How to Track and Measure SEO Results with Google Tools

You can do everything right to optimise your site for search, but if you’re not tracking your SEO results, then how do you know what’s working? Analysing the data has all sorts of benefits:

  • Spot any potential issues and make adjustments to improve
  • Compare useful information to previous periods, including overall traffic and conversions
  • Demonstrate the benefits of SEO work to managers and decision makers
  • Get to know your users and their behaviour
  • Identify areas where you could boost your site ranking

Fortunately, Google provides several free tools that contain a huge amount of information to help you track your results. This guide takes a look at some key areas you should track, how to analyse them, and what they can tell you about your SEO.

A note about Google Analytics: The below article will be discussing Google Analytics. There are currently two versions of Analytics: Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4). UA is due to sunset in 2023, when GA4 will become the only form of Google Analytics available. While UA is generally easier for beginners, this article will focus on GA4.

Find out how to set up GA4.

Website Traffic

Google Analytics 4

Tool: GA4

How to find the information: Reports > Acquisition > Acquisition overview

Traffic to your website is measured by the number of individual users or individual visits. A single user can make multiple visits. You can see how traffic changes between two dates, or compare two separate periods of time.

Analysing website traffic lets you see when people are most likely to visit your website and whether visits are increasing overall. Ideally, website traffic should increase year-on-year, so if it doesn’t, you may want to look at your SEO and marketing strategy.

Website traffic can also indicate whether there is any unusual activity. A sudden drop in visits could indicate something is wrong with your site that prevents people getting onto it (for example, if your server is down), or that you have been negatively affected by a Google update. If the latter, research updates implemented around that time, and find guidance on how to improve.

On the other hand, if you see a one-off sudden spike in traffic, it could indicate that you’ve either been hit by spam, or that something has triggered a peak in interest. This could be, for example, a feature in a national newspaper.

Keyword rankings

Keywords in Google Search Console

Tool: Google Search Console

How to find the information: Performance > Export

In very basic terms, SEO aims to get your website to the top position on a search engine when relevant keywords are entered. As a result, tracking your position is a useful way of measuring the effectiveness of your SEO.

To analyse rankings, you need  to first decide which keywords you want to track. There are a lot of options out there, and you can’t optimise for them all, so select a few priorities to focus on. Find a balance between the most popular keywords (those with the highest number of searches) and those that are more niche to your topic.

A higher number of searches means you’re more likely to get traffic to your website, but you will also be competing with more websites. Niche searches suggest people are closer to making a purchase, so are more likely to convert when they do visit.

Learn how to do keyword research for free.

Google Search Console lists your average rankings over a period of time. You can export a report that lists all the keywords that have triggered your website in the search results. Pick out your target keywords and make a note of the average position of each.

If you can’t find a keyword in the report, there could be two reasons. The phrase may not have been used during the time period, which is common with low-volume keywords. Or your website may not be triggered for that particular search. If the latter, you should audit the relevant pages to make sure they are properly optimised.

Look out for big changes in rankings. Sudden drops or jumps could indicate that an algorithm change has hit your website. In these cases, rankings can fluctuate for a while, so allow a few weeks for them to settle. If your rankings remain considerably lower, it could indicate something Google doesn’t like about your site, and you should look at what improvements you can make.

Demographics

User demographics report on Google Analytics 4

Tool: GA4

How to find the information: Reports > Demographics > Demographics Overview

Demographics tells you about the kinds of people visiting your site based on information such as location, gender, interests and age. This information can inform your SEO, as it indicates who is interested in your product or service. If you track this over time, you can also check whether demographics are changing and make updates as required.

Individual Page visits

Page visits report on GA4

Tool: GA4

How to find the information: Reports > Engagement > Pages and Screens

Take a look at which pages are most popular on your site. The pages with the most traffic indicate that the information is popular with your audience, but also that Google likes what you’ve done with SEO. On the flip side, underperforming pages can indicate a lack of interest, a lack of usefulness, or poor optimisation.

For the lower performing pages, consider whether they’re useful to your site at all – would it be worth getting rid of them entirely? Or perhaps you just need to improve it. Is it optimised correctly? Is there enough content and will your audience find it informative and/or entertaining? Does the page function as it should and is it easy to read?

Conversions

Conversions report on Google Analytics 4

Tool: GA4

How to find the information: Reports > Engagement > Conversions

A conversion is a set actions that you want a user to take. Quite often, this would mean they purchase an item or service. Though GA4 does include some generic default conversions (such as Page Views or Clicks), these on their own won’t be particularly useful to most.

However, setting up meaningful Conversions does require some advanced knowledge. If you don’t already have them, you may need to ask a developer or an SEO expert to do the work.

Once set up, you can see number of conversions, number of users making those conversions, and the resulting revenue.

Click on a conversion name to view the traffic source. The organic search figures will be the result of your SEO work so you can see just how much revenue SEO has brought you, and how it compares to other traffic sources.

Local search results

Google My Business in Search

Tool: Google Business Profile

How to find the information: Business Name > Performance

If your business serves a local area, then use Google Business Profile to see how your website is performing with users searching locally.

Think of this like a mini version of your website analytics specifically for users in your locality.

There are lots of performance indicators here. The keywords triggering your profile tell you whether you’re content aligns with expectations; traffic and interaction changes indicate whether you need to improve your listing; and the platform and device breakdown provides you with an overview of how users find you.

E-Commerce Purchases

E-commerce report on GA4

Tool: GA4

How to find the information: Reports > Monetisation > E-Commerce Purchases

E-commerce purchases may be similar to Conversions but give you more information about what is being purchased. This indicates your most popular products/services and changing trends over time. Like Page Views, a low number of purchases could indicate that there’s room for improvement on individual product pages.

By looking at the number of products that were added to a basket, compared to the amount of purchases, you can also potentially identify issues. Why was a purchase not completed?

Again, e-commerce purchases will likely require some set up from a developer or SEO expert.

Conclusion

Analysing your data is an important part of SEO work, and it helps you identify changing trends, possible issues, and available improvements. Make use of Google’s numerous free tools to gain a wealth of information about your website’s performance.

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