Understanding Organic Search Traffic In Google Analytics
Each month, you go into your Google Analytics report to try and understand how your website is doing. If you’re here, you’re looking for ways to ensure your website is making money for you. Hey, that’s why we’re here too! Looking at pages of metrics and trying to figure out how things like Bounce Rates affect your organic search traffic when you don’t even know what a “bounce” is? That can be overwhelming.
Learn What All Those Numbers Mean & Which Ones You Need
If you’re already a SmartWebPros client, we send you curated monthly reports. They not only look pretty but also pare down the information to only what you need to understand the basics of your website’s traffic and whether or not your website was successful in any given month.
If you’re not a client, then you still have access to all this data, you just have to know where to find it.
There are about a million things you can use Google Analytics to understand, but let’s focus on the important ones. If you have an SEO service, this is even more vital. Even if you don’t, you should understand where your website stands when it comes to organic traffic and rankings.
Where do we start?
What Is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics can give you all sorts of data. Ultimately, however, it exists to help you keep track of your traffic, page by page. In doing this, you can get helpful insights on who your customers are, and how to make your site better. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides site data to help you determine effective strategies to grow your online presence.
How does Google Analytics Work?
You can sign yourself up for a Google Analytics account for free. Either install the tag on your website yourself or send it to your webmaster and ask them to do it (if you’re reading this, that’s probably us). This tag is a cookie that keeps track of the visitors to your site. It notes everything from their demographics, to what site they came from and what they do on your site.
Why do I see notifications to accept cookies when I visit a new site?
These popups on websites are there to notify visitors that a website is using a service that tracks their traffic. That is what Google Analytics does. GDPR in Europe requires websites to notify visitors of cookies and tracking of their information, so if you plan on operating within Great Britain or the European Union, make sure you’re meeting GDPR requirements.
Should I install Google Analytics?
Yes. Every website should have Google Analytics. Even if you use another type of traffic or analytics tracker, I would recommend ensuring Google Analytics is properly installed on your website because Google is the universal language of the internet. All of our SEO clients have Google Analytics on their website, and we use it as a tool to track their traffic and create reports.
How do I Install Google Analytics?
This is different for different types of sites. It’s best to contact your webmaster if you don’t understand coding/using the back end of your site. In basic terms, Google Analytics will provide you with a tag you can add to the head of your website. Again, don’t try this unless you know what you’re doing, as certain changes to your code can break your site. You can sign up for Google Analytics here.
How can I use Google Analytics to Track Organic Search?
To track organic search in Google Analytics, you need to know what metrics to look for. You should also go into the process with goals and expectations for your business. Let’s go over what these should look like.
Metrics To Track On Google Analytics
We like to track a few key performance indicators (KPIs) in Google Analytics when we’re looking at SEO performance because it’s much easier than trying to interpret loads of data, especially when you’re just learning. These are based on the broad goal of getting more traffic to your site, so you get more leads and sales. Thus, our SEO efforts make you money. If you have a specific goal, message us and we can work with you on determining how to reach and track your goals.
SEO Key Performance Indicators
- New Users
- Bounce Rate
- Organic Searches
- Organic Searches By Page
Users are individuals who visit your site. If I visit your site on my laptop and my mobile phone, I will be counted as one User. If I visit it three times on each device, I’m still only one User.
It’s important to know how many individuals visited your site during any given period. You can use data like this to determine if different strategies are working, and you can combine it with other data to understand how these Users behave on your site.
New Users are individuals who come to your site in any given period that have not visited your site before. This is the first time they’ve been to your site.
It’s always nice to see that new people are finding your business, and it’s great to track because it can help you determine if your current strategies are bringing new individuals in or if they are encouraging more return visits from existing Users. Remember, that your New Users metric is a portion of your Users metric (above). By that, I mean that Users is a total of returning and first-time Users.
Sessions are how many times your site was visited in any period. A single User can visit your site any number of times. Add up all visits across all Users and you’ll have your Sessions.
By tracking Sessions, you can understand how often people visit your site, and what times they’re more likely to visit your site. You can use it to understand if people tend to return to your site and how often they do that.
Pageviews is the number of times a new page on your site is viewed. You should expect this to be the largest of these first four metrics. That’s because each Session can have multiple Pageviews. If I visit your site and go from the home page to your services page, then back to your home page, this is counted as three Pageviews. That’s because each time I visit a page Google counts it towards this metric, even if I’m returning to a page I’ve already been to.
Thus, you can have multiple Pageviews per Session and you can have multiple Sessions per User.
Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who enter your site and leave without interacting with your site at all. For Organic Search, that means they click through a Google link to your site and then hit back, leaving your site without navigating to a new page or clicking anything.
Google looks at Bounce Rate when determining where your site should rank for a keyword. People tend to leave sites they are not interested in, which in turn makes Google think your content isn’t relevant for the keyword they searched.
The video above shows you how to navigate to your Audience Overview, set your dates, and then find each of these first 5 metrics.
This is the number of times your website is clicked through from an Organic Search. So, if I Google something and find your site, then click through, that counts as one organic search, regardless of if I leave immediately, or if I go through your site and then visit later by typing your URL in and going directly to your site.
As your Search Engine Rankings get better, you should begin to see more of these.
This metric in Google Analytics shows you your pages and how many organic searches they each got. For our reports, we include Bounce Rate for these because it helps us determine if any particular page needs tweaking to ensure the content is relevant for the keywords we want it to rank for.
Medium tells us the source of the traffic or where it came from. This can tell us what portion of our traffic came from organic search or other sources like paid ads, or social media efforts. Such information can help us determine which strategies are working and which are not.
This video shows you where to find each of our last three metrics.
These are our KPIs for tracking traffic from Organic Search using Google Analytics.
As a note to our clients, we also include a couple of extra metrics in our monthly analytics report because they tend to be of interest.
Setting Goals for KPIs
For some of the above metrics, there might be industry expected averages that you’re aiming either to meet or beat, but for the most part, it will depend on your goals for your business.
Use Your Current Metrics To Set Goals
As you work on bettering your online presence, you should look at the number of Users & New Users, Sessions and Pageviews, and come up with a reasonable goal you’d like to meet. You’ll want to see these increase of course, but by how much depends on what you’re putting into it. If you’re doing SEO and running ads, there should be a higher increase than if you’re just doing SEO. You should base it on a portion of your current traffic and how much you’re doing to increase the traffic on your site.
You should also look at how many people return to your site by looking at Sessions per User and Pageviews per Session. Try to make your website better so these increase as well.
Bounce Rates tend to be around 60%, which is higher than most people expect. A lower Bounce Rate is better because it means fewer people are leaving your site quickly. If your Bounce Rate is very high, or very low, there might be a problem either with your site or with your Google Analytics tracking. Keep in mind, however, that not all industries should expect the same Bounce Rates—some may expect 70% and others may expect an average of 40%. It’s usually a good idea to research what your industry standards are.
Always review how these metrics change over time. If there are drastic drops, see if you can determine why that might be. If there are good increases, maybe figure out what you did right and continue doing that.
Monthly Analytics Tracking
Putting these all together, you should check each of these metrics at least once a month. Compare them month over month, and year over year to get an idea of changes. Use this data to determine what is working to help you achieve your goals and what doesn’t work.
These are our basic tips on tracking Organic Search traffic in Google Analytics. If you have any questions, reach out to us to see how we can help your business.