Google Analytics Adds Backlinks Tracking to Social Reports

Google Analytics are now offering marketers a look into their link graph, with backlinks tracking in Google Analytics Social Reports.

Social Reports were introduced in March 2012, adding a visual dimension to social activity tracking across multiple platforms. In fact, when released, Google Analytics were tracking more than 400 websitesfor their Social Reports.


The new backlinks reporting displays backlink URLs, post titles, and links to page analytics and activity. The feature is designed to help users identify quality content and replicate successes by discovering which of their content is linked back to most often and by whom. This can help webmasters build relationships with those who most often feature and link back to their content, Google explained in a blog post.

For an in-depth look at Google Analytics Social Reports, see our previous coverage on goal setting, social visitors flow, and more.



11 Google Analytics Tricks to Use for Your Website

Do you know what is the most common question that I get every day on social media, forums or email?

“How to get insights about my Google Analytics data?” People approach me saying that they have a Google Analytics account for years, but they look only at page views or the number of visitors they get.

And this is wrong, this is so wrong when they have powerful free Web Analytics tools that they can leverage to learn more about their visitors and use those insights to better serve their visitors.

That is why in this article I am going to tell you some Google Analytics tricks that you should use for your website.

You can get the basics from my Google Analytics course, but right now I am going to take this one step further to help you get even more insights from Google Analytics.

Now, if you don’t use the latest version of Google Analytics, login into your account and click the [New Version] link from the top right corner of your screen before we get started.

New Google Analytics Version

This way I can be sure that you use the latest Google Analytics interface and you can follow this article along.

1. Setup Goals

Something that it’s quite a straight forward process, it’s actually neglected by the majority of people and this is the fact that after you install the tracking code on your website you need to setup goals.

Google Analytics Goals

The goals you setup for your website are the foundation of your website analysis because everything gravitates around your goals and conversion rates, the goals that are ultimately your business goals.

If you are wondering what goals you need to setup, start by asking yourself what is the purpose of your website. Is it an eCommerce site and you want to sells tangible goods, is it a blog where you want to make revenue from ads, do you sell eBooks or services? What is the main purpose of your site?

Then, once you figure this out you can go and start setting up goals base on your business objectives.

If this is still unclear for you, here are some examples that will give you traction:

  • eCommerce site – enable eCommerce tracking and start checking the conversion rates for your products
  • Engaged Visitors – people who spend more than one minute on your site
  • Readers – people who visit at least two pages on your site
  • Calls to action – use event tracking (see below in the article) to measure calls to action
  • Best performing ads – again, use event tracking to measure your best performing ads
  • Subscriptions – check how the visitors who subscribe to your list behave
  • Purchases – if you sell eBooks or courses you can get insights about your buyers

Later, these goals will help you track conversion rates and get insights about what are the main traffic sources that send you visitors which convert, what are the keywords who send you customers, which page your visitor use most to signup for your newsletter, where are your customers from and examples can continue.

Use these examples to get started, but please note that every website is unique and it will have unique goals.

2. Connect your Google Webmaster Tools account

Google Webmaster Tools is another free product from Google which helps you see data about your website such as the number of impressions for your search queries and their position in Google, the number of links to your site or diagnosis information reported by Google after crawling your website.

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools

Additionally, you can check +1 metrics, your site performance or submit a sitemap for Google to index.

But what the really interesting thing is the fact that you can connect your Google Webmaster Tools account with your Google Analytics account and get access to the new Search Engine Optimization reports.

Once you do that, you will be able to see three new reports in your Google Analytics account: Queries, Landing Pages and Geographical Summary. They will help you learn more about your top performing search queries (keywords) and landing pages.

Then, you can use that data to identify:

  • Keywords with a low click through rate, but a good average position. Once you know them, you can change the meta title and description of your page to improve their click through rate.
  • Landing pages with a good click through rate, but a low average position. These pages can be easily run through an on-page optimization process that will improve their rankings.
  • What are the countries of your organic visitors and who your target market is.

To connect your site from Google Webmaster Tools in Google Analytics, go to the [Traffic Sources] section, select [Search Engine Optimization] and then one of the three reports.

At this stage you will see a page with the benefits of linking your accounts and a button where it says [Set up Webmaster Tools data sharing]. Click that button and then click [Edit] from the [Webmaster Tools Settings].

Then, you will be redirected to your Google Webmaster Tools where you can connect it with Google Analytics.

3. Enable Site Speed

Site speed is also a neat feature of Google Analytics that lets you see the load time of your pages. This will help you check what pages need your attention and determine you to look for ways of speeding up the load time of your pages.

If you wonder why this is important, I can tell you that the load speed of your pages can significantly improve your visitors experience on your site and it’s also a ranking factor in Google.

So a good load speed can make your visitors happy and can also increase your rankings.

Google Analytics Site Speed

Along with the number of Page Views and Bounce Rate, you can see the Average Page Load Time (in seconds) and the number of visits that have been used as a sample for every page on your website.

Additionally, if you click on the [Performance] tab, you can check different buckets of your page load time and see what is the average load speed of your pages.

Page Load Time Buckets

The [Map Overlay] will show you what is the load speed for different countries or territories.

If before you needed to add an additional code to your Google Analytics tracking, now that is no longer required and Google Analytics will automatically add data to your reports.

4. Enable Site Search

It’s a fact that visitors who use the search box on your site are more likely to convert than the ones who don’t. The reason why this happens is because they are more engaged with your website, with your content or your products and services.

Google Analytics Site Search

The beautiful thing about site search is that it lets you discover the exact keywords that people use to search for your products, so you can take this a step further and use them in your search engine optimization campaigns.

You can actually use the most important keywords that people use to search on your site to optimize your pages and drive more targeted traffic to your website.

Additionally, they might look for products or services that you do not have on your offer, but you can add them with little effort and increase your sales.

Or if you have a blog, site search is a great way to see what your readers are looking for and get a ton of article ideas out of them.

If you would like to enable site search on your website, first make sure that you have a search form on your site and then enable Site Search in Google Analytics.

5. Track Events

Event tracking is a powerful feature in Google Analytics that can help you track among others:

  • How many people download your eBook
  • What ads are performing better and who clicks on your ads
  • Which signup form converts better (sidebar, below the post, about page)
  • Who pauses, fast forward or stops a video
  • What errors a visitor encounters during the checkout

Google Analytics Site Search

But that is not all. Using the latest version of Google Analytics, you are also able to set these events as goals which can help you see the performance of your events based on different metrics.

Enabling event tracking it’s not a hard process. All you have to do is just add the code below next to your URL, before you replace the default values.

onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘category’, ‘action’, ‘opt_label’, ‘opt_value’]);”

These default values will help you identify your events and here’s what they represent:

  • Category – You can use this element to identify what you want to track: eBook, video, signup form, ads.
  • Action – This element can be used to define the interaction of your visitor and can be: click, button, play, stop. Personally, I use it to specify the place of my button/signup form/ad.
  • Label – Use this to identify the type of event that is tracked.
  • Value – This element helps you specify a value for you event that can be used when you setup a goal for your event.

If you would like to see a working example, here’s what I used to track a link to my new product, where “Ads” is the category of my link, “Sidebar” the place where I added the link and “WAB” the label.

<a href=”; onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Ads’, ‘Sidebar’, ‘WAB’]);”>

Then once you setup your links, all you have to do is just setup that event as a goal, using the Category, Action, Label, and Value conditions you have setup for your event.

6. Real-Time Reporting

Google has taken analytics one step further recently and introduced Real-Time Reporting, which displays information about visitors that are on your website in a specific moment.

Real Time Reporting

Your are able to see how many visitors are on your website in that moment, where they are on your website, from where they come (keywords and referrals) and where they live.

Additionally, you have access to another 3 reports with more insights about their location, how they arrived on your website and what pages they visit.

To access the real-time reports you need to go to the [Home] menu > [REAL-TIME (BETA)].

The [Locations] report will provide you information about the number of your visitors and the countries where they are located. You can also check their location on a map.

[Traffic Sources] will display information about where they come from. You will see the medium and source along with the total number of your visitors.

The [Content] report will show you what are the active pages that your visitors read and how many active visitors are on each of the pages displayed on your report.

7. Multi-Channel Funnels

With Multi-Channel Funnels Google Analytics provides even more value for users who are passionate about conversion rates.

If before you were able to track the last source that the visitor used to convert, with Multi-Channel Funnels you are able to also track other sources (ads, referrals, social media, organic) that the visitor used to reach your website from.

Let’s say for example that your visitor (Cindy) landed for the first time on your website from Twitter and subscribed to your RSS feed.

Next time, Cindy used the feed reader to come and read your new articles. Ultimately she was looking for advice on blogging and found your eBook using a search engine.

Now, because she knows your site already, she will buy it and become a customer.

Using this example, in the old version of Google Analytics the search engine was used to be credited for the conversion, but now, with Multi-Channel Funnels you can see the whole path that Cindy took to convert: Social Network > Referral > Search engine.

To check the Multi-Channel Funnels reports, go to the [Conversions] section.

Watch this video to learn more about Multi-Channel Funnels:

8. Use Campaign Tracking

Tracking online marketing campaigns will help you get past that large number of direct visits that come from URL shorteners like or clients like tweetdeck.

Additionally, it will help you track more accurately links from other websites and links that you use to promote your content or campaigns.

In order to use Campaign tracking in Google Analytics, you need to tag your URLs with special parameters. Those parameters can be added to your links using the URL Builder tool from Google.

Once you tag your URLs with the mandatory parameters, use them as they are or use an URL shortener when sharing them.

Then, check the [Campaigns] report, under [Traffic Sources] > [Sources] to get insights about your online marketing campaigns.

Campaign Tracking Report

To see step by step instructions and how to check Google Analytics Campaign Tracking reports, read more in this article.

9. Plot Rows

Plot Rows allows you to create instant segments of your data in tabular reports. If you usually look at standard reports, you can use Plot Rows to get more insights from your metrics.

Google Analytics Plot Rows

To use this feature, you need to select two rows from any tabular report and then click the [Plot Rows] button from the bottom of the table.

Once you do that, you will see that the chart has changed and you are able to see additional information there about the items that you have selected.

In other words it instantly creates a segment with two of your items compared with the total metrics.

Use this feature to check how your main keywords, referrals or pages compare with each other and with the overall metrics of the site.

But make sure that you select items that do not have a big difference between their metrics (i.e. compare a keyword with 2340 visits with one that has 154).

10. Custom Dashboards

In the old version of Google Analytics you used to have available only one dashboard. However, right now you can create up to 20 dashboards customized to your needs.

Custom Dashboards

To create a custom dashboard, go to the [Home] menu > [Dashboards] and select [+New Dashboard].

Once you do that, you will need to choose whether you will want to start from scratch with a blank canvas or get some pointers with the [Starter Dashboard].

Then you can use slick widgets to create custom metrics, pie charts, timelines or tables.

To get started with custom dashboards, have a look at my screenshot above and try to duplicate it or check out 5 Insightful Google Analytics Dashboards.

Then, you will be able to customize it and add the metrics that are relevant to your business.

11. Flow Visualization

Flow Visualization definitely deserves a separate article to present it, but in the meantime I will outline it’s benefits.

Flow Visualization

Google Analytics rolled out two reports, [Visitors Flow], under the Audience section and [Goal Flow], under the Conversion section.

Visitors Flow

The Visitors Flow will display the path that your visitors have taken to navigate through your website.

You will be able to see, based on a selected dimension, such as country source or keyword, the exact path of your visitors and where they stopped to read your content.

On hover, the report displays for each page additional details, like the total number of visits, how many visitors moved to a different page and how many of them dropped the funnel and left.

If you click on a page, you will be able to highlight the traffic that went through that page, explore traffic through that page or display in a popup even more details.

Goal Flow

The Goal Flow report is essentially a better representation of the Funnel Visualization report and contains the same dimensions as the Visitors Flow report.

But the main difference between this and the Visitors Flow is the fact that the Goal Flow report doesn’t uses all pages, but the steps you configured in the conversion funnel.

Additionally, you can also use advanced segments to filter your data and get additional insights from the Visitors Flow and Goal Flow reports.

Your turn

In this article I presented 11 tips that you should use for your website and ultimately some of my favorite features in Google Analytics, but now it’s your turn to do the same.

What do you like most in Google Analytics and what features/tricks you think that everyone should know about?


Google Invites Social Networks To Push Activity Streams to Google Analytics

Google is inviting social networks and platforms to integrate their activity streams with Google Analytics. “These activity streams will be surfaced in a set of social reports that our team is building to help marketers better measure engagement and impact across social channels (coming next year),” a Google spokesperson tells WebProNews.

In a post on the Google Analytics Blog, the company says:

“Every day, millions of people share and engage with content online. But most sharing doesn’t happen on the site where it was published, it happens throughout the social web. Marketers and publishers are looking for a comprehensive view of all interactions with their content – on and off their site – and so we’re working hard to make this happen.”

“To enable our customers to discover who’s sharing, voting and bookmarking their content on the social web, cross-network measurement needs to become easier.”

Google is letting any network add things like +1’s, votes, comments, etc. into Google Analytics social reports, so that the info is available for Google Analytics users.

Google has set up a social data hub based on ActivityStreams and PubsubHubbub, and is already working with Delicious, Digg, Gigya, LiveFyre, ReadItLater, Reddit, TypePad, Vkontakte, Google+, Boogger and Google Groups.


What’s happening on your site right now?

The web is getting faster, and not just the speed of the pages, but also the speed of change. Before, it was fine to build a website and modify it only when new products were launched. All of us avid Analytics users know that’s just not good enough. We need to be constantly on the lookout for problems and opportunities.

Currently, Google Analytics does a great job analyzing past performance. Today we’re very excited to bring real time data to Google Analytics with the launch of Google Analytics Real-Time: a set of new reports that show what’s happening on your site as it happens.

Measuring social media impact
One way that I like to use these reports is to measure the immediate impact of social media. Whenever we put out a new blog post, we also send out a tweet. With Real-Time, I can see the immediate impact to my site traffic.

For example, last week we posted about the latest episode of Web Analytics TV and also tweeted about the post. By campaign tagging the links we shared, we could see how much traffic each channel is driving to the blog as it happened. We could also see when we stopped receiving visits from the tweet, which helps know when to reengage.

Campaign measurement
Another way I’m using Real-Time is to make sure campaign tracking is correctly implemented before launching a campaign. When getting ready to launch a new campaign it’s critical to make sure your measurement plan is working before you start driving visitors to the page. With the Real-Time reports you can find out in seconds whether you’re getting the data you want in Google Analytics.

SEO Under Attack – The Google Analytics Keyword Data Apocalypse


Google announced today they’re going to take a step toward user privacy by hiding keywords used by searchers signed into their Google accounts.  We’ll leave the discussion regarding their real reason for doing so for another day or someone else to blog about. Me, I’m going to talk about what I think this means for the industry and why I think so many people that are freaking out over this change are missing the bigger opportunity here.

Okay so – people are crying foul on this change to Google Analytics.  They’re saying they need keyword data in GA, because they tie those keywords to conversions – the more conversions that come from a specific keyword, the more important that phrase is.

If that keyword is getting conversions, but it’s ranked on the 2nd page of Google, the thinking is – hey – do more SEO for this phrase, get it higher in the SERP, and in turn, naturally, we should see exponential increase in conversions.

That may or may not be true.

First of all, on any given day, there could be a thousand reasons someone comes to your site after seeing a specific result in the SERPs.  Maybe that specific phrase is the golden egg, and maybe it’s not.  Maybe it only appears to be. Maybe there’s a better phrase you aren’t even considering, that could get even better results.  Maybe there isn’t.  It’s a real possibility though, and you may not even be aware that it is due to being fixated on what’s there in front of you.

And Google isn’t eliminating ALL keyword data.  Only a sub-set.  Okay – so if you have a particular site where you know for a fact that the majority of visits come from people signed in to Google, maybe in that particular scenario, you may truly be negatively impacted even from the loss of ability to look at general keyword trends.  But how many of you know that’s your particular situation?

The Bigger Problem In Our Industry

What I have found over the years I’ve performed audits on sites that others have implemented SEO for is that every single site, without exception, has had massive or at the very least, significant problems in its SEO, regardless of keyword choices, that shows me, over and over again, that most in our industry get hung up on granular issues and miss the bigger opportunities.

If a site has one or more critical big-picture SEO issues, all the granular analysis in the world is nothing more than a distraction to me.

SO what if I can move the conversion needle 5%, 15% or even 20% over time, if in reality, when proper forensic SEO is performed and the resulting changes cause a site to see 20%, 40% or even 60% increases in that same timeframe?

That’s the issue to me, in a nutshell.  If a site has structural flaws, and if you fix those structural flaws, not only will you automatically get higher rankings for whatever phrases you optimize for, you’ll get higher conversions.  You’ll get an exponential growth in the long tail without having to focus on the long tail.  You’ll get more visits and more conversions from other non-Google sources as well.

And honestly, either I can analyze keyword relevance without seeing it in GA, and tying it to specific conversions, or I can’t. If I can’t then maybe its’ because I’m not looking at other ways to get that data.

No, to me, once again, this latest apocalyptic cry is no different than any other previous panic attack due to people being hung up on shiny objects, magic bullets, and myopic SEO.  As painful as it may be to hear me say it, my best recommendation is to pause and consider whether you’ve been missing more important issues in your work than you realized.  And because most site owners don’t have an unlimited budget, it’s just my opinion (controversial as it may be), that people in this industry need to wake up and recognize that if they truly want to maximize their client’s or employers SEO money, they need to stop and learn that they have bigger fish to fry that they weren’t even aware of.

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Google Analytics Real-Time Launches for Real Time Traffic Data


Google announced the launch of a new set of reports in Google Analytics today, which shows you what’s happening with your site as it happens. Pretty cool.

It’s called Google Analytics Real-Time (fittingly).

“One way that I like to use these reports is to measure the immediate impact of social media. Whenever we put out a new blog post, we also send out a tweet. With Real-Time, I can see the immediate impact to my site traffic,” says John Jersin of the Google Analytics team. “For example, last week we posted about the latest episode of Web Analytics TV and also tweeted about the post. By campaign tagging the links we shared, we could see how much traffic each channel is driving to the blog as it happened. We could also see when we stopped receiving visits from the tweet, which helps know when to reengage.”

“Another way I’m using Real-Time is to make sure campaign tracking is correctly implemented before launching a campaign,” he says. “When getting ready to launch a new campaign it’s critical to make sure your measurement plan is working before you start driving visitors to the page. With the Real-Time reports you can find out in seconds whether you’re getting the data you want in Google Analytics.”

Users can find the reports in the new version of Google Analytics. They didn’t bother to add it to the old one. You should have access to it from a link at the top of GA. If you’re not already using the new version, this might be a feature that makes you go ahead and switch. You’re going to have to get used to the new version sooner or later anyway.

Now, if they could just get realtime search back.

Google also announced Google Analytics Premium for its biggest customers. It comes with extra processing power, advanced analysis, service/support, and guarantees. More on this here.

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