Stela Yordanova – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Wed, 28 Nov 2018 19:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Back to basics: How to capitalize on site search insights /back-to-basics-how-to-capitalize-on-site-search-insights-308636 Tue, 27 Nov 2018 19:27:34 +0000 /?p=308636 Website visitors are leaving many insightful data clues so use them to enhance your content development plan.

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Many marketers fail to capitalize on one of the most basic and valuable digital marketing tools at their disposal – site search. It’s amazing what you can learn about your customers based on what they search for on your website. Marketers should be analyzing this data and using it to improve the website experience and convert more visitors into leads, customers and sales. Here’s how.

What is site search?

Site search functionality allows website visitors to search for information by entering a specific keyword or phrase. This will enable them to go directly to information on your site, which is often faster than browsing through the site navigation.

Google Analytics reporting

Google Analytics provides a site search report within the behavior report that allows webmasters and marketers to understand how visitors search for content on your site.

The site search report provides invaluable insights about website visitors including:

  • The search terms visitors enter to search for content on your website.
  • The search pages from which they initiated a search.
  • The destination pages viewed after a search.
  • Visit duration after a search.
  • The percentage of users who exit your site after performing a search.

Here is an example of a Google Analytics site search report by category:

And by destination page:

How to access the site search report

To see how people search on your website you need to enable site search in the Google Analytics view settings.

Note: You can also enable site search categories if your URLs contain search category query strings.

Best ways to utilize site search insights

Optimize home page content

Make sure your home page is aligned with visitors’ needs. Identify the most popular site search terms and then verify that your home page contains content that is relevant to these searches and includes the most popular site search keywords. This will improve organic rank, increase traffic and engage prospects by providing the information they are looking for.

If your site search data indicates that many website visitors are looking for a specific product or service, make sure it is easy for people to find this information from the home page. You might implement a homepage slider, content widget or prominent link to make it easier for users to navigate directly to the product or solution page.

Identify additional content needs

Based on internal site search data you can identify topics that are important to your customers. This allows you to refine your website and content plan to meet your target audience’s needs. Specifically, a site search analysis enables you to identify content gaps and generate content directly related to topics that are of most interest to visitors. For example, you might find that your website is focused primarily on product content while many website visitors are searching for information related to support and services. Site search provides actionable data, direct from website visitors, that can help you prioritize your website improvement plan and justify the creation of additional content specifically related to support and services.

Improve website navigation

Don’t make website visitors endlessly search for the content they seek when you can make it easily accessible via your website navigation. Site search data provides meaningful clues regarding the most searched for information. Make sure that visitors can quickly find and access this content from prominent navigation options. Content related to popular searches should not be buried deep within your site causing visitors to venture down multiple paths and click through too many pages before they find what they want. Based on the above example, service and support should probably be a prominent option within your site’s main navigation.

Improve site search results

If your analysis indicates that a large percentage of users who use site search exit immediately after performing a search – maybe it’s time to take a look at your internal search results. I recommend that you conduct your site searches for the most popular topics/keywords and assess the results. Does your site search functionality return relevant content? Is it easy to navigate the search results? Do results load properly on various devices and browsers?

If you’re not pleased with the results you will need to:

  • Revise website content to better align with visitors’ searches.
  • Ensure that your content is optimized, and includes these popular search terms.
  • Dig deeper into your internal search algorithm to better understand how results are returned.

Select and improve destination pages

In the search pages report you can select the primary dimension to be the search destination page, i.e., the page users are directed to after performing a search.

Review your destination pages and make sure that the page provides the content that visitors are looking for. Improve your destination pages with relevant calls-to-action that make it easy for visitors to take the next step, get the information they need and possibly contact you.

How to analyze site search data

I recommend that webmasters and/or marketers develop site search custom reports. You can create a custom report with the following metrics:

  • Medium: channel the visitor came from
  • Landing page: webpage visitor landed on
  • Search page: page where they initiated their site search
  • Search term: search query they entered
  • Search destination page: page visited after they performed a site search
  • Total unique searches: number of unique searches performed for this search term

This custom report serves as a site search funnel and shows how visitors who perform site search flow through your website. Here is an example of a site search user journey.

Don’t ignore visitor’s content clues

Your website visitors are leaving many insightful clues for you via site search data. Use this trail of breadcrumbs to learn more about your customers’ needs, improve the overall website experience, quickly and easily provide prospects with the information they want, and enhance your content development plan. Don’t miss out on one of the most insightful and fundamental tools at your fingertips: Site Search!

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How to capitalize on the competitive advantage of real-time data analysis /how-to-capitalize-on-the-competitive-advantage-of-real-time-data-analysis-304704 Thu, 30 Aug 2018 15:55:00 +0000 /?p=304704 Contributor Stela Yordanova explains how to capitalize on the competitive advantage provided by real-time data analysis.

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The Real-Time report in Google Analytics allows you to monitor website activity as it actually occurs on your website or app. The report is continuously updated, and website activity is reported just a few seconds after it happens. This immediacy of real-time data provides digital marketers with unique and valuable insights.

There are many ways you can use real-time reporting such as gauging the effectiveness of your mobile app through event tracking and monitoring one-day promotions on your site.  Today I want to focus on and recommend marketers use Google’s Real-Time report for three specific things:

  1. To quickly monitor results for short-term campaigns or promotional efforts.
  2. To track immediate interaction with newly published content.
  3. To test and verify Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager implementation.

Real-Time Overview

The Real-Time report contains an Overview plus five specific reports:

  • Location report.
  • Traffic Sources report.
  • Content report.
  • Events report.
  • Conversion report.

Each report is described below with suggestions on how marketers should use them to analyze real-time website data and improve marketing results.

Real-Time Overview

As the name suggests, The Overview provides a summary of what is currently happening on your website. The Overview shows the total number of active users, device types and active pages. The report also provides a snapshot of user locations and top referrers.

TIP: Use the Overview report to quickly see (at-a-glance) how just-launched campaigns and just-posted content are impacting website activity.

Real-Time Locations report

The default view of the Real-Time Locations report shows a map and a list of countries where your active users currently reside. You can dig deeper and look at regions and cities for each country and see how many of your web pages were viewed from each location in 30-minute increments.

TIP: Use this report when launching geo-targeted campaigns. You can immediately see response and engagement rates in specific locations and modify your targeting, if needed, to quickly improve results.

Real-Time Traffic Sources report

Use this report to monitor which sources and mediums are responsible for sending you the people currently on your site.  This allows you to assess short-term campaigns and monitor how traffic flows through different marketing channels.

TIP: After launching an ad campaign or a social promotion, this can be a great way to quickly verify that traffic is indeed flowing in from the expected channels.  And if it’s not, adjust your campaign.

Real-Time Content report

If you want to know which of your web pages are getting the most “looks” during the past 30 minutes, the Content report will tell you.  This real-time report shows the pages users are currently on and includes the page URL, the page title, and the percentage of active users on each page.

TIP: This report is particularly useful for blogs and informational websites, as marketers can monitor content engagement and performance. It is also useful to understand user flow and see how visitors move between pages on your website.  The Content report will tell you if a specific piece of content suddenly receives a lot of attention, perhaps due to a timely issue or a current event.

Real-Time Events report

The Real-Time Events report provides data about active user engagement like button clicks, downloads or video viewing. This report allows marketers to immediately see if users are engaging with your website as expected, as well as testing auto event implementation.   This real-time report contains data about the event category and the event action but does not show event label data.

TIP: Immediately after launching a campaign, check this report to verify users are finding your call-to-action on the landing page. Are they taking action? Are they converting? Knowing and understanding this sooner, rather than later will allow you to make improvements and improve ROI quickly.

Real-Time Conversions

In this report, you can monitor what actions are completed by users that are currently active on your website. The report contains data by goal name, the number of goal completions, and the percentage of active users for each goal.  Overall conversion activity by goal is available as well as seeing the number of conversions in the last 30 minutes by goal.

TIP #1: This report is great to test conversion goal configurations, as well as verifying that just-launched campaigns are actually driving conversions.

Use Real-Time reports for testing

All of Google’s Real-Time reports are valuable but, when it comes to testing, I feel they are invaluable.  You can quickly test implementations and changes to your website using any or all of the report available.

For example, if you were implementing new events or conversion goals, you can compare the desired actions on your website to the Real-Time reports to verify that your events and goals are where you want them to be and working properly.   Here’s how to do this.

After you set up an event tag in Google Tag Manager, go into preview mode and navigate to Real-Time in Google Analytics. To find yourself, look for users in your area. (Note: if you are excluded as internal traffic you’d want to look at the unfiltered view.)

Once you have filtered all the reports for your session, perform the necessary actions on your website to test your tag implementations to verify that everything is working as expected.

Keep in mind that if you click on a category in any of the Real-Time reports it filters the other reports by this category. For example, if you navigate to traffic from Chicago in the Location report and then go to Traffic Sources report, it will only show traffic sources for current users in Chicago, not all users.

Capitalize on Real-Time insights

Historical data is still the primary way to analyze website behavior and long-term trends, but many marketing efforts can be significantly and quickly improved via real-time monitoring and analysis.

Social media efforts can be instantly adjusted based on channel and location data. Content can be quickly revised based on interaction and engagement data. The impact of offline marketing programs can be seen nearly immediately, and the influence of timely news and current events can be identified in real time.

Don’t wait for weekly or monthly results reports to start optimizing your marketing programs! Capitalize on the competitive advantage provided by real-time data analysis.

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5 ways to capitalize on Google Tag Manager /5-ways-capitalize-google-tag-manager-283637 Fri, 06 Oct 2017 15:52:42 +0000 http:/?p=283637 If you haven't taken advantage of Google Tag Manager, now may be the time to get started. Columnist Stela Yordanova outlines five ways to utilize GTM to help you improve your marketing results.

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Google Tag Manager (GTM) has revolutionized the way we implement scripts and tags on websites. However, many marketers aren’t fully utilizing this tool or capitalizing on its potential benefits.

Here are five easy and impactful ways to use GTM. These tips will help you improve your analytics dashboards, your SEO results and your marketing automation programs.

1. Improve the accuracy of website traffic data

Marketers often need to identify and isolate various types of traffic in Google Analytics dashboards and reports. For example, many companies want to eliminate spam or internal (employee) traffic and visits from partners. Typically, they do this by using excluding filters in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics limits the number of filters to 100. If you have a large number of internal IPs you wish to exclude, I recommend that you use GTM to implement blocking triggers. Blocking triggers are built with a custom variable and a custom event trigger.

Keep in mind that if you use a blocking trigger, these traffic types will be excluded from any or all Google Analytics views — including the unfiltered view.

2. Implement structured data

Structured data is a key way to improve organic search results, but it can be difficult for marketers to implement — especially if you need to rely on technical resources. Google Tag Manager makes it easy for non-developers to implement structured data on any page of a website.

For more information on how to do this, see “How to add schema markup to your website using Google Tag Manager.”

3. Ensure accurate indexing

With Google Tag Manager, we can define URL variables to strip out any additional parameters that might have been added. Then, we can build a custom HTML tag with JavaScript code to insert self-referencing canonical tags in the <head> section of the page. This ensures that no variation of a URL except the default one is indexed by Google.

You can follow the same logic to insert mobile switchboard tags — if your website uses a mobile subdomain.

4. Import marketing automation parameters

Most companies use marketing automation software to capture lead data and track leads through the sales funnel. With Google Tag Manager, you can easily implement lead-tracking parameters and marry this data with Google Analytics information.

With the built-in variable of first-party cookie, Google Tag Manager can pass lead ID number, along with other parameters, into Google Analytics.

5. Understand website behavior

With Tag Manager, it’s easy to track user behavior, actions and conversions with auto events. For example, you can track clicks on certain areas of a page, interactions with a video, or users’ scrolling behavior.

Auto events can also track downloads and form submissions. These insights are essential to help marketers improve engagement and conversion.

Reap the benefits of GTM

Are you at the mercy of your company’s limited technical resources? Are you waiting for web developers to implement what you need to improve marketing results?

Take control of your own destiny and learn to use Google Tag Manager. Utilizing a container like GTM can be a liberating experience for a digital marketer.

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