3 Google Analytics Custom Reports to Measure the Impact of Your SEO Efforts

The typical B2B organization has many unique web pages and content assets. Analyzing overall organic or referral traffic data is helpful, but sometimes those performance metrics do not indicate whether specific SEO efforts are working or allow us to properly frame the story of our efforts to important stakeholders. In this post, I will walk you through three of my favorite custom reports in Google Analytics that add value to reporting and testing. In addition, custom reports have saved me a large amount of time spent on monthly, quarterly or annual SEO reporting.

What are Custom Reports?

First, let me walk you through what custom reports are and where you can find them. Custom reports allow you to isolate site dimensions like landing pages and referral traffic as well as metrics like sessions, page views, pages/session and goal completions. You can find custom reports in the “Customization” tab of your Google Analytics profile:

google analytics custom report view

One you get there, click “New Custom Report,” as you will see in the image below:

new custom report

Three Custom Reports to Consider

Now to the good stuff! Below are three of my favorite uses for custom reports in Google Analytics.

  1. Link Building Campaign Engagement Metrics
  2. Organic Performance to Optimized Pages
  3. Referral Traffic to Content Marketing Campaign

Link Building Campaign Engagement Metrics

If you just finished up a link building campaign and recorded the links built in that time period, this is a perfect report for evaluating performance beyond direct link acquisition.

I will use an example from a KoMarketing link building initiative this past September. Throughout the month, we tracked 68 different domains linking to our site using the link prospecting tool BuzzStream. We wanted to figure out what the impact these links had on our website, in terms of noteworthy referral traffic spikes or even conversions opportunities.

Here are the steps required in building the custom report.

First, copy and paste the list of domains into a Google spreadsheet. Then, use the join function in Google docs to create a regular expression.

join function google docs

Below is an example of what your regular expression would look like:

contentmarketinginstitute.com|marketingland.com|hubspot.com|creativeinbusinessblog.com

Note: For more on using the JOIN function in Google docs to create a regular expression, check out this post from Annie Cushing.

Next, head over to Google Analytics and click on the “Customization” tab just to the right of “Reporting.” Hit “New Custom Report” and you will be taken to a screen similar to what you see below.

link_building_campaign_custom_reportWhen you get to this screen, fill in the following:

Title: [Month] Link Building
Name: Link Building for [Month]
Metrics Groups: Sessions; Pages/Session, Goal Completions
Dimension Drilldowns: Full Referrer
Filters: Full Referrer > copy & paste regular expression

Note: The “Filters” section is where you copy the regular expression from the Google doc and paste it into the box in the filters section.

filters secion google analytics

Click save and your custom report is ready to go. The report below is loaded with insights that I can use to take to the KoMarketing team to show the tactical initiatives that are driving value. It is also a way to plan for the months ahead and add other tactics to our strategy.

link building engagement metrics

I have highlighted a few insights below:

  • A mention from STRYDE generated a goal completion in Google Analytics. As a result, I am asking myself, “how can we expand our relationship with them?”
  • Chris Brogan covered KoMarketing after we allowed him to use the office for a webinar. This is a working example of how generous offline actions translate into online benefits.

Organic Performance to Optimized Pages

This custom report allows B2B marketers to isolate data for pages or sections of a website, which can be extremely helpful if you are making changes to different sections of your website at different periods in time.

In this example, we are going to review organic metrics for a subset of our website’s “Services” section:

https://komarketing.com/services/

Go to Google Analytics and click on the “Customization” tab just to the right of “Reporting.” Hit “New Custom Report” and you will be taken to a screen similar to what you see below.

optimized pages custom report

When you get to this screen, Fill in the following:

Title: Organic Metrics to Services Pages
Name: Performance for Services Pages
Metrics Groups: Sessions; Pages/Session, Goal Completions
Dimension Drilldowns: Landing Page
Filters: Medium > organic
Landing page> Regex > /services*

Because each page is located in the same sub folder (services), setting up this report is easy. If your ages are found in different sub folders, following the regular expression steps above might be necessary.

optimized pages custom report data

The table above shows which services pages are driving the most organic traffic, the most goal completions and the most pages/session. Of our “Services” pages, it is insightful to see which ones are not generating as much traffic or conversions to see where we can focus our SEO efforts in the months ahead. For the pages driving a lot of traffic and conversions, it is exciting to see our SEO work generating a positive business impact.

Referral Traffic to Content Marketing Campaign

A bigger piece of content tends to take more time and effort to create, maybe even an entire quarter. So, why not incorporate a step to measure the impact it has once launched? With a simple custom report, you can monitor the referral traffic it generates to get an idea of engagement metrics as well as links built over time to that page. In this example, I created a custom report for KoMarketing’s Keyword Generator Tool.

Go to Google Analytics and click on the “Customization” tab just to the right of “Reporting.” Hit “New Custom Report” and you will be taken to a screen similar to what you see below.

referral traffic custom report

Title: Keyword List Generator
Name: Referral Traffic from Keyword List Generator
Metrics Groups: Sessions; Pages/Session, Pageviews
Dimension Drilldowns: Full Referrer
Filters: Landing page> > Exact> /tools/keyword-generator/

referral traffic data 

From this report, we can see it has been mentioned across a few sites in the SEO community. It also started getting a large amount of traffic from Google in June 2014. The lower pages/session seems to make sense as users are ultimately finding what they need on the first page with the tool provided.

Conclusion:

Custom reports allow you to measure specific SEO tactics by isolating certain pages or sections of a site to see how they are performing. If you use any other custom reports or have questions, let us know on Twitter.

If you are looking for more resources on Custom Reports, I would recommend checking out the ones below:

  • Atul

    Hi Brendan,

    This is just awesome. I found this article through search engine land newsletter. I would like to know if i can modify the Metrics Groups. For example instead of
    Metrics Groups: Sessions; Pages/Session, Goal Completions,
    can i just enter visits or something like this ?

    Also, i suppose the second custom report can be used for each single page of a website ?

    Thanks for this useful information

“Working with KoMarketing was more like a partnership as supposed to just another consulting project. We learned a lot from KoMarketing, while excelling in all aspects of SEO for our website. If your looking for a hard working, dedicated team, KoMarketing is a partnership you won’t regret.”

— Alexis Karlin, Digital Marketing Specialist Neolane (Acquired by Adobe)

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