In April 2009, Google announced that they were making some changes to how the referral URL would look like on their search engines.
One of the key information that’s provided here is the listing’s organic ranking (cd parameter). This can be found in the referral URL property (or document.referrer when referring to the DOM).
It’s been more than 1.5 years since the announcement so I figured that the gradual roll out would be almost complete (I still see instances of the old referral URL being used though) so I decided to implement a filter for Google Analytics that will pull in the organic ranking data and show it in the keyword reports.
Before we get into it, there’s something important to know about the cd parameter. Traditionally in SEO, we’ve always known the SERPs to contain 10 organic listings (as shown below).
However, since the inception of universal search, Google has continuously added a myriad of listing types (in addition to the traditional ones) to the SERPs such as images, videos, news and places.
As a result, this has changed the way we look at organic rankings and this is how Google reports on organic rankings through the cd parameter. Below is an illustration of how the cd parameter reports the organic rankings on the SERPs.
This means that getting an organic ranking of > 10 does not necessarily mean it is not on the first page so you should be aware of it.
Now, onto the Google Analytics filter to implement this.
Implementation of this feature requires 2 advanced filters that need to be in a specific order.
Filter 1: This filter will extract the ranking data from the cd parameter and store it temporarily into custom field 1.
Filter 2: This filter will then extract the data from custom field 1 and rewrite the campaign’s keyword filter field by appending the organic ranking data to the pre-existing campaign keyword data.
Note: This will overwrite your keyword filter field. If you wish to preserve the original format, I would then suggest you implement these filters in a new profile.
Filter 1 must be above filter 2 in the filter manager in order for this to work. Otherwise custom field 1 will have no data for filter 2 since it is only assigned a value from filter 1.
This is the result of how it looks like in your keyword reports. You can see that each organic keyword that drove traffic to your site now has organic ranking data next to it.
It is important to understand that when you see an organic ranking > 10 in your keyword reports, it does not necessarily mean that it is not on the first page. The best way to check this is to do a manual search and see whether your listing is outside of the first page or is on the first page but with many other listing types.
Or you could look into a software solution to automate this.
How is this helpful?
With this data right at your fingertips, you can now:
- Analyse the keywords drives conversions to your site and see how well they rank on the SERPs.
- Analyse over time how different positions on the SERPs affect your traffic/conversions. It is pretty normal for organic rankings to fluctuate slightly.So assume that you’re normally #X for certain keywords, analyse how a drop or an increase in organic rankings affect your traffic/conversions.
- Analyse over time your portfolio of keywords. How many keywords are on the first page? Your aim is to get your percentage of keywords on the first page as close to 100% as possible. Even better, number 1.
So go ahead and build a business case to focus and invest in those keywords by improving their organic rankings knowing that they bring in traffic and conversions.
Happy analysing :)