One of the most important components of an SEO campaign is benchmarking analytical data and continuous monitoring of that analytical data as a success metric. It also becomes an essential resource in assessment to determine further optimization of performing pages and keyword terms. However, if your analytics are not tracking appropriately, you may be assessing success or the lack thereof on misinforming data. It is imperative as first step in an organic search campaign to remove your Web analytics setup to ensure that your data is being represented accurately.(Google Analytics is our preferred tool of choice and is used for the examples below.)
While having someone with access to your analytics will not necessarily inhibit the validity of your data, it does mean that this user has the ability to make changes that could impair data quality.
First, utilize a tool such as analyticscheckup.com before a site-wide audit of your code to ensure that all pages feature Google Analytics tracking snippets so page level data will be transferred to analytics.
Review: The fore mentioned tool above will provide an audit of site pages and email a list of all pages without tracking code.
Ensure that you do not have the tracking code on other owned sites. This can be found by reviewing pageviews by page and noticing whether there are URLs that do not appear to follow the URL structure of the site you do want to track rankings for.
Review: Content>>All Pages
Most of us performing an SEO campaign are focused on the generation of quality new visitors to the site. With this in mind, filtering internal site traffic helps you to gain a better perspective on the non-company related traffic that is entering the site. If internal traffic i.e., a call center is accessing the site often through search and completing form submissions, etc., you have just marred the perception of your Organic lead conversion success. Remove traffic from correlating supporting internal domains (as with example above) or to specific IP blocks.
No one likes to boast about their SEO success as it relates to lead generation or goal conversions only to find out they were tracking them inaccurately in the first place. Ensure that you have a complete understanding of your goal URL structure. With this, do goal URLs remain exactly the same or does each goal URL have ID numbers appended for example. Knowing this will allow you to properly detail what match type will be needed in your goal configuration.
Paid to Organic Slippage
When it comes to screwed up analytics and an organic search campaigns the resounding culprit is often PPC visits that are accidentally not reporting in paid referrals but being lumped into organic search data. Any up-spend in PPC and you think you have miraculously hit organic pay dirt. Finding this can be tricky sometimes. If you PPC landing pages are all in a custom folder structure, i.e., /landingpages/ then you can filter organic traffic to show these and see if PPC and organic tracking are merging. You can also filter by specific PPC URL variables if your landing pages follow that specific structure. Lastly, strong keyword performance for a term you know you are not ranking well for (I know, you wish you were) can be determinate of tracking inefficiencies here. The best course of action is to review your Adwords profile preferred settings to ensure they are linked to Google Analytics or inversely by reviewing your cost source setting in Google Analytics.
While there may still be an ability to have flawed analytical tracking, these are the most common. Paying heed to the above mentioned areas will help to ensure your analytical data is sound.
Give us a shout if you need help with your Web analytics.