Google keyword rankings in web analytics

In April 2009 Google announced a change to the referrer information coming from Google organic searches. The interesting bit to many people was the addition of the cd parameter, which is the actual search results position. There are a few ways you can see the keyword position in your web analytics, such as with filters, custom variables or event tracking. I personally like event tracking in Google Analytics, and before the change in referrer information we were at least able to see the page a keyword was on.

I thought it would be interesting to revisit this topic from a web analytics/optimization perspective.

  1. I estimate that about 10% of Google organic searches have the new referrer information. I have not detected a significant change over time.
  1. Number #1 ranking gets by far the most clicks, followed by #2 and #3. Positions #4 through #8 seem to get similar clickthroughs, and from position #9 on down traffic drops significantly. Nothing too surprising here and mirrors what we see on e-commerce section pages: visitors tend to click from top to bottom.

A number #1 ranking however doesn’t mean much if it is unqualified traffic that doesn’t convert. From an optimization perspective, how about segmenting your data to show only traffic from top ranking keywords that doesn’t convert?


Then check keyword landing page combos to find such underperforming keywords and their respective landing pages.


Another way to look at it is to say that you have done all you can from an SEO perspective, can’t get higher than #1 ranking. Now it’s up to your site to convert those visitors. Or you are targeting the wrong keywords in your SEO efforts.

Happy Holidays!