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How to Use Google Analytics to Identify (and Fix!) UX Issues Hurting Your SEO

How to Use Google Analytics to Identify (and Fix!) UX Issues Hurting Your SEO

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Want to diagnose website user experience problems that could be sabotaging your SEO?

Google Analytics holds the answers…if you know where to look.

The key is understanding which reports and metrics reflect user satisfaction and retention. Poor UX inevitably manifests in Analytics data like declining traffic, high bounce rates, and reduced goal completions.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk through my proven methodology for using Google Analytics to:

  • Spot site UX issues eroding organic performance
  • Isolate the specific pages and user flows causing problems
  • Prioritize the fixes likely to provide the biggest SEO lifts
  • Continuously optimize UX and improve SEO with analytics insights

I’ll share actionable examples, custom reports, advanced segments, and annotation techniques you can use to start seeing the UX signals hidden within your analytics data.

Let’s dive in!

Why Site UX Issues Impact Your Organic SEO Performance

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Before we get into the tactical analytics insights, let’s first establish the intrinsic connection between user experience and SEO performance.

Many folks still view UX design and technical SEO as separate disciplines. But savvy digital marketers now recognize:

Your website’s user experience quality directly determines your potential for high organic rankings.

That’s because Google’s search algorithms heavily factor UX signals like engagement, bounce rates and page speed into assessments of relevance and authority.

Pages that satisfy user intent are rewarded. Pages that frustrate visitors are punished.

So, if your website UX is subpar, no amount of link building or keyword optimization will maximize your performance. Poor user retention and goal completion directly drag down page rankings.

That’s why monitoring UX health through Google Analytics is so critical for staying atop shifting organic search trends. Any insights into frustrating user flows can illuminate SEO shortcomings.

Now let’s walk through exactly how to extract those insights…

Step 1: Review Overall Site Trends

I always start UX checkups in Analytics by reviewing key sitewide traffic trend reports to detect any macro drops suggesting widespread user experience issues:

Organic Traffic Report

Is total organic traffic to the site trending up, sideways or down? Steady month-over-month declines in qualified search visitors indicate eroding user satisfaction.

Look for specific pages losing organic share. View landing pages by source/medium to identify pages attracting less SEO traffic.

Geographical Report

Check organic traffic by country and region. Are certain markets declining disproportionately? That suggests UX pain points for those users specifically.

Viewer language reports also help uncover translation or localization gaps frustrating subgroups.

Landing Pages Report

Which landing pages are attracting less organic traffic over time? Drops here reveal pages failing to satisfy searcher intent. Review for UX issues.

Traffic Sources Report

Look for concerning declines in sessions from organic. A growing reliance on direct or paid traffic shows weakening organic visibility likely tied to UX.

Device Category Report

Is organic share falling on mobiles but steady on desktop? That’s a red flag for mobile UX issues. Check site speed, sizing, and navigation on phones.

These high-level trend reports give the first indications of overall UX health and how it may be influencing organic performance.

Now let’s narrow focus to specific site flows and pages…

Step 2: Diagnose Flows Losing Users

Next, I analyze user flows using reports like navigation summary and behavior flow to spot high exit points and drop-off:

Behavior Flow Report

This shows you the step-by-step flow users take through your site, highlighting areas of mass exits. Look for pages where many visitors leave without continuing deeper into the site.

Identify points of friction like complex account registration, unclear navigation, missing information, etc.

Site Content Report

Which pages have the highest exit rates and lowest time on page? Rank content by bounce rate and average session duration to quickly surface unsatisfying pages.

Sort by organic sessions to isolate issues specifically on pages attracting search traffic.

Navigation Summary Report

This reveals your most-clicked site links and highest exit sources. Analyze what on-site content and navigation users expect vs. what you actually provide.

Mismatches indicate UX gaps that require copy updates, content improvements and IA changes to fill.

Scroll Depth Report

See how far down pages visitors scroll before exiting. Short scroll depth suggests content not engaging enough or key info not appearing above the fold. Prioritize fixes on pages with high bounce rates and low scroll depth.

Diagnose flows losing users

Step 3: Diagnose Struggling Funnels

Conversion funnels and micro conversions uncover UX friction hindering searchers from completing goals:

Goal Flow Report

Visualize how many users enter each step of important processes like signups, purchases, contact requests, etc. Where do drop-offs happen? Tighten UX at each fallout stage.

Funnel Visualization Report

Insert key conversion events as steps. See overall funnel performance and abandonment trends. Diagnose where motivation lags via large drop-offs.

Events Report

Monitor event completions like video views, clicks, file downloads, outbound link clicks, etc. Declining micro conversions signal deteriorating engagement.

Page Value Report

Assign conversion values to each page based on actions taken. Lower values reveal pages not creating value. Focus UX fixes on pages with visits but minimal goal completions.

Cohort Analysis

Analyze how new user groups convert over time. Decreasing performance among recent cohorts indicates worsening UX. Improve onboarding and retention.

Step 4: Filter Data to Spot User Segments Struggling

Leverage segmentation to uncover UX issues hurting specific user groups like mobile, geos, channels, etc.

###Segment > Mobile Users

Compare mobile vs. desktop performance for elements like bounce rate, session duration, page depth, and goal completions. Worse mobile performance means mobile UX deficiencies.

Segment > Geolocation

Check regional or country-specific UX. Some locations may have much higher bounce rates and lower conversions, suggesting localization gaps.

Segment > Traffic Source

Analyze UX metrics separately for organic vs. other channels. Underperformance of organic indicates opportunity to better satisfy searcher intent with content.

Create segments combining attributes like organic + mobile or email subscriber + Safari browser to isolate issues affecting user subsets.

Step 5: Annotate and Set UX Optimization Goals

Now translate your UX insights into actions by annotating reports and setting optimization goals:

Annotate Reports

Use Analytics annotations to mark steps needing improvement right on reports. This documents issues and priorities for later reference.

Set Goals

Set measurable UX objectives against baselines like reducing homepage bounce rate by X% or increasing page depth by Y%. This drive focus.

share progress to leadership using dashboards and reports with annotations pointing out successes.

Step 6: Turn Insights into UX and SEO Wins

The payoff comes when you actually implement changes based on what the Analytics data revealed:

Fix technically slow pages. Speed optimizations improve UX and also lift mobile SEO.

Redesign confusing navigation flows. More intuitive IA aids conversion goals and internal linking.

Add missing content. Close informational gaps to answer user questions and increase time-on-site.

Improve page intros. Fix unclear page objectives and value props to reduce bounce rate.

Enhance mobile experiences. Optimized mobile UX improves happiness and Google indexing.

EVEN SMALL UX CHANGES CAN LEAD TO NOTICEABLE SEO LIFTS.

The key is iterating based on the latest data:

  • Make focused UX tweaks tied to major analytics findings
  • Give changes time to impact data
  • Review updated reports to confirm UX and SEO improvements
  • Use new insights to guide the next round of changes

Advanced Google Analytics Techniques and Tools

Here are some more advanced Analytics capabilities to take your UX and SEO analysis to the next level:

Custom Funnels

Build custom funnels matching your business processes and KPIs beyond basic conversions. Uncover granular UX flaws.

Cohort Reports

Analyze how user groups behave over time. Spot UX issues decreasing returning visitor engagement.

Live Website Analytics

Review behaviors as they happen in real-time with tools like Hotjar Insights layered on top of GA.

A/B Testing Integrations

Connect Analytics to platforms like Funnels to analyze how UX changes impact KPIs.

User Explorer Reports

Isolate traffic and behavior by individual users to identify optimization opportunities.

BigQuery Exports

Export Analytics data to BigQuery for deeper manipulation. Develop custom dashboards highlighting key trends.

The capabilities are endless for segmenting, visualizing, and modeling your first-party data to guide strategic UX enhancements – and the resulting SEO lifts – over time.

Key Takeaways for Leveraging Analytics to Improve UX and SEO

Here are the key takeaways on using Google Analytics to boost your website’s UX and SEO:

  • Declining organic traffic, high bounce rates, and low conversions all indicate subpar UX that hurts SEO rankings.
  • Drill into reports on traffic trends, site content, funnels, cohorts, and micro conversions to pinpoint poor UX.
  • Annotate reports and set measurable goals to focus optimization efforts on worst pain points first.
  • Fix technical issues like site speed and mobile responsiveness which lift both UX and SEO.
  • Iterate on enhancements over time guided by the latest data to continually improve.
  • Take advantage of advanced Analytics capabilities like custom funnels, real-time data, and A/B testing integrations.
  • Treat UX insights as opportunities to improve user satisfaction and SEO together in parallel.

The beauty of optimizing UX through analytics guidance is it creates positive feedback loops:

Enhanced UX → Improved SEO metrics → Increased organic visibility → More qualified traffic → More data to optimize → Further UX gains → More SEO growth

And on and on…virtuous cycles that compound growth!

But endless optimization potential can also lead to analysis paralysis. Avoid that by focusing on quick analytical wins first:

  • Setup micro goal and funnel tracking.
  • Create basic segments for mobile, paid traffic, etc.
  • Annotate and share 5 key UX issues identified.
  • Show leadership early SEO lifts from changes.

Started small, UX and SEO insights gained through Google Analytics transform into huge competitive advantage over time.

So are you ready to tap into the high-impact optimization insights already hidden within your Analytics account? Let’s talk more about how we can make it happen!

Jesus Guzman

M&G Speed Marketing LTD. CEO

Jesus Guzman is the CEO and founder of M&G Speed Marketing LTD, a digital marketing agency focused on rapidly growing businesses through strategies like SEO, PPC, social media, email campaigns, and website optimization. With an MBA and over 11 years of experience, Guzman combines his marketing expertise with web design skills to create captivating online experiences. His journey as an in-house SEO expert has given him insights into effective online marketing. Guzman is passionate about helping businesses achieve impressive growth through his honed skills. He has proud case studies to share and is eager to connect to take your business to the next level.