Maximizing Google Analytics Insight for SEO with Custom Reports

Mar 5th

Google Analytics - one of the most powerful tools for any SEO, assuming you know how to get the data you need from it. One of my favorite things about Google Analytics is how many tools that put at your disposal for quickly analyzing the data you care most about. But again, that all assumes you know how to get it.

A custom report in Google Analytics is similar to their custom dashboard features in a lot of ways. Remember, the dashboards are meant as snapshots of what's going on with your campaign, these custom reports are what you should be using to fully analyze the results.

Custom Report Categories

To start, you should consider setting up Custom Report categories to organize your reports by subject. You will find this to be the most aggravating/irritating/infuriating part of the process as you attempt to drag your first custom report into your new category folder. The secret is to drag your report slightly to the right while hovering over the category you want to place it in. Then let go and hope for the best. Once you have one report in there it gets much easier.

Creating a Custom Report

There are two key components to a custom report:

  1. Metric: a numeric measurement (like number of visits).
  2. Dimension: a description of visits, visitors, pages, products and events.

There are also two types of Custom Reports you can create:

  1. Explorer: Allows you to drill down into sub-dimensions and includes a timeline where you can compare metrics in the same graph.
  2. Table: Allows you to compare dimensions side by side, with metrics also populated within the table. There is no timeline in this report.

Creating the custom report is easy. You choose from a drop-down menu of metrics and dimensions that you're interested in segmenting your report by.

Creating a Custom Report

You can also create tabs in your report to keep it organized. Any filters you setup on one tab will automatically apply to any other tab that you setup (there isn't a way to turn them off for the other tabs).

Another great feature of custom reports is your ability to use them cross-profile and to share them. To share a report, all you need to do is click the Actions drop-down menu from the Custom Reports overview page, and click share. You will then be able to share the configuration (not the data) of the custom report you just created.

Sharing Custom Reports

SEO Custom Report Examples

If you'd like to save time in your SEO analysis, consider creating custom reports similar to the ones outlined below. I've included the share link for each custom report so you don't have to rebuild it yourself. I tried to mix up when I'd tailor the report to look at e-commerce data, and when it would only look at goal data. You'll need to customize those aspects of the report to best meet your needs.

Also, don't forget to modify the keyword filters I've added. You want to make sure to replace our branded keyword (book) with your own.

Audience Custom Report

Understanding your audience's demographics is an often overlooked SEO practice, but it can go a long way in making certain aspects of SEO (like link building) that much easier.

Audience Custom Report

There are two components to this custom report:

  1. City and Language Overview - this part of the report looks at what cities and languages you receive the most visits from and make the most money off of. You may be surprised to see languages your site isn't even translated in yet that are very profitable.
  2. Keyword Targeting - this part of the report lets you drill down all the way to the keywords that are used by each country and language visitor demographic, and calls out how profitable they are for you. This is a great way to refine your keyword targeting.

How this can help you from a link building front is seeing what foreign languages your blog/linkbait content is most popular in, and then translating it. You could then distribute the translated content for links to popular industry blogs in that language.

Add the Audience Custom Report to Google Analytics

Content Custom Report

The purpose of the Content Custom Report is to identify which content is performing the best with organic traffic. I've set this report up as a Explorer Custom Report so you can drill down and see which keywords are sending traffic to a specific Landing Page. This is a great way to make sure you're targeting the right keywords on the right pages in your SEO campaign.

Content Custom Report

There are a number of engagement metrics I have this report looking at. One in particular I think is important to have with this report is the Social Actions metric. This is a great way to see if the number of social actions correlates with increases in traffic and conversions.

You might consider adding an additional filter (or creating a new custom report) that only looks at your blog content. I'd keep similar metrics in the report so you can quickly identify which blog posts perform the best so you can try and duplicate the results in future content. You may also want to add any event goals you've created to the report, especially if you've set up a event to track comments on your posts.

Add the Content Custom Report to Google Analytics

Keyword Analysis Custom Report

I think this is one of the most valuable custom reports you can run, and it's one of the bigger custom reports that I like to create in my accounts. There are three components to the report: targeting, engagement and revenue.

Keyword Analysis Custom Report

Targeting
This part of the report is pretty straight forward. It's a Flat Table report that places the Page Title and the Keyword that is sending it traffic side-by-side. From there I've added a handful of metrics to determine if I am targeting the right keyword on the right page. Perhaps I'm getting a lot of traffic for this particular keyword, but the majority of people are going elsewhere and/or not converting. This may lead me to do some testing around changing which page I'm optimizing for this particular keyword.

Engagement
Similar to the Content Custom Report, this component focuses on how engaging visitors are when they visit the site via a specific keyword. I love traffic just as much as the next guy, but if that traffic isn't doing anything on my site - what good is it? This report will help you identify problems and opportunities for keywords that have low/high engagement rates.

Revenue
Just how much money is a keyword making you? This component of the report looks at the number of transactions, the revenue generated and the per visit value of organic traffic for each keyword.

Add the Keyword Analysis Custom Report to Google Analytics

Link Analysis Custom Report

Which of the inbound links that you've built are sending you the most quality traffic? Don't forget, there's much more to links than rankings, they are also opportunities for sending high quality traffic to your site that may even convert.

This custom report looks at which of your referrals are sending you the most engaging traffic. Knowing which links are sending you the most quality traffic will help you determine if you should be going back for more or if you can find other sites just like it to get links set up on.

Link Analysis Custom Report

If you're investing a lot of time in getting specific links built, you may even consider tagging them with Google's URL builder tool. This will allow you to track the effectiveness of your link building campaign.

Add the Link Analysis Custom Report to Google Analytics

PPC Content Custom Report

I'm a big fan of using paid search as a way to test which landing pages you want to target your keywords on for relevance. The goal of the test is to determine if you were to target a specific keyword on that page, would the visitor find what they are looking for and convert? This is a great way to minimize the risk of focusing on the wrong keyword on the wrong page and investing months of SEO work to get it traffic.

PPC Content Custom Report

You can use this custom report to look at just that: which keyword/landing page combinations are the most effective from a revenue perspective. Even if you don't run a test like the one I just described, you can still get a pretty good grasp on this just by pulling the report and looking for these opportunities.

Add the PPC Content Custom Report to Google Analytics

PPC Keywords Custom Report

Continuing with our holistic custom reports, the goal of the PPC keywords custom report is simple: identify high performing keywords from your paid search campaigns that you could consider targeting in your SEO campaign.

PPC Keywords Custom Report

The report calls out a couple qualifier metrics, including how much money bidding on the keyword is costing you, and what your cost per conversion is. This is a great way to decide if you can't afford to target the keyword via PPC, can you make up the loss of traffic via SEO?

Add the PPC Keywords Custom Report to Google Analytics

Social Media Custom Report

We've seen the influence social media has on SEO, and now it's time to make sure we're well-informed of any social media data that can be leveraged to improve our campaigns.

This report uses a filter created by Site Visibility to look at all referring traffic from a variety of top social sources. With this filter applied you can look at which social traffic is most engaged with your content.

Social Media Custom Report

If you're tracking social actions you can quickly see which content you've created is being shared the most, so you can figure out what they like about the content and duplicate the results.

I also like to see which social media is converting the best so I can determine if we should be increasing our participation efforts on that social network, or even start experimenting with advertising on that social network.

Add the Social Media Custom Report to Google Analytics

So there you have it, seven custom reports to help you analyze your analytics data faster and easier. What other SEO-focused custom reports have you found valuable?

Published: March 5, 2012

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Comments

March 5, 2012 - 11:22pm

I feel like I have been missing out on some important factors in tracking my SEO efforts until now. Great job Taylor! I'll be awaiting your next post!

March 6, 2012 - 1:33am

Glad you've been enjoying them! I'm a data geek so I love seeing other people get excited about it, too.

March 6, 2012 - 7:19am

These custumized reports will definetily help out on showing clients the effect of SEO on their website and the importance of working on the long tail to improve conversions on specific content.

Great post

March 10, 2012 - 12:54am

This article has been sitting in my reader for a few days and now I'm really glad I took the time to read it. Some of the reports I had already made similar reports (keywords), but others like the link analysis and the social media are awesome! Thanks!

March 10, 2012 - 4:23pm

I'm glad you were able to find a few that were helpful and thanks for reading! :)

March 15, 2012 - 5:54pm

Impressive post -- thanks! I'm at the aggravating/irritating/infuriating part. I want to create a simple custom report for keywords (for a client) and I can't get the keywords dimension to show up as an option. (I have the flat table type selected) Any hints for me?

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