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5.1 Google Analytics for SEO and SEM: An Overview

How to use Google Analytics for SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has historically focused on maximizing a website’s ranking in search results by including the most appropriate keywords in the site’s content or meta data (such as tags or description). Ideally these keywords are the exact terms that actual or target users are looking for, which Google Analytics could help you glean because it reported data about the search terms they were using to reach your site. Analytics could even go a step further and give you an indication of how these terms correlated with conversions, so you gained a good idea of which terms were most likely to bring you in the best customers.


The catch is that an increasing number of search terms are reported as “not provided” in Analytics, because Google Search does not pass on the search terms entered in an organic search made using SSL.

This means you may have to work a little harder to find out something about the search terms that visitors are using, or rely a little less on keywords and take a broader approach to Search Engine Marketing, which may involve Pay Per Click and other strategies in addition to SEO. The good news is that Google Analytics is still hugely helpful to you in both approaches, especially when used in tandem with other resources such as AdWords and Google Webmaster Tools. This is especially true if you have taken the time to undergo a Google Analytics training course and can fully grasp all the available features.

This broader approach could actually pay additional dividends by freeing you from the tyranny of assessing your site’s effectiveness according to simplistic traffic measures. Instead, it prompts you to look at your users in the round, using the wide range of information about them that, as we’ve seen, Analytics has to offer. After all, even basic SEO shouldn’t be just a trick to get increased footfall on your homepage; it should be “really all about finding the right users using optimal content strategies.”[1] You should be aiming “to learn more about your audience and provide meaningful content”[2], not hollow clickbait that leaves them disappointed with your site and won’t lead to conversions. Accordingly, instead of simple keyword data, “there are better ways to measure your organic search marketing performance, and many of them are already available for you within Google Analytics.”[3] Equally, there are ways to optimize your site’s organic search performance without the level of organic keyword referral data you might have been accustomed to having.


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