Google Analytics: How to track Google Keyword Ranking from your Visitors

In a blog post from the Google Analytics team a couple of days ago, Google announced some changes to their URLs. Blogstorm did investigate these new URLs further, and asked the question: Google Adds Ranking Data to Referrer String? They were correct about their assumptions.

So - here is how you can track keyword and keyword rankings with Google Analytics, and a couple of things you should be aware of.

The first thing you must do is create a new Google Analytics profile. When this is done we will have to create some filters.

Creating the Google Analytics filters

There may be a simpler method for doing this, but I have only had under a day of testing my solution, so please bear with me.

The first thing to do is to create som filters that includes only visitors from Google organic search.

Google Analytics filter - Show only organic traffic

The Google Analytics filter above includes only organic traffic.

Google Analytics filter - Show only Google search traffic

The Google Analytics filter above includes only traffic from Google.

Grab the keyword and add the ranking

The filter below is the vital filter. This filter will grab the keyword, and add the ranking the keyword had when the visitor clicked on it.

Google Analytics filter - Show keyword and keyword ranking

The filter above is a modified filter "inspired" from a blog post from Yoast from January about tracking SEO rankings.

This is "all" you have to do to track keywords and rankings from your visitors from Google. After a while the "User Defined" report should look like this.

Google Analytics Report - Keyword and Ranking

There are however a couple of things you should be aware of.

1. (For the moment?) not all visitors from Google organic search are sending ranking information. This means that ranking for all of your keywords will not be tracked.

2. If elements from Universal Search (images, videos etc.) is part of the SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page), they will also be counted.

This means that if there for example are 2 images at the top of the result, and you are listed as the last result on the page, your rank will be 12 (2 images + 10 organic listings). However, if you go to page 2 in the result, the first result on that page will have rank 11.

This means that if your rank is 11, you could be listed on page 1, but you could also be listed on page 2. To identify which page the ranking parameter comes from I use Advanced Segmentation.

To be able to to make this segmentation work, you will have to implement a filter that can track Full Referral Path. Don't be confused by the title "How to track Google Searchwiki", the filter is shown in that article.

Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation

Below you will find two different Advanced Segments.

The first segment will identify visitors that came from page 1 in the Google search result.

Google Analytics advanced segment - Show traffic from Google page 1

Matches regular expression: https?:\/\/(w{3})?\.?google.*(&|\?)q=.*
Does not match regular expression: https?:\/\/(w{3})?\.?google.*(&|\?)q=.*&start=[1-9]

The Advanced Segment below will identify visitors that came from page 2 in the Google search result.

Google Analytics advanced segment - Show traffic from Google page 2

Matches regular expression: https?:\/\/(w{3})?\.?google.*(&|\?)q=.*&start=10

If you want to identify visitors from page 3, just replace start=10 with start=20 in the regular expression above.

These regular expressions are written by Maarten Berge, and has been published here in a Norwegian blog post earlier.

Some final words

Just so I have mentioned it again. I have less than a day with testing, so I don't guarantee that everything are tested good enough. If you spot any faults or make any improvements to the solution, please add a comment.

Happy tracking.

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  • Comments are closed
Good article, but I have one question. How does the rankings in analytics change when the actually SE rankings shift up- or downwards?
The solution is tracking the ranking the search phrase had when the user clicked on it.

If the ranking go up - or down, these changes will be reflected in your analytics reports, but only if the search phrase sends you visitors and ranking information.
  • KC
  • 11/12/2010 10:20:13 PM
So, We have 4 filters and 2 segments. What order should these 4 filters be in?

Or are you showing 2 separate profiles that could be created to achieve the same thing?

Thank you for your time and attention.

PS does this still work with google instant?
Great questions KC. Google is changing and testing so many things these days so everything isn't like it were earlier.

To answer your questions:
The filters should be in the order as they are presented in this blog post.

You can track everything within the same profile. However, I had to change the tracking of Full Referral Path. Instead of sending the output to Campaign Content, I'm also sending this output to User Defined. This means that the User Defined report can be messy.

The reason for sending the output to User Defined is that Google Analytics stopped showing organic URLs in my reports when the output were sent to Campaign Content.

Regarding your question about Google Instant. I haven't done extensive tests, but from what I can see the answer to your question is yes, it should also work with Google Instant.

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