Measuring Keywords Performance in Google Analytics & Excel

Keywords are an integral part of any search marketing campaign and marketers need to continuously track their performance in order to optimize the campaigns and the outcomes.

I am going to present to you, two powerful and scalable ways to track the performance of hundreds and even tens of thousands of keywords via Google Analytics and Excel

In order to execute my techniques, you need to be a Pivot Table Ninja both in Excel and in Google Analytics.

If you are not a pivot table ninja yet, you can become one by watching this video and by reading this post: The Super Duper Guide to Google Analytics Pivot Tables.

You also need to be familiar with at least basic Excel tricks like conditional formatting, text manipulation, selection, navigation etc.

Here is a quick cheat sheet in case you wish to refresh your excel skills: Excel for SEO – Powerful Cheat Sheet to Boost Productivity.

We will first do keyword performance analysis through Google Analytics and then later through Excel Spreadsheet.

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Keyword Performance Analysis via Google Analytics

Step-1: Head to ‘organic search report’ (under Traffic Sources > Search) in your Google Analytics Account.

Step-2: Select a time period to which you want to compare your report performance.

I generally compare last week performance to second to last week performance or last month performance to second to last month performance.

But you can select any time period you like.

The key thing to remember here is that you should compare two different time periods.

Because if you don’t then you cannot determine whether you are making progress or regress.  You cannot see the change in metrics.

Step-3: Click on the ‘pivot table’ button and create a pivot table with following specifications:

Primary Dimension: Keyword

Pivot By: Source

Pivot Metrics: Visits

You will now see a pivot table similar to the following table:

You can now see the performance of each keyword for each search engine.

For example, from the table we can see that the traffic (visits) through ‘not provided’ keywords has increased by 11.05% in the last one month.

Similarly the ‘total visits’ through the second keyword has decreased by 15.17% in the last one month. You can also see the distribution of the decline in traffic among different search engines (Google: 14.10%, Bing: 33.33%, Yahoo: 100% and so on).

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Now you know the keywords you need to work on and the search engines you need to target.

In order to make this pivot table super useful, I recommend applying advanced segments and advanced filters on the reporting interface.

By doing this you can get more useful segmentation of your data like: branded keywords, non-branded keywords or keywords which start with a particular character(s) etc.

Related Post: Regular Expression Guide for Analytics

Step-4: In order to track the e-commerce performance of keywords, click on the ‘e-commerce’ tab of the ‘organic search report’ and then select say ‘revenue’ as pivot metrics:


Step-5: Track the performance of PPC Keywords
In order to track the performance of PPC keywords, head to ‘paid search report’ (under Traffic Sources > Search), compare two different time periods, click on the pivot table and create a pivot table in the similar way you created for organic search report.


Step-6: Track the performance of Google PPC Keywords
If you just want to track the performance of Google Adwords keywords then head to ‘keywords’ report (under Advertising > Adwords), compare two different time periods, click on the pivot table and create a pivot table in the similar way you created for organic search report.

The advantage of analyzing the performance of Google Adwords keywords via ‘adwords’ report is that you can include two useful metrics in your pivot table:

Revenue Per Click and ROI. Both of these metrics help in understanding the profitability of a keyword.

To use these metrics, click on the ‘clicks’ tab in your Adwords report and then select ‘RPC’ or ‘ROI’ as a pivot metric and ‘campaign’ or ‘ad group’ as ‘pivot by’ metric, so that you can determine the ad group or campaign a keyword belongs to:

Note: I am deliberately not including two pivot metrics at a time in my pivot tables because then the data becomes difficult to read.


Keyword Performance Analysis via Excel

Now if you want to take actions on large numbers of keywords you may need to download the Google keyword reports into excel.

But when you download these reports into excel the ‘percentage of change’ metric is not downloaded with other data and without this metric you can’t perform any meaningful analysis. But fear not, pivot table is available in excel too.

You now need to do some excel wizardry to replicate the reporting interface of Google Analytics.

I will try to replicate the reporting interface of the first report on Google organic search as an example.

You can apply my technique on others reports in a similar way. 

Step-1: Head to ‘organic search report’ (under Traffic Sources > Search) in your Google Analytics Account.

Step-2: Select a time period to which you want to compare your report performance

Step-3: Select ‘source’ as secondary dimension and then download the report as CSV file into excel. I use Excel 2007. If you use some other version than your interface may be different.

Step-4: Create a pivot table in a different tab. Select the downloaded table as a range:

Step-5: Add following metrics to ‘Row Labels’: Keyword, Source, Date Range, Visits.


Step-6: Now what I am going to do next is a bit tricky. I will add custom calculation field in the pivot table report instead of the ‘sum of visits’ field as shown above. To do this, click on ‘sum of visits’ (next to the ‘Row Labels’ box) and then select ‘Value Field Settings’:

Step-7: In the ‘value field settings’ dialog box do following:

  1. Enter ‘% of Change’ in the ‘custom name’ field
  2. Click on the ‘show values as’ tab
  3. Select ‘% difference from’ from the ‘show values as’ drop down list
  4. Select ‘date range’ as base field.
  5. Select ‘Base Item’ as last month date range
  6. Click on the ‘ok’ button

Your final report will look like this.

I have done some conditional formatting here to highlight positive and negative changes in metrics. You can ignore the #N/A. If you know of a more cool way to track the performance of keywords then please share in the comments.

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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
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  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
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