Using Google Analytics for SEO perfomance

Using Google Analytics for SEO performance

"If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."

Techniques to help analyse your website using the new Google Analytics 4. Tips, hints and advanced guides. Or get us to do it for you.

Is social media a productive investment for your site? We can show you how to find out.

Setting up GA4

You may already have Universal Analytics - you can setup Google Analtyics 4.
Basic Measurements

Enhanced Measurement

Enhance how specific events are handled in Google Analytics 4
Tracking and Reporting Outbound Clicks
Creating Custom Conversion Events


Setting Up GA4 Google Analytics 4

Setting Up Google Analytics 4

Latest Google Analytics UA stopped as of July 23 - However Google automatically sets up a GA4 property for you that seems to operate from your old UA settings. It is recommended to paste (replace the UA tag) in your website. How to get the new code to paste into your site-:

Admin>Data Collection and Modification>Data Streams>
View Tag Instructions>Installation Instructions>
Copy the tag instructions

The exact instructions are split between CMS and Manual Instructions. You end up with a G number which is your Measurement ID which uniquely identifies your website, blog or app.

One of the most compelling features of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is how engagement is measured. Instead of Bounce-Rate in Universal, GA4 measures engagement out of the box, thus giving feedback on which pages and which Traffic Aquistion sources offer the best engagement. You can determine at a glance if your social media campaigns are effective.

Google Analytics 4 makes it easier to discover actionable, privacy-safe insights from across the customer journey. GA4 works with or without cookies or identifiers, so you can learn about your customers even with gaps in your data.

With machine learning at its core to automatically uncover insights from your data that help you predict and reach the customers who are most likely to convert.

Let's assume you have Google Universal setup already and want to update to Google Analytics 4. Setup GA4 as well as keeping Universal to ensure you retain your historical data. Also there are some useful reports in Google Universal and its integration with Google Console being valid reasons to retain it.

Steps in Setting Up Google Analytics 4

1: From Universal go to-:

Admin>GA4 Setup Assistant>

Setup Google Analytics 4 Step 1

2: Click Get Started

Setup Google Analytics 4 Step 2

3: Click Create Property

Setup Google Analytics 4 Step 3

4: Click See your GA4 property

Setup Google Analytics 4 Step 4

5: Confirm Data Streams (Enhnaced Measurement)

Setup Google Analytics 4 Step 5

6: Choose the appropriate Tag script and paste into every page of your site.

Setup Google Analytics 4 Step 6

Google Analytics 4 User Engagement

Basic Measurements

Traffic Aquisition

User Engagement

Here is where we look at visitors to your website and analyse the results.

An engaged user in GA4 is any user that has been on the site for at least 10 seconds. If a user has been on the site for less than 10 seconds, they are defined as a bounce.

Engagement time allows for screen sleep time. On a mobile device it captures the time in the foreground, to determine how a user is engaging with your content.

The engagement time will be different for the source of the user. Generally paid search has a lower engagement time than organic search.

Engagement will be different for various sites. Some sites are designed for quick access to pages. Depending on the context of the website you will make conclusions about its effectiveness.

Engaged Sessions Per User

Organic Search 1602/1798 = 0.89

A session in Google Analytics is simply a visit to your website. This is not users, a session could be the same person returning, even if the left your site up over the weekend a session would start again on their return. An Engaged Session is as determined above.

Engaged Sessions Per User is a good metric for the effectiveness of your content. You can also compare the level of engagement for different traffic sources. In this case we looked at Organic Search.


Referral 138/124 = 1.11

Referrals are links from other sites. In this case some users had multiple sessions to get the Engaged Sessions Per User to 1.11

We can conclude that the sites linking into this site are adding real value.

In Universal Google Analytics the Referral sources are listed. Unfortunately in GA4 we can have to work a bit harder to find the actual sites that drove traffic to your site via links.

Viewing Referrals in GA4

We have to find the Traffic aquisition: Session source-:

1 Reports>Aquisition>Traffic acquisition
2 in the small Search box type: Referral
3 in the dropdown box select: Session source

Click to enlarge

Note in Step 2 we filtered by Referral - if we leave that blank it will show all sources including social media clicks recorded.

Key Feature of GA4 when analysing Traffic Acquisition

Key Feature of GA4
Click to enlarge

The Key to using Google Analytics 4 is to filter results to get information you need - refer to the arrow in the image and try it with your site and know more about your web traffic.

Web Traffic


Pages and Screens - Finding the best performing pages on your site

If you have a large blog with many pages there is a must use report to quickly identify the pages that are-:

1 Most Visited
2 Most Engaged

Reports>Engagement>Pages and screens>Filter by Page title and screen class

Google Analytics 4 Analysing Landing Pages

Landing Pages

Analysing Landing Pages Performance

Reports>Engagement>Landing page>Filter by Landing page + query string

This Google Analytics page (image above) gives data from all traffic sources ([Direct|SEM|Organic Search|Referrals etc) amalgamated. It offers a very quick analysis of which pages are performing well. Those with high numbers of traffic and good engagement are the best performers. Interpretting this information relies on knowledge of the pages and website in context with ussual visitor behaviour for this type of site.

For example the / (home page) has low engagement (14 seconds), but in this case, that is good as this page simply acts as a lead in to product pages.

The image above shows Google Analytics for an eCommerce site with some hints as to what to indentify and analyse-:

Query string

Query string is a useful additional filter which allows you to identify products or pages from a query string. So we know quickly which products are sparking interest and have the best engagement.

Fake traffic

Fake traffic is simply traffic with no engagement. These are often sites trying to hack or disrupt your site. Use security measures where necessary.


Pages with good engagement indicate where you have good product listings or a collection of content that engages users.


Enhanced Measurement

Tracking and Reporting Outbound Clicks

There are automatically collected events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4). It is a programmable event driven model.

One of the events is a "click" which by definition is "each time a user clicks a link that leads away from the current domain". In this example we are going to enhance that click event to record clicks to external sources so they are reported.

We want to know specifically (in this case) how often a site clicks to Google My Business reviews and how often there is a click to an external booking site and see a report of the urls and the count. When created you will see reports as per below-:


Outbound Click Google Analytics 4

To see the Outbound Click report above we created a Custom Dimension (Configure>Custom Dimensions) named "Outbound Click" with the "Event" scope and the property parameter link/url. So when a link away from your site is clicked we are recording the url.

However the gotcha here is this will not be visible until there have been some of the events recorded. Hence take a note and return in a couple of days when some data has been recorded and you can then add this screen to your report (refer Creating Custom Dimension - note it may appear automatically). This is tricky because you see nothing initially until some events have been stored. So that makes it not available when you initially set it up.

Google explains this with 'you will see a value of "not set" for a custom dimension during the first 48 hours'.

Creating Custom Dimension (Definition)

Create Custom Dimensions Google Analytics


Admin>Data Streams>Enhanced measurement>

Switch on Enhanced Measurement
Ensure Enhanced measurement is switched on. Note we are recording Outbound clicks.


Creating Custom Conversion Events

As an event driven model GA4 allows you to create custom events. So let's create a really simple one.

Admin>Events>Create event>

Note this is where you find and modify your existing events - yes if you have created an event some months ago and want to check what it contains you click the Create event button (note to self - that is why I write this stuff down in a place I can find).

1 Create (click)

2 Name it (Contact_Us)

3 Set the conditions

event_name equals page_view

page_location equals

4 Mark the new event as a conversion

Viewing your results


GA4 Create Event Conversion Results
Click to enlarge

This is a simple example where a visit page_view to our Contact Us page triggered a conversion. Making more complex conversions follows the same process. Name the custom event and set the conditions based on events to see results which can be called a Conversion - previously a Goal in Google Analytics Universal.

We discuss Measuring the effectiveness of Web Forms where we can combine forms and hidden parameters to trigger Conversion Events. This would allow us to compare the effectiveness of pages and form formats.

Google Instructions for Custom Event Conversions

GA4 Create Event Conversion
Click to enlarge

Google Page for Create or modify conversion events


Unique Tracking Codes UTM

A UTM tag are specific parameters added to a URL (in any order) that allow tracking of specific campaigns. For example you may want to track the effects of an email campaign and diferentiate it from normal web traffic.

If you're setting up URL parameters for a Google Analytics 4 site, then you have to add at least one utm parameter, but you can add any utm parameter.


Source (utm_source)

Medium (utm_medium)

Campaign name (utm_campaign)

Term (utm_term)

Content (utm_content)

An example of tracking used by Jetstar on their Friday Frenzy email promotion-:*&RMID=jstar.14092896&RRID=416857446&CID=############

Email campaigns are valuable to SEO because you can recycle content and people will often search for the article on your site at a later date. Trakcing what is happening can be done in a number of ways. It is important to retain clarity in your campaigns so that you do not clutter up your data.

A Gold Coast SEO and Web Developer