How to Measure and Improve the Quality of SEO Traffic through Google Analytics

They say the quality is subjective and hence cannot be measured. Well, not really.

In the next few minutes, I will show you one powerful method to effectively measure the quality of your SEO traffic in Google Analytics.

You in fact can measure the quality of any type of traffic (PPC, affiliate, display, email, social traffic etc.) through my method.

What is quality traffic in the world of digital analytics?

Quality traffic is the website traffic that drives the business bottomline.

Most optimizers consider highly engaged traffic as high quality traffic. However, this is not always the case.

For example, it is quite common for content-rich websites (like blogs, news sites, publishing sites, etc.) to have a high bounce rate, low average time spent on a page and/or low pageviews per session.

People generally visit such websites to consume the latest content. Then they often leave the websites from the landing page without browsing any further. This results in a high bounce rate.

By default, Google Analytics can report time spent on a webpage only when a visitor navigates to another web page on your website.

So you may never know how much time is actually spent on a webpage. You may never know whether the high bounce rate, low time spent and low pageviews per session are good or bad for the business bottomline.

A weak user engagement does not always mean poor traffic quality. 

If you consider strong user engagement as an indicator of traffic quality, then here is the bummer:

Strong user engagement is no guarantee of getting a lot of conversions, sales and/or leads.

This is because people may be engaging with your website for all the wrong reasons.

Let us suppose you sell link building services. And in order to improve user engagement on your website you created a tool that can analyze the backlinks of any website for free.

Say your tool becomes popular. As a result, a lot of link builders from all over the world started spending a huge amount of time on your website to analyze the backlinks of their clients’ websites.

Now Google Analytics will report strong user engagement and high traffic on your website. 

But since the people who are mainly engaging with your website are other link builders and not really your customers, your free link building analysis tool won’t help you much in getting leads and sales.

That is why you should always focus on profitable user engagement.

“Profitable user engagement is the user engagement that leads to conversions and/or transactions.”

“An engagement is profitable, only if it positively correlates with conversions, i.e. as user engagement increases or decreases there is a corresponding increase or decrease in conversion volume and conversion value”

“When a user engagement negatively correlates with conversion then the engagement becomes a distraction.

We need to stay away from such ‘distractions’.

Measuring Traffic Quality in Multi-Channel Marketing World

Let us now measure the quality of SEO traffic.

Before we move forward, you need to consciously remember the fact that in the world of multi-channel marketing, organic traffic not only helps in directly completing conversions but also help in assisting conversions which are later completed by other marketing channels like direct traffic, social media, PPC, email, display etc.

Therefore it is imperative that we take multi-channel attribution into account while measuring the quality of organic traffic.

Follow the steps below to measure the quality of organic traffic on your website:

Step-1: Navigate to the Assisted Conversions report (under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels) in your Google Analytics main reporting view:

assisted conversions report

Step-2: Set the ‘date range’ of your report to last month and then compare it to the previous period.

Step-3: Note down the changes in the ‘Assisted Conversion Value’ and ‘Last Click or Direct Conversion Value’ of the organic search marketing channel:

organic assisted direct value

From the report above we can conclude that both the assisted conversion value and the last click conversion value for the organic search channel went down in the last month.

That means the quality of organic search traffic to the website has declined and fewer people are converting.

This quality has declined in two ways:

1. Organic search is assisting fewer high-value conversions which are later completed by other marketing channels (like direct, referral, PPC, email, display etc). In other words, other marketing channels are completing fewer high-value conversions in which organic search assisted. That has resulted in a decline in the assisted conversion value for organic search.

2. Organic search is directly completing fewer high-value conversions. That has resulted in a decline in the last click conversion value for organic search.

How to find the reason for a decline in assisted conversion value for organic search?

To find the reason for a decline in assisted conversion value for organic search, you would need to determine how other marketing channels performed in the last month.

This is because their performance affected the performance of your SEO campaigns.

For example, if someone in your company drastically reduced the PPC ad spend over the last month, then both your assisted conversion value and last click conversion value for organic search will most probably go down and consequently organic traffic quality will suffer.

Follow the steps below in order to understand how SEO impacted the last click conversion value of other marketing channels:

Step-1: Navigate to the Assisted Conversions report (under ‘Conversions’, ‘Multi-Channel funnels’) in your Google Analytics main reporting view:

assisted conversions report

Step-2: Create a new conversion segment, name it ‘Any interaction is organic’:

conversion segment
create new conversion segment
any interaction is organic 1
any interaction is organic 2

In case you are wondering why I applied the ‘Any interaction is organic‘ conversion segment, the answer is a bit tricky.

Here I want to consider only those last-click conversions in which organic search assisted somewhere in the conversion path. There is always the possibility of having a large number of conversion paths in which organic search did not assist at all.

So if I include these conversion paths in my analysis then I will not be able to accurately understand the role of SEO in impacting the last click conversion value of other marketing channels.

Step-3: Compare the last month to the second last month:

compare

Step-4: Look for the negative change in the last click conversion value of marketing channels, other than organic search.

For example, if PPC has a negative change in the last click conversion value within the last month then it means you need to work on improving the performance of your PPC campaigns:

paid search last click or direct conversion value

If PPC is not in your control then there is nothing much you can do here.

But in any case, you now know the reason for the decline in the quality of organic traffic and you can report this reason to your client.

Similarly, look for negative changes in the last click conversion value of other marketing channels and improve their performance.

 

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How to find the reason for the decline in last click conversion value for organic search?

When there is a decline in ‘last click conversion value’ for ‘organic search’, then it means that ‘Organic search’ is directly completing fewer high-value conversions.

There can be a lot of reasons for such behaviour:

1. A decline in organic traffic

This can be due to a change in search engine algorithm (e.g. Panda or Penguin update), manual penalty, seasonality, rise in competition on SERPs, design changes on the search engine result pages etc.

If this is the case then you need to increase organic search traffic.

2. A decline in the performance of other marketing channels.

For example, a decline in traffic and conversions through direct traffic, PPC, email, social media and other marketing channels.

If this is the case then you need to improve the performance of these marketing channels.

Look at the big picture i.e. “the trend”

In order to truly understand the quality of organic traffic, you need to look at the bigger picture.

That means collecting and analysing conversion data for the last three to four months (to create a trend) and correlating it with organic traffic like the one shown below:

table

And then plotting the data points on a line chart like the one below:

organicVisits-TEV

From the chart above we can conclude that the organic traffic is increasing over time. What that means that the traffic is not a problem here. The problem here is the total economic value as it has gone down.

The total economic value is simply the sum of assisted conversion value and last click conversion value. 

The following chart explains the calculation of the total economic value:

total economic value

In order to determine the reason for the decline in total economic value, you would need to segment the data trend like the one below:

ACV-LCV

From the chart above we can conclude that the decline in total economic value is mainly due to a decline in assisted conversion value.

In order to determine the reason for the decline in assisted conversion value, you need to understand the role of SEO in impacting the last click conversion value of other marketing channels as described earlier. 

So next time, if you can’t figure out why your SEO campaign has suddenly started performing poorly despite an increase in organic traffic and conversions, look at the performance of other marketing channels.

Other Articles on Attribution Modelling

  1. How to analyse and report the true value of your SEO Campaign
  2. How to valuate Display Advertising through Attribution Modelling
  3. Understanding Shopping Carts for Analytics and Conversion Optimization
  4. 6 Keys to Digital Success in Attribution Modelling
  5. Google Analytics Attribution Modeling Tutorial
  6. How to Measure and Improve the Quality of SEO Traffic through Google Analytics
  7. How to explain attribution modelling to your clients
  8. Default and Custom Attribution Models in Google Analytics
  9. Understanding Missing Touchpoints in Attribution Modelling
  10. What You Should Know about Historical Data in Web Analytics
  11. Model Comparison Report Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  12. Data-Driven Attribution Model in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  13. Conversion Lag Report Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  14. Selecting the Best Attribution Model for Inbound Marketing
  15. How to do ROI Analysis in Google Analytics
  16. Conversion Credit Models Guide – Google Analytics Attribution
  17. Introduction to Nonline Analytics – True Multi Channel Analytics
  18. Conversion Types Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  19. Attribution Channels Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  20. Differences Between Google Attribution & Multi-Channel Funnel Reports
  21. Introduction to TV Attribution in Google Analytics Attribution 360
  22. Conversion Credit Distribution for Attribution Models in Google Analytics
  23. Conversion Paths Report Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  24. Attribution Model Comparison Tool in Google Analytics
  25. Touchpoint Analysis in Google Analytics Attribution Modelling
  26. Attributed Conversions & Attributed Revenue Explained in Google Attribution
  27. Which Attribution Model to use in Google Analytics?
  28. Google Attribution Access and User Permissions – Tutorial
  29. Conversion Path Length Report Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  30. How to set up a data-driven attribution model in Google Analytics
  31. View-Through Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics
  32. Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  33. How to Create Custom Attribution Model in Google Analytics
  34. 8 Google Analytics Conversions Segments You Must Use
  35. You are doing Google Analytics all wrong. Here is why
  36. How to Use ZMOT to Increase Conversions and Sales Exponentially
  37. Connected Properties Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  38. Marketing Mix Modelling or Attribution Modelling. Which one is for you?
  39. How is attribution modelling helpful for ecommerce and non-ecommerce websites?
  40. Conversion Time & Interaction Time Explained in Google Analytics Attribution
  41. How to Allocate Budgets in Multi Channel Marketing
  42. How Does Attribution Work?
  43. Data-Driven Attribution Model Explorer in Google Analytics
  44. Introduction to Attribution Beta – Attribution Project in Google Analytics

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