To many marketers, analytics can be a dry and highly technical topic. But I assure you that the actionable insights that analytics programs (like Google Analytics) give you are well worth your time.
This article will explain how to find hidden keywords, use Google Analytics for SEO, and move beyond Google tools for next-level professional Search Engine Optimization capabilities.
1. Find Hidden Keywords Using Search Console
Typically, keyword research involves using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or SEMrush to discover which keywords have search volume.
However, I have found through experience that some keywords have search volume, even though these tools claim that they don’t. They are “hidden”.
15% of the keywords that Google sees every year are new, and have never been seen before. So it makes sense that keyword tools wouldn’t show search volume for those terms.
Oftentimes, these are keywords with time-based modifiers, such as “best blockchain software 2020” or “best dividend stocks october 2020”.
Many times they involve trending events or new things, such as new products, TV shows, or sporting events.
Getting attention or traffic from trendings events is called “newsjacking”. And you can do it with an SEO approach, too.
You can discover hidden keywords in your niche by following a simple, two-step process:
- Write about trending topics in your industry
- See what related queries have impressions in Search Console
It looks like this:
Earlier this year, my team and I were writing a lot of content about the government’s new “ppp loans” and “eidl loans”. These new programs were trending in the news, but the keyword tools showed no search volume for them.
When I looked in Search Console, I saw our website ranking on the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2 for related queries, including:
- ppp payroll requirements
- sba emergency loans coronavirus
- eidl loan requirements
- eidl loan calculator
So we wrote new articles targeting each one of these keywords. And the new articles drove a ton of traffic!
You can follow this same approach with your website. I call it the “splinter off technique”.
Find queries that your website is starting to rank for, but not in positions 1-5. Write separate articles optimized for each of those keywords, and enjoy increased rankings, and traffic.
Helpful resource: What Is SEO & How Does It Work
2. Using Google Analytics for SEO
I have to confess that I used Google Analytics for a while without using this particular view. And once I learned it, it’s literally what I look at every time I use my analytics.
In the left hand menu, click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. In the main dashboard, it lists out all of the marketing channels. Click on “Organic Search”.
This view gives you incomplete keyword data, so click on “Landing Page” in the tiny “Primary Dimension” links area.
Now you will see all of the landing pages that your website gets organic traffic to.
This is where the fun begins.
I like to do what I call a “Pareto Analysis”. The Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of your effects are derived from 20% of your causes.
From this Google Analytics view, ask yourself, “Which 20% of my pages are driving 80% of my traffic?”
You can also see:
- Which 20% of your pages are driving 80% of your conversions, by looking at the conversion goals
- Which 20% of your pages are driving 80% of your revenue
The Pareto Principle is widely applicable. Once you use it, you notice patterns everywhere.
Which 20% of your pages receive 80% of the backlinks?
Which 20% of your customers drive 80% of your sales?
Which 20% of your employees achieve 80% of your company’s productivity?
Once you notice the patterns, you can double down on what’s working and ignore the rest. Rinse and repeat.
3. Set Up Alerts in Google Analytics
Alerts are great because they notify you of important things. You’re not always going to be paying attention to every aspect of your marketing.
When it comes to SEO, I like to set up two types of alerts: for traffic fluctuations and for content evaluators.
A few years ago, I worked at a company that got hit by a manual penalty on several of the websites that they owned. This is the worst thing that can happen to you in SEO.
Entire site sections were deindexed. The organic search traffic to those pages dropped off immediately, and that caused a ton of revenue to disappear overnight.
Interestingly, in the case of some of the websites, Google Search Console’s email notifications didn’t go out for several days, or even a week.
And nobody noticed until the emails went out!
Don’t let this happen to you.
While you might not receive a manual penalty from Google, there are other things that could cause your organic search traffic to instantly drop, including:
- Your website getting hacked
- Your server going down
- Somebody disallowing the entire website in the robots.txt
- Setting the homepage meta robots to noindex
I have seen all of the above happen to websites.
So you need to set up a Google Analytics alert for drastic traffic drops. This will send you an email alert the second your trigger event happens.
To set this up, go to the Admin gear symbol at the bottom of the menu. Click on Custom Alerts, then click the +New Alert button. You can set up various alerts, including when sessions drop below 50% compared to the previous day.
The other alert that I like to run is to see if a manual content evaluator is reviewing the content on my website.
If the content evaluator doesn’t like what they see, they can give a bad review that might result in a massive decrease in organic traffic to that website. Or, if they like what they see, the opposite can happen.
Google officially denies this, but I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.
Controversial opinions aside, you’ll want to know if you’re receiving a manual content review.
With this alert, you’ll want to set up an email notification if your website gets referral traffic from any one of the known contractor websites.
Neil Patel has exact instructions on how to set that up here.
Helpful resource: The Ultimate Guide to Organic SEO
4. Advanced Analytics for Boosting Conversions
The free version of Google Analytics has become an industry standard tool. It’s great, and I use it every day. But it has limitations.
For starters, the data isn’t always 100% accurate. The free version of Google Analytics uses sampled data, so you’re not seeing everything that happens on your website. There is a margin of error on the numbers that you see, which can sometimes be misleading.
Even more importantly, Google Analytics struggles to track users across different devices and products.
For example, say that someone finds your website through a Facebook ad on their phone. Then they leave your website.
The next day, they Google your company name on their home computer, click on an organic search result, and create an account. The day after that, they come back directly to the website on their work computer and buy something from you.
Google Analytics would probably attribute this event as a conversion event from the “Direct” marketing channel, because the last time the user visited your website they directly typed it into their browser.
It wouldn’t put together that the user actually visited your website two times before, on different devices.
If you want to blast past those limitations, I would recommend a product analytics tool like Woopra. Like Google Analytics, Woopra also has a free product version, but they:
- Report on 100% of your data
- Connect the same user across multiple devices and touchpoints
- Will even retroactively tie together multiple touchpoints for a single person, acting almost like a CRM
In the example that I mentioned above, Woopra would track all of those touchpoints. Once the user created an account, it would be able to tie together all of the devices that the user logs in with, and track them as a single person.
This hugely valuable, because now you have accurate data on:
- How many touchpoints your customers actually need before buying from you
- Comprehensive data across multiple devices, whether the user is logged in or logged out
- Correct revenue attribution
Helpful resource: How to Rank Higher on Google
5. Analyze Your Backlink Anchor Text
Since backlinks and content are the two most important ranking factors in SEO, they both merit attention and resources.
Figuring out how many backlinks you need to rank for a specific keyword can be tough.
The industry-standard tools, Ahrefs and Majestic, have good insights for this. But it takes a lot of exporting data and then manual spreadsheet work. It’s time consuming.
SEOjet is my favorite tool for helping to analyze backlink data. You sync it with your Ahrefs or Majestic account, tell it the keywords that you want to rank for, and let it do the work.
It tells you how many backlinks you will need to rank for each keyword, based on the competitor website data for that keyword. It also tells you what anchor text you need your links to have.
I’ve been able to rank for some highly competitive keywords by rigidly focusing on anchor text ratios and only acquiring high quality links.
Usually, optimized anchor text ratios look like this:
SEOjet splits your anchor text types into three different areas:
- Exact Match
“Exact match” anchor text is when the anchor text is your keyword.
If you’re trying to rank for “credit scores”, then your anchor text will say “credit scores”.
“Blended” is when you see the keyword words in the anchor text, but they’re not an exact match. For the keyword “credit scores”, examples of blended would include “credit” and “the best credit scores in the whole world”.
“Natural” anchor text is everything else. This includes branded, naked URLs, URL variations, and generic anchor texts. These include:
- Branded – “Fannit Internet Marketing”
- Naked URLs – “https://www.fannit.com/”
- URL variations – “Fannit.com”
- Generic – anything without the keyword, brand, or URL, like “click here” or “this website”
When you get into the weeds of anchor text analysis, you’ll see variations of all of the above, and other things besides.
The important rule of thumb to remember is to: use exact match anchor text sparingly, and be liberal with your use of branded anchor text.
The former CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board of Google, Eric Schmidt, has publicly stated that, “Brands are the solution, not the problem… Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”
This reflects an underlying belief from Google’s top brass. They believe that what separates spam websites on the internet from legitimate enterprises are the existence of a brand.
I believe that’s why Google has emphasized brand signals as an important part of its ranking algorithm.
Google likes to see:
- Branded anchor text to your homepage
- Lots of links in general to your homepage
- Branded anchor text to your inner pages
- Non-link mentions of your brand name across across the internet
Using this methodology, you can outrank competitors with stronger domains and bigger budgets.
There is a lot to unpack in the tools mentioned above. The important thing is to get started, move forward, and learn and do more today than you did yesterday.