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Online Brand Management using Google Analytics

23 May 2012 BY

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Over the past two months I have been doing a lot of research into tools that can be used to monitor mentions of a brand name and assist with managing a brand’s reputation. During this research I uncovered some great functionalities right under my nose in a tool that most people in digital marketing are immersed in everyday, Google Analytics.

There are some basic features that everyone should be using for online brand management in Google Analytics, which I am going to go through in this post. I am also going to cover elements of the new social reports in Google Analytics, which can show you some really interesting data about your brand.

Let’s get started:

Negative Brand Searches

Your website will most probably receive a high proportion of traffic from natural search from keywords that include your brand name and this is something that the majority of us will be reviewing all the time. What we don’t all pay attention to is the brand searches that also include a negative sentiment, with phrases like ‘bad’, ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’, and we should be.

In order to track these searches, you will need to set up an Advanced Segment. I have put together a screenshot below to give you an example of how to set this up, but you may wish to elaborate a little further with the negative sentiment words.

Hopefully you get zero or very few searches reaching your site that include a negative word, but having this advanced segment will allow you to keep track of this.

Positive Brand Searches

In the above section I spoke about tracking any negative brand terms that drive traffic to your site and it is just as important to monitor all the generic and positive phrases too.

If you set up an advanced segment for all keywords that include your brand name, you will be able to see which phrases are most popular. Obviously, your main brand name is going to be the biggest traffic driver but there will also be others.

Once you uncover the popular brand searches, go and conduct that search yourself in Google and see what results come up on the first page. As a brand you want to dominate all the results on page one to ensure that potential customers see results that are related to and controlled by you. This can be achieved by creating social media profiles, videos, Wiki pages etc.

Brand Term Traffic Alerts

Using the alerts feature you can set up automatic emails to reach you if there is a change in the level of brand traffic your site receives.

I would recommend setting up alerts that tell you if your brand traffic increases or decreases by 15% week on week. The below screenshots show you what you need to do to create these alerts.

You can use these alerts to bring increases and decreases in brand traffic to your attention quickly, which should highlight when good content gets shared. If your traffic drops considerably for your brand name, you need to know about this and act fast, as something could have affected your website that you don’t know about.

Social Conversations

When Google Analytics introduced their new social reporting it opened up a wealth of information to anyone wanting to get an insight into brand-related mentions and conversations.

To get to this report, you need to navigate here – Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Social > Sources > Choose Network > Activity Stream

One of the best reports in this section is definitely Google+ as it is a Google property so you get to see much more information for this network than some of the others.

Let’s take Google+ as the example report here. As you can see from the screenshot, there is a lot you can see straight from your GA platform. It’s great to see what is being said, who is sharing your content and what content is shared the most.

Shared Content and URLs

Following on from the Social Conversations report, the next one you should be monitoring is the Shared Content and URLs report. We all spend a lot of time creating content and unless you know what is popular to your readers, you could be creating content that just isn’t what your readers want.

You can not only see how much traffic a specific URL is receiving but also how many social conversations have happened around that URL. The main thing to note here is that the Data Hub Activity shown is only for properties that Google own or can crawl. Twitter and Facebook data for example won’t be included in this report.

If you can see that a URL has a lot of traffic and also a good number in the Data Hub column, you know that this content is exactly what your readers want and you can create more of the same. Giving your readers what they want will lead to more positive mentions about your brand and increased exposure.

This report can be accessed here – Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Social > Pages

Social Network Interaction

This has to be one of my favourite reports that Google have recently added, as it gives you information about how your content is responded to online which isn’t available elsewhere. As you can see from the screenshot below, you can tell exactly how people have interacted with your content across a lot of the social properties including Google+, Read It Later, Delicious, Digg and Reddit.

You can get to this report by following these steps – Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Social > Pages > URL > Social Network and Action

Google+ Ripples

I was introduced to Google+ Ripples by Matt Bush back in March at the UK Search Awards Conference and haven’t stopped using them since. They are great for seeing how far your content reaches, who shares your content and which pieces of content are shared the most.

The below screenshot is one of the Google+ Ripples for an infographic that we created at Koozai back in March, How to Learn SEO, which was received brilliantly by the rest of the SEO industry. It’s an infographic that just keeps giving!

So how do we use this from a brand reputation perspective? Well, you can visually see who is sharing and interacting with your content the most. These are what I would call you ‘brand angels’ and these are people you should be paying a lot of attention to. You know they like your content, so why not reach out to them when you create something new? After all, they would be more likely to share something if they already have trust in what you create.

Google+ Ripples can be reached straight from Analytics now – Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Social > Pages > URL > Activity Stream > Drop Down Arrow on URL > View Ripple

Brand Monitoring Dashboard

Finally, I wanted to share a brand monitoring dashboard that I put together in Google Analytics. This is a profile that I review daily to see if there is anything new that I should be aware of for my brand.

The dashboard is all setup and ready to go; the only thing you will need to change is the brand keyword section as this will currently be set up for the Koozai brand name, so you just need to simply change it to your company name.

There are 12 widgets on this dashboard which include the following:

  • Brand Term Visits (SEO)
  • Non Brand Term Visits (SEO)
  • Social Media Visits
  • Facebook Visits
  • Google+ Visits
  • Twitter Visits
  • Brand Term Keywords
  • Activity by Shared URL
  • Visits and Page Views by Social Network
  • Social Media Interactions by Day
  • Data Hub Activity by Social Network

The dashboard can be reached and installed in your own Google Analytics Account by clicking this link – http://kooz.ai/brand-monitoring-dash

I hope you have found this post useful and if anyone has any other suggestions or tips for using Google Analytics for online brand management please leave a comment below as I would love to uncover more ways.

AUTHORED BY:
h

Samantha Noble is the Digital Marketing Director at Koozai, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Southampton and London and event and brand manager on State of Digital and part of the editorial team.
  • http://twitter.com/therustybear Russell McAthy

    Sam, Nice writeup – and awesome dashboard.

    When you have a negative brand search segment setup – you can try to use the same methodology as an alert to ensure you can capture any trends of negative traffic and see if you can address it the best you can.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks Russell, glad you like the post. 

      Absolutely, this would be a great alert to set up as you can be highlighted daily if there is a cause for concern.

  • Joni

    Thanks for sharing; I like it! I’ve come across one error though; the ‘Social Media Visits’ currently shows all visits (not just social).

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Very good point Joni. I would recommend using that particular report for checking the data hub activity rather than traffic as you can see how well your content is shared via some of the social media platforms.
      I think it is very early days for these reports and can imagine Google adding a lot more to them over the coming months so it will be interesting to see how they evolve.

    • http://twitter.com/AndreScholten André Scholten

      Yes, I have the same thing here also

  • Mitch

    This is a great tool and the ease of importing the dashboard has made it extremely helpful.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks Mitch. Is there anything else that you think would be useful in the dashboard tool?

  • http://twitter.com/carmenmardiros Carmen Mardiros

    Very useful Sam and very comprehensive (although I would argue that direct/none traffic should also fall in branded traffic as it indicates previous interactions with the brand and offers an indication of offline branding campaigns). Brands using vanity urls in their offline branding campaigns may also need to include relevant campaign traffic in this dashboard.

    My only quibble with this is that it only monitors brand mentions/visits and doesn’t look at outcomes and behaviour that branded traffic results in in comparison with other traffic. How much more do people who search for our brand buy? How frequently do they visit? How much more likely are they to share and tweet about us? Google Analytics is fantastic as this sort of analysis and I’d love to see a future article making that connection between branded traffic and impact.

    Overall, great post!

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks for the feedback Carmen and totally agree, that you shouldn’t just be looking at mentions and traffic and your comment has got me thinking about a follow up post to this one which looks into creating a dashboard specifically for that.

      Direct traffic should also fall into brand traffic but I think this should be looked at separately to your organic brand traffic. 

      Stay tuned for a follow up post soon.

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