Link building has evolved from merely a technique that improves rankings, to attract web traffic to your site through links. Google Analytics is a fantastic tool to monitor and measure this traffic as well as assign value to links that lead traffic to your site.
Google Analytics has several sections including basic and Advanced Segments that can help you analyze your link building efforts. In addition, multi-channel funnels, campaign tagging, custom reports, and use of API can help you measure your link building campaign in a far more detailed manner.
You can begin by viewing data from the Referrals section in Google Analytics. Here, you will be able to view external sites that brought traffic to your site, time spent by visitors on your site, bounce rates, and pages visited per visit by those visitors. You can quickly calculate conversions on your site or sites by clicking on the ecommerce and goal buttons.
However, this simple report will not display referral traffic brought in by natural links, social media, and by your link building exercise. To view a detailed report that could further improve your link building campaign, you will need to use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics.
Advanced Segments allows you to view customized reports extracted by way of specific directions. If you wish to split your reports into 3 sections, namely, social media, link building, and natural links, then setting up filters to collect data from social media sites and another for link building sites, you will be able to view data on natural links, which will actually be data left over.
In order to view traffic brought in through link building, you need to begin by clicking on Advanced Segments. Next, click on the +New Custom Segment, provide a new name, and then select Include. You will then need to select Source within the green box and then Modify Containing to Matching RegExp. Finally, you need to insert all the required link building domains in the box and insert a pipe “|” between each of them along with a backslash before all dots and hyphens.
An example is abcd\.com|efgh\.co\.in|wxyz\.com
Upon setting the above parameters, you will be able to receive filtered data for all reports that indicate only visits from those link-building websites.
If you want to view traffic received through social media, you need to follow the same steps mentioned above, except for the last step where you need to type in the desired social media sites instead of link-building websites.
An example is twitter\.com|facebook\.com|digg\.com
You can edit the site names for this profile and should ensure that you cancel characters with a backslash. You will also have to use a carat or ^ sign before URLs with very short names to avoid confusing them with websites that end with the exact same text.
Once you have these two filters in place, you can copy the text used on both and utilize them as exclusions in a new segment to view traffic brought in by natural links.
If you have referral data that is difficult to segregate then you can try custom tagging on links built by you through the URL Builder Tool in Google Analytics. This tool helps you select your campaign name, medium, source, and other URL data before they are utilized in link-building campaigns or in any other campaign.
Google Analytics utilizes first click attribution to display organic conversions resulting through your link building efforts. However, you may want to know about conversions attained through links that have not been attributed to them. You will again need to use the Link Building Advanced Segments as mentioned above and create custom channel groupings by utilizing the regular expression.
You will need to ensure that you include referral data and exclude other link-building sources. You can utilize the path analysis feature to display how visitors arrive, but if there are too many paths then you can use the Assisted Conversions Report. The final report will display separate data for last interaction as well as assisted conversions, which would not be possible from standard Google Analytics reports.
In addition to the above reports, you can also export traffic data from your Google Analytics account to know in detail about traffic generated through your link building campaign as well as the strength of the promoted page. You can use tools found at nielsbosma.se/projects/seotools/ to export Google Analytics data and merge it with other link and social metrics.
The resultant reports can help you figure out traffic value as well as just how your link building exercise has benefitted your link profile and boosted social visibility of your web pages.
The above link building measuring methods using Google Analytics Advanced Segments should help you to measure the success of your campaign through specific sources as well as make changes to increase efficiency.