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Tracking and Improving SEO results with Google Analytics

February 24th, 2010 ::

Although I am not a “Quant Jock” who loves to play with spreadsheets and graphs, I have to profess my love for Google Analytics. This tool originally developed by Adaptive Path was sold to Google a few years ago and has evolved and continues to evolve into a solid web analytics package. Sure, there are some killer, super-sophisticated analytics packages out there (e.g. Omniture) but for many sites, especially ones just starting out, Google Analytics is a perfect entry point.

The sign up process requires a Google account (any email address will do) and a web site that you want to monitor. To get the web site monitored, you tell Google Analytics the web address and insert the code on the page you want to monitor. Every site I work with or build these days has a Google Analytics plugin which can make things easier. While this is not a post in configuration and tuning, it is good to make you aware.

You can learn all kinds of things about your site, how many visitors, page views, geographic data, popular pages, time on site, etc. You can also integrate your Google Advertising account into this so you can track campaign effectiveness which is quite powerful.

Getting your site found and up and running is the most basic thing with Google Analytics but what it can really help you with is tracking and improving your SEO results.

André Scholten over at Yoast has some great advanced tips on doing just that. Check it out:

A ranking tool can tell you over and over again that a certain keyword is around position 15 in Google while Google Analytics claims he is on page 1 (position 1 to 10). This effect can come from ‘personalized search’ or ‘local results’ that can influence the Google rankings dramatically. People see other results than you see with your ranking tools. And therefore you need Google Analytics to do the real ranking.

Setup the filter

To get the rankings in your Google Analytics reports you have to create a new filter:

analytics google ranking

The title of the filter contains a 3, that’s because filter 1 and 2 take care of filtering out everything else than Google Organic traffic. So yes: you also have to create a new profile to apply these filters on to be sure you don’t screw up your main profile.

This filter only works for Google. if you want it to work for Yahoo and Live Search also, make sure you change the filters 1 and 2 so they accept Organic from all three of them. Then setup the filter like this:

analytics ranking

The ranking results

After a while the “User Defined” report will look like this (ignore the language):

rankings example

What you see are not the actual rankings, but the number of the first result of the page the keyword was on. So when you see 20, it means the keyword was on the third page, and a 50 means the sixth page. (Yahoo and Live Search will report 21 and 51 in stead of 20 and 50).

When you don’t see a number but only “(page: ): it means the keyword was on the first page. So perhaps it is better to change “page:” to “minimal position;”, I leave that up to you.

If you want to filter the list of keywords on keywords with at least a page 2 position you can use “(page: d{2,3})” in the filter field below the list. The d stands for digits, and the 2,3 for the amount of digits you’re looking for.

The new reports

If you have implemented everything correct you should see this in the “Visitors -> User Defined” report:


A list of keywords with the position the keyword was on when a visitor clicked it. Now you’re able to see the exact positions, more precise than any ranking tool that is out there. There’s 1 minor drawback: business listings next to the little maps are counted as a position also:


Very interesting: the sitelinks positions are also tracked, and in a more intelligent way than the maps results. If you click on a sitelink, the actual position of that sitelink is passed on. For example, this sitelink has position 4:


If you want to get better insights about your sitelinks you should create an extra profile with the first 3 filters mentioned above. Then add this extra filter to only track those keywords where people clicked on the (full or oneline) sitelinks:

Filter name: "Ranking 5"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Include"
Filter field: "Referral"
Filter pattern: "oi=(oneline_sitelinks|smap)"

The positions you will see are pure sitelinks positions, and you will get an idea about which sitelink is popular and which isn’t.

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Marketing, Search Marketing, small business, Technology | 3 Comments »

  • http://firstpagegoogleresults.com/ seo for website

    with improving your SEO environment – not the sales conversion … Google is the defacto standard for SEO results.

  • http://firstpagegoogleresults.com/ seo for website

    with improving your SEO environment – not the sales conversion … Google is the defacto standard for SEO results.

  • http://firstpagegoogleresults.com/ seo for website

    with improving your SEO environment – not the sales conversion … Google is the defacto standard for SEO results.