Last week I turned 34. No, I’m not telling you this because I’m looking for belated birthday wishes (although I will accept belated birthday presents). I’m telling you this because of what happened leading up to 34.
For the month leading up to my birthday, I was convinced I was turning 33. In fact, Stacy and I had an entire conversation about how she was a year and a half older than me (she’s not).
It wasn’t until my friend sent me a super awesome #34 Thurman Thomas jersey (Go Bills!) and wished me a happy 34th birthday that I realized I wasn’t turning 33. And even then it took me several hours to put it all together. As it turns out…
I LOST AN ENTIRE YEAR OF LIFE!
Now, at this point, you may be wondering what this has to do with marketing.
Well, around the same time I was realizing I’d lost a year of life, I had several clients who had lost their traffic data or were trying to make important decisions about their site without data. And let’s be real, for marketers, losing traffic is essentially like losing a piece of your life. We need those numbers to make informed decisions!
How do you lose your data?
Great question. One client re-launched their site without analytics, another had a GA profile deleted by an ex employee, and another was looking for a content audit on a site with no analytics.
All different scenarios but all ending with the same question: What can we do?
There is obviously no one answer but there are often workarounds. I’ve outlined a few below:
Restoring a Google Analytics Profile
First and foremost, if you ever accidentally delete a Google Analytics profile or have one deleted on you, there’s a chance you can get it back.
When profiles are deleted, they are moved to the Trash Can. If you realize your data has been deleted within 35 days, you can simply head to the Trash Can and restore the profile.
You will unfortunately lose a little bit of information as data isn’t recorded when the profile is in the trash can, but a few days of lost data is better than a lifetime of lost data.
Note: Once you restore the profile, be sure to make an annotation so when you’re looking back next year, you will know why there was a massive drop in traffic.
Estimating Traffic with Search Console
When a site is re-launched, one thing you should always make sure of (aside from removing the no index tag) is that your Analytics is in place. It sounds simple, but it’s often overlooked.
However, if you do find yourself without Analytics data for a few days, all hope isn’t lost.
Enter Webmaster Tools.
Enter Search Console.
Search Console offers data around Google search impressions, CTR, average keyword position, and clicks:
Now, looking at click data won’t provide you with exact numbers (and, in all honesty, it isn’t really ALL that close) but something is better than nothing.
Note: LunaMetrics has a really nice write up on the discrepancies between clicks in Search Console and organic traffic in Google Analytics.
On top of that, Search Console will show you which pages were driving clicks and the terms driving traffic to each page. This is important data whether you have Analytics data or not.
Here at KoMarketing, we use Search Console data almost every day to make better decisions on content marketing initiatives, to help us understand organic performance on a page level, and to better understand the terminology customers are using to find our clients’ websites.
** The caveat to all this is you still have Search Console tracking enabled. Main lesson – make sure to double check tags before launching site changes.
Identifying Top Pages without Analytics
Sometimes when dealing with data, it’s not a matter of losing data but simply never having it in the first place.
This can make things tricky, but if you know where to look and what to look for, there are ways around it.
Note: For all the tools mentioned below, we are using the paid versions. Each one offers a free version but the amount of data you can gather is limited.
SEMRush Organic Visibility
When performing a recent content audit for a blog with no Analytics data, I had to figure out which pages were driving traffic and which pages were the most important to the site.
To help me understand, I turned to the SEMRush Organic Research report.
The report provides information on what keywords the site is ranking for but, more importantly, it shows you which pages are ranking.
To identify top pages:
- Export the keyword report
- Sort the file by URL
- Highlight most frequently ranked URLs
Looking for a specific section of the site? Simply filter the export list for blog, signup, etc.
BuzzSumo Top Shared Content
If you’ve seen a presentation from me in the past year, there’s about a 95% chance it contained a reference to BuzzSumo.
BuzzSumo does a lot of things but one of the most basic functions of the tool is providing a snapshot of top shared content from a specific domain.
By understanding the top shared content of a site from the past year, you can see which posts likely garnered traffic.
Once again, export the top shared content and start breaking down the top URLs from the domain.
Moz Top Linked Content
Last but not least, when looking to fill in data gaps, we turn to our trusty friends at Moz. Using Open Site Explorer, we can find which pages people are linking to.
To me, the link report can provide you with insights into older pages that may not be driving shares and may not have much organic visibility but are still valuable. These are typically things like reports, eBooks, older blog posts, or even video pages you didn’t know were still around.
Putting It All Together
When I realized I was actually turning 34 and not 33, I was a little bit bummed. Not because I felt old but because I felt cheated out of an entire year.
But as I started to fill in the gaps of the past year, it turns out that 33 was a great year and I didn’t actually miss anything. I just had to find the information to remind me.
If you find yourself without Analytics data, don’t freak out. Understand where else you can look and what other pieces of information you should look for.
And, last but not least, should you find yourself without Analytics…get it fixed as soon as possible.