What an SEO specialist should know about analytics

There are several specializations in the field of online marketing, each focusing on different activities and goals. For PPC campaigns, it’s all about performance for money well spent, for SEO it can be visibility and support for long-tail queries, for email marketing it’s customer care. The goal setting for each channel may be different, but analytics is important in every case and for all specialisms.

We are of the opinion that a specialist in modern marketing should offer his clients overlaps outside his primary field, especially in the field of analytics, without which meaningful marketing cannot be done. We have prepared a checklist of what a consultant should know in analytics. Maybe at least know that it exists. We’re starting our series with SEO – here it seems that analytics is scarce, but it’s not. In addition to evaluating SEO activities, an SEO consultant typically has overlap into other marketing channels, often handling project management, coordinating content creation, and bringing all parties involved together. The degree of this involvement depends on the expertise and maturity of the specialist in question and, above all, the overlaps he or she is able to offer.

Come with us to explore what topics you can explore as an SEO specialist to get an overlap into analytics.

General stuff about online marketing

Anyone working in an online environment should be familiar with basic marketing terms and be able to identify a basic strategy, goals, metrics and subsequent evaluation.

  • be able to explain basic marketing metrics
  • understand the differences between KPIs and metrics
  • be able to evaluate the long-term performance of a marketing channel
  • be able to report effectively on their results (ideally automated)

Knowledge of Google Analytics

Knowledge of Google Analytics is essential for all professionals. Of course, everyone will need different data, different reports, different parts, and will look at analytics from different angles. We consider the following points to be the main ones and it is advisable for an SEO consultant to have an overview of them:

  • understand the account structure (how to create it, what to share with whom) – watch out for changes with GA4
  • know and understand attribution across marketing channels (and how to work with attribution from a specialist’s perspective, how not to let it hurt you and not to overvalue your outputs)
  • how audiences and segments work and how to work with them correctly
  • how individual marketing channels work in a channel grouping (how they are created, how they are set up)
  • understand the goal settings in Google Analytics and be able to define the settings (or set them)
  • be able to distinguish between conversions, micro-conversions and macro-conversions
  • awareness of filters and their impact on conversion rates
  • understand the issue of bounce rate (immediate abandonment rate)
  • know how to connect external services (Google Search Console, Google Ads)
  • know the possibilities of content grouping and how it facilitates reporting (content grouping)
  • how custom dimensions work – how they help me with SEO measurement and understanding user behaviour
  • understand how information gathering works (hits, technical limitations – bots, general garbage, firewalls, ad blockers, Google limits)
  • understand the impact of the cross-device effect on data and how it can be worked with
  • know how to get data on landing page content groups
  • know how to set up a link tagging system (define UTM parameters) and know the impact on SEO, e.g. in the area of link building

Advanced knowledge of Google Analytics for connoisseurs

In addition to the above, a more advanced overview of analytics may also be useful. Topics covered here may include:

  • understanding of the issue of importing marketing costs into Google Analytics
  • knowledge of linking GA data with, for example, Ahrefs or Analytixer
  • knowing how to set up alerts in Google Analytics or external tools (such as our Smart Alerting System) for key fluctuations in metrics

Knowledge of working with Search Console

Google Search Console contains a lot of great data that you can use for technical editing or content creation. Some of the highlights include the Performance and Coverage section. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on other blocks as well – for example, Page Impression (and Core Web Vitals), Mobile Usability, Links, or in the Settings section, keep an eye on Crawl Stats.

  • indexed addresses and other data from the Coverage section
  • interpretation of web performance data
  • Visualization options in Google Data studio
  • for the more advanced, work with the GSC API to get more data

Google Data Studio

As we write in our article about Data Studio, it is a data visualization tool. In addition to data from Google Analytics, you can visualize data from Collabim, any Spreadsheet, Sklik and many other channels. As well, you can join data in various ways, perform basic mathematical operations and transformations here.

  • know how to connect Google Analytics and set up basic reports and charts
  • know how to connect Google Search Console to set up basic charts
  • know how to work with split reports by channel and visualize, for example, split Organic/Paid channels

And what might come in handy?

  • be able to link the link database (e.g. in Ahrefs) with inputs from Google Analytics
  • know how to link Collabim or other position measurement tool and match other data to it (Google Search Console, Google Analytics, transactions from Affiliate system)

Knowledge of Google Tag Manager (GTM)

There are two levels of Google Tag Manager that you could or should know as an SEO specialist. One is general knowledge of how it works and how to navigate it, and the other is the actual setup (of the basic measurement).

Basic knowledge of Google Tag Manager

  • understand what Google Tag Manager is, how its different parts work (tags, triggers, variables)
  • understand how GTM can be effectively used by a specialist to create custom conversions for content work
  • know the difference between an interaction and a non-interaction event and how it affects bounce rate
  • understand the relationship between the data layer (dataLayer) and Google Tag Manager

This is usually where the work of a pure SEO consultant ends. It is important that the SEO specialist knows what he wants to measure and how to specify it. After all, we are here to set up the measurement. 🙂

Setting up basic measurements in GTM

Within content, it pays to measure, for example:

  • reading articles – to distinguish between long and short articles
  • reading the next article
  • catching errors (e.g. click on an internal link ending with an error, 404, JavaScript error)
  • copying a number, clicking on a number
  • copying an email, clicking on an email
  • submitting a form
  • playing a YouTube video 
  • sending an order
  • click on the FAQ box
  • visiting a specific page
  • clicking on a specific CTA element
  • visibility of specific elements (references, cases, forms)
  • displaying and clicking through popups
  • subscription to newsletters
  • interaction with chat
  • opening images
  • changing a language
  • measuring outbound links
  • DOM scraping – getting information directly from the page (not in the data layer) and related issues

More SEO consultant work where analytics intervenes

An SEO consultant deals with a lot of things on a daily basis – not just the analytics or content and link work itself, but also specifications to the development team, managing copywriters, or suggestions to the content management team on the e-commerce site. What came to our mind?

  • knowing the principles of web speed and its evaluation – the most common factors hindering web loading and tools for detecting problems (e.g. HTTP/2 or HTTP/3, lazyloading, server cache, .WebP)
  • data connection to keyword analysis (position and landing pages for a given query, traffic prediction)
  • specification of technical adjustments to the development team (there may be an impact on the measurement itself)
  • managing copywriters and assigning tasks for content work (based on data)
  • knowledge of Google Business, Firmy.cz and knowing how to measure performance from these channels and evaluate performance (an example might be spending 150 CZK per day on Firmy.cz, where 3 visits per month came from a listing)
  • awareness of the performance of catalogues – to be able to evaluate whether a listing in a catalogue is worthwhile (usually not)
  • knowledge of SEO monitoring tools – Collabim, Marketing Miner, SEMOR
  • knowing other tools and being aware of their functionality – Sitebulb, SEMrush, Content King, Ahrefs
  • familiarity with Google Search Console and Webmaster List
  • principles and statistics of A/B tests, tools applicable to A/B tests and the effort to design an A/B test within SEO

And last but not least, it’s good to know what to bring to the analyst. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

  • data linking, measurement control and measurement setup
  • validation of data consistency
  • advanced customer or content segmentation
  • long-term and regular analysis
  • CLV, RFM analyses
  • connecting users across devices
  • and anything else

Are you a SEOmaster who needs to take your client’s analytics a step further or are you unsure about the basics of analytics? Feel free to drop us a line, we’d be happy to help.

We thank to SEO Peter for his cooperation on this article.

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