Use Google Analytics custom segments to audit and improve search marketing
Anyone who has ever reviewed the keywords attracting visitors to a site will have seen that brand search terms usually dominate, often accounting for more than 50% of search related visits for well-known brands.
Every site has associated brands, but to paraphrase Morrisey, some brands are biggger than others. For these, isolating brand search is essential if you’re serious about using search to create incremental business i.e. create awareness and sales from new customers.
It follows that it’s futile to try to review and improve search engine marketing without taking brand phrases into account, but that’s the default for the less than savvy. For marketers, reviewing their analytics it’s easy to understand since the analytics tool doesn’t readily isolate brand and non-brand phrases.
For the search agency, well maybe they’re being less than transparent with their clients since it’s even easy for the incompetent to attract branded site visitors to a site. Of course this won’t apply to most readers of this esteemed blog!
This short tutorial will show you how to use Google Analytics to quickly set up Advanced Segments to help you review your search performance.
Setting up custom segments for search keywords in Google Analytics
Custom Advanced Segments are what you need to set these up. If you haven’t come across these because they’re hidden in Google Analytics, then you’re missing out – see my Smart Insights post on “10 different types of advanced segments”: http://www.smartinsights.com/blog/web-analytics/google-analytics-web-analytics/segmenting-google-analytics/.
For search marketers, there are standard segments for paid and natural segments which I’m sure you’re all using already – if not that post gives and example.
To understand the interaction of paid and natural brand phrases, I recommend setting up 4 advanced segments. I advise setting them up and labelling them as follows:
1. Natural search visits including brand.
2. Natural search visits NOT including brand.
3. Paid search visits including brand name(s).
4. Paid search visits NOT including brand name(s).
It just takes a few seconds to set each one up. I’ll show you how for an advanced segment for natural search visits containing the brand name. I’ll use my “brand name” from my site since I can’t use client data to illustrate this…
Step 1. Select “Create a new advanced segment” from the Advanced segments box top right or click on the Advanced Segment menu option in the left sidebar and chose “Create a new custom segment”
Step 2. First, select Keyword as the dimension to segment on from the “Traffic sources” dimension group on the left of the screen. Drag across. Easy.
Next filter by entering the brand name by choosing “contains” <brand name>. Also, easy.
Tip: In many cases, you will want to include some variants of the brand. You do this using the pipe symbol and selecting “regular expression” rather than “contains”. For example, Starbucks|Star Bucks, although contains “bucks” would be easier…
Step 3 Next segment by natural search choosing a segment dimension as “and” as shown in the screengrab above. This will match “organic”. Paid is “cpc”
Step 4 Choose a name for your segment and press the “test” option to make sure you have it right.
Step 5 Finally you can apply your advanced segments to the report by selecting the segments you want from the Advanced Segments box on the top right as shown in the first screengrab.
This example shows a high level view of the breakdown of search traffic.
You can also use these segments within keyword reports to easily separate out brand and non brand keywords. For high volume phrases it can be worth setting up a contains “high volume keyword” so that you can analyse that in depth.
I hope that works for you. How do you use advanced segments for search analysis – I’d be interested to hear about the segments you use.
In the meantime, I’d be interested to hear how you use segments in Google Analytics.