Website traffic is considered one of the main (if not the main) indicators of web success. But there is more to just attracting traffic- website owners and SEO professionals can benefit from doing website traffic data analysis and understanding website statistics and trends. Whether you’re still growing your site or already focusing on acquiring your target market- traffic data analysis can aid in your SEO and marketing strategies. What’s even better is that this can easily be done with free tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
What are Google Analytics and Google Search Console?
Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC) are two of Google’s own free tools that provide webmasters the ability to track website traffic attribution, search terms, and behavior data. Although there are a ton of options for more “feature-packed” tools that can help marketers track these things plus other SEO factors of your website, these two already provide everything you need to understand your website’s progress- both on the big picture and on an intricate standpoint. My team at SEO Hacker also trusts these two free tools from Google which provide the necessary information for analyzing a website’s data on traffic and overall SEO performance.
Google Analytics can be considered your main tool for knowing the entire story behind your website and being able to piece it together so you have a clear understanding of everything that’s going on on your website. It’s focused on providing information that is specific to what your website receives and how a user interacts with it.
Google Search Console
On the other hand, Google Search Console provides information about your website specifically in the aspect of how it is performing from Google’s search results. Here, you can find information about your website with respect to the following:
- Search Performance
- Google Indexing
- Google Page Experience
- Enhancements and security issues
To put it simply, it presents data that allows you to see your website from Google’s perspective.
Google Analytics vs. Google Search Console
When it comes to analyzing your website’s data, these two free tools offered by Google provide different sets of information for us SEO professionals and marketers to utilize. The only similarity they have based on the data sets found in their respective dashboards can stem from; Google Analytics providing user traffic data that can provide you an idea of your website’s authority in Google Search, and Google Search Console provides search data that can translate to traffic coming into your website.
It is very important to acknowledge that these tools track traffic differently. There will always be certain discrepancies in data but you’ll notice that the numbers presented are still very close to each other. What’s important to take note of is that these tools can give you what you need to know about a website’s growth and how it’s keeping up with certain trends.
To learn how to set up Google Analytics, click here. To learn how to set up Google Search Console, click here.
How To Approach Website Traffic Data Analysis
Whether you’re providing website traffic data analysis for a newly SEO-optimized site or a well-seasoned website with multiple SEO strategies implemented; growth should always be your priority. Information is king. With the information that Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide, it’s all about how well you understand that information and what you can do with it.
How To Do Initial Website Audits with Google Search Console
Let’s assume that you’ve already laid out the SEO foundation of your website prior to development. Before your website traffic data analysis, the first tool that you should be closely monitoring must be Google Search Console. Starting with the Index Coverage report.
Review Coverage Section
The Index Coverage report is where you can find how much of your web page is being crawled and indexed by Google. The term “indexed” describes web pages that are stored in Google Search’s database, which allows them to be retrieved when a search query is punched in by a person using Google. There are also instances wherein Google crawled your web page, but decided to exclude it from its database. The report marks these pages as “Excluded”.
There will always be certain instances wherein an important web page that’s essential in your strategy is marked as Excluded. These are the pages that Google decided to exclude from the list of pages that can be searched by users. As an SEO professional, this provides you with information for your next action. What should you optimize more? Should you add content to the page? Build better topical authority? Whatever the reason may be, this is a good signal for you to know what to change and improve for your website’s SEO.
The Index Coverage report also provides information for pages with SEO-related errors within them. Web pages marked with Error are more penalized for SEO than a page marked as Excluded. Errors such as your website’s broken pages (404), pages that are set as no-index, and all other errors affecting Google’s capability in indexing your pages are listed here.
I highly recommend immediately taking action when receiving this information and then looking for ways to prevent it from happening. Learn more about the common GSC errors and how to fix them by clicking here!
Additionally, although the data found here are not directly considered “traffic”, they still play an important role in your website traffic data analysis. Web pages that Google Search Console identifies as having issues will not be indexed. Having non-indexed pages on your website will result in not being searched by users. Which will ultimately lead to less organic traffic coming into your website.
Review Performance Section
The last section that you should focus on is the Performance section of Google Search Console. This section provides you with an overview of how often users interact with your website on the Google engine results pages (SERPs).
Impressions represent how many users are able to see your website within the search results pages, while Clicks provide how many click-throughs it received from those users. The main point of analyzing this data is to provide you with a basic idea of how well your website is performing in Google’s Search Results Pages. When compared to Google Analytics website traffic data, the information is almost proportional to each other. This is mainly because whenever a website receives a high number of impressions and clicks, this is also an indication of website traffic increase.
How To Do Search Traffic Analysis with Google Analytics
Now that you’ve taken the necessary steps in optimizing your website based on Google Search Console, it’s time to further go into website traffic data analysis by understanding how it can affect performance and growth. This can be done by analyzing the user traffic data presented in Google Analytics. To start, the majority of the search traffic data that we need can be found in the Reports section of the tool. From there, proceed to navigate into Traffic Acquisition.
From there, proceed to navigate into Traffic Acquisition. The first thing you’ll notice with the tool is that traffic data is categorized into different types. Since our main focus for website traffic data analysis is SEO, we’ll only tackle Organic Search traffic for this article.
The main indicator in understanding website growth using Google Analytics is how much organic search traffic is coming into the website. This will tell you the specific number of people going into your website coming from Google search results- very similar to Google Search Console’s method of acquiring data. The only difference is that you can actually check which of your web pages people are landing on. This information can easily be taken by doing the following:
- Add filters to the tabulated data by interacting with the “+” icon, then clicking Landing Page to display what pages the users are clicking within Google Search results
- Then input “organic search” in the top left-most search bar of the data to allow the table to only display organic search traffic
After having successfully accomplished these instructions, the data presented in the table should appear similar to this,
The data appearing within the table is now comprised of the list of web pages that are garnering organic search traffic. Since the data is sorted from highest organic traffic to lowest, website traffic data analysis suggests that these web pages are considered the most visible in Google search results. But what’s most important is that through this organized information, you can also acknowledge which of your web pages are the least visible within Google search results.
Only by acknowledging these pages can you employ a strategy focused on improving the SEO of your weakest pages. Maybe consider doing a content gap analysis for these pages and see what you can improve. Learn about it here in our Content Gap Analysis guide!
As SEO Professionals, it should always be recognized that SEO is holistic by nature. Having the majority of your pages visible online equates to an overall improvement of website SEO authority. The information that Google Analytics presents provides everything you need to optimize and restrategize for website growth. So how can I further improve my analysis with both Google Analytics and Google Search Console?
Analyzing Website Traffic with Google Analytics and Google Search Console
One of the most volatile types of data in the world of digital marketing is organic search traffic. A lot of factors can affect the search traffic coming into your website. Some of the main factors of volatility in traffic include search algorithms, seasonal trends, unexpected and unchecked bugs in your website, and website server volatility. And all of these can be quickly figured out upon checking the GA and GSC tools. To further expound on the importance of website traffic data analysis, consider the following example.
One of our informational websites is receiving a decline in organic search traffic in comparison to the previous period. It lost an estimated 800 users in 1 month. To every website owner or SEO professional, this is considered an alarming loss in website traffic. Since the issue at hand mainly involves organic search traffic, the best tool to utilize next would be Google Search Console
Based on the data presented, it appears that it is only expected to experience website traffic since there is a particular loss in impressions for the website. Since there is a visible loss in impressions, this would also affect the number of clicks the website is receiving within Google search results. What does this mean for our website traffic data analysis?
Since there are fewer impressions coming to the website, your web pages are appearing less in Google search engine results pages. Luckily, Google Search Console also provides data on the search queries that users typed to discover your website.
Based on the keywords shown, it is quite noticeable how particular keywords received a major drop in impressions. This means that the website is either not ranking for the keyword or that the search query is lower for that particular period. Based on manually testing all these keywords by searching them on Google, I was able to discover that the website is ranking on the first page on all of them. And a website that ranks on the first page of Google is guaranteed impression data.
Based on all the data that I’ve gathered, we can only conclude that the website is undergoing a particular season wherein its keywords are being searched less by users. Rankings are going well, but there’s less traffic coming into the website. These are the kinds of conclusions that are only possible to hypothesize when you employ tools like GA and GSC to provide the necessary information for website traffic data analysis.
It is very easy to be overwhelmed with data and information. But at the same time, as SEO professionals, we should also be grateful that we can easily acquire them through Google Analytics and Google Search Console. There would absolutely be no point in strategizing and executing optimizations if we had no information to prove our efforts.
It’s only a matter of acknowledging the issue at hand, identifying relevant data to collect, and properly translating that data for you to develop the planned course of action for your website. This exactly represents the importance of knowing how to do even the basic website traffic data analysis.
Interested in an in-depth guide for GA and GSC? Check out our Google Analytics Tutorial for Beginners and Google Search Console Guide!