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

Anyone who has browsed through Google Analytics should have come across a whole lot of variables in the reporting stats. The reports consist of dimensions and metrics; Google Analytics calls these the building blocks of your reports. And if you want to create a custom report in Google Analytics or Google Data Studio, you have complete freedom in what dimensions and metrics you put in this report. But be careful, you might create a useless report. In this post, I’m going to explain what the difference is between dimensions and metrics. And what to look out for when combining these two yourselves.

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

What are dimensions in Google Analytics?

All the data you see in Google Analytics, all variables in reports is either a dimension or a metric. Google explains dimensions as:

Dimensions are attributes of your data.

So in a way, 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. Let me make this clear by giving you a couple of examples of metrics:

  • City
  • Device
  • Source/Medium
  • Campaign
  • Page
  • Goals
  • Products

Notice what they all have in common? They all consist of words, not numbers. Of course, some dimensions are expressed in numbers, like hour and date. But still, the dimension is an aspect or feature of the user itself, but not how or what the user is doing on your site. Dimensions describe the data that’s collected.

You can see dimensions in the first column of your reports.

dimensions in Google Analytics

The report also gives you clues on what other dimensions there are and there are sooooo many. If you’re curious on what other dimensions you can add to, in this example, the Acquisition: Source/Medium report, click on the Secondary dimension button.

Adding a secondary dimension in Google Analytics

When you click on ‘Display as alphabetical list’ you can browse through all dimensions you can add to this particular report. It’s an easy way for you to get familiar with dimensions.

For instance, you can add ‘User Type’ as a secondary dimension, to see which source drives more New visitors to your site. You can add ‘Page’ to your report, to check which pages people land on from a particular source. You can do a lot of cool things here, and quite easily as well. But before you go all out; what’s the question you’re trying to answer?

What are metrics in Google Analytics?

Metrics are the numbers you see in each dimension. Metrics show you what a user did on your site, expressed in numbers. For example, if we look at the Behavior – All Pages report:

Behavior report with page dimension in Google Analytics

The page is the dimension; it’s the variable in which specific metrics are collected. Pageviews and entrances and such are metrics; these variables show you numbers on what users did in this particular dimension.

Metrics need dimensions, for context, otherwise, it’s just numbers.

The standard Google Analytics doesn’t allow you to add a secondary metric, because not every metric is collected for every dimension. It might raise your eyebrows, and it’s a bit confusing. But it gets less complicated if you know how Google Analytics collects data.

What’s scope in Google Analytics?

Ever wondered why Google Analytics shows certain dimensions and metrics but leaves out other seemingly essential dimensions and metrics in their default reports? That’s because Google Analytics doesn’t want to combine these two, it would show incorrect data and will let you draw conclusions based on the wrong data. Now, why is that? Why does Google Analytics want to prevent you from combining this? It all has to do with how Google Analytics processes its data: Google Analytics scope. Each dimension and metric can only have one of the following scope-types:

  1. Hit
  2. Session
  3. User
  4. Product

Hit

You can see a hit as everytime a user (cookie) does something on your site, it will send data to Google Analytics. Every single action is stored. The hit scope is the lowest level of data storage. A page is a hit-level dimension, just like language and page title is. Pageviews, time on page, load time and total events are examples of metrics on hit-level.

Session

The session scope is more time-based and is one level higher than the hit-level. A session consists of hits that happen in just one session for the same user. Dimensions and metrics on session-level collect data about a session. Examples of dimensions on a session-level are Source/Medium, Landing Page, and Device Category. Examples of session-level metrics are sessions, bounce rate, exits, goals, and pageviews per session.

User

The user scope is the highest level in which data is organized. Users can have more sessions, and a session can have more hits. Examples of dimensions that belong to the user scope are user type, days since the last session, gender. Examples of user-level metrics are users, new sessions, and percentage of new sessions.

Product

The product-level scope has everything to do with data about a product.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Combining dimensions and metrics: do’s and don’ts

The session-level dimensions and metrics contain data about specific sessions. But hit-level dimensions and metrics don’t have data on session-level variables because they’re independent of sessions. So if you decide to combine pages with sessions in a custom report because you want to see how many sessions a page has gotten during a session, you’d be looking at something else than what you were expecting.

hit + session level report in Google Analytics

This report will show you something like this:

Pages and sessions in a custom report in Google Analytics

But if you think that page 1 was viewed in 1,199 sessions in total, then you’re wrong. What you are seeing is how many sessions began on page 1. because that’s the first hit of the session. There are a couple of common reporting fails described by LunaMetrics that explains this in more detail.

We just learned that you couldn’t combine dimensions and metrics that don’t share the same scope. Best practice is obviously to check whether or not the dimensions and metrics you want to combine, do share the same scope. But how can you find out? Google has a Dimensions and Metrics Explorer. On this page, you can find all dimensions and metrics. When I first saw this huge list and expanded a couple of items, I got confused. I couldn’t make sense of it.

Dimensions & Metrics Explorer of Google Analytics

But it helps if you use the UI Names, the names that you see in Google Analytics itself. And by expanding them all, you’ll have a nice overview. Don’t click on the dimension or metric, instead click on the checkbox. Some will turn to grey if you do that, then you’ll know you can’t use these in combination. Still, if you select ‘pageviews’, the ‘sessions’ metric doesn’t turn grey. And the list doesn’t show you on which scope every dimension or metric is processed. So this tool isn’t foolproof when it comes down to combining your dimensions and metrics in a custom report. Unfortunately, defining which scope it is, is something you have to do yourself.

Conclusion

When creating custom reports, segments or you’re going more advanced with custom dimensions and custom metrics, think about what you want to measure first. Think about on what level, or scope your dimensions and metrics are. And think about if it all makes sense. In general, if you want to add the Sessions metric to a custom report, make sure you stick to the Session-level scope! And don’t combine hit-level variables with session-level variables.

Read more: ‘How to guide: Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics’ »

The post Annelieke’s analytics: What are dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics? appeared first on Yoast.

When browsing through the ‘Behavior’ section in Google Analytics, you’ll come across the term ‘pageviews’ a lot. And you might think that the more pageviews a page has, the better. But is that actually true? What’s a pageview exactly and can pageviews help you understand your site and audience better? Find out in this post!

What are pageviews in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics has this handy feature that explains what a certain metric or dimension is when you hover over the question mark icon. According to Google Analytics, the definition of a pageview is:

definition of pageviews in Google Analytics

Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

According to Google’s Google Analytics support site, a pageview is:

A pageview (or pageview hit, page tracking hit) is an instance of a page being loaded (or reloaded) in a browser. Pageviews is a metric defined as the total number of pages viewed.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Now that’s a pretty straightforward explanation. So, let’s say you have a page about a Basic SEO course: pageviews will show you the number of times that page is viewed for a given period. The metric itself says nothing about how many visitors saw that page or how many times the page was viewed per session. It’s just the total number of pageviews per page. This means that one visitor can be responsible for a lot of pageviews, and that a page can be viewed multiple times per session.

Pageviews in combination with other metrics

Pageviews can give an indication of how popular a post or page is. But having a high number of pageviews for a post doesn’t necessarily mean it is popular. Is it a good thing that you have a lot of pageviews per visit? Does it mean that people like to read a lot of pages on your site? Or does it mean that they can’t find what they’re looking for? A good data analyst is critical of his or her data at all times. A single metric doesn’t tell you a lot; it’s the context that provides the information you can use.

Speaking of context, you might think: “Why don’t I see ‘sessions’, ‘pageviews’ and ‘users’ in one grid table in Google Analytics?” There’s a reason why Google Analytics doesn’t let you see pageviews in combination with sessions and users by default. And that has everything to do with the way Google Analytics collects its data. The Google Analytics data is organized based on scopes. You can see these four different scopes if you want to add a Custom Dimension:

Scope in Google Analytics

Lunametrics wrote a blog post on understanding scope in Google Analytics, which explains why you can’t combine metrics from different scopes. In short, they say: never combine hit- and session-level metrics. So if you create a custom report that shows pageviews and sessions per page, then you get a report that doesn’t make any sense. Because sessions have hits, but hits don’t have sessions.

Adding context to pageviews

So if you can’t combine user and session metrics to pageviews, what can you do to add more context to the pageviews metric?

Unique Pageviews

First of all, you can look at the number of unique pageviews compared to pageviews. According to the question mark in Google Analytics:

Unique Pageviews in Google Analytics

Unique Pageviews is the number of sessions during which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique pageview is counted for each page URL + page Title combination.

I think this definition needs some more explanation. Let’s say a visitor visits a page about a Basic SEO course, then reads a basic SEO article and then visits the page about Basic SEO course again. During this session, the Basic SEO course page is viewed two times. These two pageviews in this single session will be added to the total number of pageviews for that page. But only one unique pageview will be added to the total number of unique pageviews for that page during a single session.

In fact, if you want to see the number of sessions for a page, the best way is to look at the unique pageviews metric. And if you divide the number of pageviews by the number of unique pageviews, you get the average number of times a particular page was viewed per session. It’s a good idea to check the pages for which the number of pageviews differs a lot from the number of unique pageviews. This means that visitors viewed this page a couple of times during a single session. That may indicate that the page is confusing people. But there are other explanations for this as well. Our knowledge base articles, for instance, have a lot of pageviews compared to the number of unique pageviews. People refer to those articles a couple of times during a single session to follow the steps listed in these articles.

Creating segments

You can also look at the number of pageviews per visit and create a segment. That lets you compare groups of users and see where they differ from each other. For instance, visits with more than three pageviews against visits with less than three pageviews.

creating a page depth segment in Google Analytics

Are these two groups coming from different sources? Do they read different articles? Do they buy things or not? Comparing groups will help you understand your audience better.

Conclusion

There you have it; an understanding of pageviews in Google Analytics. All in all, pageviews probably isn’t the most spectacular metric you can use in your analysis. And if you do consider it one of the most important metrics in your reports, please reconsider because there are more valuable metrics out there. What do you want to know? And is pageviews the way to get that information? Probably not.

Read more: ‘Analytics basics: Which posts and pages perform best?’ »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: What are pageviews in Google Analytics? appeared first on Yoast.

I remember my first time in Google Analytics. As a data lover, I enthusiastically clicked my way through the numerous tabs. Seeing terms like sessions, pageviews, users, bounce rate and so on. Being so enthusiastic, I didn’t really think about what these terms actually mean. And that’s pretty important, because without knowing what Google Analytics’ definition of the term is, you might draw the wrong conclusions. In this post, I’m going to discuss an important term in Google Analytics: a session. 

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What are sessions in Google Analytics?

If you think of the term session, what do you think it means? My definition is that it is a period in which a certain thing happens. Keep your own definition in mind and check if it equals Google Analytics’s definition of a session:

A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.

Cool, it’s pretty much the same as my definition. And that helps me with understanding what I’m looking at when dealing with sessions in Google Analytics.

Let’s break it down. If a visitor or user enters your website a session begins. Google Analytics records it and collects data from the very start. Within that session, a user can do a lot of things on your website that Google Analytics records, for instance, view pages, buy products, fill out forms and so on.

When does a session end?

Looking at the definition, you see that a session has a given time frame. This implicates that it can end after a certain period and that you can adjust when the session ends. A session can end because of one of three reasons:

  1. After 30 minutes of inactivity
  2. At midnight
  3. Campaign change

1. After 30 minutes of inactivity

By default, a session ends when a user did nothing on your site for 30 minutes straight. For example, a user looks at a page on your site, then reads a blog post and leaves that open without doing anything on that page for 30 minutes, the session ends. If after, for instance, 29 minutes a user interacts with the page, by clicking on a link or a menu item or something like that, the very same session is extended by another 30 minutes. So every time you interact with the site, the session is extended. If you don’t do anything for 30 minutes, it ends.

There are cases where 30 minutes is too short. If you have very long articles, for instance, people need more time than just those 30 minutes. There are also cases in which 30 minutes is too long, for instance for product pages in a shop. Luckily you can adjust the session timeout. Go to the admin section, at property level you’ll see an item about Tracking info. There you can find session settings:

adjusting session timeout in Google Analytics

As you can see, the minimum you can set is 1 minute, the maximum is 4 hours. If you want to have an idea about how long an average session on your site is, go to your audience tab, click overview and you’ll see a summary with a couple of statistics like Avg. Session Duration:

average session duration in Google Analytics

Before drawing conclusions, please check the date range you’ve set. Check for a month, or compare a couple months to see if the duration doesn’t change that much. You can use this information to set the right session timeout. Usually it makes most sense to set it at the average session duration.

2. At midnight

The second reason a session can end is simply because a new day is beginning. If a user is on your website and reads a post at 11:58 PM for instance, that session ends at 11:59:59 PM and a new session begins at 12:00 PM.

3. Campaign change

Users of your site come from different sources, like Google, Facebook or email. Sometimes they arrive on your site following a specific campaign link, for instance, if you’re running an AdWords campaign or you’ve added a utm_campaign parameter to a URL in your newsletter. Let’s say a visitor lands on your website by a certain AdWord paid keyword, then Google Analytics stores that campaign in its data. But if that same user goes to your site via a different campaign, the first session ends and a new session starts.

Now what?

Just knowing how much sessions you’ve got, isn’t that interesting per se. It gets interesting when you compare it with something. For instance, if you compare last month’s sessions with the month before that. Does it follow the same trend? And if you see a spike in sessions, do you know what caused that spike? Or compare weeks, do you see a drop in sessions in the weekends? You can also compare sources, which source drives most sessions to your site? And how many pages per session does every source have? What’s your most successful source of traffic when it comes down to sessions? There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself. My tip: ask the question first, then open up Google Analytics and try to find the answer.

Conclusion

If you want to be able to analyze your Google Analytics data you have to understand what the variables of this tool mean exactly. A session is a group of actions of one user in a given time frame. It starts when a user enters your site and it ends after a certain time of inactivity, a change of campaign or at midnight. You can set the time after which it should end, depending on the average time a user spends on your site.

Now go have a look at your sessions! Do you see anything remarkable?

Read more: ‘Understanding bounce rate in Google Analytics’ »

 

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: What are sessions in Google Analytics? appeared first on Yoast.

When looking for information about keywords in relation to SEO, you get bombarded with information about keyword research. And of course, keyword research is crucial if you’d like your page to rank. But it’s also important to understand what the basic principle of a keyword is. And that’s the thing I’ll explain here.

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training Info

What is a keyword?

A keyword, or a focus keyword as some call it, is a word that describes the content on your page or post best. It’s the search term that you want to rank for with a certain page. So when people search for that keyword or phrase in Google or other search engines, they should find that page on your website.

Let’s say you’ve got a website about pianos: you sell all sorts and types of pianos. You blog about what to look at when buying a piano and you share reviews about the pianos you offer on your online shop. You sell digital pianos so you’ve created a product category page about digital pianos. Ask yourself this:

  • What kind of search term do you want to be found for?
  • Which words do you think people will use in search engines to find you?
  • What would the search query look like?

Probably [digital piano], right? Because this keyword reflects what’s on the page best. If you’d have to explain the bottom line of your content, how would that look? What words would you use? That’s your keyword or key phrase – if it consists of multiple words.

We use the word ‘keyword’ all the time, this does not mean it consists of only one word. A lot of times keywords consist of multiple words. So when talking about keywords, a lot of times we mean a phrase instead of just one word.

Why are keywords important?

One of the things Google looks at when ranking a page is the content on that page. It looks at the words on the page. Now picture this, if every word on, for instance, a blog post about a digital piano is used 2 times, then all words are of equal importance. Google won’t have a clue which of those words are important and which aren’t. The words you’re using are clues for Google, it tells Google and other search engines what the page or post is about. So if you want to make Google understand what your page is about, you need to use it fairly often.

But Google isn’t the only reason why keywords are important. Actually, it’s less important, because you should always focus on the user: on your visitors and potential clients. With SEO you want people to land on your website when using a certain search term or keyword. You need to get into the heads of your audience and use the words they use when they are searching.

If you use the wrong keywords, you’ll never get the visitors you want or need, because your text doesn’t match what your potential audience is searching for. But if you do use the keywords people are searching for, your business can thrive. So if you see it like that, your keywords should reflect what your audience is searching for. With the wrong keywords, you’ll end up with the wrong audience, or none at all. That’s why having the right keywords is really important.

How do you use keywords in your pages and posts?

There used to be a time where you could add a lot of keywords to your pages and posts, do some old-fashioned keyword stuffing, and you’d rank in search engines. But a text with a lot of the same keywords in it is not a pleasant read. And because users find this kind of copy terrible to read, Google finds it terrible too. That’s why ranking in Google by doing keyword stuffing, fortunately, became hard to do. 

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

So what are the rules of thumb here? First and foremost, it’s very important that your content is easy to read. Of course, you should use your keywords in your text, but don’t stuff your keywords in almost every sentence. In general, if 1 or 2% of all words of your copy, is your keyword, then you’re not overdoing it. Make sure your keywords are well-distributed throughout your text. Don’t put all your keywords in the first paragraph thinking you’re done with that part of the optimization. Naturally spread the keywords throughout your page or post. Use your keywords in a subheading or a couple of subheadings, depending on the length of your page or post. And use the keyword in your page title, first paragraph and in your meta description. You can find all of these recommendations in the SEO analysis of Yoast SEO.

Now you have a common understanding of what a keyword is. This knowledge will really help you with your keyword research, which of course is the next and vital step!

Read more: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

The post SEO basics: What is a keyword? appeared first on Yoast.