A Cheat Sheet To Some Google Analytics and a Guide To Your SilverServers Monthly SEO Report
December 11th 2018
For clients in the SilverServers Grassroots Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program, getting a monthly report on website traffic, page performance, keyword rankings, referrals, and more is valuable for their business and their ability to make decisions about their websites. You see, our team builds websites that focus first and foremost on the technical side of SEO. We choose to find out what Google says they’re looking for on a website from a technical perspective rather than just following popular trends. This can mean that the websites of our Grassroots clients can grow organically in search results as we feed them content on a regular basis which can be understood by Google. An important tool that helps us and our clients decide what should happen next on their website is our monthly SEO report. However, these reports have tons of information on them! When you’re not used to seeing this information every day, it can be easy to forget what each part of our reports means. So here is a cheat sheet to some Google Analytics terms and a guide to your SilverServers SEO report.
On the typical monthly Grassroots SEO Report, there are 12 sections that use data from Google Analytics. We’re going to give a rundown of each and the statistics and some things you might like to know about them. Before we start though, let’s define how Google uses the words “visitors” and “visits”, then we’ll go on a tour of the report!
The Difference Between Visitors and Visits in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, these terms were replaced with "Users" and "Events" in 2023. They have slightly different meanings than they had before 2023, but in our SEO reports, we've made adjustments to align the data with the terminology on the reports. In our SEO reports, Visitors = Users and Visits = users loading a page.
Sometimes on a report, you will see that in the Total Traffic section there were something like 100 visitors on the website, but then down in the Most Visited section your Home page had 800 visits. How can that be? Visitors and Visits are different ideas in Analytics. A visitor is a unique IP address that visited the site. A visit is a count of times a page was visited. 1 visitor could visit a page 800 times. If that was the case, the visitor count would show 1, while visits would show 800.
The numbers in this section generally show the count and quality of your visitors. Quality means if visitors appear to be interested in what your site has to offer. On the notes for your report, you will see that the first comments we make are about how your traffic and quality stats were. This is where we determine that! There are always six lines in this section.
1. Total Visitors
Total visitors is the count of individual visitors that visited your domain in the time period of the report. Of course, the higher the visitor count the better. When we look at reports, we’re looking for growth over time. Sometimes we’re able to see patterns based on the time of year. For example, a boat rental site may get fewer visitors in cold months. Conversely, a toy store’s domain may have continually increasing visitors until December, then a sudden drop in January and February.
2. Total Bounce Rate
"Bounce rate" shows the percentage of visitors who did not engage with your website and navigated away after staying for less than 10 seconds. What that means is a high bounce rate is a bad sign and a low bounce rate is a good sign. Quality content can influence bounce rate by convincing visitors to stick around for more than 10 seconds or visit something else of interest on the website.
The way bounce rate works now is very informative. However, this new definition of bounce rate was implemented by Google Analytics in mid-2023. We're still learning what a typical bounce rate looks like. We'll update this once we know more!
This is the average number of pages your visitors visited while they were on your site. What is a session? When you open a web browser (ex Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.),that’s the beginning of a session. When you close the browser (not the tab, but the whole browser),that’s the end of your session.
4. Duration of Visit(s)
This is the average length of time that visitors stayed on your website – in seconds.
Pageviews is the full count of page visits.
6. New Users
This is when a visitor comes to your website for the first time. The percentage of new sessions tells us how many of your visitors came for the first time. This statistic is neither good nor bad on its own. It is dependent on whether you’re hoping for more new or more returning viewers that month.
This is a new section of our SEO reports as of 2023. The statistics in this section are the same as the Total Traffic section, with a twist. This section shows you these stats for the visitors that came to your website from a Google Search result.
Traffic Info (Medium)
The section about the traffic medium gives us an overview of where visitors came from. The number of sources can vary, but they're well defined and show the percentage of your total visitors that arrived via each source. Typically you'll see these three types of traffic:
Direct traffic usually comes from a couple of places. First, when a person types your domain name (ex. silverservers.com) directly into their browser’s address bar, that counts as +1 visit. Second, if someone clicks on a link to your site from a non-web-based email program like Outlook, that counts here too.
There are various types of Organic traffic that might be listed. You will likely see an "Organic Search" line - these visitors came from Google Searches. If you have an active social media presence, then you may also see an "Organic Social" line - this counts all visitors who came from any social media source.
Similar to the Organic Search and Organic Social lines, you might also see Paid Search and Paid Organic. As you might suspect, these are visitors who clicked on ads in search engines or social media.
Referral traffic is visitors who clicked on a link on different websites including blogs, business websites, personal websites, etc. Referral traffic signals to us and to Google that people consider you trustworthy and authoritative. They're willing to send their visitors to you instead of keeping them on their own site.
Traffic Info (Device)
From here, we can see an overview of what types of devices people are using to visit your website. We can use this information in many ways, including making decisions with you about what aspect of your site’s visual design to focus on. We know that visitors look for different types of information on different devices, so this can help us get a feel for whether the right types of visitors are regularly looking for the information your site has to offer. Also, we can put more effort into optimizing the look of the website for the version that most people are seeing. There are only 3 lines in this section – desktop, mobile, and tablet. Note that tablet and mobile are separate.
Most Visited (Total)
This section contains information about your most visited pages. There are usually 7 lines here. The numbers on each line here represent visits, not visitors. So if one page says “150”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it had 150 visitors. It might mean that 1 visitor visited 150 times! Hopefully that's not the case, but these numbers give us an idea of which pages are more important to your visitors. They help us determine what our suggestions might be.
Most Visited (From Google)
This section is very useful for making decisions for SEO. Each line contains a count of visits (not visitors) to that page from a Google Search. The pages are displayed as part of their website addresses. So the line with only a “/” is your Home page. If you see pages with zeroes next to them, that means you didn't receive much referral traffic to many pages. We would want to fix this with you.
This section contains counts of visits (not visitors) that came to your website from other websites. The term "referral" is used differently here than it was in the "Traffic Info (Medium)" section of the report. In that section, referral traffic didn't include social media, ads, and other particular sources. However, in this section all of those sources are counted. Here, you might see websites listed like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other websites. If this area is empty, that means you had no referral traffic during the month. No referrals is unhealthy for SEO, so we might suggest working on a social media plan or asking your friends to highlight and link to your business in their personal blogs.
Additionally, this area helps us determine the amount of visitor spam your website may have received. If we see high numbers in this section from unusual sources, that's a red flag for our team. When that happens (and it's common, so there's nothing to worry about if it happens),we spend some time filtering out spam traffic for the next report.
Each line in this section displays a website that has one or more links to your website on it. The number is the amount of links that could be found throughout the other site. Something this does not show is backlinks from social media. Backlinks from strong sources are positive for your site's SEO. Our Grassroots SEO program is focused on on-page SEO work, so it doesn't typically focus on backlink-building. If you would ever like to focus on building backlinks, please let us know and we'll discuss a plan. Depending on how strong your on-page SEO is, we may suggest staying focused on on-page SEO, but if your site is strong, we're happy to look into a plan for this with you.
To generate the Keywords section of the report we use a tool from Google called Search Console. In this tool there is a long list of data containing all the keywords you have ever shown up for along with data about clicks, impressions, and so on. Before we look at these two lists on the SilverServers SEO report, let’s define a couple of words that Google uses:
Impression: you receive an impression when your website shows up in a Search result and is seen. This does not mean the site was clicked on.
Click: This is how many times your website shows up in a Google Search and is clicked.
CTR: “Click Through Rate”. This is simply the ratio of clicks to impressions, displayed as a percentage.
Position: The average ranking of your website in all impressions you received. It’s important to note that this stat does not take into account the geographic location of the person who searched – so it’s not a representation of your local ranking. If you ranked as the 150th result when someone from another country performed a Google Search then that 150 will be included in the calculation of this average.
Top 5 Keywords by Clicks
The Google Console list we discussed earlier is organized by clicks when we access it to generate our SEO reports. We create this first keywords section by taking the top 5 keywords from the top of that list and displaying them here. Something to note is that in the Search Console list, search results that didn’t get clicked on (ie. the Clicked stat is 0) are organized randomly, like we talked about above. So, if on a given month your report shows that you have some keywords that were clicked (or none) and some that were not, that means that the clicked keywords were intentionally put at the top of the list (if there were any) while the unclicked keywords were randomly added to the list.
Top 5 Keywords by Impressions
This section displays the keywords from the Top 5 Keywords by Clicks section re-ordered by impressions, instead of clicks. This can tell you how valuable your clicked keywords are to the site!
To get more in-depth information about impressions, including information on high numbers of impressions that did not receive clicks, please ask us! We use Google Search Console often as we work with your website, so we are happy to get you more information and help you use it. The data in Search Console is incredibly valuable and helpful to your search engine marketing strategies. The top 5 keywords in your report are simply a highlight for the SEO report.
Top Country Visits
This section breaks down the total visits from different countries. It may be useful information for you about how broadly your content is being viewed. We use it for various reasons too, including helping us determine our suggestions for you and detecting and cleaning up spam.
The SilverServers monthly SEO report is a snapshot of the data that Google Analytics collects about your website. It takes the basic stats and displays them to help us make decisions about what steps should come next for your website. There is much more information that Analytics can provide for your SEO health. For a more detailed analysis of your site, let our support team know! If you would like to see all of your stats, visit your Google Analytics profile, which you can access at anytime!
Contact us if you have any questions about your Grassroots SEO Report!
For more answers to FAQs received from our Grasssroots clients, check out the Grassroots FAQ section of our blog!