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Track SEO rankings and Sitelinks with Google Analytics II

2009 September 5
by otherone

2 September, 2009 André Scholten

Earlier this year I did a guest post on this site to show you how to track your SEO rankings with Google Analytics. It was quite some news for a lot of people, just take a look at the 300+ comments. And now it’s time for the follow-up.

Google’s new technology

Since a while Google is testing a new AJAX version of their search engine. I’m not sure who’s seeing the AJAX version and who isn’t, but in Holland most of the Firefox users do see it. You can see if you’re one the new one by looking at the url of a result page:

examplefirefox

The great thing about this new version is that it makes Google Analytics capable of tracking the clicked position. Yes you heard what I say: the position. Where the ‘old’ Google only allowed us to track the page a keyword was on, the new Google allows us to track the exact position.

The new filters

You can use the first 2 filters mentioned in the old article, be before you do that: create a new profile where you can apply these filters to (tip: watch the video where Joost explains this all):

Filter name: "Ranking 1"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Include"
Filter field: "Campaign Medium"
Filter pattern: "organic"
Filter name: "Ranking 2"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Include"
Filter field: "Campaign Source"
Filter pattern: "google"

And this is the new filter that is capable of tracking positions:

ranking3

And the copy/paste version:

Filter name: "Ranking 3"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Advanced"
Field A -> Extract A: "Campaign term", "(.*)"
Field B -> Extract B: "Referral", "(\?|&)cd=([^&]*)"
Output To -> User Defined: "$A2 (position: $B2)"

And a bonus filter to add an “unknown position” message when the position of the searched keyword is not passed through:

Filter name: "Ranking 4"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Search and Replace"
Filter field: "User Defined"
Search String: "\(position: \)"
Replace String: "(position unknown)"

The new reports

If you have implemented everything correct you should see this in the “Visitors -> User Defined” report:

userdefinedkeywords

A list of keywords with the position the keyword was on when a visitor clicked it. Now you’re able to see the exact positions, more precise than any ranking tool that is out there. There’s 1 minor drawback: business listings next to the little maps are counted as a position also:

mapsresult

The blue result is counted as the 11th result, and not as the first organic result. But when you’re analyzing your positions you can easily separate the geo-related keywords from the rest.

Sitelinks

Very interesting: the sitelinks positions are also tracked, and in a more intelligent way than the maps results. If you click on a sitelink, the actual position of that sitelink is passed on. For example, this sitelink has position 4:

sitelinksranking

If you want to get better insights about your sitelinks you should create an extra profile with the first 3 filters mentioned above. Then add this extra filter to only track those keywords where people clicked on the (full or oneline) sitelinks:

Filter name: "Ranking 5"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Include"
Filter field: "Referral"
Filter pattern: "oi=(oneline_sitelinks|smap)"

The positions you will see are pure sitelinks positions, and you will get an idea about which sitelink is popular and which isn’t.

Extra tip

While we are dissecting the referring url from the Google Search engine we could take a look at the “meta” parameter (my dutch blogpost about this). It’s used when people use one of these options:

googleopties

The selected country or language is in the “meta” parameter (not applicable for Google.com) and can be made visible with the following filter:

Filter name: "Language / Country"
Filter type: "Custom filter - Advanced"
Field A -> Extract A: "Referral", "(\?|&)meta=([^&]*)"
Output To -> User Defined: "$A2"

And remember: do this on a new profile so you don’t mess up existing profiles. The selected language(s) or country is visible in the “Visitors -> User Defined” report.

I had this filter for quite a while on a lot of Dutch sites and saw that the three options where used like this:

  1. The internet: 96,69%
  2. Pages in Dutch: 3,28%
  3. Pages from Holland: 0,03%

Well, that was the update, hope you liked it.

This post was written by: André Scholten

Web Analytics Consultant and SEO specialist at Traffic4u. For more info check my Web Analytics and SEO blog.

See all posts by: André Scholten.

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