If you want to increase your search traffic, I’m sure you’ve been advised to target long-tail keywords and build links to your website.
Well, that’s a good advice. But it’s not the whole truth.
Tell me, what’s the need of building more links and optimizing your pages when you don’t even understand what’s currently happening on those pages?
If I ask you which of your pages are generating the most traffic and leads to your business, do you even know these pages?
Funny enough, this is how the majority of website owners run their online businesses—working so hard only to get little results.
In this article, I’ll show you with screenshots and statistics how you can use Google Analytics data to quickly boost your search traffic.
But first, let’s get the basics out…
Do you ignore Google Analytics data?
How well do you use Google Analytics?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business or a multinational company, this powerful tool will redefine how you market your website online. According to e-nor, “51% of Fortune 500 Companies use Google Analytics.
Here’s a typical result: Matalan, a Homeware online store uses Google Analytics to increase conversions year over year by 28%. This has also led to an increase in website visits and revenue. Lee Pinnington, Marketing Director at Matalan says:
With Google Analytics 360, we’re getting actionable insights, whereas before we were just getting a lot of data.
Google Analytics on its own is one of the top tools marketers, businesses, and webmasters use daily to monitor and analyze their website traffic and user behavior.
It provides enormous data about your website and gives you priceless insights which you need to make informed decisions.
You can use the insights provided to foster the growth of your website, understand your audience better, and develop strategies that will take your business to the next level.
Here are some exciting metrics you can expect to measure with Google Analytics:
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Page views
Despite the huge benefits of Google Analytics, most people still ignore it. Are you one of those people?
For one, every online business owner must be data-driven —because the data that you get from Google Analytics could be the only tool you need to build profitable campaigns across other marketing channels, such as Facebook, Google AdWords, native ads, and so on.
At the end of the day, you want to improve user experience on your website. You’re in business to make the customer happy—making money is as a result of putting smiles on customer’s face.
According to Genesys, “Improving your customer’s experience is the key to increasing retention, satisfaction and sales.”
Many webmasters think of Google Analytics as a tool for determining traffic sources. Well, that’s a good one, but there’s more. Way more!
It also gives you access to historical and real-time data about customer’s behavior. More importantly, you’re able to understand the science and arts behind website visitors.
Let’s consider that briefly…
The science behind website analytics
Science deals primarily with testing, extensive experimentation, and analysis. No information is worthwhile unless it’s been tested and proven scientifically.
In the same vein, you can’t make assumptions concerning your website visitors unless you’ve analyzed them using a specialized tool.
Web analytics (the study of user data collected on websites) is an all-important topic and data analysis could be regarded as the most vital aspect of your business—especially in this era of customer-centricity.
According to a Public Engagement and Research Online report from the University of Warwick, the goal of web analytics is to capture and analyze data about the users of a website—which can aid in market research, feasibility study, and user tracking.
If you want to understand your customer’s need, you need personalized data; data that explains your user’s behavior. If you’re an ecommerce store, you want data that explains why customers abandoned your shopping cart, why the increase in bounce rate, and so much more.
Web Analytics is the science and art of data collection, analysis, and interpretation into insights for achieving online business goals.
That being said, several studies have been conducted on this topic by scholars from various institutions as it concerns understanding your customer’s behavior through web personalization.
In a research by Magdalini Eirinaki and Michalis Vazirgiannis of Athens University of Economics and Business it was noted that “Web personalization is the process of customizing a website to the needs of specific users, taking advantage of the knowledge acquired from the analysis of the user’s navigational behavior (usage data) in correlation with other information collected in the Web context, namely, structure, content and user profile data.”
In the same research, it’s also mentioned that analysis is only one in the process of web personalization. The processes include:
- The collection of Web data
- The modeling and categorization of these data (pre-processing phase)
- The analysis of the collected data
- The determination of the actions that should be performed (making decisions)
To make informed online business decisions, data is vital and there are lots of tools that can help you achieve this. Funny enough, it’s not only for the big companies with big budgets but also for small and mid-sized businesses.
You can enjoy exactly what the big brands are enjoying even if you have no budget at all. The robust free Google Analytics software is a great tool for this purpose. Several other tools are even built on the Google Analytics API.
Most free tools are actually very powerful. Google Analytics is one of them. In the chart below, you’ll notice that 53% of web analytics technologies employed by Enterprises are free.
However, it’ll surprise you to know that only 13% of companies strongly agree that they have a well-defined web analytics strategy. It’s a major concern and should be at the heart of any forward-thinking company.
Next, let’s discuss the proven strategies to grow your search traffic by tapping into Google Analytics.
1. Tap into your exit pages
The exit page is the last page your website user visits before leaving your website. These exit pages are so critical if you want to grow search traffic.
Although, your visitors are not expected to stay on your website forever, they should spend some time there. The “time” they’ll spend is relative, but it should be enough time to help Google collect useful data.
One of the things you can do is to improve your exit pages; make it more interesting and engaging.
How do you know your exit pages?
Knowing your exit pages without tools could seem like an impossible task, however, with Google Analytics, it’s easier than you think. Log in to your account, and follow this path:
By the left-hand side of your dashboard, you’ll see “BEHAVIOR” click on it. Next, click on the site content tab, you’ll see the exit page link. Click on it and you should be able to see your exit pages.
TL:DR: BEHAVIOR > Site Content > Exit Pages.
The pages highlighted in the red rectangle are the exit pages. Having known your exit pages, what can you do to reduce the exits from these pages, and also retain your visitors?
After all, time on site is an engagement metric that Google rewards. So there’s a tendency that when search users spend more time on your page, it could act as a signal to Google that your content is useful and therefore, more people need to have access to it. This will, in turn, increase your search traffic and rankings.
You should consider the pages with the highest exits and work on improving their engagement levels—which can vary from one industry to the other.
Here are some tips on what you can do to retain your visitors before they leave:
- Update outdated content: If you notice that you have more visitors leaving your website from a particular page, check the content. It could be that your visitors were disappointed when they got to the page. Maybe the statistics, case study, or visuals are outdated. You can simply update it by including a more recent information. This will not only help you to retain your visitors, it’ll also help you to attract more traffic from search engines.
- Fix any errors: In case you’ve got errors, fix them. Are there broken links correct and update them.
- Deep linking: Ensure you do more internal linking and add related links to your content. This will aid in easy navigation from one page to the other on the same domain.
- Offer a lead magnet: Give away valuable content or freebies in exchange for your visitor’s email address—so you can reach them back via email even if they leave your website.
- Nudge them to share your content on social media: You’ll be surprised at the number of social shares you’ll get by encouraging your readers to share your content.
This could have a multiplier-effect because more social media fans might want to reshare what their influencers recommended.
2. Create irresistible content with “landing pages” data
Unlike your exit pages, your landing pages are the pages your website visitors first discover. Of course, all your web pages don’t receive the same amount of traffic—some attract more visits than the others.
Here’s a quick path to find your landing pages:
Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
It’s important you look at the pages that receive high-volume traffic, then work your way into the user’s mind to create compelling content for them.
Several studies have shown that 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site.
Content is still the Holy Grail of search traffic. Yes, backlinks are powerful, but you need content first.
Creating engaging content in a variety of formats is one of the challenges that 60% of B2B content marketers face. Obviously, the reason for the struggle is as a result of not understanding what the audience wants.
Here’s how you can tap into Google Analytics tool to get the information you need for the next content you want to create in your editorial calendar.
Log into your Google Analytics account. At the left column of your dashboard, you’ll find Acquisition tab, click-through to Search Console, then to landing pages. You’ll see lots of data about your landing pages.
Here’s the easy path:
ACQUISITION > Search Console > Landing Pages
Here is are some areas to take note of:
- Impressions: Impressions are the number of views you have on your landing page. A high landing page views imply high incoming traffic, and it’s a signal that you should optimize that particular landing page for users.
- Clicks: The number of clicks on your landing page. If you’ve got high impression rate, then you should consider optimizing your call-to-actions to increase your conversion rate on your landing page.
- CTR (Click-Through-Rate): It’s the rate at which traffic flows into your landing pages from search engines. A higher CTR + a low bounce rate will likely influence your rankings positively.Because it examines your content engagement and relevance. That is, more people visited your landing page, consumed your content and were happy to click-through to your other pages.
- Sessions: A session is a group of actions one user takes within a given time frame (for Google Analytics the timeframe is 30 minutes) on your website.If your website visitors spend more time interacting with the content on your landing page, it indicates that they are happy with your content. You should make efforts to improve your content to increase your chances of attracting and retaining your website visitors.
- Bounce Rate: Your landing pages’ bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors that leave your landing pages after viewing only that page.
- Conversions: Google Analytics is amazing. From the conversion tab, you can monitor your goals. For example, what does conversion mean to you? A successful signup until a user lands on the success page? You can set all of that from the conversion tab.
Looking at these metrics can give you an idea on what to improve on your website.
Ideally, identify the topics that you covered on your landing pages. Then, double up on these topics—because users love them. This time, go deeper and recognize that your audience doesn’t need more content, but better and in-depth information.
If you create irresistible content on your landing pages, search users will fall in love with your website. They’ll spend more time on your posts, share them on social media platforms, link to you willingly, and refer others to your website.
These are all ranking factors that can strengthen your webpages and, in turn, boost your search rankings and traffic.
3. Get insights from Google Analytics Returning visitors
Returning visitors are visitors that have visited your landing page before and have come back for more—I dare say, they’re your loyal audience.
The success of your website depends on your relationship with your loyal audience and it’s obviously your first step to activating your brand advocacy.
More importantly, getting insights from Google Analytics can help you create content that hooks your audience. This is so critical to your success. Why?
Because a whopping 70% of customers believe that businesses that consistently create content are interested in building good relationships with old and new customers. Interestingly, the same study found that 61% of U.S. consumers have bought something based on recommendations from a piece of blog content.
Knowing how many returning visitors your website generates consistently is necessary when you’re looking to develop strategies for creating better content and improving the user experience.
First, let’s see how you can locate the Returning Visitors tab on Google Analytics.
Log into your Google Analytics account. Next, check the left column and you will find the audience tab. Click to expand it, then click on the BEHAVIOR tab.
You’ll see the “NEW Vs RETURNING” tab.
Here’s the easy path:
AUDIENCE > Behavior > New Vs. Returning
When it comes to Returning Visitors, there are two Important metrics to watch.
- Behavior: Behavior measures the following:
- Bounce rate
- Avg. Session Duration (This group of data can help you determine user’s engagement with your landing page.)
- Conversion: You don’t just want traffic, but leads and sales. That’s why conversion rate experts are in high demand in today’s web analytics space.
According to Brolik, you can increase revenue by 1,500% using conversion rate optimization.
The reason for driving traffic to your website is to increase your revenue, right?
Traffic, pageviews, bounce rates, and all of those metrics you know don’t matter when you bring them in the light of your ultimate goal—to generate revenue.
This is true for every online business owner. So conversion is an important metric you should watch—and ensure that your returning visitors are getting the best out of your website—because they’re your brand advocates and best customers.
4. Use “Avg. Session Duration” to build page engagement
The “Avg Session Duration” is an essential website metric that Google Analytics provides for you.
Average Session Duration tells you how much time people are spending on your website. This duration can vary. Here’s a more detailed excerpt from Visme:
The average session duration for traffic coming in from Google organic search is 53 seconds. The average session duration for direct traffic is 1 minute and 50 seconds. The average visit duration for traffic referred from nl.visma.com is 3 minutes and 43 seconds, and so on.
If your website’s visitors are happy, they’ll spend more time on your web page, navigate to other pages, and return to your website frequently. This can impact your search rankings as time goes by.
To see your user engagement using Google Analytics, quickly log into your account.
At the left column you’ll see the AUDIENCE tab, click on it. Then click on Overview. There you have it, the chart for Avg. Session Duration.
Or follow this quick path:
AUDIENCE > Overview > Avg. Session Duration.
A recent experiment by WordStream revealed that when visitors spend more time on your website, it increases the likelihood of your content being pushed up to the 1 – 6 position—as it’s assumed to be a relevant and valuable content.
However, if your page engagement is weak there’s a chance that your ranking will move down to position 7 or lower.
Here’s what Larry Kim, CEO of WordStream concluded from his experiment:
Google uses dwell time — which we can’t measure but is proportional to user engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on site, and conversion rates — to validate click-through rates. These metrics help Google figure out whether users ultimately got what they were looking for.
If you know your average session duration it can help you reinforce your strategy for improving user experience and overall page engagement.
5. Improve page load time for improved search visibility
Do you feel happy when you visit a web page that takes more than the required time to load?
Even if the page contains invaluable content that you’re looking for, it may not matter at all—the first impression is what matters most.
Your web page should load within 2 seconds. How do I know? Well, a survey of 1,048 online consumers by Akamai and Gomez showed that 47% of people expect the web page they visit to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will leave a web page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
This illustrated data show that the consequences of a one-second delay are huge. The good news is that if your page loads faster, your user engagement will skyrocket.
Page load time is an important metric that can really affect your bottom line. If you want to get more search traffic by this time next month, increase your page speed. Period!
While it’s important to use the tactics below to reduce your page load time, it’s even more critical to get accurate data from Google Analytics. This would help you to determine what’s causing your web page to load slowly—whether it’s server related or a page issue.
Here’s the easy path to determine your Site Speed in Google Analytics:
BEHAVIOR > Site Speed > Overview:
Here are simple ways to increase your page speed and start getting search traffic by this time next month:
- Minimize HTTP Requests
- Reduce server response time
- Enable compression
- Enable browser caching
- Minify Resources
- Optimize images
- Optimize CSS Delivery
- Prioritize above-the-fold content
- Reduce the number of plugins you use on your site
- Reduce redirects
To a large extent, user behavior data is what controls your content strategy, marketing decisions, and more.
As an online business owner, you need to spend more time studying Google Analytics metrics, collecting data and documenting insights.
Is it the top keywords, top pages, or goals conversion that you’re looking for? Truth is, Google Analytics can provide the best results for you. But you’ve got to learn how to use it like a pro and stay consistent.
Eventually, you’ll become so good at it and at that point, generating organic traffic will no longer be a hassle, but a fun and rewarding practice for you.