Professional Associations, Analytics & Insights, Digital Marketing, UX & Visual Design, Google Analytics


Hello, my name is Jen Boland and I am with the Allegiance Group. And today I’m going to talk about how you can tell if your website is achieving your organization’s goals and your visitors’ goals. We’re going to talk about how to measure and track your website success in Google Analytics. And we’re actually going to start by talking a little bit about this idea called the core content method for creating effective content. It’s really important because it’s thinking about your goals upfront in your content. Then we’re going to talk about how we can translate these goals into measurable KPIs that we can actually see within Google Analytics. And finally, we’re going to talk a little bit about configuring some advanced tracking, including goals in e-commerce and Google Analytics.

And at the very end, I’m actually going to give you a link. on how to download a guide to go into more detail on some of these things, because I was a little overly ambitious that I could get through a lot of these things. And I realized that just giving you a guide, probably the best way to do it. So first starts, there is no beating around the bush, but creating really effective content is hard.

It’s just, it’s not easy. Getting content that people look at that people read that really helps people. It’s hard. But if you follow this methodology that I’ve outlined and you really think about these KPIs, it will help you create much better and much more effective content. I’m going to start with what are your organizational goals. And think about it.

I’m speaking here at the Marketing ASAE Conference and most of you, you’re associations. And so you’re thinking about: I need people to join and order renew their membership. I want people to register from my conference. I want people to purchase continuing education courses and credits. Maybe you have a shop on your site and you sell things.

The idea is, that every organization needs revenue in order to continue its mission. And your website is probably the primary way in which people are conducting those activities. And so one, we want to make sure that you have e-commerce tracking set up so that you can see if people are actually making purchases on the web and look at that funnel and understand how they’re getting through the process.

But two, I want you to really ask yourself, why do your members renew or join your organization? Why are they going to your conferences? Why are they taking your continuing education credits and classes? And it’s because your content helps them probably do their job or do better in their organization.

And so by having the best content, we’re going to have more of these bigger goals like joins and renewals and conference registrations. So great content equals more money for your organization. Just to reiterate, your associations value is in its content. So I talk briefly about this idea of the core content model.

And I keep saying over and over this concept of effective content and effective content is content that meets your audience needs and promotes your business goals. And you can say that we want our content to meet in the middle of doing both things and satisfying our users and meeting our business goals.

Most people aren’t thinking about those things when they’re creating their content to begin with. And one of the things that I like to do is when I’m creating a new piece of content or working with a client to create a new piece of content, the first thing we do is outline is what is the purpose of this piece of content?

What are the business goals? What are your audience needs or user tasks? And we write those things down. Then we say, how do we expect people to find this content? Is it through organic search? Do we think that they’re going to come from this specific landing page that we’ve created? Identify your inward paths for how users are going to get to the content.

Then the content itself. You need to make sure that it has all of the relevant context or at least points to pages that have the relevant context. So is it answering the who, the what, the where, why of the topic? Answering all these questions and having a complete answer is really critical to having the best content.

And then finally looking at what do we want users to do next? And where do you want them to go? What do you want? What should your call to action be? Thinking about that will also help you create the very best content. So just to reiterate, the things that you’re measuring get managed. And so as you start to look at your content detail and content performance, it will help you create better content and it’ll help you optimize your existing content.

How do you actually know if your contact is helping your end users? I’ve got a list of things and I realized I didn’t count them all up. But we’re going to start by talking about satisfaction surveys, content feedback, page position in Search Console, how find out which search terms are surfacing each page on your website, identifying missing ideas or gaps in your content, finding out if users are linking to your content. Is your content up to date? Are users indicating they’re reading your content by scrolling? Is your content being shared on social media? Are people printing your pages? Are users copying content to clipboard? Is there an email address on a page or is there even a content snippet that they’re copying to their clipboard?

Downloading PDFs and other documents? Are people watching your videos? Are people viewing your pages? Yes, Google Analytics is very good at telling us that. And last, but not least is what is the value of the page and understanding why having goals and goal value set up on your website, and e-commerce tracking is so important for measuring the value of your content.

I think one of the first underrated things that people tend not to do is to run satisfaction surveys on their website. Google offers this free tool. There’s the link. It’s four questions. You can run it as often as you’d like. Again, it’s free and it’s easy to install, especially if you use Google Tag Manager.

But it asks these four questions: How satisfied you are with the website. What do you find frustrating or unappealing about the site? I think the most important question is, what is your main reason for visiting today? You’d be surprised about the wonderful data you can collect with just that question alone.

And then finally, just knowing, was the user successful in doing what they came to the website to do? Another really great thing you can set up is content feedback. We actually set this up for aAPTA APTA, the American Physical Therapy Association, and at the end of all of their content pages, they have this little box. Is the content helpful? You click yes, you get a little thank you. If you click no, it offers a box that the user can fill out and pushes that data back to their CMS so that their authors can get that data. We’re also pushing that data into Google Analytics, so you can see it right there, in front of the people who are analyzing the data in Google analytics.

So you can see you’ve got the page listed. And the number of times that somebody said yes, and the number of times somebody said no, it wasn’t helpful. And that gives you a great opportunity to revisit content that may not be getting great feedback. I also want you to know that you actually don’t need a developer to implement something like this.

You can use tools like Unbounce, Opt-In Monster, any of the like the little alert bar tools and a Google form to implement something like this. So it doesn’t take huge development skills to get something like this in place.

So now we’re on my favorite idea. And this is the idea that you can use your search position as a proxy for user satisfaction. And the reason why I really believe in this idea is because way back when eight years ago, Google introduced this algorithm called RankBrain and the whole idea was to take how users behave on your website and then to interpret those results, and use that data to help decide which content is satisfying users the most. And so basically what they realized is that users will click on the best result and therefore it will help perpetuate that ranking. And because it’s a machine learning algorithm, Google is actually able to learn from that user behavior and slowly but surely be able to surface the best content because their algorithm is learning.

And it’s also like a QA process. So Google is constantly testing, who should be first in the result for this particular query, and using this, like dwell time essentially, they’re able to know that people who go to the page and stay for a long time and don’t click back really quickly are most likely, very satisfied by the content, and then therefore that is the best content. So you might ask, how do we look at these pages? I know I talked about Google Analytics and you can actually get to this report through Google Analytics under Acquisition, there’s actually a Search Console link. This screenshot is directly from Search Console.

It looks ever so slightly different when it’s linked to from Google Analytics. But what you can do is you can go in and you can look and see all the pages that you rank for in Google and what your position is, and the better your position, the better your content is. And so this was a really helpful way to get a gauge for, Hey, does Google think this is a really strong piece of content for this particular search term?

You can also see which queries ranked for that page. And so what you’ll want to do is click on the page and then navigate back to the Queries tab. And when you do that, and you can see each query, how many clicks, how many impressions, how often it was clicked through or the click-through rate, and then how that page ranked for that particular query.

And by looking at this you can actually see the language of your users and how users are actually finding your page, or in some cases not finding your page. One of the other things I really love about this report is being able to see what is missing from my content. So in this case, I actually sorted the data by impressions, and I can see all of these keywords where I rank, but I’m not getting any clicks and I’m getting very few clicks.

And so that gives me ideas of what might be missing from my content, that I can go and add to my content to make it a better page, make it a more fully formed answer and to rank better. So in a lot of cases, when I add more sub information to the main page, the page becomes more complete in general, and you’ll start to rank for those sub-terms as well as for those head-terms, helping you get found by more people in search.

Another really important thing that a lot of people don’t think about. There’s this idea of backlinking and it’s always been about backlinks are great for SEO, and backlinks are great for SEO. But if you think about why do people link to your content? They’re not linking to your content to give you a boost in SEO, they’re linking to your content because they think it’s great content. And you can get your top 1000 pages on your site, you can get the back links for those pages in the Backlinks report within Search Console. So it can be really useful to see are people actually linking to my content? We also really like knowing when content was published, because if you can push this data into Google Analytics, you can quickly see things like I have really old content.

We have pages from 2007 that still ranked very well for my organization. And when you see those pages, you’re thinking, okay, this is either a great evergreen topic that I need more content on, or maybe I can just refresh this page a little bit to keep it relevant and help it get found more. But in general, we’re recommending that people spend more time updating existing content rather than constantly creating more content, because there’s only so much content that people can consume. And so a lot of times when people are having trouble finding content on your website, it’s because your content is buried with so much other content, and that by consolidating content, you can actually help people get the content they need to do their job better.

And if people are doing their jobs better, remember they are more likely to renew their membership, go to your conference, purchase CEU credits, and do all the things that helps keep your organization running.
So couple more quick hits. Scroll tracking, there’s a trigger within Google Tag Manager that is really easy to set up for scroll tracking.

In Google Analytics 4, which is the new Google Analytics, this is actually tracked by default. So just FYI, I like to pay attention to people making it to the seventy-five percent scroll, because it means that they’re, getting through the page or the majority of the page. Social Share Tracking. Are people clicking on a social share button on my website?

Now this isn’t going to include people who grabbed the link and then paste it into Facebook or LinkedIn, but it can give you a sense for how often people are interacting with the social share icons on your website. Print tracking. You can actually track when somebody chose file print or control P and know how many times people are actually printing pages on your content or printing your content pages. But it’s a huge idea that this is helpful content that somebody wants to look at it in the printed form. File downloads. These are going to be tracked by Google Analytics 4 by default, but very easy to set up in Google Tag Manager, just looking for the extension on the link.

It’s a simple link click tracking. So if you’re not tracking your downloads, Google it, go to our guide that I’ll have at the end, and we’ll show you how to set that up. Video tracking. Likewise, Google Tag Manager introduced video tracking, pretty simple to set up. There’s a trigger, you set it up, you define the parameters that you want to track. And then that data will get pushed into Google Analytics. And finally, pageviews and page value. Pageviews. That’s the golden goose of Google Analytics, but page value, I think is one of the most underutilized metrics within Google Analytics, because it allows you to see when somebody visits a page, what is this page ultimately worth organizationally?

So, they visit my home page, and they ultimately register, or they purchase a CEU. You can also assign goals to the various individual user completions. Let’s say you wanted to say, I want to assign a $1 goal every time somebody scrolls 75% of the page, or every time somebody watched a video or downloaded this thing, you can start to aggregate those content-use things into the actual dollar amounts and then use them in this report. So that’s a really quick and easy way to see the value of a piece of content.

Here’s my bonus tips. Page value, that I just talked about. Having e-commerce set up is also really critical to having the very best page value, because you want to be able to see those e-commerce transactions as well as the micro goal values that you’ve set up in your Google Analytics goals.

Another hot tip is to create a view within Google Analytics where you do not have query string parameters. There’s a way to strip those out. They’ll be in the link on my last slide. It’s really helpful because if you ever want to do a content audit, this will exclude all the pages that have the tracking for Facebook and other marketing campaigns.

Last, but not least, using either Google API Plugins in Google Sheets and Data Studio can help you get data from all these reports and combine it into one place. So remember the core content model. Business goals, user tasks. How did people get there? Where did they go next? We’ve actually created a report that essentially mimics the core content model that allows you to look at all of these data points, every single page.

So in summary, creating the best content. Plan how people will find your content. Plan how your content will meet user needs and business goals. Track your user satisfaction through feedback mechanisms and search position and track how users are using your page. Last, but not least, if you want to download our guide on how to actually set up the tracking and Google Analytics, go to

Thanks for your attention. Wishing you great content creation.