July 11, 2018 by Joe Rega

Reclaiming Organic Keywords

Since 2011, Google has encrypted their search to "protect personalized search results." While this makes search more secure, for marketers this was a nightmare.

In Google Analytics, our keyword data went from providing a list of all the keywords that had brought visitors to our sites to now showing 98% (not provided). As many SEO's used this data to better optimize their web pages, this was a difficult situation to overcome. Without this data SEO's needed to get creative and focus on other metrics to show their efforts were paying off.

Today, we can narrow down the data to get a closer look at the keywords that people are using to find our content, by using a few different tools.

Sitecore Path Analyzer & Entry Pages

Sitecore Analytics is a great way to collect a large amount of digital marketing data about your website. Out of the box we are given a large amount of data about our websites that shows engagement and many other important stats about behavior. I won't go into too much detail about the ins and outs of Sitecore Analytics today, since Sitecore themselves have written an instructional guide about that already.

What we are going to look at today is Sitecore's Path Analyzer and Experience Analytics. The Path Analyzer allows us to see what popular landing pages visitors are seeing when they access our site as well as their journey throughout our site. Experience Analytics has a section under Behavior for Entry Pages.

The important feature today is the landing page metric. We're going to use this to compare to Google Analytics and measure how many conversions those pages are responsible for.

In Sitecore, click on Path Analyzer, located in the lower left-hand side of the experience platform.


Here we have a lot of different options to choose from under the Maps section, I like to start with First Visits. This gives us a look at the unique visits to the site and what pages each visitor land on.

We can also access this information by clicking on Experience Analytics – Behavior – Pages – Entry Pages.

Before we dive deeper into this, let's first collect our search queries, or keywords, from Google Search Console.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console was released by Google and originally went by the name Google Webmaster Tools. This set of tools allows us to see important information as to the health of our websites: 

- If there are any errors
- What the index status is
- Common/new links
- How pages are rendered
- Much, much more

To find our organic keywords, click in the left-hand navigation, click on Search Traffic, then click Search Analytics. This is where we'll be able to find what keywords visitors are using to access our site.

The first screen we see is the Queries report, sorted by Clicks.


First, we'll need to change the filter settings under Queries. The goal we're trying to achieve is to get a list of non-branded keywords that are bringing people to our site. While branded terms are important, we're looking for that deeper down the funnel information that we can attribute our marketing efforts to.

Click the arrow to the right of No filter under Queries, then select Filter queries.

There will be a dialog box that appears offering three options:

- Queries containing
- Queries not containing
- Query is exactly

Today we're going to choose Queries not containing.

The query we're going to enter is our branded term.

This will leave us with a set of non-branded organic keywords that visitors are typing to access our sites. I say visitors because remember, we haven't changed to any of the top-level metrics and Clicks is still selected.

What I like to do at this point is select the specific day I want to analyze to get a set of data for. Keep in mind that Search Console data is two days delayed so we don’t have access to daily information. My best advice is to apply these steps to the prior week when reviewing your data.

The reason I choose one day over a week or several weeks is that this reduces the number of queries and landing pages, thus giving us a smaller, more accurate set of data to examine.

Note: You can also take this one step further and create a Google Spreadsheet to keep a daily tally of the keywords that lead to conversions for your site; this will help to see patterns over time.

Once you select the day you want to view, click on the keyword/query you want to examine further.

This will take you to a new page that will show a line graph for that specific term. From here, click on Pages on the top navigation to see a list of the URLs

Depending on the popularity of the terms you choose, you will have one or more URLs listed here.

Another approach here is to first look at the Pages report, select a specific page, click Queries and get a list of queries for that URL on that specific day. It's really a matter of preference.

Click download in the lower left-hand side of the table and export your list.

Once you have the landing page or pages, head on over to Google Analytics to see which of those have seen any conversions on that day!

Google Analytics

Since its launch in mid-November 2005, Google Analytics has been collecting data about user behavior, seasonal trends and numerous other metrics about our websites.

The section we're going to focus on today is the landing pages. In the left-hand navigation, click on Behavior – Site Content – Landing Pages.


Whether you're running an e-commerce site or a regular site, we'll be able to see those conversions under the Conversion section on the right-hand side. For the sake of today, we're going to focus on Transactions.


Don't forget to set the date range to the same period or day you were looking at in Search Console to the data will match up.

In the search field, above the conversions section, enter the URL or portion of the URL.


This will quickly locate the URL we're trying to find and remove all other pages from this section, making it easier to review transaction data for that page.

Once we see how many conversions this page was responsible for, we can refer to our list of terms from Search Console that visitors used to access this page.

Starting to Connect the Data

Heading back over to Sitecore, we need to export a list of the landing page URLs. As mentioned earlier, there are two ways we can do this: One way is in Experience Analytics and the other is through the Path Analyzer.

If we choose Path Analyzer, select First Visits from the first drop-down option, then choose the date we are analyzing. On the right-hand side of the page there is an arrow pointing down, click that and select Download as CSV. The spreadsheet export will have several columns, we are only interested in the second one aptly titled "2."

Since this is raw data we will need to do some Excel finessing. Select the data in column 2 then head over the Data tab. From there, click Remove Duplicates. This will give us the complete list of URLs we are looking to analyze.

The other method of attaining these URLs is in Experience Analytics. Under Behavior click on Pages, then Entry Pages. At the bottom of this page we are presented with a chart that lists a lot of data about these pages:


Since there is currently (in version 8) no way to export these, we need to copy and paste them into an excel file.

Comparing the Data

With all the data we now have, we need to compare Sitecore's URLs to the Google Analytics URLs to get a finite list of landing pages that lead to a conversion.

I like to work in either Google Sheets or SharePoint when analyzing this data. The way I set this up is as follows:

- Column A is Sitecore Langin Page URLs
- Column B is Google Analytics Landing Pages
- Column C is Keywords from Google Search Console.
- Column D is the number of conversions/transactions

Make sure that the keywords in Column C are matched up with the correct URLs in the previous two columns. There may also be several keywords per URL so be sure to include all in separate lines.

Once our spreadsheet is complete we can continue using this format for every day throughout the month. Each tab on the spreadsheet can be a different month so soon we'll have a full year's worth of organic keyword conversion data.

Please note that this is not an exact science but does take us a lot closer to discovering these terms than we've had in recent years. If you'd like to discuss this further, reach out! 

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