I attended a couple of great sessions this morning, most of which were focused on web analytics and how they can provide actionable data. Here are some key takeaways:
1. Keep your enemies closer, but keep your friends close too.
When you start an SEO campaign, the focus is usually on competitor research: what are your competitors optimizing for, where are they getting links, and how can you do a better job at it than them? But through Google Analytics you can also see what sites you are already getting traffic from. Well, a lot of the time, the users that come in through those referring sites ended up there because of a previous search query. Why is the referrer ranking, and what can you do to get your site on that SERP too?
2. Exploring site search
A lot of websites have a search bar that allow you to search through the content of the site. This is a nice safety feature, but once a user is on your site, you have control over their experience, so they shouldn't have to: important information should be accessible through site navigation. Luckily, you can track popular internal search terms with Google Analytics. If a lot of users are searching for the same pieces of content, it's probably a good idea to investigate how easy it is to navigate to them.
3. Using advanced segments in Google Analytics data
There is a lot of data in Google Analytics, but the default reports are not always easy to sort through. Sometimes you want to look at a the performance of a whole group of keywords, without the distraction of extraneous data; or you want to look at the sources, conversion rates and actions of only the "highly-engaged users" who visit more than three pages. Advanced Segments allow you to view custom sets of data in a single report.