The Google Analytics Search Console integration allows marketers to get a more complete picture of organic search traffic. Combining the data and metrics from Google Search Console and Google Analytics makes it easier to make informed content decisions.

Let’s walk through exactly how to integrate these two tools.

Step 1: Create a Google Search Console Account

Before you can connect a Search Console account to Google Analytics, you need to add your website to Google Search Console. Review our guide to setup a Google Search Console account if you don’t already have it configured.

You’ll need to add your website as a Search Console property and verify you own the domain. The guide above will walk you through that process.

Step 2: Link Search Console Property in Google Analytics

  1. Click the gear icon to navigate to the Admin panel.
  2. Under Property click on All Products in the Product Linking section.
  3. Scroll down until you see Search Console and click Link Search Console.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Select the Search Console property you want to associate with the Google Analytics property and click Save.

You can only have one website connected with each Google Analytics property. If you need to, you can change the Google Search Console property. To change it, follow the steps above. But, when you get to step 3, you will click Adjust Link. The rest of the process is the same.

What Search Console Data Gets Pulled to Google Analytics?

When you integrate Search Console with Analytics you’ll be able to see search query, landing page, country, and device as dimensions. You’ll be able to see average position, impressions, and clicks as metrics.

And the best part, you’ll be able to see the standard Google Analytics metrics such as bounce rate with the Search Console dimensions.

When can you see the data and for how long?

  • Google Search Console keeps data for 16 months. This same range will be applied to the Search Console data shown in Google Analytics.
  • There is a 48 hour delay before Search Console data will display in Google Analytics.
  • When connected, historical data is pulled through. The data will go back to how old the Google Analytics property is or how old the Search Console verification date is, whichever one is the most recent.

Integrating these tools will allow you to make better use of the data. Combining multiple tools into one place is not only a time-saver but also provides deeper insight.

Have you connected Search Console with Google Analytics? What Search Console report do you find you use most often in Google Analytics?

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Google Analytics provides content marketers with the data they need to make informed decisions. But, it can be overwhelming. If you’re new to Google Analytics you may not know where to look. Let’s discuss the reports you need to know about in Google Analytics for content marketing.

Google Analytics can help you determine what type of content converts (and does not convert), ideas for new content, and who your content should target. It will also show how your existing content and content distribution channels are performing.

Determine What Content Converts

Knowing what type of content converts will guide your content strategy. It will show what should be updated and what type of content to create in the future.

Set Up Goals

Before you can gauge what converts, you need to set up your goals. Configure goals so you can measure what matters most for your business.

To configure goals, go to the Admin panel and click Goals under the View section. Then click New Goal and follow the steps to set goals that make sense for your website. Our Google Analytics Setup Guide includes tips and strategies you can use when configuring goals.

Find Patterns / Themes in Top Content

Take a look at your top landing pages to identify if there are any patterns you can identify and leverage. If the top performing content pieces are all on a similar topic, write more articles on that topic. If they all share a common element such as an infographic, add more infographics to your articles.

To view your top landing pages go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. In the right-hand section you’ll see the Conversions metrics. Select your primary goal from the dropdown in the Conversions section. Then, click the heading name for the primary metric you want to track. This will sort the data by that metric so you can identify the landing pages that had the biggest impact on the metric you want to improve.

Once you’ve sorted the data by the performance of your primary metric, that is when you’ll want to review the top content to identify any patterns or themes.

What Doesn’t Convert?

Not only can Google Analytics show you what does convert so you can make more of it, but it can also show you what isn’t converting so it can be improved.

You can view this data on the landing pages report but I’d recommend navigating to all pages to get a better overall picture of the under performers.

Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. To add a filter click on Advanced above the metric names. You’ll want to include pageviews and add a second metric to also include bounce rate.

Keep both metrics set to Greater than and input a value that makes sense for your website. The values are going to vary depending on the length of your date range and your website traffic. You can try setting pageviews to greater than 100 and bounce rate greater than 50.

If this returns no results, lower the pageviews to 75 or 50. If this returns too many results, increase the bounce rate to 70, or 80. Play with the values until you have a list of 5-10 problem pages that you can try to improve.

The goal of this is to narrow the list of pages down to a few key issues. You’re looking for pages that receive traffic (so they’re worth your time) but aren’t performing as well as the site average.

Find Content Ideas

Google Analytics is a great tool to review and analyze your existing content. But, there are also a few reports you may be able to take advantage of to generate new content ideas.

Leverage Internal Site Search Data

If you have an internal site search you can track this data in Google Analytics. To enable this feature, go to the Admin panel. Under View, click on View Settings. Scroll down to the Site Search Settings and turn Site search Tracking to On.

You’ll need to enter the query parameter. You can add up to five, just add a comma between each one.

To find the query parameter, run a search on your website and look at the URL on the result page. You should see your search term in the URL somewhere. Right before the term you will see your query parameter. It could look like ?search= or ?q= or ?s=.

You’ll want to add just the query parameter designation and no additional characters. So, if the parameter is ?q=, you’ll just add q to the query parameter field in Google Analytics.

Find Gaps in Your Content

Once you’re tracking your internal site search data, you’ll be able to review the terms people search for on your website.

To view the data go to Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms.

Look at the most popular search terms. Does your website already provide relevant content to address these topics? If not, add this to your content idea list.

These are topics your readers are looking for and they already see you as the expert that will guide them through the answer. Now you need to make sure you’re providing content with the answer.

Fine-Tune Existing Content Based on Demand

When you’re reviewing the search terms report from your internal site search, you may also notice there are terms or concepts that you have content for already.

Make sure that the language you use matches the terms your readers are looking for. If you notice in the search terms report that people search for conversion optimization but you normally refer to it as conversion rate optimization or CRO, consider updating your language to mirror what users are searching for.

You may also uncover a sub-topic or question that doesn’t require an entire article but may be a section worth adding to an existing article.

Review Search Queries

Keyword data has been gone from Google Analytics for years. But, if you connect your Google Search Console account to Google Analytics you can review search queries directly through Google Analytics.

To connect your Search Console account go to the Admin panel in Google Analytics. Under the property settings, click on All Products under the Product Linking section. Then follow the prompts to link your accounts.

Once you’ve connected your accounts, Google Analytics will begin collecting Search Console data.

To review your search query data go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. Use this data similar to how you leveraged the internal site search data. Are there any gaps that you can create new content to answer? Are there terms or language being used that differs from what you use on your website? Are there any sections that can be added to existing articles?

Know Who You’re Talking To

Google Analytics can not only help you understand what you should be saying, but also who you are talking to. You need to understand who your audience is so you can fine-tune your content to meet their needs.

It’s important to keep your reader in mind so each article talks directly to a person. If you generalize your content than you are speaking to no one, and your content will resonate with no one. It’s better to speak to one person than everyone. But, who is that one person?

Under the Audience section you can view demographics and interests. Navigate to Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories to get an idea of the interests and habits of your site visitors.

This data will not only give you a better idea of who you’re talking to, but it can also provide content tie-in ideas. If your audience likes sports you can add some sports analogies. You can create an article related to a popular TV show or movie for entertainment lovers. These categories can add a fun twist to traditional content ideas.

Understand How Your Content Performed

Of course one of the best, and most common, uses of Google Analytics for content marketers is to review the performance of your articles.

Add Annotations To Visualize Impact of New Content

Google Analytics allows you to add notes that appear as icons on the timeline graphs. This makes it easy to get a rough idea if there was a manual action taken immediately before a spike in traffic.

Documenting big site changes can make it easier to understand the full story when looking at your data. Some items you may want to annotate include site outages, new site designs, and product launches. If content marketing is a key strategy for your business, documenting article published dates could help you understand the data later.

When you release a new article click on the down arrow below any graph. Then click create new annotation. There you can add your note. Enter the date you want the note recorded on and a description such as Published Google Analytics for Content Marketing Article.

Having an article published directly before a spike in traffic doesn’t necessarily mean that article was responsible for the increase. You’ll have to dig in to the All Pages report under Behavior to get a better idea of the traffic for a specific page. But, when you see a big spike it’s nice to get an idea about what happened on the site right before so you can get an idea of where to look. It helps paint the picture of some of the factors that could have contributed.

Review Source / Medium to Analyze Distribution Channels

Once you’re reviewing the content article you want to analyze, add in a secondary dimension to get an idea which distribution channels have the biggest impact.

Let’s take a step back. Looking for where to review your content article? Start with the All Pages report under Behavior. You can use the search field above the metric names to narrow the data down to the article(s) you want to analyze.

Now that you have your article data in front of you, add a secondary dimension. To do this, click the Secondary dimension dropdown at the top of the data table. Add the secondary dimension called Source / Medium. (You can use the search field in the dropdown to quickly find the dimension.)

Now, you can view the articles broken down by channel. So, you can compare metrics for google organic traffic to the page versus facebook traffic or paid ads.

Advanced Tip: Create Automated Dashboard to Track Performance Over Time

Monitoring your results on an ongoing basis will make it easier to identify trends. You’ll be able to recognize popular articles and let that guide your future content themes.

You can leverage Google Data Studio to create dashboards. That way you can monitor the metrics that are important for your business.

Data Studio can be as simple or complex as you need. Here is a tutorial on how to create an automated dashboard to track content post-publish. It is an advanced dashboard configuration but the article includes templates to ease the process.

What reports or metrics do you find most helpful for your content marketing efforts? Please share them with us in the comments!

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If you want to increase traffic to your website, most marketers will recommend you install Google Analytics. But, how can Google Analytics help my SEO? Google Analytics will give you the data you need to track your performance so you can do more of what works.

Google Analytics allows you to make data-driven decisions. Here are the reports you can leverage in Google Analytics to improve your SEO efforts.

Know What’s Working So You Can Double Down

Report: Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium

Google Analytics can make it easy to see which channels are performing best. The channels could be various social networks, organic search traffic, or paid ads.

It will be easier to grow channels that are already performing well than it will be to try and grow traffic on a channel with sub-optimal performance.

You want to focus on the acquisition channel where your audience is. The current performance of the various channels is a good indicator of where your target demographic likes to spend their time online.

So, before you go all in with organic SEO, make sure that channel is a top performer.

To view the channels that are working best for your website navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. This report lists out the various channels people use to find your website.

View the report not only by the top number of users and sessions, but also by the most conversions. You want to not only receive traffic, but make sure those users are high-quality and likely to convert.

Track Demographics to Know Who You’re Talking To

Report: Audience > Demographics > Overview

As we just touched on, you not only want traffic but you want to make sure that traffic is the right demographic. If the visitor isn’t qualified, they will never convert.

In Google Analytics, you can view demographic data. Go to Audience > Demographics > Overview to view the age and gender of your website visitors.

Add a Segment to Determine Who Converts

We want to see not only who visits your website, but who converts. While viewing the demographic overview report add a segment to view only data for people who convert.

At the top you can click Choose segment from list to view the data for a particular segment. Click System > Converters to view a segment of people who have completed a goal or made a transaction.

Determine if Your SEO Efforts are Attracting Qualified Visitors

Report: Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

Add a date comparison and leverage the Assisted Conversions report to determine if your SEO efforts are improving or declining.

View data for the last 30 days and then add a comparison range of the previous period.

View your organic traffic growth under the acquisition report and then navigate to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions and click on Organic Search.

Look at the Assisted Conversions and Last Click or Direct Conversions. If these numbers are growing more than your search traffic growth than you are attracting qualified visitors. If they are declining than you want to revisit your SEO tactic to refocus your efforts where you can attract your target demographic.

In Summary

With any marketing effort you want to make sure you can track your results to ensure you’re having an impact. SEO is no different.

Figure out your goals, and then decide how you can measure them in Google Analytics.

Keep an eye on these reports to make sure you’re headed in the right direction and be ready to shift your efforts to align with your goals and audience.

What is your favorite SEO report in Google Analytics? Let us know in the comments!

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Google Search Console provides a wealth of information about your website. It is the tool Google leverages to communicate with webmasters. Search Console can notify you of issues and allows you to make requests of Google. It even reports crawl errors. Let’s discuss how to fix crawl errors using the Index Coverage report in Google Search Console.

Finding the Index Coverage Report

To access the Index Coverage report navigate to the property (website) you want to view in Google Search Console. Under Index on the left hand menu, click on Coverage.

The Type of Data Included in the Index Coverage Report

The Index Coverage report will list out four categories of web pages found on your website. Pages with errors, valid pages with warnings, valid pages, and excluded pages.

Pages with Errors

The 1st Tab in the Index Coverage Report

The Error tab should be your highest priority in the Index Coverage report. This is where you’ll find crawl errors. This is the list you need to concentrate on first because these pages are not being indexed.

Valid Pages with Warnings

The 2nd Tab in the Index Coverage Report

These pages are being indexed but Google has identified a potential issue with the page.

Valid Pages

The 3rd Tab in the Index Coverage Report

These are the pages currently indexed for your website. This list should steadily increase as your website grows.

Excluded Pages

The 4th Tab in the Index Coverage Report

These pages are not indexed, but that’s okay. These pages are duplicate or alternate versions of a page that is valid and already indexed.

index coverage report categories

So, How Do I Fix My Crawl Errors?

Now that we know where the Index Coverage report lives and what data it provides, let’s dig into fixing crawl errors.

Each of the four tabs (error, valid with warning, valid, and excluded) will group pages by a specific type. So, first choose one of the four tabs at the top and then click on a row at the bottom to view the full list of URLs.

The fix for each crawl error will vary depending on the particular type of error. Let’s go over how to fix the various types of issues you’ll find in the error tab.

Fixing Server Errors (5xx)

This error means that Google tried to crawl your site and received some type of 500 error. This was caused by an error at the server level.

The first thing you should do is try and access the page. If it loads for you the issue likely has already been resolved.

If the page is inaccessible try contacting your IT team or hosting company to see if there are any outages.

Fixing a Redirect Error

This error means that there is a broken redirect. This could mean there was a redirect loop or a redirect chain that was too long.

Redirect issues can eat through crawl budget which isn’t good for Google or your website.

Having a redirect in place is not an issue but make sure your redirect goes from point A to point B. Over time your site structure can change and sometimes redirects become longer. When this happens, you just need to clean up your redirects so there are no chains or loops.

Fixing this will vary depending on how the redirect was implemented in the first place.

If you use a CMS such as WordPress you may be utilizing a plugin to implement redirects. If that’s the case you just need to review the current redirects for the URL and clean them up so the redirect is as direct as possible.

If the redirect has been added to the .htaccess file you will need to contact your site admin to assist. To streamline this process have documentation ready with the original URL and the final URL you want the redirect to point to.

Fixing a Submitted URL Blocked by robots.txt

This means that there is a URL you have submitted (in your sitemap) that is being blocked by your robots.txt file. Google can’t index the URL because you have blocked it.

If you want it indexed, then open your robots.txt file. Find the line blocking the URL in question and remove it.

If you don’t want the URL indexed, then take a look at your sitemap.xml file. Find the URL, remove it, and you’ll be good to go.

Fixing a Submitted URL Marked ‘noindex’ Issue

Similar to the previous issue, you have submitted a URL (in your sitemap) but you have marked the URL as noindex either in the meta tag or HTTP header.

View the source code of the page and do a search (ctrl+F) for noindex. This should locate where the issue is on the page.

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress you can control this setting under the Advanced tab.

Fixing a Submitted URL Seems to be a Soft 404 Issue

This means you submitted this URL (in your sitemap) but it didn’t get indexed because the page is likely a soft 404.

A soft 404 is what Google uses to identify a page that technically is not an error page (has a 200 status code) but the content makes it appear like it should return a 404 error page instead.

Review the page content. Is there a broken element? Does the page have thin content?

Either update the page, redirect it to a different relevant page, or remove it entirely so the URL goes to a 404 error page.

Fixing a Submitted URL Returns Unauthorized Request (401) Error

This error means you submitted a URL but the page requires credentials and Google can’t proceed.

You don’t want pages that require user logins to be indexed. The best fix for this error is to find out where on your website Google found the link and remove it. Start by reviewing your sitemap.xml file.

Fixing a Submitted URL Not Found (404) Error

This means the URL you submitted for indexing does not exist, and therefore can not be indexed.

If the URL should exist, then check the page. There is likely a type-o in the actual URL or submitted URL. Add a 301 redirect so both versions exist.

If the URL should not exist then find where Google found the link on your website and remove it. Start by checking the sitemap.xml file.

Fixing a Submitted URL has Crawl Issue

This is a generic error message. The issue doesn’t fall into the categories above. It can be related to blocked resources, javascript, or a long load time.

You can troubleshoot the error by using the URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console.

How to Tell Google You’ve Fixed the Issue

Go through the errors one type at a time. Review and fix each reported URL in the type list. Once completed, click Validate Fix at the top of the error type page.

This will notify Google that you believe all reported page errors for this error type have been corrected. This will begin their process to confirm the fix and get those pages indexed!

These errors should be a top priority. Once they’re fixed it’s good to continue moving through the tabs and fixing any other potential problems.

Fixing the Warnings

Under the Valid with warnings section you’ll find one type of issue: Indexed, though blocked by robots.txt.

You’ll want to address these because even though the page is indexed, it’s going to be a sub-optimal display in the search results page. Google won’t be able to pull the meta information to include in the search snippet.

If this page should be indexed, then remove it from your robots.txt file.

If the page should not be indexed, then add a noindex meta tag to the page.

Now we’ve addressed both the errors and warnings. Let’s move on to the valid pages to make sure everything is optimal.

Optimizing Valid Pages

The report under the Valid tab separates the pages into two types. The pages are either submitted and indexed or indexed, not submitted in sitemap.

For pages in the submitted and indexed category your work is done. There is no further action needed. You submitted a page, it was indexed. Done.

For pages in the indexed, not submitted in sitemap category you can take another step to optimize these. Google found these but you could have made it easier for them.

Add these pages to your sitemap. It makes it easier for Google which will only help you. It can increase the crawl frequency which could have an impact on rankings.

Review the Excluded Pages

Now all of the errors and warnings are fixed, plus the valid pages are configured optimally. Let’s just review the excluded pages list to make sure everything looks right.

This list will list pages that have been excluded in robots.txt and with the noindex meta tag. It will also include duplicate pages.

Same as with the other tabs, you can click on any row to view a complete list of pages that fall under each type.

Reviewing this Index Coverage report on a regular basis will keep you on top of any crawl errors so you can fix them and get every page indexed.

Do you have any strategies you like to use when reviewing the Index Coverage report? Let us know in the comments!

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Staying on top of technical SEO must-dos can get overwhelming; especially for a non-technical person. Maintaining your website is important, but what should you do about 404 error pages? Do 404 errors hurt SEO? Let’s dig into the 404 error details that matter when it comes to SEO.

Short Answer is No — But it’s Complicated

No, 404 error pages do not have a direct impact search rankings for your website. Every webpage has 404 error pages, they are a normal and expected part of your website.

If you go to your website and then append any random phrase to the end of the URL you will likely get a 404 error page. This is the proper result for the action since it’s unlikely there was a relevant page for your random phrase. Search engines understand this and do not penalize for it.

Your 404 Error Page Will Not Rank — But Your Website Will Not Be Impacted

Just to be clear, if the page you are trying to rank does not exist and returns a 404 error, than it will not be indexed by search engines. It seems like this would go without saying but a page needs to exist to be ranked.

However, merely having 404 error pages will not negatively impact the SEO performance of your website as a whole.

404 error pages can affect link equity and user experience. These are the problems you want to pay attention to regarding 404 error pages as they can negatively impact your SEO efforts.

Broken Links Can Hurt SEO

If you have links pointing to a 404 error page than your website now has a broken link. Whether the 404 error page is on your website or a different website you want to fix this.

Having a broken link on your website is a bad user experience. The 404 page itself won’t cause SEO issues, but if you link to it you can create SEO problems.

I like to periodically test my website to see if there are any broken links. A good tool you can use to search for any broken links is Broken Link Check. Run a scan and review the list. Remove or replace any broken link on your website.

Ensure Your 404 Error Page Offers a Good User Experience

Just because the user got to a 404 error page doesn’t mean you want them to go away. Create a custom 404 error page so you can make the user experience as good as possible.

Add a call-to-action (CTA) to your 404 page to make it easy for users to continue. Most likely, your CTA will direct users to your homepage. But, you may have a search page or category page that makes more sense for your website.

Blank Pages Can Be Indexed If They Don’t Return a 404

If a page loads successfully (200 status code instead of 404) it can be indexed by search engines. It is possible that certain elements don’t load correctly and you essentially have a blank page.

Google classifies these as soft 404s. They are not technically 404 pages but they have broken elements that require attention.

If you want to check to see the status code of a webpage (404 vs 200) you can use the URL inspection tool in the Google Search Console.

To view the status code in Google Search Console:

  1. Enter the URL in the URL inspection tool.
  2. Click View Crawled Page.
  3. Click the More Info tab on the crawled page panel.
  4. The HTTP Response section will indicate the code.

Add Redirects for Common 404 Errors

If you have other websites sending traffic your way you don’t want to miss that opportunity. Yet, sometimes websites accidentally type the URL incorrectly and then you have potential users going to an error page.

If you notice this happening, you can either contact the website and ask them to update the link or you can add a redirect. Chances are a redirect will be the simpler choice.

You don’t want to redirect a 404 error page to your homepage or a different generic or irrelevant location. But, if there is a clear page that users would want to land on when that URL is entered than add a redirect to optimize the experience.

How to Find 404 Errors

You can find 404 errors using either Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. We’ll go over how to find them in each tool.

If you find 404 errors for pages that you have a relevant existing page, then add a redirect. If the page is truly no longer there or never existed and not related to your website, then just ignore it. There is nothing wrong with having some 404 errors when they make sense.

Finding 404 Errors in Google Search Console

To find 404 error pages in Google Search Console go to Index > Coverage. Then, look at the pages listed under the Error tab.

Finding 404 Errors in Bing Webmaster Tools

To find 404 error pages in Bing Webmaster Tools go to Reports & Data > Crawl Information. The tab selected by default on that page lists the 400 errors so you will see any 404 errors listed at the bottom of the page.

In Summary

404 error pages alone won’t hurt your SEO. But, the user experience is always important. So, make sure your 404 page guides the user to the right place and fix any broken links.

Do you have a custom 404 error page? What did you do to try and optimize the user experience? Please share in the comments!

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Posting fresh content is a lot of work. So, you want to make sure you get as much value from it as possible. Tracking the traffic can make it easier to determine if a page requires attention or updating.

This process can be streamlined by automating a report. The data still needs to be reviewed but at least getting to that point can be automated.

We’re going to walk through how to create a dashboard to track pageviews for your top five articles. We’ll track the traffic based on the article published date. We’ll review all pageviews and specifically monitor traffic from 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days after publish.

Here’s an example of what the final dashboard will look like:

At the end of this tutorial you’ll have the information you need to duplicate this dashboard for yourself. Hopefully, you’ll also have a better idea of what is possible when you combine Google Analytics with Google Sheets and Data Studio. That way, you can modify this tutorial to work with your business goals.

Don’t want all the details? Just want the template? Here you go! You’ll need both of these.

The Tools Required to Automate the Process

In order to create the automated post-publish content review dashboard you need a few tools.

  1. Google Analytics / Google Tag Manager
  2. Google Sheets
  3. Google Data Studio

Tracking Publish Date with Google Analytics & Tag Manager

First, you need to be tracking your website using Google Analytics.

One of the tricky pieces to this puzzle is the reports will be based off of the article publish date. Since we need to determine data based on the publish date we need to add this information into Google Analytics. To do this we’ll setup a custom dimension.

To setup a custom dimension I recommend using Google Tag Manager. If your Google Analytics tracking is already setup using Tag Manager than it makes perfect sense to use Tag Manager to implement the custom dimension as well. If not, this is a good time to consider moving your Google Analytics install to Tag Manager.

If you don’t want to (or can’t) use Google Tag Manager to implement the custom dimension than you will need a javascript developer to assist. The process we’ll walk through is specific to Tag Manager but a javascript developer can apply the process directly to your website.

Before we go into the step-by-step process I want to give credit to a few helpful websites.

When I started this process I referenced the guide found on UpBuild. It’s a great guide but the first step is to use the class name on the date field. Since my date field didn’t already have a class or ID, I decided to use the meta information.

To add custom javascript to track meta information I found a tutorial on Lynuhs. This showed how to capture author information from a meta tag. I was able to make a few modifications to capture the date and time information instead.

Now, we’re ready to add our custom dimension.

Step 1: Find the tag you want to track.

  1. Right click on an article on your website and click view page source.
  2. On the source code page, press ctrl+F to search for the word time in the code.
  3. If you have a WordPress blog, you should see the following two meta tags with a date.
    <meta property="article:published_time" content="DATE HERE">
    <meta property="article:modified_time" content="DATE HERE">
    (If you don’t use WordPress the meta tags may look different than above.)

Step 2: Create a variable in Tag Manager.

  1. In Tag Manager navigate to Variables and click New under User-Defined Variables.
  2. Click the Variable Configuration box to edit and select Custom JavaScript.
  3. To track the most recent update date with WordPress use the following JavaScript:
    function (){
    var metaName = "article:modified_time";
    var metas = document.getElementsByTagName('meta');
    var content = undefined;
    
    for (i = 0; i < metas.length; i++){
    if (metas[i].getAttribute("property") == metaName){
    
    content = metas[i].getAttribute("content");
    }
    }
    return content;
    }
    
    (If you want to track the original published date instead of the updated date than replace modified_time with published_time.)
  4. Press Save and name your variable Post Date.

Step 3: Create a Custom Dimension

  1. In Google Analytics go to the Admin section (click the gear icon in lower left).
  2. Under Property click on Custom Definitions > Custom Dimensions.
  3. Click New Custom Dimension.
  4. Configure your custom dimension:
    1. Name your dimension “Post Publish Date”.
    2. Keep the scope set to Hit.
    3. Make sure the active checkbox is checked.
  5. Click Create.

Once you’re back on the custom dimension summary page take a look at your new dimension. Look at the Index column and make a note of what index number corresponds with your new custom dimension.

Step 4: Add Dimension to Google Analytics Tracking Tag

  1. In Tag Manager go to Variables.
  2. Select your Google Analytics settings variable under the User-Defined Variables. The name will vary depending on how it was named when first configured.
  3. Click in the Variable Configuration section to edit it.
  4. Under More Settings > Custom Dimensions enter in the new dimension you created.
    1. Under Index enter the number found in the Index column in Google Analytics.
    2. Under Dimension Value click the icon to the right of the field to select the Post Date variable you created in Step 2.
  5. Click Save.

Step 5: Preview and Publish Your Changes

  1. In Tag Manager, click Preview.
  2. Navigate to an article on your website.
  3. In the Preview pane at the bottom click 2 DOM Ready on the left.
  4. Then, click Variables at the top.
  5. Scroll down until you see the Post Date variable. You should see the article date to the right.
  6. If everything looks good with the preview, go back to Tag Manager and click Publish!

Now you have a custom dimension set up that tracks your article publish date. Next, we’ll pull all of our data into Google Sheets. Once we do that we’ll go over how to make it pretty with Google Data Studio.

Pulling Google Analytics Data into Google Sheets

To pull Google Analytics Data into Google Sheets you’ll need the Google Sheets Add-On. This add-on allows you to connect your Google Analytics profile and pull your data directly into a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

First, we’ll discuss how to setup the spreadsheet at a high-level. Then, we’ll provide a link to the template and directions to get started with the template.

Pull Your Article Content to Analyze

The first report you’ll grab from your Analytics data contains a list of your content. I choose to do a timeframe of the last year. So, the report looks at 365 days ago until today.

I pulled a metric of pageviews and the dimensions of page path and our custom dimension. What that means, is the report will list out the URLs (page path) and the publish date (our custom dimension) and display the number of pageviews (the metric).

When you run this report it provides a big list. And when you review it you may notice a few issues. You likely have duplicate URLs. If you have various URL parameters appended to your URLs (such as ?fbclid=abcdefg) to track campaigns you’ll see all of those variations.

Also, you’ll notice we have the date but it’s difficult to read and includes a time.

We have the data, but it needs to be cleaned up.

Create a Worksheet to Clean Up Your Data

Have no fear, we can clean this up. We don’t want to override the data that gets pulled automatically from Google Analytics so we’ll create a new sheet.

We can use REGEXREPLACE to remove any URL parameters so we’re left with the part we care about. Here is an example of the formula:

=REGEXREPLACE(Content!A16,"(.*)\?.*","$1")

This basically says look at all content in the specified cell until you see a question mark. Then only display the first content that was found prior to that question mark. Since URL parameters begin with a question mark this was what we choose to clean up the URLs.

We’ll use a similar method to clean up our dates.

Instead of a question mark, all of the information in the date that we want to remove comes after a T. So we’ll change the question mark in our formula to a T:

=REGEXREPLACE(Content!B16,"(.*)T.*","$1")

We’ll also copy the pageviews to our new sheet so all of the information is together.

Now our data is clean, but we have a lot of duplication. Time to consolidate our data.

Consolidate the Clean Data

To consolidate this data we’ll create another sheet. On this sheet we’ll add a pivot chart. For the rows in the pivot table use the Page and Post Date dimensions from the previous worksheet. For the value, we’ll use the sum of pageviews.

Make sure your Post Date is formatted as YYYY-MM-DD. This will be important for Google Data Studio and ensures that Google Sheets sees it as a date field.

On your pivot table sheet we’ll want to add three columns. We want to calculate the date for 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days after publish. If your Post Date is formatted as a date calculating the other dates is as easy as adding 30, 60, and 90 respectively.

Add Reports for Top Content

Now that we have our list of top content we can add several more reports. Go back to the main Report Configuration tab.

We want to pull several more reports from Google Analytics. For each article you want to track we want to pull a report for 30 day, 60 day, 90 day and all time performance. So, if we’re tracking the top five content pieces we add 20 reports.

For each of these reports we’ll add dynamic information based on our pivot table. That way, as content is updated and changing we don’t have to update our report settings.

The start date will be the article published date. The end date will be either the 30 day, 60 day or 90 day date. Or, for all time data it will be set as today.

We’ll want to pull the pageviews metric for all of the reports. And for dimensions we will want both the URL (page path) and the date. Without the date we’ll just get a total number and we won’t be able to add a graph to visualize the trend in Data Studio.

We will also want to add a filter to these reports. We want to filter the data to only look at the one page we are concerned about. To do this we can add ga:pagePath=@[your content url] in the filter cell. The =@ operator means it needs to contain the following.

Run and Schedule the Report

One you have everything set up you can run the report. To keep the data updated you’ll want to schedule the report to run on a daily or weekly basis. These settings can be found under Add-ons > Google Analytics.

Using the Google Sheets Post-Publish Content Review Template

Step 1: Download the Template and Add-on

You will need the following two items:

Step 2: Configure Report

  1. To make edits go to File > Make a Copy.
  2. Name the copy and click OK.
  3. To get your View ID we’ll create a new report. Go to Add-ons > Google Analytics > Create new report.
  4. Name your report anything. Then, make sure you select the Google Analytics view you want to grab data from. You can leave the other fields blank and click Create Report at the bottom.
  5. The new report will be added to the last column (column W). Go to it and copy the View ID.
  6. Copy the View ID number into every report in the View ID row (columns B-V).
  7. Delete the new report you added (column W).

Step 3: Run Reports

  1. Before you run the reports, verify the dimension index is correct. Under the dimensions in the first report (cell B7 on the Report Configuration tab) you’ll see we’ve specified dimension1. Change the dimension number to match the index number for your custom dimension in Google Analytics. So, if your custom dimension is in index 3 change ga:dimension1 to ga:dimension3.
  2. To run your report go to Add-ons > Google Analytics > Run report.
  3. The first time you run it only one report will run successfully (the Content report). This is because the other reports rely on data collected in the first report.
    1. If this is the first time you’ve ran the report click OK on the error message.
    2. Then, navigate to the Data sheet (tab named Data at the bottom).
    3. Wait for the data to populate in the pivot table then navigate back to the main Report Configuration tab.
  4. Run the report again by going to Add-ons > Google Analytics > Run reports.
  5. All of the reports should have completed successfully. Click OK to close the dialog box.

Step 4: Schedule the Reports

To make the process automated we will schedule these reports to run. That way you don’t have to come back to the spreadsheet and manually run the reports any time you want to review data.

  1. To schedule the reports to run go to Add-ons > Google Analytics > Schedule reports.
  2. Check the checkbox next to Enable reports to run automatically.
  3. Select the timeframe that matches the frequency you need.
  4. Click Save.

Visualizing the Google Sheets Data with Google Data Studio

Once you have the data you want to make it easy to look at. Data Studio is the perfect solution. You can integrate your Google Sheets document and with a few clicks make the data beautiful.

You’ll want to create a new dashboard in Data Studio. Once you do that you’ll need to import your spreadsheets.

Import Your Data

You don’t need to add every sheet from your document. Instead, only import sheets with data you want to add to a chart. I consolidated all of the data I needed into one sheet (the sheet named Data) so that is the only one I’ll import.

When you import your data into Data Studio make sure to verify the field type is correct. You want to make sure any date fields are set to Date and not Number or Text.

Add Your Charts

Once your data is imported you can start adding your charts. You’ll see the Add a chart dropdown at the top. Choose the chart you want to use to visualize your data. If you aren’t sure, play around with the different options.

I choose to use a Table chart at the top with the data from my pivot table. Then I combined Scorecards with Time Series charts to display the data from the top content.

Using the Google Data Studio Top Content Performance Template

  1. Download the Top Content Performance Template for Data Studio.
  2. Click Use Template in the top right.
  3. Click the Select a datasource dropdown and scroll down to the bottom and clickCreate New Data Source.
  4. Scroll down to Google Sheets and click Select.
  5. Select your Content Summary spreadsheet.
  6. Under Worksheet, scroll down and select Data.
  7. Keep Use first rows as headers checked.
  8. Click the Connect button in the top right.
  9. Change the Post Date field to a YYYYMMDD date format.
  10. Review field format for each field. Everything other than Post Date should populate properly.
  11. Click the Add to report button in the top right.
  12. Now you should be back at the template preview screen. Click Use Template again.
  13. You can now select your spreadsheet in the Select a datasource dropdown. Select it and click Copy Report.

That’s it! Now you have your dashboard to track 30, 60, 90 day content performance.

A Few Notes

Data Only Pulls Items with the Custom Dimension

If you’ve just set up your custom dimension to track published data your data may not look accurate. This system only pulls content if it finds our custom dimension associated with it. So, you may have to wait and gather data before you see the data you want to review.

Data May Look Incomplete If You Update Often

I update my content all the time because every time I post a new article I add internal links wherever it is relevant and useful. If you update often you may find not very many top content articles have data for 60 and 90 day periods.

For my data, I’m okay with that. If that doesn’t make sense with your goals you may want to change the custom dimension to track the original published date instead of the updated date.

How did this system work for you? Did you make any modifications? Let us know in the comments!

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Google Analytics is an amazing tool. But, it can be overwhelming in the beginning. We’ll go over seven important Google Analytics metrics that you’ll want to track for your blog.

What is a Metric in Google Analytics?

A metric is a unit of value to describe various elements. The various elements are referred to as dimensions.

Metrics vs Dimensions

Metrics are values. Dimensions are descriptors or categories. In Google Analytics, metrics are displayed in columns in the right hand side. Dimensions are listed in rows on the left hand side.

metrics vs dimensions

Important Google Analytics Metrics to Track Content

Any time you’re reviewing Google Analytics data be sure to answer a question. Know what question you want to answer before you dig into the data. That will help guide you.

Question: Is traffic growing?

Metric: Users

Reviewing the users metric will indicate if the traffic is growing. The more users you have the more traffic.

Question: Do users like what they see?

Metric: Bounce Rate

You want your bounce rate to be low. If your bounce rate is at 100% that means every single person that visited the website immediately left. Meaning, it wasn’t a good fit for their needs.

Metric: Pages / Session

You want the pages / session metric to be higher than 1. If it’s higher than that means people are looking at more than just the initial page they landed on.

To encourage readers to view multiple pages remember to include internal links towards the top of your articles.

Metric: Avg. Session Duration

The longer your readers remain on your website the more likely they are a qualified visitor. If they spend more time it shows the content is relevant and useful to their needs.

Metric: New vs. Returning Visitors

Gaining new users is great, but if those users don’t return then you have a problem. Either the new users you are getting are not the correct demographic, or they don’t understand how you can help.

Question: Where are users coming from?

Report: Channels

Okay, so this is best answered with more than a metric. If we look at the report under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels we can view the users by acquisition source. This helps you understand not only how many users visit your website, but where they came from.

Question: Are they converting?

Metrics: Goal Completions and Goal Conversion Rate

Having traffic and long sessions is great, but if those users aren’t converting they’re doing you no good.

Make sure you set your goals in Google Analytics. Then you can view the goal metrics in the Conversions > Goals > Overview report to track the results.

Tracking your data in Google Analytics is a great way to understand the value of your website. Don’t let the data overwhelm you. Start with these basic metrics and questions.

What is your go to metric to measure the success of your blog? Please share it in the comments!

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Let’s start by explaining what SEO and CRO are, then we’ll dig into why you need them!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the act of making improvements to your website in an attempt to increase your ranking on search engines.

Here is how Google defines SEO:

seo definition

What is CRO?

CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization. It is sometimes referred to as Conversion Optimization. CRO is the act of improving pages and systems on your website to enhance the user experience and increase conversions.

So, now that we understand what SEO and CRO are, why do you need both?

Why SEO and CRO Work Best Together

If your SEO efforts are successful, you’ll get more traffic. And traffic with no conversions is useless.

Likewise, if your CRO efforts are successful your landing pages will be intelligent and beautiful. And a beautiful landing page with no traffic is useless.

SEO is the acquisition method you leverage to get more traffic to your website. Once you have the traffic, you leverage CRO to make sure that traffic converts. These two pieces create the funnel you want users to flow through.

CRO Leads to Long-Term SEO Success

Focusing on Conversion Rate Optimization can benefit SEO because they ultimately have the same goal.

The goal of search engines is to provide the best results for the user. The goal of CRO is to provide the best experience for the user on your website.

Focusing on CRO allows you to align your efforts and goals with those of the search engines. That doesn’t mean you should ignore SEO, but instead be mindful that you aren’t optimizing for SEO at the expense of usability.

CRO and SEO Share Some Success Metrics

There are a few metrics to track that can improve both SEO and CRO.

Page Speed

Improving your page speed has been important for years. Especially on mobile devices. 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Improving page speed can help CRO by making it possible for users to navigate your site with ease.

Page speed has also been one of the many factors used to calculate search engine rankings for years.

Bounce Rate

The other shared metric is Bounce Rate. If a user bounces, that means they saw the website and immediately realized it wasn’t a good fit. You want your target audience to understand how you can relieve their pain or support their needs within 5 seconds. Clarifying the benefit on your landing page helps CRO while reducing bounce rate.

Reducing Bounce Rate can help increase SEO by reducing what is referred to as pogosticking. Pogosticking occurs when a user visits your website from a search engine result, then goes right back to the search and clicks on another listing. This effect creates a higher bounce rate, and can also negatively impact SEO.

A continuous focus on SEO is great. Improving your CRO is fantastic as well. But consciously focusing on both SEO and CRO will allow you to multiply the value you receive from either effort.

Do you prioritize SEO over CRO or vice versa? Let us know in the comments!

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