Using Google Analytics Custom Reports to Improve Search Engine Marketing Insights

At its best, Google Analytics is a valuable, almost obsessively comprehensive, stream of data regarding how users find your website and which of them convert into customers. At its worst, Google Analytics is a veritable mass of data that provides so many details about your web traffic, it’s difficult to know where to start. 

If you’re new to GA or are relatively inexperienced when it comes to interpreting the data found there, it can be tempting to analyze each inbound channel separately.

While it’s useful to view metrics for each of your inbound marketing channels to determine which efforts are effective and which need more attention, relying only on standard marketing channel reporting puts you at risk for missing the bigger picture. Think about it – users who ultimately convert into customers likely encounter your brand in multiple ways. For this reason, you’ll want to do everything you can to determine how your efforts are working together to drive traffic to your site.

Inbound Marketing Channels

Overall, Google Analytics provides a series of metrics for default marketing channels which can help you determine how  people find your site. Google sorts your traffic into one of the following default marketing channels to provide information about your traffic sources, including:

  • Direct – Users visited your URL directly or the source of traffic is otherwise unknown.
  • Organic Search – Medium exactly matches organic.  
  • Email – Medium exactly matches email.
  • Social – Medium matches social, social network, social media, sm, social-media, or social-network.
  • Referral – Medium exactly matches referral.
  • Affiliates – Medium exactly matches affiliate.
  • Display – Medium exactly matches display, cpm, or banner or Google’s Ad Distribution Network exactly matches content.
  • Paid Search – Medium exactly matches cpc, ppc, or paidsearch. It will not exactly match Content in Google’s Ad Distribution Network as it’s another variable Google brings in from paid campaigns.
  • Other Advertising – Medium will exactly match cpv, cpa, cpp, or content-text.

Taken separately, each of these channel reports provides you with a wealth of data about the source of your site traffic.

However, you will still need to  determine which data can help provide valuable insights for future marketing decisions.

Viewing each channel report manually and attempting to piece together an overview of your efforts can not only be confusing but can also prevent you from seeing the most important metrics for your business across several marketing channels.

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What to Look For

While it’s crucial for all page owners to pay attention to critical metrics like page views, sessions, and users, other key metrics will differ depending on the purpose of your website. Primarily, most websites can be filtered into one of three categories.

  1. eCommerce
    eCom sites should pay particularly close attention to conversion rates individually and across channels; how many purchases were made as the result of traffic driven to the site from each channel? User conversion rate gives further insight into those users who visit your site multiple times before making a purchase. In addition, revenue per visit allows you to determine the value of each user session for all your channels, as well as across channels.

  2. Lead Generation
    Lead generating sites place more focus on goal completions and goal abandonment rates; how many times did users visiting your site complete a particular goal such as a registration, business lead, or other request? How many times did users fail to complete the goal? In addition, take a look at your page value to determine just how effective driving traffic to a particular page is to inspire users to complete your desired goal.
  3. Content Sites
    Content focused sites spend perhaps the most time dedicated to user engagement metrics including page views and time on page. However, attention to pages per user is another key metric for these site types – are you engaging users enough to inspire them to view multiple pages in a visit? Tracking downloads is another valuable metric if your page provides user material available for use outside your site.

Should You Use Custom Reporting?

Although Google Analytics provides an almost overwhelming amount of data within each channel, relying on single channel reporting doesn’t give you a comprehensive view of actionable metrics for sitewide marketing. In addition, sorting through all that data is time consuming and can actually prevent you from viewing some of the most important insights.

For this reason, building a custom report that can provide all your key data points across channels is a great solution.Fortunately, Google’s Solutions Gallery is a great resource for custom reports already built for businesses like yours. Users can share their custom reporting setups, available for your use after a simple click.

First, make sure Google Analytics Add On is set up, then consider these reports:

  • Paid and Organic Report. Use Google’s Paid and Organic report to improve your presence in both paid ad results while monitoring high-value search queries for organic results. 
  • Content Driven Analytics. Investing in quality content is about more than creating an authoritative voice for your brand (but that’s important, too). Research your content’s SEO, its readability, and its authenticity compared with other content.
  • Top Converting Content. Find out what’s working by creating a report in Analytics for Conversions, then configuring it for metrics. Do the same for Pageviews.
  • Keywords. Google Ad Keywords helps you understand how each keyword and headline is performing.

In addition, even more complete reporting can be found using Google Data Studio. These actionable insights are presented in a comprehensive, attractive way to make multi-channel analysis even easier. For more information about how custom reports and Google Data Studio can help you perform analysis across channels, reach out to Vizion Interactive today.