SEO Management Series: How Do I Track Organic Traffic Within Google Analytics?
Editor’s Note: This article is written for a Marketing Director or CEO who is looking to better manage their marketing department or SEO team. Stay tuned for future articles of this nature as one will build upon the other.
Google Analytics is one of your primary software tools you will use to track your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance. In this article, I’ll explain how you can use Google Analytics to track your overall website traffic from organic search, traffic to specific pages from organic search, and how you can set date range comparisons to track your website’s progress over time.
This article is broken into two main sections that produce the following outcomes:
- You’ll learn how to use Google Analytics to track your overall organic traffic (website wide),
- You’ll learn how to use Google Analytics to track organic traffic to specific subpages (target in on the pages you want to review).
With that said, let’s begin.
I) Viewing Organic Traffic Site Wide
One of the most common ways you can use Google Analytics for SEO is to monitor your website’s traffic derived from search engines (known as ‘organic search’ within Google Analytics).
Here’s how you can find this:
Step 1: Sign into your Google Analytics and go to your account under the main Reporting tab. The Reporting page is your main dashboard for your website data within Google Analytics.
Fig. 1 – A screenshot of the main ‘Reporting’ page within Google Analytics.
Step 2: On the left pane, go to the ‘Acquisition’ -> ‘Overview’ tab.
Fig. 2 – A screen shot of the ‘Reporting’ page with ‘Overview’ being highlighted.
Step 3: Click on ‘Overview’. You’ll now be brought to a subpage that lists out your traffic broken down by medium.
Fig. 3 – A screen shot of the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page which shows your traffic broken down by medium (Organic Search, Direct, Social, Paid Search, etc.)
Step 4: At the top of the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page, you can set the date range you want to display data for.
Fig. 4 – A screen shot of the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page with the date range the Marketing Director or CEO would like to review.
Step 5: In the date range section, you can also set date comparisons (custom, specific periods, or year to year). The date range comparison tool is a great way to tell how you’re progressing over time. For example, is your website gaining more organic traffic or less than a year ago?
Fig. 5 – A screen shot of the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page with the Marketing Director or CEO selecting two sets of date ranges to compare traffic to.
Step 6: If you wish for more detailed data on the organic traffic, on the Acquisition Overview page, click ‘Organic Traffic’. You’ll see on this page (Fig. 6 below), more granular data is displayed about the performance of the traffic from organic search along with key terms that were searched in the search engines to get to your website*.
Fig. 6 – A screen shot of the page after the Marketing Director or CEO has clicked ‘Organic Traffic’.
*In 2013, Google stopped showing all the key terms that lead to traffic on a website.
In this section, we went through the steps to observe overall traffic from organic search to your website.
This is useful aggregate data but can often be non-actionable because you can’t really pinpoint which aspects of the website are doing well and which aren’t because you’re only looking at overall traffic. For instance, your key product pages could be decreasing in organic traffic, whereas, your blog articles may be increasing, but your overall organic traffic is staying constant as a whole. If this were the case, you wouldn’t know to focus your SEO team’s efforts more on the decreasing product page traffic (which could be directly impacting revenue). In the next section of article, we’re going to solve this analytical dilemma. In the following section, we’ll cover how to track organic traffic to specific landing pages.
[Quick Google Analytics pathway reference to get to organic traffic data – Reporting -> Acquisition -> Overview -> Organic Search]
II) Tracking Traffic to Landing Pages
In this section, we’ll cover the steps to track organic traffic to specific landing pages.
Step 1: Sign into your Google Analytics and go to your account under the main Reporting tab.
Fig. 7 – A screenshot of the main ‘Reporting’ page.
Step 2: In the left pane scroll down to ‘Overview’ under the Acquisition section.
Fig. 8 – A screen shot of the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page being highlighted.
Step 3: On the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page, click ‘Organic Search’ in the list of mediums.
Fig. 9 – In this screen shot, the Marketing Director or CEO is on the Acquisition Overview page and is going to select Organic Search in the table below.
Step 4: Now that you have selected the ‘Organic Search’ medium within the ‘Acquisition Overview’ page, you will click the ‘Landing Page’ hyperlink right above the main data table.
Fig. 10 – In this screen shot, the Marketing Director or CEO will locate and click the Landing Page hyperlink found above the main data table to access landing page data.
Step 5: Once you click the Landing Page hyperlink, you’ll see a list of URLs on your website descending from most trafficked from organic search to least trafficked.
Fig. 11 – The main table shows the Landing Pages with associated organic traffic data.
Some of the additional items you can do from this page are:
- Select date range
- Select a date range comparison (custom, month to month, year to year)
- Search for specific pages (ie. checking your blog articles or product/service pages)
- Click on one of the URLs to gain additional statistics.
In this section, you learned how to track the organic traffic landing on specific pages on your website. Beginning to monitor your organic traffic on a page per page basis is an excellent way to know what sections are performing well and which are not. If you’re observing important pages (ie. important product pages) decreasing in organic traffic, you can notify your SEO team to begin investigating why this may be occurring.
[Quick Google Analytics pathway reference to get to Landing Page data – Reporting -> Acquisition -> Overview -> Organic Search -> Landing Pages]
In this article, you learned how to track the traffic on your website coming from organic search. You further learned how to narrow down this tracking to a page per page basis. By monitoring pages of interest regularly and doing comparisons (ie. month to month, year over year), you can then start to understand what pages are doing better or worse in the popular search engines. It’s advised to have your SEO team focus in on important pages (ie. product or service pages) that seem to be dropping in organic traffic for additional on-site or off-site SEO work. Stay tuned as tips for managing your team’s on-site and off-site SEO work will be covered in future articles in this series.
Are you looking for additional assistance with growing your organic traffic and revenue derived from search engines like Google? Contact us for assistance.