Google Analytics home page

Why you need to have an annual Google Analytics review/audit by an expert

What would you give to rank 1st for “near me” searches for your business? How about to see almost a 200% increase in organic traffic


These are pretty stunning results for a year over year review, and it isn’t unheard of to see major leaps in YOY performance if you take the time and effort to be strategic about your end of year analysis. 


The insights you gain from an end of year review make a huge impact on your marketing plan, and success, in the coming year. The clincher is, you need to know what you’re looking for as you dig into your Google Analytics reports, and why.


A deep dive into end of year analytics is a big endeavor, requiring time and monetary investment.  Is it really worth all that effort?


Deep dives are usually more eye-opening than a triple shot of espresso

With so many things happening in your business it’s easy to take a position of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and let your marketing run on autopilot. We assume if something isn’t working out we’ll notice and can handle it then.


Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.


Many times an underperforming part of our marketing efforts can be hidden and only a deep dive into your Google Analytics can uncover it. Many times our clients are surprised to find glaring inefficiencies and unfavorable results they would have missed otherwise. 


It’s not pleasant to think you’re doing great and find out otherwise, but it sure beats the alternative of not knowing your website is underperforming.


YOY trends ensure you aren’t chasing down the wrong “problems”

Year-over-year traffic can give a more accurate picture in some cases than month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter. 


Seasonal businesses may show predictable increases and decreases around specific seasons or events. Here are some examples of situations in which your website traffic could show seasonal patterns:

  • You see a drop in visits during the summer, but an increase when families get ready for back to school shopping
  • You get spikes in traffic when you hold events or attend chamber of commerce functions
  • An annual lunch-and-learn sends lots of social media traffic each year


In each of these cases, traffic spikes can give the impression that there are problems with the website when it’s actually a seasonal pattern.


What should you be looking at in a YOY review?

Conversion Events

This is the prime time of the year to analyze (or at least set up) conversion events. Conversion goals help you measure which marketing initiatives created traffic that actually results in leads.


This could be a Conversion Goal on a “Thank You” page when someone completes a contact form, makes a purchase, or downloads a piece of content. Using a conversion goal allows you to measure which marketing initiatives lead to web traffic that actually result in leads


Event Tracking 

Event tracking lets you track actions that are specific to your website such as video plays, link clicks, downloads, or navigation. This can offer insight into the design and content of your site and help you optimize for better engagement.


Time out...what’s the difference between event tracking and conversion goals?

While event tracking seems an awful lot like conversion events, there is a key difference that’s worth noting because it will factor into your YOY review. 


Event tracking is an action-based goal, something clicking a button or interacting with a video on your website. 


A conversion event is different and related to behavior that sends the user to a thank-you page or similar page-based movement around your website. Usually, this means they opted in, bought something, or downloaded something that led them to a specific page. 


Basically, event tracking is an action on a page that tells you about how users engage with your website, while conversion tracking relates to actions that send your user to a page and gives you insights about lead generation.


Content Marketing Wins

Do you know what your audience is looking for when they come to your site? Your blog is the perfect place to gain insights on this aspect of your content marketing plan. 


Dig into your analytics to see which posts had the most views and the highest visit duration. The topics and style of the winning posts should guide the type of content you produce in the coming year. 

Internal Site Search

Your site’s internal search logs are a goldmine for data and marketing insights. The search terms users are typing into the search bar on your site are a perfect place for sourcing keywords you may not have thought of that your customers are using.


We have clients ranking for over 300+ search terms for their businesses, you can bet that we didn’t just pull many of those unexpected keywords out of thin air. It’s all about data and informed marketing decisions, you don’t want to be limited by using just the terms you think you should rank for.


Demographics and Psychographics

Who are the people coming to your website? While you may not get to meet them face to face if they don’t become leads, it helps to dig into the demographics and interests of the people visiting your site. This can help you check assumptions from your personas and targeting and make sure that the stories you tell in your content marketing speak to the people coming to your site. 


You don’t know what you don’t know…

While a YOY deep dive is a marketing best practice all businesses should be doing, it’s not an easy task.  It can take years to truly know how to navigate Google Analytics, and digging through the nuances of the platform can leave most marketers feeling like their brain is made of swiss cheese. 


Even the Google educational courses are a huge time investment and often leave you with more questions than you started with. 


Where you may be left feeling lost, a credentialed Google Analytics pro can uncover a tremendous amount of information about your website, leaving you with real, actionable data and insights.


More importantly, the time to start setting up your account to track properly is now. While a seasoned pro can start uncovering insights right way, you need to collect a minimum of a year’s worth of data for a really good audit. 


Things change, notably where your resources are allocated when marketing your website, and you will want a pro who takes these variables into consideration when performing an audit.


How it works

Getting started with your review is even easier, and more secure, than you’d imagine. No sharing passwords, proprietary information, or any business data outside of the metrics in Google Analytics. It’s as simple as adding a new user to your account. 


For security minded business owners the simplicity of this process is often a relief, knowing they can add, and more importantly remove, a user’s permissions at any time. The users you grant permission can only see your analytics data, leaving your proprietary information safe & secure.


Once your audit is complete and reviewed it’s just a few clicks to remove the user again.



Now it’s your turn

Ready to dive into a YOY review?  You might be surprised to learn that the examples we shared at the beginning of this article were real results we helped one of our clients achieve. They now get 85% of their traffic from organic search, saw a 190% YOY increase in organic traffic in 2018, and rank for over 300+ search terms. 


While some of these results are exceptionally good, we surely don’t expect another increase in YOY organic traffic of that size, a savvy look at your YOY Google Analytics can set your business up to start seeing major gains like this client did.

Ready to see for yourself where your marketing blinds spots are and how you can address them to see huge boosts in traffic next year? Contact our team now and we can get started right away. 

Google Maps on a mobile phone

A small investment with BIG results for local SEO.

With most people getting around in cars, the concept of “foot traffic” seems to be weakening.

Instead, the “near me” search on Google is filling in the gap and driving traffic to local businesses. 

Not just on Google’s native search service either, this includes any time you pull up the Google Maps app on your phone and look for businesses, services or products nearby.  In fact, the Maps app is the most common place you’ll see people using the “near me” search phrases.

A report from Google highlighted huge leaps in near me searches in just the past two years. For example, phrases like “Pizza near me now” has seen 150% growth, and time-sensitive phrases like “clubs near me tonight” have seen a 900% growth. 

Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas Lisa Gevelber explains that if people are searching for something near them, that’s a pretty strong signal of intent. 


Users are searching for specific items, and they want them now.


This is where it starts to get interesting. We assume searches for restaurants or gas stations “near me” would be common. You’re on the road, and your tanks are low, so whether it’s food or fuel you want to find something nearby in a jiffy.


Interestingly, there is now a jump in item specific searches. Need cowboy boots or a prom dress now? People are looking to google for the answers and asking for “cowboy boots near me”. 


Whether it’s sassy new boots or a restaurant, today’s impatient consumers want things in the moment they need them—which is typically “now.”


The challenge for your local business is to make sure you’re giving people the answers they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Catch their attention at the right moment, and you’ve likely made that sale.


Show up “near me” to make more sales with minimal investment


If you can only do one single thing to improve your SEO this year, invest in your local citations. It’s a minimal investment that could pay dividends in driving local traffic to your business. 


As we saw in the examples above, people are using “near me” with increasing frequency to find the products and services that they need, when they need them. 


By not optimizing your business in “near me” searches, potential clients could be sent to competitors only a few blocks away. 

Curious how your business is doing? Check your listing 👉 here to see if you’re set up to get the most out of local searches.


There is no middle ground with local citations

The importance of paying attention to your local citations stems from one specific feature...they either positively or negatively impact your search engine rankings & consumers. There is no grey area.


While yes, the number of citations, accuracy, and quality all influence ranking, with local listings they either match and increase trust and ranking, or they don't. 


When your listings don’t match Google stops trusting your data and your business could start to slide down the rankings.


With this in mind, the importance of carving out a few hundred dollars to optimize your local search each year seems like a given.  For the price of barely 2 lattes a week, you could be driving significantly more local traffic to your store.


To learn how you can improve your local citations without blowing your budget, contact our team. We’ll check your listing and show you how your business can win at local search results.



Google Analytics dashboard

The baseline data you need before launching an SEO campaign

If you plan to optimize your website for SEO the time is now to kick off that project. 

Many companies wait to set up detailed tracking until they’re ready to launch their marketing strategy. 

Unfortunately, this can leave you months behind when you finally launch.

If you’re planning to get the most out of your SEO strategy, you can’t afford to wait. If you do, you’re losing months of insight.

Your SEO launch can wait, setting up tracking cannot. 

Most companies have the basics set up in Google Analytics. They have the tracking code on their website, but not much else. 

While this is an ok place to start, it leaves mountains of helpful data untouched and ungathered. 

We’re talking goal tracking, Search Console, conversion forms, phone call tracking...the opportunity to gain actionable insights on the performance of your website are vast.

This matters because the tools that run behind the scenes need time to gather baseline data before they start to deliver solid insights you can use.  

You may not be ready right now to start a PPC campaign or to work on your SEO, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to wait to set up tracking.

The sooner you start tracking data, the better

Unless of course, you want to wait months for key insights to start rolling in when you finally start an SEO campaign…


Most business owners we speak to aren’t willing to wait months to start to see results. There is too much opportunity cost in waiting while you gather crucial baseline data.


Why are you waiting months to really see results if your campaign is running? 


Because when you start an SEO campaign without a baseline of data for your existing website you can only make educated guesses on the changes you should make to your website to improve your SEO. 


Without the benchmark data to back it up, you’re guessing when you could be making savvy, informed decisions.

Set up tracking now to make informed marketing decisions 

For a solid SEO campaign, you’ll want to set up and configure your tracking and reporting at least 2 months in advance. 


This gives you a few months of baseline website data before you start the campaign. 


The more data you have in advance, the better your campaign will perform. Without this benchmark, it’s nearly impossible to see before and after changes in your analytics. 


Without a few months of baseline data, you’re flying blind. 


To ensure you’re getting the best results on your SEO campaign you should aim for 60-90 days of data before doing any optimization work.


This not only makes it easier to show results, but it also lets you quickly notice any changes that impact your site negatively.  


If a change is made and a dip in performance is noticed, you can react accordingly. 


Without a baseline for how a site performs, you won’t know if the optimization changes you make improve your website’s performance until you collect enough data.


In fact, without baseline data driving your decisions you could accidentally reduce your site’s performance and not be able to tell. 


To ensure all optimization decisions are well-informed and pay off, you must take the time to gather baseline data.


If your site does not already track all the necessary conversions--forms, chat, calls-- you’d be better off waiting to start your SEO campaign until you have good data to start. 


This means if you’re even considering an SEO campaign in the future you should get the tracking on these parts of your website set up today.


What does an ideal SEO campaign look like?


When properly set up, your campaign workflow will allow you to gain a solid baseline of data, plus get some much-needed ROI before you launch your SEO campaign.


Start by adding any missing lead generation or sales tools. 

This could be chat, forms, or phone calls. If you’re not already using these tools you could be missing out on valuable leads. 


For example, A chat study released by ApexChat revealed that “live chat can increase online leads by an average of 40 percent.” And that’s just an average, your numbers could be even higher. 


Now, add tracking for these tools.

Once these tools are set up, you will want to track how they’re getting used. These insights are immensely valuable to increase your lead gen. 


To continue our live chat example, you’ll be logging any time someone uses your chat box as an “event” in Google Analytics. This data lets you further segment your traffic and see what keywords and tagged URLs are sending you the best leads.


Next, set up your goals 

This is a little different from your normal business goals, these are specific goals you define in Google Analytics based on the metrics you’re tracking.  


This could be a destination goal of sending traffic to your contact form, an engagement goal to reduce your bounce rate, or an event goal where users interact with your chat box.


Setting up these goals allows you to easily compare goal conversions and measure changes and improvements to your site.


Once you set your goals, it’s time for content

Now for the fun part, here you’ll get cracking on content creation. 


Yes, this means your blog needs content. Aim for a minimum of one blog post a month, although four would be preferable. This is an easy step to put off but it is vital to increasing your search results and building a robust, optimized website.


If you can’t make time to write at least one blog a month, outsource it, this step is that important.


Time for ads. 

Next, you’ll run a PPC (pay per click) campaign for a minimum of 90 days. You will need to track performance closely and should keep this campaign running as long as the ROI supports it. 


You will start with a lower budget to cover this PPC campaign, but should expect to increase the budget and add an SEO campaign on top of it. 


The alternative would be to cancel your PPC campaign and move that budget onto the SEO side, but this can end up hurting your ROI in the long run. This is because sites that rank well and run PPC perform better than sites that only do one or the other. 


Of course, your mileage may vary, so you should base that decision on the data you’re collecting and the ROI.


Finally, you have the data you need to start your SEO campaign! 

After all that it’s time to start your well-informed, data-driven SEO campaign


The steps above give you the best data set for basing SEO decisions as you move forward. Again, without these preliminary steps, you are basing your initial campaign on educated guesses, and not on hard data. 

To move up the ranking in search results, lean on hard data, not good guesses.

This practice requires thinking ahead, but there’s a big silver lining to getting started now.


The sooner you start tracking data, the further ahead you will be when you launch your SEO campaign.

Cannabis oil in pipette and hemp seeds in a wooden spoon

The only way to market CBD online

The CBD market is exploding. 

In a newly released report from Brightfield, they predicted year-over-year CBD product sales growth in the United States of 706% in 2019 to around $5 billion -- not a typo – and sales of $23.7 billion by 2023. 

The growth potential is staggering, and while CBD itself won't give you a buzz the market is buzzing with the potential to cash in on CBD’s explosive growth. 

However, many are learning that their typical playbook for marketing a B2C product doesn’t work for CBD.

While enthusiasts will claim CBD is nothing like ephedra, anabolic steroids or the latest slim-tea fad, advertising giant Google has other ideas.

Google has lumped CBD products under a large umbrella of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements that come with heavy restrictions on how you market these products. 

In short, you can’t.

Google has banned all products on that list from using Google Ads, with severe penalties for violations. Including going so far as banning the user & their payment method from all future ads...regardless of what product you’re selling. 

This is rough news for holistic health practitioners looking to promote CBD wellness products and services without jeopardizing the rest of their product line.

The only way to market CBD

This doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for entrepreneurs in the CBD space, but there is one foolproof method to get eyes on your product.

While Google won't let you use Adwords or other Google advertising suite tools, they do allow websites affiliated with CBD to be indexed and displayed in organic search.  

This means your best gameplan is to optimize your SEO strategy.

SEO best practices and white hat SEO techniques ensure you’re getting the most clicks on CBD related searches. 

Most SEO strategies won't cut it when all of your marketing hinges on organic search. 

The typical SEO firm tracks only a handful of keywords and phrases. 

We’re talking small numbers, 1-10 phrases, maybe 15 or 20 if you’re lucky.  They get their phrases locked in and keep tracking the same ones the entire time, sometimes for years. 

This is a great way to end up at the bottom of the search results and lose a TON of clicks.

A better way to optimize SEO for CBD companies

We’ve found here at The Branding Agency that with SEO keywords and phrases, more is more. 

We suggest you track up to 150 keywords and phrases and never get comfortable with that list.

Each month you should revise your list of targeted keywords based on the data & results of the previous month. This keeps your brand presence agile, so you can respond to fluctuations in search trends and traffic. 

Don’t forget to watch your competitors 


An agile, regularly updated list of keywords and phrases is a great start, but since you don’t sell in a vacuum you should add competitor tracking as the next best step in optimizing your organic search position. 


For this, you’re watching your competitors’ websites to see what they’re up to and ensure your website is outperforming them.


If your biggest competitor starts to allocate a bunch of time and resources towards SEO and you start creeping higher in search results, you’ll need to do the same to keep up with (or outperform) them. 


The last thing you want is to spend time and money optimizing keywords and phrases only to have a competitor just barely edge past you. 


Being mindful of what other players in the market are up to will keep you ahead of the curve.


Put these lessons to work

Even if you aren’t in the CBD market, these suggestions are solid ways to boost your organic search results. 

They’re foundational strategies for the SEO work we do here at The Branding Agency.  

If your organic search results could be better, or if you’re working with regulated products like CBD, we’re here to help. We have affordable SEO packages that can quickly start to improve your SEO and search results, like many of our clients you might even find the additional traffic pays for the service itself.



Contact us and learn more about how we can help you achieve an effective SEO strategy and campaign. 



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