Any time a customer visits your site and carries out your desired call to action – make a purchase, sign up to a newsletter – it’s called a conversion. Organic conversions are those that come from traffic generated from search engines due to their relevance rather than paid advertising. Since this is the essence of your business, properly understanding your organic conversion rate is essential.
Google Analytics is one of the primary tools that SEO professionals use to track conversions. If you’ve previously found the idea intimidating, don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it first seems, and gets much easier once you dive in and start experimenting. You can even play around with dummy data in a Demo Account so you don’t have to worry about making mistakes with real data.
The success of your campaign comes down to understanding the available data to track conversions, i.e. determine if your efforts are actually working. For example, if you’re experimenting with content marketing, you’ll need real insight into how often to publish new material, which articles are being read, by whom and at what time of day, and whether these readers ever progress to making a purchase or signup. Here’s how to get started using Analytics to get a handle on your conversions.
Google Analytics, step by step
Before you start, you’ll naturally need a Google account, and to sign up for Google Analytics (which is free and pretty easy to do). Once you know what your tracking ID is, the tracking code is embedded into the HTML of every page of your site so it can send information to Google.
You could essentially stop there and get a third-party tool to analyse your data for you. However, it’s worth taking the time to do what you can yourself, since every business is going to be unique, and a more tailored approach will yield a better result.
Create conversion goals
Before you can get started, you need to set up concise and realistic conversion goals. Think carefully about what you consider a conversion in the context of your site.
Find the Admin tab and locate the “View” column, then click on “Goals.”
Choose “New Goal.”
Under “Goal Setup,” you’ll see plenty of options, but you want to scroll down and choose “Custom.”
Next, you’ll be prompted to name and describe your goal – select “destination” as the type for now.
Add your tracking code to your web page headers
What you have to do next is link this to your “thank you” page – the page that appears to your customer after they’ve made a purchase, signed up or any other desirable call to action.
After “Goal Setup” and “Description,” enter the URL of the page into “Goal Details.” You can optionally add how much each signup or purchase is worth to you (this requires a separate calculation using average customer lifetime value and customer acquisition rate).
Remember that if you have multiple campaigns, you’ll need to set up separate goals for each of them, so take your time. Each should have its own thank you page (or equivalent) so you can separate them out when you analyse the data.
Once you’re happy, turn the recording status to “on” and Google will start tracking!
View your data
Select “Acquisition” > “Overview” > “Conversion,” and your new goal to take a look at the data – at first there won’t be anything. In time you’ll be able to see the channels that perform the best, and how many times someone has visited your site.
Check the third column, “Conversion Rate,” to see which channels have the highest conversion rates – these are the channels you obviously want to focus on. The more data you collect over time and the more you fine-tune your methods, the more you’ll understand exactly how customers are behaving on your site and adjust accordingly.
Think in terms of customer journeys
Once you get a handle on your conversion data, you might start to become curious about more than just the very last click on your customer’s path to that final sale or signup. The Attribution tab on the left side will give you more insight into the different ways you can track and analyse the customer journey, so you can give credit for the conversion where it’s due. This allows you to focus your efforts where they really matter and optimise correctly.
If you’re new to using Google Analytics, the key is to start small and take your time. There’s plenty to wrap your head around, but thankfully you can get started right away with just a few principles in place. As most SEO experts will tell, the best way to learn how is to jump in and ‘trial-and-error’ it for yourself.