Google Analytics Goals, Monthly SEO Reports, and Google Data Studio (08/26/2020)

In our office hours meeting on August 26th we troubleshot some common problems.

It’s very common to have problems setting up goals in Google Analytics. This week, we found and fixed a problem with one of our member’s goals.

This lead very naturally into another question: how to report your SEO results. Following the process, our Colony member attempted to setup a Google Data Studio dashboard. We attempted to diagnose the problem and fix it.

We ended-up having to take this offline. It turns out that we needed to make a change in a specific place to fix the problem. Unfortunately, it was simply easier to delete this report and start-over, than fix the problem in every location.

Would you like to participate in our next Office Hours? All you need to do is join The Colony, and you’ll be able to ask your SEO questions too!

Video Transcript:

David: Well, welcome to Office Hours. Today is Wednesday, August 26th, and we’re here to talk about SEO. So, usually, I ask people to submit questions ahead of time, and that is what Ali did today, so Ali gets first right of refusal to ask her deep, interesting, perplexing questions about SEO.

Ali: Yes.

David: So, I have two. Which would you like to start with?

Ali: Whatever your heart desires.

David: I think having the question about the goal set up properly is the first question, and then what to do with Google Data Studio is, kind of follows off that. So let’s start with the goal.

Ali: Okay.

David: Okay. So, you said that you don’t think your goal is working properly.

Ali: Correct.

David: I’m gonna go through and set this up to confirm it’s collecting data accurately. Okay. So, what is the goal that you’re referring to, in terms of what is it trying to measure?

Ali: So, my goal is a Contact Us goal. So I have it set up as getting onto that page, submitting an email address, and then landing through. It keeps reading a zero, but I did check, and we did have several people contact us in the last month through that venue. So, for whatever reason, it’s not collecting that properly.

David: Okay. Okay. So, in Google Analytics, you’re using the goal set up?

Ali: Yes.

David: And are you using a destination goal in your Google Analytics setup?

Ali: I believe so, yes.

David: Okay. Do you mind if we look inside your Google Analytics account?

Ali: Sure. Let me [crosstalk 00:02:13]

David: Can you share your screen?

Ali: I can. Let me go ahead and do it.

David: So, when you are looking at your Google Analytics, go ahead and hit the Share Screen button, and we can look over your shoulder. There we go. Okay. So, go to the little gearbox at the bottom column, for Admin. And over on the right-hand side, the second thing, Goals, exactly. So, “Contact us” is the only goal set up. So, let’s go ahead and click the word “Contact us.” It says it’s reporting. And then hit the second Edit, Goal description. Okay. It’s a destination goal, so hit Continue. And I bet you I know what it is, but let me see. Hit the third Edit, Goal details. Ahh. Okay. So, here we go. You are…setting the…the destination means a URL. But you’ve put words in that, with spaces. Okay? So, do you know what the actual URL is for the confirmation page?

Ali: I can find out [crosstalk 00:03:49]

David: And if you don’t, [crosstalk 00:03:50] we can show you how to find it in Google Analytics, which might be a better way to do it.

Ali: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because otherwise, I was just gonna go and [crosstalk 00:03:58.484] about something, so…

David: Okay. Yeah, let’s see. So, go over, on the left-hand column, right above the little flag. No, even further left. Click on Behavior, all right? Go to Site Content, All Pages. Okay. And so this is, if you scroll down, a list of all the pages that have received traffic in the last whatever the time period is set to be. So if you go in that little search box at the top with the magnifying glass and type the word “thank,” and hit that box, not all URLs will always have “thank you” in it, but there you go. That is the URL. So you can copy that, if you click on it… I think you might have to hover over it and scroll, crawl, you know, [crosstalk 00:04:54] drag, crawl to get that. Now copy that. There you go. And now go back to your Admin, Goals, Contact, Goal details, and then hit that. Now, before you do anything else, it says “Regular expression.” So, that is not really what we want. We want “Equals to,” okay? Regular expression is an advanced field that allows you to, if your URL isn’t always the same, for instance, you could enter in a little thing that would catch all the things.

I would also turn off your Funnel. That’s really an unnecessary step here. That’s for more if you were doing a shopping cart or something, where you wanted to see people progressing through a shopping cart before they contacted you. We know that the only way someone would get to this thank you page is by submitting the form, so we don’t need that. Then I would click the words “Verify this Goal.” There you go. 1.96% of conversion rate based on your data the last seven days. So that’s probably right. Now I’d hit Save. And now you’re goal’s set up properly.

Ali: There we go.

David: The downside is it’s set up properly from this point forward. So, Google Analytics can’t go back into your data and use it to analyze your goals. But it will…

LaVonya: I missed something. Where did she have the, where you said she didn’t have the URL at. Where was that at?

David: It’s under the Admin, under the goal. There is the, on the third step, where you enter the destination URL, that’s where we pasted the URL for the confirmation page after the form’s submitted.

LaVonya: Oh, I set mine up wrong too.

David: It’s actually very common. So please don’t feel like you did anything…you know, it’s very, very common. So, don’t feel bad. Actually, one of the most common mistakes is putting the entire URL in there, including your domain name. But as you could see, all she had to do is use the word /thank-you/ and it worked.

Ali: Now, can you also, while we’re on this page, I have this…I have a 404 page coming up here. How do I, like, figure out what that is and how to fix it?

David: Okay. Great question. So, hit the little pencil with 404 page. And, so, this is tracking how many page views existed for a page with the page title containing the word “not found,” okay? And this is because you’re using WordPress, and WordPress, by default, will have the word “not found” in the title tag of the page. So I just wanted to confirm that’s correct. So, hit Cancel. And go over far left column to Behavior, and then go to Site Content, All Pages. And then, you’ll notice that this is again where we were to find the URL for the confirmation page. We don’t need the URL, we need the page title. So at the very top of the graph, you have something called Primary Dimension. It’s says Page, Page Title, and Other. Sorry, right beneath the graph at the top of the table.

Ali: Okay, yeah.

David: So, click Page Title. So, this is showing you all the pages, but it’s showing you by the title of the page, not the URL, okay? So, if you go into the search bar and you type the word “not found,” and then hit Enter. That is the one thing. Click on that, and now scroll down. There is the… So, someone typed /not-a-page into…

Ali: Oh. I did.

David: Yes. Exactly. That’s how we test to see what the title tag is.

Ali: I did.

David: So it works.

Ali: It did…

David: It worked. That’s great. No, this is exactly right, right? This is exactly… So now you know you’re correctly tacking a 404 page in Google Analytics. And that’s gonna help you to know for instance, what if someone accidentally ruins a bunch of pages on your site and doesn’t tell you? Or someone’s trying to hack your site, creating all these fake pages? These will, that’s where this stuff will show up. So, you were successful.

Ali: Yay. My story for…

David: There’s your success story for the week. Yeah. Yay, you successfully tested. Okay. So, that’s great. And that’s super common to make that mistake with the goals. If you have a moment, I’d appreciate it if you could reread the directions in this process. And if there’s a place that I’m not being clear, that you think I could make that step more clear, would you go in and under “leave a reply,” go ahead and tell me what I did wrong? That’d be great.

Ali: I have to make a note for myself to do that.

David: Okay. Okay. Yeah. Turn off your screen share. No one needs to see all that.

Ali: My minutes are… I have, like, a little chart of, like, my to-do list [crosstalk 00:11:04]

David: There you go. There you go. All right, LaVonya, did you follow all that?

LaVonya: Yes, I did.

David: Good. Good. Because it’s, honestly, it’s still one of the first things I check when I get a new client, to make sure that goal is even set up right, if they even have one, because it’s so common to get a little error made with that. So, now that we know we’re tracking our goals correctly, it’s time to start making a monthly report using Google Data Studio. And so, Ali, you were asking about that one as well. What was the problem you were having with that?

Ali: I set it up, and then I was like, “Oh, God.” I just…I was not quite sure what to do from there. Like, I did a lot of stuff this week, obviously, clearly, since I set up dashboards, and the reminder email and all these things, and then I got… [inaudible 00:12:00.153] the Data Studio, and I was just like, “ehh…” I kinda hit a little bit of a wall as to what to do next.

David: You did a lot of data, which’ll pay off later, but it’s really easy to hit that wall and go, “I’ve got so much data I don’t even know what to do with it yet.”

Ali: Yeah. Because it’s like, it’s a whole new language for me, too. So I think sometimes I get almost a little burnt out on it, where I’m like, I’ve taken in so much new information for the week that I’m like, I don’t know what to do with this other new information.

David: So, one way I kind of keep things straight, and I hope this helps you and LaVonya both, is the dashboard, which gets sent every week, it’s really more for you as the manager of the website, to help you identify if there is a problem. That’s really what it’s for. It’s, you know, there you go… “Oh, there’s a 404 page problem. Oh, okay, I need to go fix that,” right? That’s helpful. But your boss, they don’t need to be…in fact, they probably shouldn’t even be worried about those details, right? They just need to know you’re doing what’s doing. And so, the Data Studio report is more for the boss, to show the progress that you’re making. Pardon me. So, were you able to get the report created correctly in Data Studio?

Ali: I do not know.

David: Okay. Okay. So, probably not sharing your screen… Let’s see if we can find it. I think that’s probably the first question, huh?

Ali: I think I didn’t? Hold on. Let me see. Is this [crosstalk 00:13:54]

David: There it is. There it is.

Ali: So, I think this is it. I did this, and then I was just like, “Cool. What next?”

David: Okay. Well, this is interesting. So this is, you changed the data to impressions and click-through rates?

Ali: Oh, I did?

David: Yeah.

Ali: Oh.

David: So, I wonder if the data source is… Yeah, this looks like Google search kind of…[crosstalk 00:14:25.273]

Ali: It might be Search Console, because I was having an issue where I couldn’t figure out, like, if I had set it correctly, and I tried to link data…Analytics and Search Console, but then I think it only linked Search Console, and then I couldn’t figure out how to get it back to Analytics, and then that’s when I quit for the day, and just submitted the question.

David: Yeah. Well, that makes sense, because sometimes you just kind of walk away. So, let’s go back to the report and see if we can troubleshoot this for you. So, go to…because what I’m seeing here is Google Search Console data in a report that was really built for Google Analytics. So, if you go, at the top left it says Overall Visitors and Goals Page 1 of 2. And if you hit the arrow to the right, that’s gonna get the second page. And that is limited to SEO. So, the first page, if we go back, the back arrow, this is supposed to be a review of all traffic regardless of where the source came from.

Ali: Okay.

David: So, let’s click the Edit button. And in the middle, it says “Add data,” over to the left, in the menu bar there. And connect Google Analytics. Oh, actually, go back a step, so, you hit the back arrow. Go to “My data sources.” Okay. There you go. Okay. So you already have two things. So, let’s click on “All Web Site Data,” and hit Add. Yeah, go ahead.

Ali: Do I hit View?

David: Yeah. So, try the refresh button. Sorry, I meant the refresh button within Data Studio. So, there’s a similar-looking button. But if I was more clear, I could do that. So, right by Share, there’s a little circle arrow. Okay. So let’s go back to Edit, and I’m going to try something here. And go to “Add data” again. Go to “My data sources.” Select Search Console for Graham Behavior Services. Right-click on that. Okay. It’s not letting us unselect it. So let’s go back…hmm.

Ali: I broke it.

David: So we have to remove that data and use the All Web Site Data, because that’s the error that’s going on. I don’t know how to do that offhand. So, one thing we could do is we could try to connect Google Analytics again and see if that works. There we go. There we go. There we go. Okay. So, click on… All right, so, rather than sit here and go, “Uhh,” I’m gonna have to look it up. There’s a spot here that I’m not seeing, and I don’t recall where it is offhand, where it’s telling you which data to add in the report. And so, I am gonna do that research and I’m gonna email you on how to do that. But it’s somewhere in here. Oh, there you go. Look at you. And it’s gonna be one of those because those are the same. And then close. Okay. Okay. So…

Ali: Okay. Now it’s all broken?

David: So, right now, it doesn’t have a data source, so that’s the problem. We need to say which data source to use. So, if we go back to Edit, and then Add. Okay. So, I feel like I know where it is, but I don’t remember where it is right now. So, I think what I need to do is do a little bit of quick looking up offline, and get back to you and show you exactly where to make this change.

Ali: Sure.

David: But it is… Yeah. So, right now, Data Studio is pulling data from different places, and arranging it in a nice, neat, clean way, and that’s what’s nice. It makes it a good report to give to the boss, right? So they can see what’s going on. They can also then use it by clicking those things on the upper right-hand corner to show…to change things, like, “Oh, what was it like last month?” Or, “I wanna see how Facebook did.” They can change those kind of things to look themselves. But the data source is disconnected from the charts, and so I think it’s a simple fix that right now is escaping me a little bit. But once you get it set up, then what, and this is what I do, I have it automatically sent to my clients, in my case, but you could automatically have it sent to your boss or yourself every month, you know?

And then they automatically get a reminder, and it comes to them. They can mess around with it and look at it. If you wanted to take it a step further, you would send it to yourself, and take a little bit of time, and say, “Well, okay, things went up, things went down. Why?” And that’s where it becomes really valuable. And that’s where your delving into Google Analytics is gonna be…the taking the time to figure it out. And that is a hard thing to teach. You know, why did the traffic go up? Why did the leads go up, or down, or whatever? Well, there’s [inaudible 00:21:27.257] some of that comes with experience. But the more you look into it, the better. And just taking that time each month to look in, every month, you’ll get a little bit better. So, I’m sorry I don’t offhand know exactly where that error is, but I’m sure I can figure that out, and I’ll email it to you.

Ali: Right now, it’s, I mean, maybe it’s just, like, linking, because it says “status working.” So, maybe it just…

David: I feel like there’s an extra step. There’s a button we didn’t press somewhere. And I, once I find that, I’ll tell you how to do it, because it’s just escaping me right now.

Ali: [inaudible 00:22:06]

David: But that’s great. Like, you’re making great progress. Like, you got your reports, your data set up, and that’s gonna help you later down the line when, you know, you’re… We had talked about in the past how it’s really tempting to jump to, “Let’s make content,” and stuff like that. But now that you have the reports going on, you will be able to say, “Okay, look at what the content did.”

Ali: Yeah. The dashboard is actually really helpful, particularly the tab, or the widget, for social media sources, so we can really see, like, which social media… Because what we’re trying to do right now is, like, the goal, prior to this whole campaign for us, like, our strategy on social media was just, like, post to any and everything. So, now we’re trying to be much more purposeful, you know, and, like, post professional content on LinkedIn, post blog posts on Facebook, post, you know, images on Instagram. And do those things, and try to, like, really focus on what the platform is used for, to then drive brand awareness and traffic back to the website.

David: Right. And now that your goal is set up properly, you’ll be able to be able to show how many new customers, new clients you’ve got as a result of this. Right, other than vanity metrics, like, “Hey, we got traffic.”

Ali: Exactly.

David: Okay, great. Did that traffic become customers? Is that traffic paying for us? Then good. Yeah. That’s great. That’s exciting. What’s your next step, do you think?

Ali: So, our next step, probably…our social media kind of is underway now, and so then, our next step is probably gonna be a little bit more trying to put backlinking in the website. So, right now, my goal for, like, this week and next week is to add the Contact Us link to more internal pages on the website. And then, also, rather than just using that as, like, “Oh,” you know, “do you want service? Contact us,” But also, like, “Do you have questions? Contact us.” Because getting people just to talk with us first is usually the first step, if they’re not sure they need a service or not. So, really, just trying to work on that backlinking and keeping people on the website longer, because right now our bounce rate is, like, stupidly high. People, like, come to the site and they stay there for a little bit and then they leave. So we’re trying to just kind of steer traffic a little bit more on the site, to keep people there and actually interested in what we’re doing.

David: Do you have a phone number on your website?

Ali: Yes, but it’s not what is, like, marketed the most as the contact.

David: Because, be careful about bounce rate as a metric. Because, for instance, if someone visited your website and called your phone number and then left, that’s a successful visitor, but Google Analytics doesn’t know that they called you. So that would look as a bounce.

Ali: Our phone number is not prominent, because we all work remotely, so we don’t have a dedicated office. So it’s really steered more towards the Contact Us form, as opposed to a phone number or email address.

David: Yeah. Have you thought about doing an email newsletter as well?

Ali: We do have a newsletter that right now we’re in the process of revamping. So, we have basically taken our newsletter and now divided it into a professional newsletter, a family-based newsletter, and then just, like, for blog post, so that we have a more targeted audience. And the thought behind this is that when a mom opens up an email and it’s all professional stuff, they’re gonna close it without reading it, whereas if it’s always family-focused they’re gonna be more likely to read it. And we’re also in the process of possibly changing our mail server, because right now we use Mailchimp, and I hate it with a passion. It is, like, the least intuitive website I’ve ever used in my life, and I find it horrifying. So we’re trying to switch over to probably Sender this week, which is a little bit more, like, user-friendly. It links directly to up Unsplash, and to Giphy and stuff, like, to be able to put, like, more engaging visuals in with our newsletters also. So yeah, that’s something elsewhere… I have, like, my hands in, like, 18 different things right now.

David: Yeah, I think those are all really great ideas, you know? I think a lot of customers, a lot of people will forget that their audience might be different, and try to send stuff to people that is not what they’re really interested in. In having a targeted… You know, they think that “Oh, I have a really, really long email list, so everyone’s gonna want the same thing.” Well, it’s better to have smaller, targeted lists, and be able to zone in on them than as one big long list.

Ali: And we figured that would also allow people to subscribe or unsubscribe to what they want. That way, like, if we have, you know, a person who is only interested in our blog post, you know, maybe they’re not a customer, but they can still get our blog post weekly, without the newsletter part of it, and maybe pass that word-of-mouth, as far as our brand awareness, or sharing our blog, or recommending us to somebody without having to unsubscribe in general because they’re annoyed with all the other emails.

David: Yeah. One platform I like is called ActiveCampaign. And it’s a lot more robust in the sense that it allows you to set up what they call automations. So, for instance, if someone signs up for an email newsletter, you can ask them a question, “Are you a therapist or are you a parent?” And based on the way they answer the question in the email, it puts them in the proper list.

Ali: Wow.

David: You can do things like create a… Well, I’ll be totally transparent. So, I use this for Curious Ants. So, for instance, the email notification every Monday goes out to everyone who needs to get the access to this meeting, right? But if you signed up for a free account, and you didn’t yet sign up for a paid account, you’re working through a system of emails that is trying to show you the value of signing up for a paid account. And I can set it up so that the first thing is this, and the second thing is this, and if that’s not convinced you, here’s the third thing, and anywhere along that line, if you’ve gone ahead and signed up, you skip out of the rest of those emails, and it automatically sends you into the new list. But you can set up all kinds of very sophisticated things with ActiveCampaign. And I found it, honestly, to be even very price competitive to Mailchimp. A lot more powerful.

Ali: Yeah. Right now, we’re using the free version of MailChimp, and it’s just, like, it’s just horrible. It’s just, like, the worst. So that’s what we’re looking for either a free alternative for now, or a low-cost alternative, because, at the end of the day, a lot of our email, like, contacts are either already customers, already working for us, or, like, there’s not really a hope of converting them. It’s really more of a hope of brand awareness and, like, word of mouth. So that’s something I’ll…because we’re still in a stage where it’s like we’re growing, but not huge, and, like, not…you know? So, not everyone that comes through our website is necessarily even potentially a customer, kind of thing. So…

David: Right.

Ali: Yeah, but I [crosstalk 00:30:36]

David: Yeah. ActiveCampaign is definitely more sophisticated, and might be more than what you need at this point. But these are called marketing automations, and Mailchimp has tried to pivot in this, and they’re really, it’s just, their system was fundamentally not built for it, so they just can’t do a good job with it. They’ve had to rebuild significant portions of it to do this, but…

Ali: It’s just, like, it’s so hard to navigate anything in Mailchimp. Like, even just creating sender groups, it’s such a pain in the ass to…I’m sorry. You’re recording this. It’s a pain in the butt to get it to the right mailing lists, and, like, figure… It’s just, like, oh, God. It’s horrible. Like I, we use Apple devices, so I’m used to really intuitive technology. So when I use something that is not intuitive, I get super frustrated. I just immediately think there must be something better than this.

David: Yeah. Yeah. Well, keep us up to date on how this new system works. I’m curious, because it’s not a system I’m familiar with. So…

Ali: Okay. Will do.

David: [crosstalk 00:31:40] Cool. Well, LaVonya, what have you been working on this week?

LaVonya: I’m still looking over the SRO that we talked over last week, and I’ve been working on adjusting my website to Google’s… You remember the UX we was talking about, the SREO?

David: Yeah, the conversion rate optimization, the CRO?

LaVonya: Yeah, CRO. Sorry. The CRO, and it had the, I think it was called UX something, that gave you ideas…

David: UX playbook?

LaVonya: Yeah, the playbook. Yeah, I’ve been working on that with my website.

David: Great. So, what have you changed so far?

LaVonya: Well, the call to action, working on changing that, and where it’s located on my website.

David: Good. That’s a great thing, and I will confess to you that I have a business coaching group who raked me over the coals because I don’t do a good job of that myself. So, I’m working to redesign the call to action on, so that it’s more intuitive to sign up. Because I have done exactly what I tell people not to do, which is be very subtle, and don’t make it easy on people to sign up. And yeah, so you’re not alone there. That’s exactly what I’ve had to do too. The cobbler’s kids has no shoes. Never heard that before?

Ali: I have not.

LaVonya: No, I haven’t.

David: Oh, yeah, that’s my motto. Like, that’s my excuse for everything. I even, like, when I launched Curious Ants I forgot to do my own SEO.

Ali: My dad’s favorite is always “Do as I say, not as I do.”

LaVonya: You forgot to do it?

David: Exactly. I was, like, focusing on my clients, and I’m like, “Oh, maybe I should do my own SEO.” Now Curious Ants gets more traffic than my main website, which is pretty great. But, well, if, I mean, I wanna make sure I’m here for all your time, but if there’s no other questions. It’s okay.

Ali: I feel like probably, but that was the only questions I came prepared with.

David: Okay. That’s totally fair. And I’m gonna get you a clear answer. But LaVonya, do you have any other questions?

LaVonya: No, actually you kind of answered with, her questions were basically what I needed to correct myself. I’m glad she asked that, because I went back and looked. It was wrong.

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