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How to Monitor a Website’s Search Engine Rankings with Google Analytics

Lucy Griffiths

by Lucy Griffiths on 12th March 2010

The filters within Google Analytics allow the tracking, monitoring and recording of a variety of different metrics. One particularly useful filter allows you to track your site’s position within the search engines when a visitor clicks on your listing.

This information can be incredibly valuable as you may be optimising your site for one phrase, but this filter can show that a slightly reworded phrase delivers better quality traffic. If you have e-commerce tracking and goals set up then the real value of these visitors will clearly be displayed.

Before creating the filters it is important that you create a new profile in your Google Analytics Account. Give an appropriate title like, ‘Search Engine Rankings’. There should always be a profile in your Analytics Account which has all your data with no filters, otherwise you won’t have a record of your overall traffic.

To create the report which provides you with this data you will need to set the following three filters. Make sure you set the filters up in the correct order, otherwise you may well find that you don’t achieve the desired result.

Filter 1. Only Google Traffic


If you want to change this filter to track another Campaign Source for example, Yahoo or Bing, simply amend the Filter Pattern.

Filter 2. Only Organic Traffic


Filter 3. Track the Rankings

The field details are as follows:

Campaign Term  (.*)
Referral  (\?|&)(start|b|first)=([^&]*)
User Defined $A1 (page: $B3)

Once saved there should be three filters in your new profile. There won’t be any data in your reports immediately as you need to leave it overnight for Analytics to collect the data.

Now the important part, where to find your data. The next day, login into your Analytics account and on the left hand side navigate to Visitors, and at the bottom of this menu you should be able to see User Defined.

Click on this and you should see the terms that you are ranking for together with the number of visitors, average time on site and bounce rate. If you have goals set up you should also be able to view the terms which delivered goals.

Next to each term will be (page: ) and in some instances there will be a number. If there is no number e.g. (page: ) then this means your site is ranking on the first page of Google for that term. If there is a number e.g. (page:10) then this shows that your site is ranking on page two, (page 20) is page three etc.

This filter will help to work out which terms are profitable for your site to rank for in Google. As you will know doubt be aware, it’s far better for your site to rank for terms where visitors convert into paying customers rather than receive a high number of visitors who just browse. So having this data at hand will help you to identify the most valuable key terms for your campaigns.

Lucy Griffiths

Lucy Griffiths

Lucy is an Internet Search Specialist focusing and working with clients on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategies.

2 Comments

  • Jason 12th March 2010

    I’m kind of lost on how to do this. When I try to create a custom report, it gives me a drag/drop interface. Am I in the right place?

    Reply to this comment

  • Lucy 15th March 2010

    Hi Jason. You need to create an additional profile at the Overview stage (this is before you click on View Reports). So when you first log into your Analytics Account you should see Add New Profile on the right under the date.

    Once you have created the new profile then click Edit on the right and under the Goals section there should be Filters Applied to Profile. To create the Filters just click on Add Filter and the this will show the boxes as shown in the above screen shots.

    Hope this helps.

    Reply to this comment

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