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This post is the first part of a series where we will be providing hands-on information as to how an SEO can get efficient, actionable web analytics data using the Yahoo Web Analytics system.

How to find underperforming keywords: listings not on page 1 of search results

Even for the most competitive keywords, page one of results is the place to be, as beyond that it’s rare for a keyword to deliver significant traffic. Most users still don’t make it past the first page of results (or even the top three on the first page!). Here’s an easy way to identify both the keywords off the first page of results, and the page you need to improve.

Creating the report

  • Start with the built-in Search phrases report (in the “marketing” menu)
  • Click the customise button (YWA customise button) to enter the report builder (make friends with this, it will save you an incredible amount of time, and provide unique, actionable data). Add entry page URL to the groups. You may also want to add some measures of quality to the metrics – I just used action participation, but you might also like internal conversion rate, bounce rate, time on page or similar.

Your customised report should turn out something like this:

How your customised report should be configured

  • Now show the report and add filters (YWA filter button) – referring URL (direct) contains “start=“, and traffic source is organic search (you only need the second filter if you’re running paid search campaigns). “Start” is the parameter Google uses when a user clicks through to the next page

You’ve got the report – you can instantly see the keywords where you’re not on the first page – and by clicking the plus symbol next to the keyword, which pages sent the traffic:

Analytics data showing keywords that need improvement

Why Yahoo Web Analytics?

If you have a website, there’s a high chance you’re using Google Analytics (GA) to monitor website activity. GA is fine, but from an SEO perspective has some severe day-to-day shortcomings.

Yahoo Web Analytics (YWA) provides a report-builder, filtering options and segmentation using pretty much any metric available. For me, it saves a lot of time and provides much more actionable data that Google’s service. And I’m aware that GA gurus can probably recreate many of the reports we’ll cover in this series, but in YWA I just click a few buttons – with GA it always seems like I need a new profile or to start writing regular expressions just to get some decent data…

How can I use this data to improve SEO?

The beauty of this data is that these keywords are already sending traffic to those pages, which gives a strong possibility that there is high traffic potential, and if your page is already ranked by just not high enough, you shouldn’t need to do anything too intensive to start moving up the rankings – it could be as simple as reworking some of the content, or making sure you have some reasonable links into your content.

In this example, the data is from our low-key Labs Tools site, and the page showing in results is simply low on relevant content on the page. An easy one for the todo list. The wider learning is that we should be more content-heavy if we want to attract organic traffic to the site (in this instance, not something we’ve put a great deal of effort into).

Don’t forget to bookmark (YWA bookmark button) the report so you don’t have to go through the steps to create it again, and consider using a longer date range to get more data. Once you’re accustomed to the customising and filtering, you’ll find the reports you create are the ones you’ll want to look at again and again (or get sent via email on a schedule). Analytics should be about the data you want – not the data that is available.

Remember that if you search Google yourself for the keywords, you can sometimes find your site listed on the first page – or even not listed at all. This may be because you’re seeing results tailored to you (often by location, becuase you’re logged into a Google account, or as a result of your search history). Alternatively, you may have unstable performance on Google for that page (the so-called “yo-yo effect”). In any case – some of your users went past page one and found you, so there should still be potential for better performance, or at a minimum, increased stability.

Stay tuned for more Yahoo Analytics reports for SEOs!