An Introductory Guide to Using Google Analytics to Track SEO Performance

Trying to track SEO performance? Struggling in understanding Google Analytics? This guide will help you get the most out of Google Analytics to track SEO performance.

Using Google Analytics to Track SEO Performance

Image by pch.vector on Freepik

Google Analytics (GA) is a super useful web analytics service that can track your business’s website traffic. By using GA, you can gain powerful insights into your website users and Track SEO Performance. These insights are presented to you in customized reports. Best of all, it’s a free tool! 


Getting the best out of GA

Google Analytics best practices involve two main steps; the correct tracking of web users and the correct attribution of where the traffic is coming from. 


GA allows webmasters and business owners to see data about their website users’ location, device, and bounce rate (whether a web user exits after seeing one page rather than clicking an internal link and continuing onto another page). Due to the vast array of data insight GA offers, it can be challenging to know how to use the tool to its full potential. 


Tracking data reports is one thing, but using insights to improve your website’s SEO performance is another. If you’re a bigger business, choosing to outsource unified communications as a service within the business and SaaS SEO agencies might be the most efficient strategy. As a smaller business, a lot of SEO performance improvements can be made by you independently through GA. 


Keywords and search queries are fundamental user insights that can help you improve SEO performance. You probably know how important keywords are when it comes to improving SEO, but do you know how GA can help you track SEO performance and level up your business?


This article is going to talk you through how to access specific keyword insights by connecting your GA to Google Search Console (GSC) to utilize a detailed search query report. You’ll also learn how to use this report to make actionable improvements to your website’s SEO performance.


Connecting your GA to GSC 

Connecting GA to GSC is important because GA alone doesn’t offer a keyword report that gives in-depth insight. You can see the reports GA does offer by:


  • Clicking All Traffic on the left-hand side of your screen
  • Clicking, Channels
  • From there click Organic Search


You should reach a page that looks like the image below. This is the report of keywords GA offers you without being connected to GSC:

Connecting your GA to GSC

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As you can see, most of the keywords are ‘not provided’; therefore, it’s important to connect to GSC to reach more in-depth insight.


How to connect GA to GSC and access your search queries/ keyword report:

Step 1: Go to Google Search Console and add your property

The image below is what you should see when you head to GSC

ga gse

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The two options you’re given are Domain and URL prefix. The Domain property type allows you to track data about your entire site. Bear in mind, though, that you will have to verify you own the site or app, and this is easier to do with the URL prefix. The URL prefix is generally easier to get up and running.


Once your GSC is set up and verified, you should receive confirmation through notification, as seen in the image below.

ownership verification

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Step 2: Set up search console data sharing

To do this, head back to your GA. On the left-hand side of your screen is a Search Console button. When you click on it, a down bar appears. Click on Enquiries in the down bar option, and you will be prompted to set up Search Console data sharing.

search console data sharing

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Step 3: Go to Property Settings

Once you’ve clicked the Set-up Search Console data-sharing button, you will be led to Property Settings. All you need to do is scroll to the bottom of this page and click the Adjust Search Console button, as seen in the image below.

Property Settings

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Step 4: You will be directed to a list of properties

You should now be able to see all the properties you have added to your GSC account. Once you‘ve selected your property from the list, click Save at the bottom of the screen.

Step 5: Access your in-depth search query report

  • Open the left-hand menu on your Google Analytics home screen.
  • Click on the Acquisition report button. This will give you a dropdown menu.
  • Click on the Search console button. From here, you can see data on Landing pages, Countries, Devices, and Queries. 
  • By clicking on the Queries button, you will see a report as you can see in the image below. This report provides you with accurate insight into what words people are searching to find your website.   

search query report

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There may be a slight delay in data exporting from GSC to GA, so don’t worry if you can’t see it straight away. 


How is this helpful for tracking and improving SEO?

Access to how you perform on Google search pages is very important in competitive benchmarking. GA allows you to compare yourself to other websites by selecting Benchmarking under the Reports section. Here, you can compare your property against all properties in your industry. 


For example, you could compare how your hosted voip phone systems do against all other competitors regarding the average user’s web session duration. This type of insight is particularly helpful when it comes to finding specific areas of improvement for project growth. 


Now you have a more in-depth insight into the search queries people are using to reach your website. You might think that based on the keyword report, you should target the highest traffic keywords that your website visitors are already searching for. This might not actually be your best option, though. 


Targeting low-hanging keywords is a smarter way of using your GA keywords report to track and improve SEO performance.  


How can targeting low-hanging keywords help improve my website’s SEO performance?

Targeting low-hanging keywords as a method of improving SEO performance is often overlooked. It’s actually a great way to work your way up to search results.


Low-hanging keywords are the ones that rank around six to fifteen in your GSC keyword report. Your website will likely be anywhere between eleven and thirty on Google SERPs for these. This is the second or third page of organic Google results.


Targeting low-hanging keywords is a good way of increasing website traffic and SEO performance. This is because they’re often more accurate and intentional search terms. Low-hanging keywords signal there are users looking for further clarity than they’re getting from the most popular search results. If your website is the one to provide that clarity, you will inevitably edge up the search engine results pages.  


Already being on the second or third page in Google means you’re also in with a chance of striking it to the first page of results. This is because results that appear at the bottom of the first page of Google aren’t in any way out of your reach. 


Targeting low-hanging keywords in content is a way of diversifying your SEO performance strategy. Website traffic will increase if you’re delivering answers to the specific questions your customers ask.


How to find your website’s low-hanging keywords

Step 1: Open your Google Search Console, and click on Performance tab

You will now be able to see a dashboard, as displayed below, which shows you an overall insight into clicks and impressions.  

Performance tab

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Step 2: Click on Pages and enter the webpage you want to analyze

When you return to Queries, you will see that the web traffic you’re about to investigate will now be refined to the specific webpage selected. From here, you can see a list of keywords for that page, along with clicks and impressions for each one.


Being able to refine your search and select a specific webpage you want to analyze is great for A/B testing ideas. You can see how one different element of a web page impacts user engagement level. For example, one of your A/B testing ideas might be seeing whether adding a live contact centre agent or video content to a page improves engagement.


Step 3: Scroll down to look at the keywords ranked around six to fifteen

These are your low-hanging keywords. You can now see exactly which words should be targeted to create quality content that’s going to improve your SEO performance. By implementing low-hanging keywords into your SEO strategy, there’s the hope of jumping to Google’s first search page.


Act, don’t track!

You now know how to access a fundamental GA feature—the keywords and search queries report. This data holds the potential to improve your SEO performance. Keywords provide invaluable insight, but acting on this insight is up to you. 


Be aware of ad blockers interfering with the reliability of the data collected. Keeping check on irregularities in your data collection is equally as important as regular software ad hoc testing. You need reliable and secure software and data to systemize your business to make effective business decisions.

google analytics

Image Source: Pixabay


Be it through targeting low-hanging keywords, or other means, be sure to use the data GA presents you with. If you’re selling a product, be sure to take your eCommerce analytics from data to decisions. Tempting though it may be, refreshing your reports won’t improve your SEO performance. Acting on what you see, will.