Few years back I was doing the keyword research for one of my website where I used to publish information and updates about the services offered by Indian Railways, my offerings included every kind of rich and text media that I collected, studied, modified and worked upon according to my own needs. But the most important of them all was the ‘keyword’ in my domain name and proper use of them in ‘text’ articles and information that was retrievable in text from by both ‘search engine’ spiders and humans.
I was blissfully unaware about Google Analytics at that time and was using some other free and paid services available for the tracking of my webpages and analyzing them. One such service was Statcounter‘s free account. Though there were few limitations like I can not keep log for more than 500 entries and once they are deleted can not use them for analysis on long term basis. Only numbers were available but no the actual data. There were few advantages though that it tracked my webpages live and was able to see the activity on my pages almost in real time (Google Analytics still doesn’t offer it). Though it was not very useful for the long term keyword research and knowing/understanding the keyword trends.
Still today Statcounter doesn’t offer more than 500 log entries for free accounts and Google Analytics doesn’t offer live traffic analysis of the webpages, but there are few things that make Google Analytics slightly more useful a service compared to Statcounter. It is a good idea to keep record of the keywords that send you some traffic 3 weeks ago, 3 moths ago as well as 3 years ago as it offers great insights into the trends. Google Analytics wins here and of course the service is free. You also may integrate it with your Google Adwords account if you want to use SEM services offered by google in future.
Now back to the case we were talking about on SEO and usefulness of long term analysis of the keyword trends that may help you sustain your search engine rank for long time. My domain was placed on the first page of the google for keywords like ‘indian railways’, ‘indiarail’, ‘indian railways ticket booking’, etc. At that time I didn’t even aware about the Search Engine Optimization and SEM and never knew that such thins exists that can help me boost my rankings in Search Engines. I also was unaware about my placement in the search results until I started using Google Adsense and earned a bit because of that Indian Railways website.
That was the first time when I realized the power of better search engine rankings and how it can be useful to professional bloggers and small webmasters. After that I started studying about Search Engine Optimization in particular and Search Engines in general to utilize its power for running professional websites. It is very important to understand how major search engines like Google and Yahoo works and operates in order to understand Search Engine Optimization and ranking better in search results.
This was the time when I found the most powerful keyword research tool that I am using till date on majority of my projects: Google Analytics. There are other benefits of using Google Analytics apart from just plain good old keyword research and understanding about your traffic. When I started optimizing my website to rank even better on the first page of google India for the keyword ‘indian railways’, I unknowingly made a mistake. I changed the way URLs (better looking with Apache’s mod_rewrite on) looked to the search engine without proper 303 redirection to the old ugly ones.
This is the time when problems started because of the changed urls. No all major search engines re-indexed and re-ranked my website for the indexing and search results. I had a lot of backlinks that I was unware about and I lost most of them along with the google page rank of 4. Now the site was down to page rank zero with a very few hits per day. Traffic was reduced a lot, like from 2000 unique hits per day to 150 hits, and most of all earnings were reduced to one tenth in just one week all because of a minor change. At this time first time I realized the power of google and especially the Google Analytics that I had been there on my website for almost 5 months then. But how it was useful??
Google Analytics for Keyword Research and Analysis:
I used it go study in detail depth for which keywords I was ranked where on the search engines and how many hits I got for a particular keyword. After some time I corrected the problems with 301 redirects and my site was back up on the second page but still I was not happy about the position so I decided to learn SEO fully and give other tools like statcounter and few offlines tools a try along with Analytics. By using google analytics I had all the data printed in Chart forms about the keywords, hits, landing pages, exit pages and a bit information about the “Goals” that I had set using google Analytics.
This was the time when google analytics came into picture for the first time in my web development missions. There is a feature that let me evaluate and analyze the power of keywords and keyword modifier listed under ‘TrafficÂ Sources’. This way it can also be used to manage PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns for your clients or for your own website. This was part of the learning curve that also was going to include Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in my development skills and marketing abilities. There are various other factors like Direct Traffic, Referring Sites, Search Engines, Keywords, Adwords, etc using various features and ‘sorting out’ techniques in Analytics.
Best way to learn is to use it on some of your or your client websites and to make your self comfortable with its unique easy to use interface and attractive ways to ‘data crunching’ that is not available in any other similar tools that offer the service for free. Once you are familiar with the interface you should connect your Google Analytics account with your Google Adwords account so that you may able to learn and manage Pey-Per-Click advertising campaigns. More about PPC in this blog soon so keep coming back for more.