So you’ve been working on your SEO for a few months and you’ve been tracking your incoming visitors through Google Analytics.
You look at your data over these months and see that your website has had a steady increase in traffic and conversions.
Alright! All of your SEO has been paying off, right?
Don’t make the rookie mistake of going up to your boss and saying:
You might be wasting huge amounts of time and money on unnecessary keywords – or your keywords may not be performing at all.
Top-line figures mean very little when you’re trying to review performance. So, if your boss comes up to you and asks this:
Don’t you want to be able to answer his request like a champ?
Introducing Custom Segments
Custom segments can let you analyse which keywords have been performing best for your website in just a few seconds.
It takes a little longer than that to set them up initially, but when you do, you’ll suddenly have a wealth of actionable data that can help you take your SEO to the next level.
Step 1 : Segment those keywords
No matter what website I’m working on, I like to break my analytics data into three keyword groups: Brand-keyword traffic, Non-brand keyword traffic and (not provided) traffic.
Without segmenting your keywords, you cannot be sure whether any increase in traffic and/or conversions is a result of your SEO work, or merely an increase in brand awareness by other marketing means.
By setting up custom segments, we can see whether or not the keywords you are optimising for are performing as you want them.
As an SEO specialist, I would happier to see data that indicates non-brand keyword traffic has increased by 20% month on month rather than all organic traffic increasing 40%, because it shows me that my efforts in trying to make the website more visible for certain keywords is working.
Step 2 : Creating the Segment
The first thing to do is to create a custom segment.
From anywhere within your analytics dashboard, click “Advanced Segments” and then “New Custom Segment”.
From here, you will want to give your segment a name:
At this point, I take a couple of steps to ensure that the figures receive are 100% organic.
My first rule says to only include data whose “medium” is “organic” and exclude traffic whose “landing page” includes “medium=cpc”.
Every now and then, Google Analytics, through its default segments, let’s clearly paid traffic appear in its non-paid traffic segment.
By starting your segment with these two rules, you are making sure that any PPC landing pages and/or display network users are not counted as organic traffic.
Note how the second rule is an “AND” statement.
For this example, we will set up a “Brand Keyword” segment. Here, you will create another “AND” statement, select “Keyword” and then type in your brand name.
I would then add in a few “OR” statements to this rule, so that you can capture all of the brand keywords your website has, plus a few common misspellings.
So, if your brand name was “ABC Smith”, you should be left with something similar to this:
Step 3: Repeat the process for non-brand and (not provided)
When you’re creating a segment for your Non-brand terms, you create the same set of statements, but instead of “including” the keywords, you simply set it to “exclude” the keywords.
The (not provided) segment is easiest of all, you only need to include one statement keyword, which of course is (not provided)!
Step 4: Reap the rewards!
Now you can apply these custom segments to any part of your report. This includes looking at your traffic data and, most importantly, conversions.
All of the data can be back-dated with these new segments, so you can check your data from many months ago with these new segments and see how your SEO performance has changed over time.
An increase in new visits from your Non-brand keyword segment would suggest that your SEO efforts are reaping their rewards, as you have most likely increased your visibility for certain search terms.
It should be remembered, however, that Google Analytics works on a last-touch conversion model. This means that whatever keyword that was used last before converting will be given the full credit.
This can result in your conversion data not telling the whole story, even with these custom segments.
For example, a non-brand term may have brought a user to the site for the first time, however, may have only converted while searching for the site with a branded term a few days later.
This is why it is important to go into the “Multi-Channel Funnels” section in Google Analytics.
This way you can see whether any non-brand terms have started or assisted in a user conversion. If you see an increase in these channels, you should take confidence that your SEO efforts are going well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post.
If you have any questions, please use the comment box below and I would love to hear about any custom segments that you have built!