Proving Organic Search Success in the (not provided) Age
It’s inevitable that your analytics reports will only spit out more and more (not provided) keyword traffic – in fact, if (not provided) ever gets to 100% completely, the keyword report should almost just disappear from the menu entirely. Seeing that Google won’t ever reinstate our loss of post-click keyword data, as marketers, SEOs, and analysts, we must look for other ways to present findings and prove the success of our search engine optimization and inbound marketing efforts. After all, we still need to do our jobs and fulfill that duty of creating success for our clients 🙂
Almost at 100%? Yeah… almost there… (currently at 80%):
source: (not provided) count
I’m hoping my posts here will provide some insight and ideas on how you can still glean on the data you have and help your clients make smart decisions about search data.
Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)
While GWT’s is not the most accurate and complete, it still paints a decent picture of your website’s exposure in the search results. This is an example of a project that I recently completed. Initially, the client had no on page optimization and their website was built on flash (yikes!). After completing the keyword research and audit stage, we began mapping the keywords to the sort of pages that the client needed. When these pages launched, the site’s visibility multiplied. As you can see below, this is definitely a nice graph to show your client.
I believe presenting pre-click data is valuable up to a certain point. It shows the level of exposure and visibility in search engines. While examining this, we’ve seen a high percentage of clicks to the website, which also results in more form submissions.
Google Analytics (GA)
There is a pool of data you can swim in insight Google Analytics. The biggest challenge for most marketers is to figure out what it is that is important to the business and how you can use that data to make changes to the website for better conversion numbers. Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with:
- % of new visits from organic search over time – non-branded keywords often will bring new visitors to your website. If the % of new visitors is high, you can almost assume they are mostly from non-brand keywords.
- search engine source – take a look at the breakdown of new / returning visitors from various search engines. If majority of your traffic from Google are returning visitors, then you’re likely getting mostly brand searches.
- # landing pages from organic search over time – if you are educating your client that “content is king” and that they should write more content, show them that every minute of their time put into writing pays off from a search perspective.
- landing page performance from organic search – if you have a number of product / service pages optimized for your keywords, check to see that you’re getting consistent (growing) traffic to that section. You can easily find this report in Google Analytics by navigating to Traffic Sources > Search > Organic > Click on the Landing Page tab. If you discover that some of your landing pages is causing a high bounce rate (or other engagement metrics like pages / visit and avg visit duration), then there’s likely something wrong with your landing page optimization.
- conversions from organic search – if we looked at the aggregate (brand and non-brand) organic search data in Google Analytics, we could also take a look at and see how many sessions / visitors converted on our website. While this approach doesn’t answer the question of “how many conversions resulted from non-branded searches”, we really need to run with this and give the bigger pictures, which is “your organic traffic is growing, so are your leads and conversions.”
Rank Tracking Tools
Keyword rank tracking tools can help you keep a pulse on where you sit in the search results for various keywords. While most marketers and SEOs have already shied away from reporting keyword ranks to clients, I believe it’s still a need in some industries to report this type of data (e.g. local seo).
Keyword rank data can also allow us to combine and show the results of getting first page rankings and visits from organic search to that product / service landing page. Sometimes, this is a proof to us that getting a high rankings for a particular keyword yields greater exposure, maybe higher CTR and more conversions.
Another way of looking at rank data is to categorize your keywords. The new Moz Analytics has a great feature that does this. Simply grouping keywords into different themes of your website or by page 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5+ rankings and give you a high-level view of your “visibility score”. This is likely what upper management wants to hear more about. So from a reporting standpoint, this type of tracking, if you can automate it, can prove to be very useful and can be a huge time-saver.
If you’re working with local businesses, I would recommend checking out the Whitespark Rank Tracker tool.
You can still see all your paid keyword traffic in Google Analytics and in AdWords (oh really!?). This is why I think the whole reasoning behind “secure-search” is just plain BS. Regardless of my rant, I will have to live with that fact.
AdWords can give you insight on your ad performance, which include things like: keyword impressions, clicks, visits, and more. In fact, AdWords gives you both pre-click and post-click keyword data. This means we know how many saw that ad for the keywords you bid on, how many of them clicks on the ad, and what they did on your site after. While I’m not fond of just throwing month at Google and advertising on their network, it can be a great place to do some initial keyword / market research.
There is no point on fighting what we can’t change. It is our job to help small, medium and enterprise organizations succeed online. Whether it be SEO, Design, Usability, or whatever, obstacles that get put in our path should be opportunities to think differently about how we’re currently doing things. This (not provided) thing bugs me, but it won’t kill me. I won’t kill you either. Continue providing exceptional services to your clients and let’s make the web a better place!
Thoughts? Comments? Please leave them below!
September 30, 2013 / Jackson Lo / 1