Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking visitors to your website, but did you know that you could also use it to track your position in the Google search engine rankings? Google's referral URL indicates the position of your page in the results by using the cd parameter. You have to make some small changes with your account to start tracking, but it's quick and easy. You'll be setup to track your position in the SERPs in a matter of minutes.
Create a New Profile
My first recommendation is that you create a new profile. This will keep your search result tracking separate from your existing data and will ensure that information is protected from the changes we are going to make. Once you sign in you will want to click on "Add Website Profile". On the next screen click on "Add a Profile for an existing domain". Select the domain you want to set up and name the new profile (I just did the "(site name) Rankings".
Once you are at your Analytics Settings screen you want to click on "Filter Manager" down on your bottom right. The "+ Add Filter" link will be on the top right of the table shown. You will be adding a few different filters so follow the instructions for each.
Include Organic Results
You want to make sure you are tracking only your organic results and not PPC ads. Name this filter whatever you want, I chose "Organic Only", then choose "Custom filter", click the radio button next to include, select "Campaign Medium" in the filter field section, enter "organic" (without the quotes) in Filter Pattern and click no by case-sensitive. Then apply the filter to the new profile you created.
Include Only Google
Since Google is the search engine that gives the cd parameter so you can track the actual ranking, you want to filter the organic results only to that source. You want to create another custom filter. Again, name it whatever you want but I chose "Google Only", filter type "Custom filter", click the radio button next to include, then select "Campaign Source" and enter "google" (without the quotes), then select no next to case-sensitive and apply to your new profile.
Filter the URL
One more customer filter and this one is filter the searches that contain the cd parameter. Choose your filter name (mine is "Rankings Only"), select custom filter, then the radio button next to include. Select "Referral" for the filter field and in the filter pattern copy (without the quotes) "google.com/(search|url).*\bcd=\d*", then make sure it's not case-sensitive and you apply to your new profile.
Extract Keywords and Ranking Position
Now you have to create a filter that will take out the keyword used, the ranking position, and the page it directs to. For filter name you can use whatever you want, but I used "Extract Data", then create a custom filter and select the radio button next to "Advanced". In "Field A -> Extract A" paste (without quotes) "\bq=([^&]*)", then for "Field B -> Extract B" paste (without quotes) "\bcd=(\d*)", and finally in "Output To -> Constructor" you want to have (without quotes) "$A1 (Rank: $B1)". In the Field A & B you want to select "Referral" from the dropdown box and for the Output constructor use "User Defined." Check the radio buttons next to yes for Field A Required, Field B Required, Override Output Field, and then No next to case-sensitive. Apply the filter to your new profile.
Technically you are all set and ready to go, but if the keyword term consists of more than 1 word you will find the %20 separating the words. It can be tough to see. Unfortunately you have to repeat this process for each space you encounter, so if you only create one filter just the first %20 will be filtered out and the rest will remain. If you create 7 or 8 of these filters you can cover even most of the longest tail search terms.
Create another filter and name it "Separator 1". It's a custom filter and click the radio next to "Search and replace". The filter field will be user defined as "%20" (no quotes). For the replace string, I use an underscore (_) but you can also use a hyphen (-). Both of these provide a nice separator for the words in the string. Make sure it's not case-sensitive again and apply to your new profile.
That's it! Now you can start tracking your rankings inside of Google Analytics.
One of the best keywords tools that older sites have at their disposal are the traffic stats they have accumulated through analytics. When you have been building content for your site and getting some incoming links, you are going to start ranking for certain keywords. Ideally, you will be making headway with the ones you are intending to but as a little bonus you are going to see traffic coming in for terms that you are not intentionally targeting. This unintended traffic can help you discover additional terms to go after.
If the search term is long tail, low traffic and is hitting the correct landing page then check where you rank for it. If you are on the first page then it's possible that tweaking the page's title tag a little bit, making search the term is in the content, and doing some internal linking to the page with the keyword anchor text could boost you to no. 1. Not much effort involved and a decent return.
If the search term is a close match, but not a perfect fit for the landing page it's going to then consider adding an additional page and optimizing it for that specific keyword. This will help you improve your conversion rate so you can take advantage of that traffic, plus it should help you get a higher ranking for that term.
If you are like me when you think of analytics you think of boring stat crunching. It's kind of like the end of the month accounting in that I hate the idea of sitting down to do it and I feel a huge relief when it's done. Even though going over the analytics is important and can help improve conversions, it's dry and not very exciting. So, if you want to get it over with as quickly as possible here are some quick tips that you can do that will help you either increase your site's profits, or help you get more visitors.
1. Referring Keywords - Most likely you already know what the top keywords are that you should be working on, but what about some of the longer tail stuff? If you have a keyword that is showing up in your reports that is 3 or more words long, most likely you won't have a lot of competitors for that term. How high do you rank for it? Can you create a new page specifically centered around that query, fire a few links to it, and get it to rank No. 1?
2. Site Search - Once visitors are on your site, what are they looking for? If a product or article is frequently sought using your site search, then maybe you should feature it more prominently on your homepage, newsletter, or any other way you look to upsell and cross-sell your products.
3. Intelligence Alerts - I use Google's Intelligence Alerts to inform me of any issues with my sites. If a site has a big drop in traffic one day, then I check to see if something is wrong. Maybe it was hacked, maybe my robots.txt or .htaccess is not allowing the spiders to index my sites, or maybe it's just a low traffic day. Still, I need to know what's going on without having to check myself each and every day.
If you just put into place these three analytics tips then you should be well on your way to increasing your site's overall performance.
In my previous post I talked about why you should use analytics on your site and why I think Google is the best solution out there. Now that you know Google is the cream of the crop, how are you going to go about learning all of the cool features Google has for you to take advantage of? My recommendation is to go through their Google Analytics training classes.
The first things that you will learn are:
- Introduction: What Google Analytics can do for your business, how it works, how often the data is updated, and how to set your data sharing preferences.
- Interface Navigation: How to set your date ranges, how to graph by time units, how to compare multiple metrics, how to export, how to email others your reports, how to navigate, how to use report views, how to segment and sort data
- Installing the Code: Where to place the tracking code and how to verify installation.
After getting these basics down then you will learn how to interpret reports and analyze data, how pageviews and visitors are calculated, how Google tracks the time users spend on your site, the different kinds of traffic sources and how to identify which ones are the highest quality, how to interpret top content and landing pages, navigation summary, and entrance/exit paths.
After going through those tutorials (about 40 minutes worth of material) you can study the fundamentals (about 90 minutes) and then go into in-depth analysis (34 minutes). All-in-all you should be ready to be an expert in Google Analytics after watching around 2 hours and 45 minutes of video. Google even has a test that you can take to make sure that you absorbed the knowledge. If you missed anything then it will tell you what areas you may need to go back and refresh your memory on.
If you are a site owner then you should have some form of analytics installed on your site. This will allow you to track your user's data and make informed decisions about how to operate your site. Let's take a look at a few reasons that I use analytics with my Internet business:
Spotting Problems - Setting up analytics will allow you to easily spot bugs, mistakes, and oversights. The sooner you spot them, the quicker they are fixed and you are back on track.
Managing Campaigns - If you are using any sort of pay-per-click (PPC) then analytics is an absolute must, but beyond PPC you also need to monitor organic search for the results you are getting from certain keywords, or any other kind advertising that you are doing.
Spotting Opportunities - If you see trends in your analytics, like an increase in the number of people finding your site by a certain keyword, then you can start to ramp up your link building efforts for that specific anchor text.
Improving Conversions & Testing - What pages are most of your visitors finding first? What are they doing after they land on your site? Is there anything that you can do to drive them to your money pages or get them to sign up for your newsletter? How are you going to know the answers to any of these questions if you aren't tracking visitors?
Hopefully by now you understand just how important it is to have some sort of analytics program on your site, but which one to choose. There are several good providers out there, but Google Analytics is my preferred solution. Here is why:
- Easy integration with Adsense and Adwords: This allows me to track my earnings from Adsense, and also allows me to search which keywords are profitable in my PPC campaigns.
- E-Commerce Integration: I can track my sales back to specific pages, keywords, etc...
- User-Defined Goals: What pages do I want my users to end up at? Easily customizable.
- Reports: Dashboard is configurable and gives me a quick overview of the information I want to see, plus I can export the data in a variety of different methods.
- Users: I can assign different people on my team access to different site profiles.
- Up-Time: Google is tough to overload, so you know there is going to be near 100% uptime.
- Custom Reports: Secondary segmentation and drill-down of the data.
- Mobile Analytics: Tracking the phones and operating systems used.
- Site Search: So I can see just what my users are looking for.
- Event Tracking: Allows me to track clicks on outbound links.
The only real down side to Google Analytics is that the data is not in real-time. It's delayed by a few hours, but I look mostly at long-term reports so this isn't that big of a deal to me. It is easy to install, so I recommend getting signed up today and start using this great service so you can track your visitors and use the data to improve your site performance.
We briefly touched on the topic of setting goals in Google Analytics with the how much do you make from your traffic article, but today we are going to go a little bit more in depth because it's important to study your analytics in order to increase conversions. Our example is going to be nice and simple, how to get more of your visitors to sign up for your newsletter.
The first step will be to create a goal in your Google Analytics account that recognizes when a new subscriber has signed up. I make this the thank you page on my site. Once a new Aweber subscriber confirms his account, the user is taken to my thank you page which might have a free offer or an ebook available for download (you are building your list with free incentives right?). This way I can track what page the user came from when deciding to sign up for the account or which PPC campaign if one was used.
Now, how can I use this information to increase conversions? I do it with split testing. Try testing out a couple of different signup boxes, with different text for the free offer that you are providing. After reaching 1,000 visitors or so on each, which one had the higher conversion rate? If you have a clear winner then that is your answer, but don't stop there. Create another offer and run it, comparing it to your original winner. Maybe the original still has the higher conversion rate, but after testing enough offers you might find that you can come up with something even more appealing to your visitors.
What about the hover box that has your newsletter signup in it? Again, you can test the text inside the box to see which converts the most visitors to subscribers, or you can test the time it takes to appear. Maybe 15 seconds works best for your niche, others it could be 20-30 seconds. You simply are not going to know unless you test.
Of course you don't have to only set goals and test for your newsletter signups. If you run an ecommerce site then more than likely you have a confirmation or receipt page after the buyer pays. Test different offers for your products to see if one has a higher conversion rate to that page.
Basically I want to stress two points: you should be using analytics and goals to track your visitors, and you should always be testing to see how you can increase your conversion rates.
There are a couple of questions that every business owner who is trying to make money online should ask. One is how much money do I make from each visitor to my site and the other is how much money do I make from each lead that I generate. While these figures are not all that difficult to come up with, not knowing what they are can cause you to spend either too much or not enough money on advertising.
Revenue per Lead - In order to figure out revenue per lead you have to have actually made some money off of your site. Your Aweber autoreponders and newsletter should have been operating for at least a month and your readers should have taken some action on the offers that you have promoted. Then all you have to do is total up how much money you have made from the offers sent to your subscribers and divide it by the number of leads that you have. That is the average amount of money that you make from each lead that you acquire. Your goal should be to get as many leads as possible, as long as the acquisition cost is less than your revenue per lead. This will allow you to make more money off of more leads.
Revenue per Visitor - Not every visitor to your site is going to sign up for your newsletter, but they still can buy products from you, click on your advertising, or generate money from you in another fashion. If you are using Google Analytics or have another way of generating site statistics, you just need to divide your total revenue by visitors to your site to figure out your revenue per visitor. When looking into PPC advertising or any other method of driving traffic to your site, the cost per vistior needs to be less than this revenue per visitor.
If you are tracking your affiliate revenue by clicks from the newsletter and by clicks on the site you will have a better idea of your revenue per lead v. revenue per visitor. The more accurate your numbers the better picture you are going to have of your online business.
Other Goals to Track - How many of your visitors sign up for the newsletter? How many end up purchasing one of your products? If you use Google Analytics you can set goals for different areas of you site, and track just how the visitor got to that page, what PPC campaign is converting, and more.
If you have a website or a blog then you should know about web analytics. You can learn a lot about your site, what works, and what doesn't if you take a look at your stats on a frequent basis. Most hosting companies provide some kind of stats software, but I recommend adding Google Analytics to your site in order to get a complete picture of what your visitors are doing and where they came from. Best of all, it's FREE to use!
Here are a few metrics that I think everyone should keep a close eye on. There are countless of different options in the Google Analytics back end that you can track, but don't get bogged down in spending too much time back there. However, if you are paying for any advertising I would track the ROI on those campaigns, but that's a topic for another day so let's get started with this simple list.
This is the most basic metric to monitor. With all things being equal if you get more traffic then that should mean your site will make more money right? If your goal is to keep increasing your general traffic numbers then you should continue to make more money from your site.
This is how many pages your visitors are looking at. Increasing the number of pageviews will increase the "eyes" on advertisements which will help you charge more for your space. Linking to relevant posts at the end of each article is a great way to increase the pageviews on your site as your visitors spend more time looking at your content.
Who is linking to you and how much traffic are they generating for you by doing so? If you get a lot of traffic from a link then maybe you should think about partnering up with that site or writing a guest post for them. If you are doing advertising then tracking click through traffic lets you know if it's generating a positive return on your investment.
How are your visitors finding you in the search engines? Google the keywords found in this section of your analytics to see where you rank in the results. A few more internal links to that page could boost you up a few spots in the results and bring you even more traffic than you are already getting.
You will also find topics to write about and areas that you might want to focus on when you see which keywords visitors used to find you. For long tail keywords you can rewrite some of your content to include those phrases and see a boost for those terms as well. There are lots of things you can do from an SEO standpoint if you keep an eye on the keywords people are using to find you.
What other metrics do you track? This list is pretty basic but I think it covers the most important stats to look for.
Do you want more traffic to your site? Of course you do, because without traffic you can't make any money online. If you want to succeed with your Internet business then you need to have a quality site that adds something to the niche you are trying to market to, and you also need an audience to sell too (even if it's just advertising space you are selling.)
There are plenty of ways out there to increase your traffic numbers, but I'm more interested in helping you do so at a low cost. It is going to take some work on your end, but the payoff is worth it in the end.
Putting out a press release that has eye-catching information can drive a lot of traffic to your site. Google News has delivered a LOT of visitors to my sites over the years, and your press release can get picked up by other sites to drive even more traffic your way.
I feel like submitting articles to directories is on it's way out, but if you are starting a new site then it might be worth it to get a few inbound links and some click throughs to your site. However, post your middle of the road articles on the directories, and NEVER post this duplicate content on your site.
This centers on driving discussion in the forum and contributing something to the members more than it does looking spammy by just displaying your links. I feel like this can be a great tool to get noticed, but read my article on how to promote your site in forums to get a more complete guide.
I've bought some great SEO products in the past, and the authors are always looking for testimonials to give their product some social proof. I've made more than my money back in traffic when I provided them with a few quotes on their front page in exchange for a link back to my site. Oh, and by the way, I've also got to use some pretty SEO products to go along with that exposure!
If you try these four quick methods to increase your traffic from referrals you will be on your way to increasing your traffic and making more money with your online ventures.
Do you have any other suggestions? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.