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Do you know if your traffic from Google is improving?

Anyone in business who looks at their website analytics will probably find “Google” as the number one source of visitors (with the possible exception of those companies investing significantly in an AdWords campaign). But it’s surprising how few people are monitoring the volume of traffic from Google on a long-term basis, and even more surprising how many of them are not really looking at the important data. Here’s what you should be doing: it’s quite straightforward.

I’ll run through this in Google Analytics, as that’s what most companies use, but you should be able to recreate the process in any good analytics application.

Investigating the traffic from search engines is easy. Just select the time period you wish to investigate, such as the last six months, and graph by “Week” or “Month”. Then go to “Traffic Sources”, “Sources”, “Search” and “Organic” to see the search engine traffic:

So far, so good. But what you’ll probably see if you look at “keywords” (the default in Google Analytics) is that the vast majority of visitors will have come after typing in versions of your company name. Really, that’s not a lot of use in seeing how you’re doing in Google generally. What you want to know about is the traffic you’ve been sent from queries not specifically related to your company. For this, we need to filter the results.

In Google Analytics, click “advanced” by the search box and set the filter to “Exclude” keywords “containing” the name of your company (or a word which appears in the many variations of the name which you may see listed). If you need to add further criteria to eliminate all the company-related keywords, click “Add a dimension”:

Now you should see the more interesting search terms which have led people to your website. Increase “Show Rows” to see a lot more. The graph at the top will also reflect the way the volume of this real search engine traffic has changed over time, and give you the true picture of the direction in which your performance is heading. While you’re at it, you might like to schedule this report to be emailed to you at regular intervals, such as monthly.

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