One of the most stressful moments in a marketer’s career is when traffic starts to slow or decline. You generated a lot of leads and revenue with creative emails, in-depth content, and shareable social posts, but new ideas are falling flat, and you’re suffering from a severe case of marketer’s block.
One source of new ideas that may come as a surprise is SEO website analytics. Reviewing web analytics reports can help marketers find new uses for underperforming content, discover new audiences to engage and educate, and identify gaps in coverage that need to be filled.
Even if you’re a Google Analytics beginner, it’s simple to navigate the system and populate advanced reports that will help fill a content calendar. In this blog, I’ll show you how to take a deep dive into your website analytics and use what you discover to find exciting new ways to stimulate success.
1. Gather Detailed Demographics Insights to Address the Right Audience(s)
Audience reports in Google Analytics provide an incredible amount of site visitor data: age, gender, location, browser type, device type, and even interests. This data can be used to build new buyer personas or refine existing personas.
In order to access this data, enable demographics and interest reports:
- Navigate to Google Analytics.
- Click the “Audience” tab.
- Expand “Demographics.”
- Click “Overview.”
- Review the information provided by Google in the main content area, and click “Enable” to turn on audience tracking.
With audience tracking enabled, many in-depth reports will become available:
- Click “Age” to view the age groups the site is most popular with. Other data fields like bounce rate and average session duration highlight how well the site engages individuals in that age group.
- Click “Gender” to see the overall percentage of visits from males and females, and view engagement metrics for visitors of the two different genders.
- Expand “Interests” and click “Overview” to view interest information for site visitors. Affinity categories are lifestyle interests, in-market segments are purchase interests, and other categories are specific interests.
Where audience reports really get interesting, though, is with secondary metrics. Under either the age or gender report, add a secondary metric for any of the three interest categories.
- Click “Age.”
- Click “Secondary Dimension.”
- Expand “Users.”
- Select one of the following: “Affinity Category,” “In-Market Segment,” or “Other Category.”
Pull a variety of reports for age and gender for each interest category to learn a lot about the people who visit your website most often. That information can be used to build or expand buyer personas.
Using the reports above, we know one target persona is a male of Millennial age who’s made or expressed interest in purchases related to business software, productivity software, employment, and dating.
2. Examine Visitor Behavior to Identify Landing Pages that Need Improvement
The Google Analytics Users Flow report allows marketers to view the most common site entry pages, where users navigate most often from those entry pages and the most common drop-off point. This provides helpful information that can be used to identify spots where funneling is ineffective, or landing pages are uninspiring.
Navigate to Google Analytics, click the “Audience” tab, and click “Users Flow.”
This report displays a hierarchy of site entry pages, and the path users follow until they leave the site.
Find a page in the list that is designed to funnel visitors through the purchasing journey—it could be a home page, product landing page, or any other important content.
- Hover over the section that represents the selected page to view the percentage of visitors that continued on to view another page and the percentage that left the site from that page.
- Follow the gray lines to see what pages users are most likely to click through to from the entry page. Hover over subsequent page sections to see through-traffic and drop-off data.
Analyze the user flow report to look for places where drop-offs are higher than expected, or where users are navigating to unexpected pages.
Pages with high drop-off rates may need to have content updated to better match user intent, or CTAs updated to point to more relevant content given the user’s position in the buying journey.
3. Review Search Reports to Discover Topic Ideas and Gaps in Coverage
If you or your team is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block, reviewing site search analytics can provide a plethora of new content ideas.
In Google Analytics, click the “Behavior” tab, expand “Site Search,” and click “Search Terms.”
To identify content gaps, look for:
- Search terms with high unique search values—What topics are users most commonly looking for using the site search function?
- Search terms with high exit percentages—What terms are users unable to find content for?
- Related search terms with high combined search values or exit rates—If multiple search terms are worded differently but obviously seeking the same subject matter, combine the search value and percentage exit numbers for those related terms.
Review site search reports generate ideas for new pieces of content to write and rest assured that the content will perform well because users are already looking for it.
4. Identify New Opportunities for Driving Visitors Deeper into the Purchasing Funnel
Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to keep visitors engaged and move them through the buying journey? In all likelihood, some pages drive high amounts of traffic but visits end after a single page view. To keep visitors engaged, identify important entry pages, and update those pages with content that entices visitors to stay a while.
The Google Analytics landing page report will provide a list of all site entry pages and the bounce rates and pages per session for each.
Navigate to Google Analytics, click the “Behavior” tab, expand “Site Content,” and click “Landing Pages.”
Look for pages with high traffic volumes that currently have no links to related content, newsletter signup forms, or links to downloadable gated content.
Adding one or more of those CTAs to the content of that page could significantly decrease bounce rates for that page and significantly increase the number of pages per session, newsletter signups, overall page views, and/or leads from gated content requests.
5. Analyze Content Reports to Find (and Improve) Failing Content
Some pieces of content receive thousands of social shares, rank high in Google search, and continue to drive traffic long after they’re published. Others get a couple of page views and a few shares before they’re completely forgotten.
But just because a piece of content failed the first time it was published doesn’t mean it has to be a failure forever. Content takes a lot of time, effort, and money to produce. When it fails, it should be revised and given another chance—not abandoned to become an outdated tax on site crawl rate.
If content rarely sees a set of eyeballs, unpublish it. Use the content somewhere else to do something different—create an infographic, webinar, or video. Use it as a chapter in an ebook. Transform the effort put into creating the content into something valuable.
Use the Google Analytics “Content Drilldown” report to find low-performing content. When the report loads, click the arrow in the “Pageviews” column to sort the content by least-to-most pageviews.
Content with very few pageviews over the last year—particularly if the content also has low average time on page, high bounce rate, and high exit percentage values—probably needs to be reviewed and either revised or repurposed.
3 Tools That Provide Unique SEO Website Analysis Opportunities
While Google Analytics is an amazing website analytics platform—because it’s free and it has a lot of valuable features—it doesn’t do everything that marketers may need from an SEO website analytics platform.
These other analytics tools have capabilities that aren’t available in Google Analytics but provide more exciting, data-driven opportunities for marketers to explore:
- Crazy Egg—Crazy Egg provides heat maps and scroll maps that allow marketers to see what page components attract the most attention from site visitors, and what parts of the page are most commonly being skimmed or skipped.
- SEMrush—SEMrush allows marketers to spy on competitor advertising activities. View competitor PPC and display ad activities, how much they spend, what keywords perform best for them, and what designs and copy work well.
- SimilarWeb—SimilarWeb allows marketers to take analytical insights to the next step by seeing competitor analytics and comparing the effectiveness of each business’ marketing strategies.
Google Analytics also has a premium version of its platform—Analytics 360—that offers features not available on the free platform, but the additional features come with a hefty price tag.
SEO Website Analytics Aren’t Just for SEOs and Google Analytics Experts
At a glance, Google Analytics can seem incredibly daunting, confusing, and user-unfriendly, but it just takes a little getting used to. It’s worth it for marketers to spend time getting to know GA because the reports it provides can save the day when idea wells run dry and traffic numbers are bordering on stagnant.
A great introduction to SEO analytics for beginners is the Google Analytics Content Drilldown report. Use it to find failed content, transform it into high-impact content, and grow traffic, while also recovering the time and effort that was previously lost to a piece of content with no promise.
What beginner-friendly tips do you have when it comes to Google Analytics and SEO? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!