Watch Your SEO Campaign with a Google Analytics Dashboard
We’re all busy. It’s easy to overlook important things while being pressured by the tyranny of the urgent.
Have you ever:
- Found out your developers removed a bunch of pages from your website a couple of weeks ago?
- Gotten a client call asking why they haven’t got any leads- only to realize you could have caught the error earlier?
- Overlooked an undemanding client so much that you didn’t realize their traffic was tanking?
Okay, that was a lie.
I’ve done all those things. That’s why I created this SEO dashboard. It forces me to take a look at every client’s website each week. From here I can quickly identify if there are any problems that I need to address.
You might not have clients- but this will help you maintain your own website, too.
Questions to Answer Before Setting Up Your Dashboard
What is the most important thing you want from your SEO campaign?
If you said, “ranking,” you need to reconsider. You can rank for something that never brings you any visitors. What good is ranking if it doesn’t send you traffic? You might get traffic but who cares of that doesn’t generate more leads? So, really, you want leads from your SEO campaign.
Can you track leads in your Google Analytics account? If not, stop reading this article, drop everything and fix that.
Since you have your lead tracking setup in Google Analytics, pick a goal as the most important goal. Sure, you want to grow your email list while getting blog subscribers and phone calls- but which is the absolute most important? We’ll need to know this before we setup the campaign.
Who can act on this information?
What good is creating a dashboard, if no one does anything with it? Make sure they receive a copy of the dashboard and take the necessary actions.
Be careful about sending a dashboard to high-level employees. Their job is about the big-picture. The dashboard is about specific actions. Some of the data in a dashboard might lead to overreactions when not understood correctly. It can also be infuriating when a high-level employee tries to micromanage someone based upon a snapshot. I’d create a different report for them.
When I worked in an agency, my entire team had dashboards for each of their clients. Each team member received a copy of this, every week. So did I, as their supervisor. At the same time, I didn’t send this dashboard to my boss or to the clients- it would only be confusing.
A Sample SEO Dashboard
I’ve created a couple different SEO dashboards, over the years. Here’s the latest version.
To use this, click on the link and import this into every particular Google Analytics view to which you want to see this dashboard. From here, you’re going to have to change a couple things, to make it work for your site.
- What is your most important goal? Change the goals to reflect this. To change a goal, hover over the widget you want to change and click the pencil icon. From here you’ll see “Show the following metric”- which you should change to the goal you want to watch. Don’t forget to change this in the Landing Page widget, too.
- Can you see your website’s 404 errors in Google Analytics? You can’t always do this. To find out if you can, create a 404 error on your website by entering a URL you know doesn’t exist. Is the Google Analytics script on this page? If so, is there someting in common between this 404 page and others? Could they all have “Page not found” in the title tag? Could they each have someting in common about the URL? Once you figure this out, change this section of the dashboard to reflect this. Like before- hover over the 404 page widget and click the pencil. Now, change the “Filter this data” to “Only show” the title tag/URL that shows your 404 pages.
- Add your root domain to the self-referring traffic section. This is easy. Hover over the Self-Referring Traffic widget and click the pencil. Now, go to the second item under “Filter this data” and change the “Source” from reliableacorn.com to your domain name.
- Send this report to the person who will be taking action. I recommend sending the report with a week-to-week comparison on Monday morning every week. This is not enough time to measure an SEO campaign (things take longer than a week). This is enough time to catch an error- which is the point of this dashboard.
This is an SEO dashboard. If I was doing another type of marketing campaign, I’d have designed this in a different way. In this case I don’t just want to know how my campaign is going but if anything is going wrong.
I’ve also limited the SEO data, in the middle column, to “New Organic Search” data. I did this because I we no longer have access to keyword data- at least in Google Analytics. Normally I’d only want non-branded keywords to show up here. I’m resorting to new visits from organic search instead. I find this weeds-out branded searchers and gives me a good idea of how the SEO campaign is doing.
Sure, there are limits to the value of only looking at new visits from organic search. But this is just a dashboard. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive report on the success of this SEO campaign.
Action Items: What Should You Do With This Information?
The most important question to ask of your dashboard data is, “why?”
- All traffic went up from last week? Why?
- Traffic went up but leads went down? Why?
- Why are we getting more traffic from our own website (self-referring traffic)? (This might help: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3198398?hl=en)
- See a strange domain name under the hostname? Why? (This might help: http://www.analyticsedge.com/2014/12/removing-referral-spam-google-analytics/)
Some of the data in the dashboard can help you understand why. For instance, The “Sessions by Medium” pie chart doesn’t mean much, by itself. It can help you understand why traffic from All Sources might have grown since last week.
The second most important question is, “does it matter?” Just because one of these metrics goes down, doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. Sure, you might have a little referral spam in your data but it might not make a significant impact. In fact, your time might be better spent writing a new blog post than chasing down a complicated issue.
Do you have a dashboard you like to use? Tell us about it! How would you improve this dashboard? Share your thoughts in the comments, below.