How to measure the trend of how well you’re doing in Google

One very useful website traffic report, which I think everyone should keep an eye on, is the volume of traffic coming in from Google. In particular, I like to monitor the visits which aren’t arriving from searches on the company name. This gives you a rough idea of how well your “SEO” efforts are doing, without being affected by external factors such as advertising.

However, Google no longer gives us the search term which people used to find our site, so it’s difficult to investigate traffic from searches which didn’t include the company name. One way around this which I like is to measure the traffic which it sends to pages other than the home page. This can be a very useful relative indication of the trend in how well a site is doing in Google. What’s more, you can backdate it to look at data over the past months or years.

google-trends

In the chart above, from the BMON website, you can see that the traffic from Google had been falling steadily through 2013. We were aware of this, and started to work on the problem, with more linkable, relevant content. The results in 2014 have shown an encouraging turnaround.

Here’s how to set up such a report in Google Analytics.

Start by setting the date period (top right on the Google Analytics “reporting” screen). You might want to try the past year, for example. Then go to “Acquisition” on the left and select “All Traffic”. This will give you the sources of visitors to your site over the past year.

Click on “google/organic” to see just the Google search traffic. If the graph is a bit spiky, change it to “week” or “month”.

Now let’s look at just the traffic to “inside” pages on the site. Click on “Secondary dimension” and type in the first few letters of “landing page” so that you can select “Landing Page” by clicking its green box. This shows us the pages where Google searches sent people. The first result will probably be “/”, indicating the home page, although the home page may be something more complex on some sites.

Click on “advanced” by the filter-search box under the graph. Set the filter to “Exclude” the “Landing Page” “exactly matching” “/” (if that’s your home page – there’ll be a selection box). You can also add additional filters if you want to remove other pages, or groups of pages.

And you’re done! You now have a graph of the search traffic which Google is sending to pages inside your website. Remember, the numbers aren’t too important here: it’s the trend we’re looking at. If it’s level, you’re actually improving, because it means you’re keeping up with the competition. If it’s rising, you’re really doing a good job with your SEO, although do remember that an upwards trend can also be caused by a significant increase in quality content.

And if it’s falling? You really need to start working on your content and the search engine optimisation.

Discussion

  1. Jen

    As always a great and very useful article, thank you
    I find your daily emails fascinating and short enough to read on a busy day but detailed enough to be really useful. I think people might be getting fed up of me saying “Chris Rand said this” on a very regular basis!!!!
    Thank you

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