Marketing & SEO Training Part 1 – Understanding Google Analytics

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Understanding Google Analytics: a guide for photographers who strive to manage their own SEO.

Once you have your head-turning branding in place and a brand spanking new website live, the next logical step is to ensure people can actually find your website.

Here at Grizzly Bear Design, we don’t just design beautiful websites – we ensure that they are well-coded, mobile-friendly and all basic SEO is in place before we hand it over.

However, if you want to really ensure that potential customers can easily find your website through various search engine searches, then you should look to begin your own SEO work.

It’s not as terrifying as it might sound – but to really help you out, we’ve put together a three-part blog post to guide you through the first steps.

In this first instalment, we’re talking about understanding Google Analytics and why it’s so important to use it, and how it can help you begin a useful SEO campaign. Utilising Google Analytics correctly can provide an invaluable insight on how to run your website from a marketing perspective.  

In particular, we will be explaining how you can discover how web users find your website and how you can use this information to bring in prospective customers.

Ensure Google Analytics is set up properly

Firstly, you will need to set up a Google Analytics account for your website. This gives you a code, which you can pass to your web developers who will install Google Analytics on your website.

You can then log into your Google Analytics account and see all the statistics and data for your website. It can look really overwhelming at first, but we’ll talk you through a few basics.

SEO training for photographers - understanding Google analytics, and how their channels work

Understanding your dash board

The first screen you will see is an overview of your website traffic, with a menu of options on the left-hand side. This initial information gives you stats about how many visits you’ve had to your website, with the option to choose different date ranges.

You will also see information such as how many visits, unique visits, page views, page visits, average time spent on your website, the bounce rate and new visits. This is a great overview as to how many people are actually looking at your website. Don’t worry if the figures aren’t very high at first – you will see them increase as you step up the SEO and marketing efforts!

Where is your web traffic coming from?

To find this information, go to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘Channels’, as shown in the screenshot above. This will show you whether most of your web traffic is coming from organic search (search engines like Google); referral (from a link on another website); social (via links on social media) or direct (typing in your web address).

This is really important to know because it obviously give you an indication of how people are able to find your website. If there is no traffic coming from organic search at all, then you definitely need to do some search engine optimisation!

If it’s all coming from social media, for example, and is converting into proper customers, then that’s great and you should continue your efforts in social media, but then also look at how to create more potential customers from the other routes as well.

Organic Search

This is where a user types a word or phrase into a search engine and finds your website from the search engine result pages (SERPs).  There are many search engines out there but the main one we all tend to use is Google, with monthly visitors estimated at 1,600,000,000!  Other notable search engines include Bing, Yahoo! Search and Ask (Bing shows up as a ‘cpc’ channel & not as an ‘organic search’ in Google Analytics).  

Take a look at this great parallax infographic explaining how Google works. Google determines the rankings of each and every web page on the internet through a highly complex algorithm. Factors which determine where a website ranks include: the website quality, having up-to-date relevant information, geographically relevant, and if the page loads quickly, just to name a few.

Referral traffic

This is where a user clicks a link to your website that was located on a different website. This process is also known as a “backlink” and is a very important factor in achieving good SEO. Google favours websites that have relevant backlinks feeding user traffic to them as this indicates that the website is legitimate and successful.  

For example, if you own a wedding photography website and you get a backlink from another wedding photographer who’s written a recommendation about you in their blog and provided a link to your website, Google assesses if this is a relevant link from a high quality website and could rank your website higher.

Social

Social works in the same way referrals do but is purely from social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn. So for an example on Facebook, this is where a post containing a link to your website is published, or you have a link to your website under your personal information.

Direct

This is where a user types the name of your website and more often than not will be already aware of the address and your business. If you have a high level of direct traffic, it’s great that so many people are aware of your brand and are actively seeking out.

However, if it’s your ONLY source of web traffic, it certainly indicates that you’re missing out on potential customers through organic search, referrals and social media.

It’s important to keep assessing how people find your website as you market it more and more. These stats will indicate where you need to do a little more work. It’s nice to have a good balance of traffic referrals and these stats are invaluable to assess how your digital marketing plans are working and what you need to do next.

Analysing your websites traffic through understanding Google Analytics will help identify your strengths & weakness' in your digital marketing strategy.

Keywords and popular pages

In order to look at which keywords people use to find your website, and also which of the individual pages are the most popular in search, you need go onto the left hand menu, click on ‘Acquisitions’, ‘Search Console’ and then the final option of ‘Queries’.  Here you will see all key phrases that people have typed into Google to discover your website.  It probably won’t come as a surprise but the most searched for terms will usually be your business name, but it is very interesting and useful to look at all the other key phrases listed.

To discover which are the your most popular pages, go to ‘Behaviour’ and then click on ‘Overview’.  This will give you a run down of all your most popular pages and ow many they have been viewed.

Overall, Google Analytics is really useful for anyone who wants to keep on top of their own marketing and how to really get the most out of their website. It’s always inspiring to see your visitor numbers grow over the months as you put in the effort to promote your website via social media and by getting links from other relevant websites.

It can take months to build up so don’t get disheartened – just try to set aside a couple of hours every week to do a little promotional work – and your business really will reap dividends from it.

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