What should SEOs know about analytics webinar with Andy Crestodina, Dana DiTomaso, Gemma Fontané, Sébastien Monnier

In this free webinar we covered the key aspects of analytics that SEOs should know about, but don’t necessarily know about, as well as how has analytics changed and what are the key metrics to be benchmarking performance against nowadays.

David Bain was joined by Andy Crestodina, Dana DiTomaso, Gemma Fontané, and Sébastien Monnier to talk all things analytics.

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Transcript

David Bain 

What should SEOs know about analytics? Hello, and welcome to the March 2024 edition of the Majestic SEO panel, where we’re covering key aspects of analytics that SEOs should know about or don’t necessarily know about. I’m joined today by four wonderful analytics for SEO experts. So let’s find out who exactly they are, starting off with Andy.

Andy Crestodina 

My name is Andy Crestodina. I’m the co-founder of a digital agency focused on websites called Orbit Media Studios. We’re here in Chicago. It’s a 55-person agency that does SEO and web development. So I’ve done analytics and SEO for 23 years, going back prior to Google Analytics, and going back prior to the era in which Google dominated search. So I love the topic and I’m glad to be here.

David Bain 

Also joining us today is Sébastien.

Sébastien Monnier 

My name is Sébastien and I have my own agency called Woptimo based in Paris. I’ve been doing SEO analytics for ages as well. I remember I created a Google Analytics account the very first day it was opened in October 2005 and I worked a bit for Google in Dublin, and then I have my own company and we do data analytics and SEO.

David Bain 

Also joining us today is Dana.

Dana DiTomaso 

Hi, I’m Dana DiTomaso. I’ve been working within SEO for 24 years now. I started out actually in SEO because as making websites in Dreamweaver, if you remember those days, and when my first client said to me, how do I get on Google? I said, I don’t know, I’ll get back to you. I found out, I liked SEO, and I was way better at it than I was at making websites! So did SEO for a long time, and then I decided to switch my focus from SEO to analytics, and I’ve been basically investing full time in that. One of the things that I’m glad for is my SEO experience, because then it helps me to bridge the gap between analysts and SEOs.

Dana DiTomaso 

I know it seems like a long time ago, not particularly relevant to how SEO was done nowadays, but that those WYSIWYG editors where you could see the code and see the design, at the same time was a wonderful way to learn HTML and just figure out what was impacted by the changes that you made?

Dana DiTomaso 

Absolutely, and I think that experience really lends well to the work I do now with Google Tag Manager. So to actually talk about what I do: I’m founder and lead instructor at Kick Point Playbook, which is an education platform, and that comes from Kick Point, which is my digital marketing agency, where I’m president. Kick Point Playbook that was born out of seeing basically a lot of bad analytics implementations over the years and saying, you know, we can’t fix all of these, let’s teach people how to fix them.

So our first course is analytics for agencies, which came out last year. And then we have a practical GA4 course coming out in just a few weeks that covers GA4 top to bottom. So we’re really trying to get education out there in the world. I think that learning basic HTML is important, because it helps you a lot with Tag Manager. But it isn’t something necessarily that is covered in school really so much anymore, because we’ve gotten away from that basics of web buildings. You don’t really need it in a lot of cases, but I think that experience really does serve me well.

David Bain 

Also joining us today is Gemma.

Gemma Fontané 

I’m Gemma and I’m the co-founder of the digital marketing consultancy Orvit Digtial and we are based here in Barcelona in Spain. We were founded last year, so we still have not been in the market for so many years, but I’ve been in the SEO and analytics world for some years now. The good thing is GA4 is new for everybody, so at least in this role we are or are more or less figuring it out a little at the same time.

David Bain 

The first question that we’ll focus in on is GA4 and you’ve created a Google sheet that includes the key elements setting up GA4?

Gemma Fontané 

So we prepare these checklists, in order to set up in a proper way GA4. It’s important to know that, obviously, every website has some different things that they need to take into account. But in a general level, these are three big things that you need to know or you need to validate that when you set up a GA4 account.

So first of all, it’s the initial configuration that you need to have set up: set up analytics for your website, add a data stream for your site, and activate Google signals for GA4 properties. This means that you have set up in your website all the things that you can accept are signals. These will be the three principal things that you need to do in order for your initial configurations that you need to do either if you have no account where you want to put in your account, or you are a b2b website, or if you are an ecommerce website.

David Bain 

Does anyone else have anything to add to what Gemma has been sharing there?

Dana DiTomaso 

I would say the biggest thing that I always make people check is the data retention settings, which probably is covered, if you scroll down a little bit, but the default is two months. Change that out to 14 months right away. What that does is it doesn’t remove your data out of GA4 after 14 months. That’s what people think it means, but it’s not. Your data will still be there.

What is going to be missing are the data you can get like explorations, which is really the good detailed data. You want that so make sure to keep that for 14 months, otherwise, you’re going to lose it after two, which is way too short of a time to do any sort of analysis really, and explorations at all. So that’s Google setting the default to two months because they don’t want to pay for your data storage. So make sure to go into the admin after you’ve set up GA4 or right now if you’ve already set it up, go into data retention, change those dropdowns to 14 months, click Save.

Gemma Fontané 

I agree with you that it’s important to have it here.

Andy Crestodina 

It’s crazy to me that it two months is even the default. I mean, who could do analysis on two months of data? The comparison date range selector has ‘compared to’ like 90 days and to last year, and I couldn’t even use those buttons if you didn’t change your data retention settings to 14 months (and even 14 months to me seems low).

Sébastien Monnier 

Especially compared to GA3 where you could basically create segments for years,.

Dana DiTomaso 

Google’s tired of paying for your storage is my take away with GA4,

Sébastien Monnier 

It’s up to 50 months, when you are a paid GA4 user.

Gemma Fontané 

What we do next is we link the GA4 account with other tools that we think that I want them for this website. Here, I put down some things that are very common in a website, such as Google Ads account, Search Console account, and a Google Tag Manager account. However, there are more things that you can link to depending on your objectives.

Sébastien Monnier 

I don’t use Google Search Console links that much because I always think it’s a little bit confusing to have Search Console and GA4 data in the same interface. What I prefer to do is to export GA4 data into BigQuery and do the same with Search Console because now there is a native interface for that. When you have that in BigQuery you can really have the full potential of this data and then you can merge it and you can really have data beyond the limitations of Google Search Console, which is much better than what you have in GA4.

Dana DiTomaso 

I’ll add to that as well is that I find that sometimes people will set up the GA4 connector to BigQuery, and then they’ll open up Looker Studio and try to report on that GA4 data in Looker Studio. It’s not set up great for doing that. You might think of BiqQuery like a giant spreadsheet, and what you think of with GA4 data in BigQuery is one giant spreadsheet with lots of little embedded spreadsheets.

The moral the story is don’t use the GA4 data directly in Looker Studio, because not only is it not going to give you what you want, but it’s also going to get really expensive, really fast, because every time you pull data from BigQuery into something like Looker Studio, you incur fees. While the fees to store the data in BigQuery are relatively inexpensive, I’m talking about pennies a month, the cost to get it out of if you pull everything all at once, which is a ton of data is not cheap. So you’re going to want to take some time to learn how to do this.

The best course I found out there to learn how to use BigQuery, specifically for GA4 is on Simmer, which is Simo Ahava’s training website. It’s basically how to use BigQuery for GA4 and it’s by Simo and Johan van der Werken, and it’s honestly the best course I have found out there to learn how to do this stuff. So if you do want to get into BigQuery, set up the connector for sure, even if you’re not gonna use it now, maybe you’ll use it later, that’s fine. When you’re ready to learn, start with that course.

Andy Crestodina 

I love that we have Sébastien and Dana here as you are power users, and I love you for that. But just to highlight what Gemma said, I think it’s really important to to have to bring up Google Search Console. Because if you think about it, Google Search Console has all the pre-click data and Google Analytics is only post-click data. It doesn’t show anything that didn’t happen on a website.

I think the integration is nice and it’s convenient if you have a client that’s low tech and loses their logins and isn’t used to going to different places. I think some of the data come in Search Console is different, like it shows your your impressions for rankings, one through 100, which most of the tools don’t do, but I think when you export, it only gives you like the top 1000. So if you have a very large website, I don’t know that you can get all your viewed URLs, or keywords, but I love that you brought it up.

Gemma Fontané 

I think it’s so important to set it up, for example, in my case with some of my clients, they don’t have this way in, so it’s useful to have it. We also have an extra step before you you can see this data on your GA4 interface, because you need to publish it in order to be able to use it. So it’s like you link it, but that’s not enough. So we have our initial setup configuration, and we link our GA4 to other accounts, then it’s time to start setting some things that are kind of a little bit difficult, maybe if you are not used to using Google Tag Manager, especially in the beginning, but once you have it set up, it’s like some of the best things of the tool.

It’s everything related to events and conversions. Events are the things that are happening to your website, either if they are interesting or not for your business objectives, and conversions are these events that are a priority for Europeans because they are very interesting for you. GA4 give you some automatically collected events. So here we recommend define your KPIs. Because if you don’t know what you need from GA4 for from your business, or what you want to analyze in your website, then everything is going to be very confused and you’re going to get a lot of of data that maybe is not interesting for you and you’re going to be mixing in a lot of conversions and events that are not useful.

You need to check how are you going to collect this information for your site, but sometimes, it’s very confusing for you, because it’s data maybe you don’t need. So you need to check if the what they are offering for you is it’s a priority or not for your business. If not, then you need to create these events in a recommended way that they offer for you, or if not in a custom way. In order to create these custom events, you need to do it either via GA4 and generating it in the same tool, or maybe sometimes like you are doing in Universal Analytics, set up your events, or conventions that priority for your business.

Sébastien Monnier 

Something that could be quite useful to make, especially when you end up on like a confirmation page after a form, is to create a goal based on the URL, but you can’t do that anymore in GA4. But you can say, pageview is the goal only if it’s this URL. So basically, you have to create another event like confirmation page or something like that based on pageview, so that you can activate the conversion on this event. Because one conversion is always an event. Okay? It can be an event in this condition. Right now, it’s not possible.

David Bain 

So we’ve, we’ve got a lot more listeners that obviously consume the show as a podcast afterwards. But we’ve also got a lot of people watching live at the moment, so if you do have any questions that you’d like to ask this wonderful panel about GA4 and about the challenges that you’re having with analytics about your opinions, perhaps with in relation to what the the panel is sharing, please share what your thoughts and in the discussion and we will incorporate that into what is being discussed as well.

Andy, should we move on to the four points that you shared with me beforehand, because you’ve come up with four high level ideas of how SEOs can get the most value from GA4 starting off with measuring top line search traffic up and down?

Andy Crestodina 

Yeah, if you have a client or a boss, this is probably the one that they’re looking at. I would caution everyone about this metric, but it’s the easiest to see.

So this metric is in the Traffic Acquisition report. So under Reports, Acquisition, Traffic Acquisition, I’ve clicked only three times, and I can see search traffic. If I just click this compare tool to compare to whatever previous time, I can see a search traffic going up and down. Very triggering for teams, bosses, co workers clients. I’m not a fan of this for several reasons.

One problem with this is that it’s not accurate. Nothing in analytics is perfectly accurate. Of course, this only is showing us recorded traffic. And if you’re doing GDPR, and cookie consent properly, it’s under reporting everything for starters. But secondly, there’s a lot of URLs moving up and down that form this number. So the next metric I think is going to be far more important. I’m going to go to the engagement section, click on landing pages, I’m going to create a filter for this report. And the filter is going to simply be for session medium. I know Dana loves first user medium, but I’m going to use session medium, exactly matches organic. Click Apply. Now I can see the search traffic per URL going up and down. And you can see they vary wildly. Like I this one went up 12% This one’s down 20% That is much more useful. My friend Jeff Coyle says that average metrics are for average marketers. So drill down one level from that top line. It’s not very practical. It’s not very actionable.

The insights you get from just looking at a top level metric aren’t that useful. But when you see the performance per URL, very useful. Now I have insights and now I can take action. Another way to do this, say I’m doing content marketing, I’m just going to filter this whole folder, or this whole column for blogs. Now I’m only looking at my content marketing. So that’s that’s a great way to do it.

Another thing that I can see from here is the engagement rate. For those of us that believe that user interaction signals, whether or not the visitor stayed on the page, spent some time clicked on something is a search ranking factor for many of us who believe that user interaction signals are in fact, a search ranking factor and that Google knows that the visitor quickly hit the back button. So called the short click, the short click versus long click engagement rate is something that SEO should care about, right? A page with low trust, maybe low EEAT signals, or bad UX or slow loading that will hurt the engagement rate. So when you see traffic performance dropping, and you can’t explain it in any other way, jump into GA4 and see if the engagement rate is lower than average, and if so, go look at that page, from the perspective of the visitor, think about how to keep them engaged, add video, add formatting, add details and maybe more sub headings and internal linking and calls to action and speed it up.

So those are the three things, and my fourth is there is a way from the home screen to go to Custom insights, and you can have analytics notify you if traffic drops. Go to view all insights and create an insight. This insight could be for whatever criteria, for example, I had a 20% organic traffic dropped last week, got an email, very good. That’s a useful way that SEOs can use analytics. But so Analytics is a very, very useful tool. It’s probably the tool that other people in your team or in your in your clients are paying attention to educate them on the value and utility and accuracy of the data and add it as a complement to the other many.

SEO is kind of a tool heavy category and you’re gonna need this as well, because most of the other SEO tools are simply pretty click data. This is the one where we can actually see traffic from organic. Did they click on the call to action? Did they convert traffic from organic to these types of pages? Did they convert traffic from organic on mobile versus desktop? Do they convert? Do they engage? So we need GA4 for the post click data. It’s really the only way we get it.

Dana DiTomaso 

With Bounce Rate in GA4, you just don’t see it in the default reports. But let me go back to what Bounce Rate meant in Universal Analytics, and why it was the worst metric to use. So let’s say I’m on a page on your website, and you’re not recording anything in Universal Analytics for things like how long someone spent on the page, or if they could send a video, or let’s say the form fill, but it doesn’t take you to a second page, you just stay on the page after you fill it out.

If you weren’t recording any of those events, I could have done spent half an hour on your blog post watched the six videos filled out three forms, I still would have counted as a bounce, because I didn’t do anything that was measured in Universal Analytics. I think that that is the big thing that people misunderstood about Universal Analytics, people would say I need to increase bounce rate, great, I’m gonna have an event that fires when you view 1% of the screen. Now your bounce rate is like point 1%, congratulations, you get a raise, right? It’s just the most ridiculous metric. In GA4 for we have Engagement Rate with and you just talked about a session becomes engaged when one of these things happen, they spend at least 10 seconds with your tab as the active tab, you can have that to 60 seconds in the settings, they go to a second page, or they convert.

So in those cases, that’s where you’re really looking at engaged sessions. Now, bounce rate is the inverse of engagement rate. So the reality is you should just use engagement rate, although bounce rate is there, if you dig around in the other metrics, you can find it. But engagement rate is a much better metric, it actually means something and it’s useful. So I would say to stick with engagement rate.

David Bain 

We have a question for Andy from Josh saying, “For this Engagement > Landing Page: Landing Page section, are these metrics that we’re seeing right now i.e. users, sessions etc all coming from all traffic channels combined? or solely from organic?”

Andy Crestodina 

Unless you add a filter to change that report so that it only shows traffic from a certain source, it’s showing all the landing page traffic from any source: direct, referral, social, anything. So that’s why if we could go back and watch the recording or rewind here, you’ll see the very first thing I did after I clicked on engagement landing pages was I clicked Add Filter. A little tool things slide up from the right side, and I picked a dimension. In addition, I picked session medium, exactly matches organic, it’s a checkbox, it’s very easy to find. So if you’re doing SEO, that would be the way that we would do it for that.

There are other interesting ways to slice up that report, for example, and I would do this probably as an exploration. But to see the difference in engagement rate for organic versus social, organic versus other sources. Its engagement rate is a really important thing, because as Dana just said, bounce rate only showed the people who had sort of a one page visit, but that one page visit could be 29 minutes, a one page visit could be two seconds. Google knows the difference. So as I said, I believe in user interaction signals to the search ranking factor.

Sébastien Monnier 

About what you just showed, it’s interesting that you check the session medium, but you could have used the usual user medium as well. And this is something going to be tricky now where you before you had last click, and now you have to choose between three different attribution models. So the first user, the first session, and then the data driven, which is a bit tricky, and you have to go through conversions to get it. It’s always a bit difficult to know, when you create a report, if you should use user medium or session medium.

Andy Crestodina 

It gets into some technical aspects of GA4 which is, is that dimension scoped for events, for users, or for sessions and I use explorations a lot so I have to be careful that there’s a match between the dimension scoping and the medium and the metric scoping. That sounded technical. It’s not that technical. I think to keep it simple for people, when I teach it, and when I write about it, and record videos, I just always suggest using session medium, or session source medium. If when you change it, I don’t find drastically different results.

In the end, I’m only looking for data as accurate as it needs to be for me to make a decision. I don’t care about perfect data, I’m not interested in more accurate data, I’m only trying to find an insight and take an action. Actions affect marketing, reports don’t affect marketing. So for me, session medium is sufficient. But I’m sure Dana has a point of view.

Dana DiTomaso 

We just had a discussion about this actually, after another webinar about using first user versus session. And I think it really is context dependent on your company and how people engage with you. So one of my favorite things to do in GA4 is to load up that user report. This is where you look at the first of the acquisition reports, there’s traffic, and then there’s user look at user, and then if you click the little plus symbol, you can add a second dimension, which is session default.

Then one of the things is that what you can do then, is you can look and see is there a big difference between first user and session. If there’s no real difference between first user and session, then great, you can use whatever you’d like. But if you find that people are coming back multiple times, and you’re tracking them multiple times, because user isn’t necessarily what you think it is, its just a device in most cases.

So one of the things that I would say is definitely check that report, compare first user compare session, see what makes sense for you, because it is unique for every situation. And I don’t think anyone can blanket say this is the best way to do it because how your visitors engage with you and how they convert with you is going to be different and unique to your specific situation.

David Bain 

Wonderful. Thank you, Dana. And Gemma, do you have any thoughts on what Andy shared?

Gemma Fontané 

I also will use this way of filtering. So not only to know how we acquire users or to audit what they are doing, also filtering by conversions that they do on our page. So I think that it’s useful to take this into account too, when you are analyzing these.

David Bain 

Sébastien you shared a few areas that we could talk about beforehand. One of them was incorrect implementation of the GDPR banner. What are people doing with that?

Sébastien Monnier 

Yeah, this is amazing. A lot of times I see GDPR banner, which basically are pure nonsense, or something things like we just plugged GA, but then there is Google ads, Facebook’s still coming in, no matter your choices. So basically, if you don’t want to respect GDPR, just just remove your banner at some point. So this is a little bit confusing.

For GA, I know that most basically in Europe or in France, they do block GA without consent. Sometimes I don’t. One, GA is only for aggregated data and with the 30 months cookie, and with no Google signals and everything it can be, it may be considered sometimes as you just that use that as a pure metric system, even though there are some things in the Google guidelines that are a little bit tricky, I don’t know, not always GDPR compliant. So it’s a little bit tricky, right now. So in Europe, though, you basically have to use a consent model for your Google AdWords campaign, if you still want to have a remarketing audience in your data.

So a lot of people are basically putting live a consent model now. Consent is very useful for GA, when you trigger GA only after consent because you can deny GA and still get some estimation, like model data into into Google Analytics, which is good. However, the problem with that with model data is that if you have a report that have a threshold below 40 users, you may end up with zero users. So basically, if you see some reports, where you basically see like 50/45/40, and then zero, that basically means that if there is nothing between zero and 40, it’s usually around 40, it usually means that you have a threshold issue, because you have model data. And if you want to switch that back, you have to use to go in the admin and switch to device based in reporting the identity is something that you can do back and forth. No, it doesn’t change your data. It just changed the report.

David Bain 

Is there any GDPR plugin or software that you’re able to recommend?

Dana DiTomaso 

Tag Manager is the way to go. The easiest one, I found some clients use one trust, I’m not as much of a fan of it. But what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to install one of those like WordPress plugins that says they’re going to add a consent banner, because the number one mistake that I see people make is thinking that the addition of the consent banner is going to fix things. Just having the consent banner doesn’t actually control the tags and the cookies on the site, you need to connect the consent banner and what the choices people make with what is actually deployed in your website. And that’s what consent mode actually means. The banner is just the means of communication between your tag manager or however you’re deploying your your analytics code and how you know what the user is communicating to you and saying what I want to have tracked and what I don’t want to have tracked.

The most egregious example that I saw recently was for this huge multinational company, the banner on their site, they contacted me because they actually got in trouble from Google Ads for doing this wrong. The banner on their site was so badly hooked up that when you click deny on cookies, it actually sent a conversion event off to Facebook. So like you really just just adding the banner is not enough. I think that that is the major disconnect that people have about this stuff.

If you want to know if it’s working or not one plugin I really like it’s a Chrome extension called Omnibug. It adds another tab in Chrome Developer Tools, it’s super easy to use. All you have to do is load it up, come on your website, say no to cookies, and then watch Omnibug and see if some data still gets tracked. If it does your consent banner isn’t set up correctly. That’s as simple as it gets.

David Bain 

Sébastien you also mentioned that you’re a fan of exporting your data to Looker Studio and BigQuery, so what data do you export, what are the pros of doing that, and why do you why do you go about doing that?

Sébastien Monnier 

The thing is that the lookups to the analytics connector is a little bit limited, especially with segment, so when you want to create segmentations like I want to know people that did this event and this event, you can’t really have a funnel or something like that installed into Looker Studio, you have to use the export for that. There is no GA4 export connectors to Looker Studio. You basically have to recreate your data by yourself you know and BigQuery allows you to do that.

The thing is that it’s not only even limited to the 14 months we we’re talking about earlier, it can be up to five years if GDPR and everything is okay for you. It’s your data and it’s your own BigQuery account, so you can do whatever you want with that. The other thing that is really cool, is that you can link your ecommerce data to your CRM data.

An example is that when you use and when you sell insurance, for example, usually you have a contact form, and then later on, after a few weeks later, you have people signed off a contract, but you don’t really know among 100 forms how many did actually signed off. So when you link your CRM data to your GA4 BigQuery data, you can know how many users sent you the form and that this user was actually the one that actually gave me a few 1000 euros. So I know that this campaign was very useful. But this organic campaign to the same page is actually useful. So it’s a way to put revenue on non ecommerce website as well. Basically link databases outside of the GA4 universe.

David Bain 

You mentioned, CRM data there are a couple of times there as well. Is that something that SEOs tend to forget? And is it easy enough to tie up users from your CRM with users within your GA?

Dana DiTomaso 

This depends on consent, of course, and where you’re located. I’m not a lawyer, so talk to your digital privacy officer executive, but this is one of the things we often do, especially for clients that have offline sales.

But for those of us who have at companies where you’re tracking offline sales, one of the things you can do is in a hidden field and forms on your website, put in what’s called the client ID. This is the unique identifier given to visitors from Google Analytics. If you save that in a field in the CRM, then make sure that that CID chases along with them throughout the entire process, you can later tie it back to GA4 after the fact and say, you know, we made X amount of revenue from these ad campaigns or from Yelp or from Twitter or from wherever it may be.

Doing this level of tracking does depend on your data and what you’re allowed to track, but if someone says no to cookies, no client ID exists, no data is passed. The big thing is being able to track that.

In a lot of cases, for example, we work with a moving company in Texas, and they’ve been able to track 60 to 70% of the people who book moves through their online booking form back to their original source in GA4, and that’s a really rich source of data that helps them make marketing decisions.

So I think that that’s where just getting that Client ID and if you Google my name and videos, I’ve talked about it a number of different times exactly how to do it. I think there’s one at a conference called Engage in Portland, where I go through the process step by step. So definitely watch that if that’s something that you’re interested in learning more about.

Andy Crestodina 

In my experience, a lot of SEOs, and I’ll just say the worst SEOs, all they care about is rankings. Better SEOs care about rankings and click through rate. Better SEOs care about actual traffic. Really good SEOs care about traffic just to the key pages, and not just traffic to any page. The best SEOs care about marketing qualified leads, care about conversions, care about tracking organic traffic to which pages lead to actual business. Very rare, very unusual. That’s why I think EEAT was ridiculous. It’s like now you care about trust? Why didn’t you care about trust before? Oh, Google said trust is important. Wait, it’s not about Google. That’s about your visitor like why do SEOs care so much about rankings and traffic and only cared about trust and authority when Google said it mattered? So no, I’ve honestly never heard of an SEO using any CRM data.

Dana DiTomaso 

SEOs who do use CRM data, those are the ones who get raises and promotions. So I recommend this is where you really need to step out of your little SEO land and present things on how can you tell people that you how do you get raises, you prove that you’re making money for the company you work for you prove that you’re making money for the client you work for? And how do you do that by tying together SEO data with actual business outcomes? I think that that is something where if you feel like you’re stuck, like this is the way to get out of wherever you’re stuck in terms being able to charge more with clients or being able to make more at your job or get that promotion like this. Here’s how you do it stop talking about rankings, no one except for you cares, and start talking about actual business income outcomes from your SEO data.

Sébastien Monnier 

I’m pretty sure it’s going to change at some at some point, because with Google Ads, you are more and more forced to send your first party data to Google Ads and to make some direct connections between your CRM, ecommerce data, whatever you have directly to Google ads, with the offline import, audience import. As SEA and SEO are quite close, you know, there is something going on with this. Maybe I should care as well about the actual users.

David Bain 

There are many, many metrics that SEOs misunderstand. So what are a couple of those metrics? And why do they get misunderstood?

Dana DiTomaso 

I already talked about bounce rate. So we don’t need to cover that again. But please watch that part back.

The thing that I think that SEOs really misunderstand is the idea of users and sessions, because users only counts if you’re working with a website that has on site logins and you’re sending that on site login data off to GA4.

If you aren’t sending that on site login data off to GA4, a user is just a device, and you can only track users across devices. For a brief moment when Google signals actually impacted your data use on GA4, Google signals data is no longer shown in GA4, so a user is just a device. On my laptop, I am one session and one user, I’m on my phone and I am one session one user. There is no way to tie me together unless I am logged in to your website.

So that is something really to keep in mind when you’re thinking about users. Those are just devices.

So for example, let’s say I’m going to book a pest control service from my house, I go on my phone, I find a local service, I say Hey, this looks pretty good. I text the link off to my wife and I say to her, Hey, what do you think? She says no problem. I know when I’m can be home for them. I’m going to book it. How am I supposed to attribute that it’s going to come in as direct traffic, right?

Those are the kinds of things that happen every single day. So I think by explaining these differences some of the pressure comes off in terms of analytics must be perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. It never was perfect. It was why people hate GA4 because it shows the imperfections, whereas UA did a better job of hiding them.

So explain what users means, explain what sessions mean, so that you and whoever else you report to are on the same page when it comes to what these metrics are and what their limitations are.

Andy Crestodina 

To that point about prioritizing qualified visitors and actual leads and bottom line business outcomes.

There’s a useful approach to GA4 for this, if you go back to that landing page report and create a comparison to show people that land on for example, blog posts versus people that land on other pages, you can see the conversion rate for those two types of of visits, and you’ll immediately see that people who start their visit on sales pages, service pages, product pages, home pages, 10 times, or 20 times the conversion rates, compared to people who just have information and tend to land on blog posts.

Now you know exactly which pages to focus on. If you go look at the landing pages report from organic traffic and check the conversion rates, you’ll see that some of these landing pages are worth 10/20/100 times more to that brand. Why don’t you focus on those pages, you’ll give your client 10/20/100 times the value by every visit. A visit to certain pages is worth far more to the brand than visits to other pages.

In digital marketing, there’s too many options, so the key is prioritization. We need to prioritize the search performance of landing pages that correlate with conversions and an MQL.

David Bain 

So let’s finish off by asking each of our panelists to share their number one takeaway from today’s discussion, and also just confirming with the where people can find out more information about you. Andy, what would you say is the number one takeaway from today from your perspective and where can the listener find out more about you?

Andy Crestodina 

Gemma started us off with that setup process, so please think about data retention and set it to 14 months. We have to do that. You can find me in on LinkedIn as Andy Crestodina, and I blog at my website, which is orbitmedia.com.

David Bain 

Sébastien , what’s your takeaway and where can people find you?

Sébastien Monnier 

I’d say that my takeaway is to use Looker Studio to get the data like the source, and the channel, and then the conversions that you can choose, and then users, basically so you have everything in one table. This is the only way, as far as I know, to get everything in one table, and that is Looker Studio. You can find me on Twitter @smonnier.

David Bain 

Thank you so much. Dana?

Dana DiTomaso 

I would say that one of my biggest takeaways is for people to just read what those metrics mean. In GA4, you might have seen the the screenshare that Andy was doing, there’s a little pencil icon up at the top right of reports, click that and remove any metrics that aren’t relevant to you. If you don’t have an ecommerce site, then don’t show revenue. Why does GA4 include revenue by default? I don’t know. They just do. So if you don’t have an ecommerce website, you’re never going to have ecommerce, just remove that revenue metric. Ignore what doesn’t matter to you. It’s a really important thing to do with these reports, because the default ones are bad for everybody, so make them right for you.

In terms of finding me, I mostly spend my time on LinkedIn now. Although I am on Twitter as well @DanaDiTomaso, if you spell that right, good job. In terms of what’s next for me, I have a practical GA4 course coming out at the end of March, and my course of analytics for agencies is out now. Both of them are on kpplaybook.com, and use the code majestic to get 20% off the course.

David Bain 

Thank you so much for coming on. Dana. Gemma, what’s your takeaway and where can people find you?

Gemma Fontané 

One of my biggest takeaway is the importance of properly setting up conversions, because at the end of the day, we need to know what’s happening with the key things on our website. And I will check these once in a while, although its recommended to set up in the initial configuration, because sometimes you set up a plugin and you think that everything is working fine, and it’s not. So double check this periodically, for example, in a month.

You can find me here in Barcelona, and on LinkedIn.

David Bain 

Thank you so much for joining us as well Gemma. A wonderful panel today and we could keep on discussing this for hours. But perhaps we’ll have to come back for part two at some point in the future. We will see.

I also want to thank the audience as well, we had some great interaction today. Thank you so much for adding your comments. It’s very much appreciated when you interact a little bit more adds so much value, and we can answer questions and prove that we’re live as well.

I’ve been your host David Bain, and you’ve been listening to the Majestic SEO panel. If you want to join us live next time, sign up at majestic.com/webinars, and of course, check out our other series at SEOin2024.com.

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Comments

  • Bruce Smeaton

    It would be great if someone from the panel could take the time to offer a basic (beginner / intermediate level) step-by-step guide to using GA4. I have been in the industry for 23 years (long before Google was a ‘thing’) and still, to this day, I haven’t heard ANY expert in GA take the time to present a basic chronological order in which people should refer to GA when analyzing either their own data or that of a client.

    February 29, 2024 at 8:23 pm
    • Philip Aggrey

      Hi Bruce. This webinar gives some perspectives on the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4: https://blog.majestic.com/company/google-analytics-alternatives/ and also goes through some alternatives. This from Google may also help: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/ga4 and includes links to othe explanatory material – https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9304153. Search Engine Journal also wrote about GA4 here: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-analytics-4-guide/407452/. I hope this is useful. Philip.

      March 5, 2024 at 5:46 pm

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