I hate sampling and try to avoid it at all costs. I recently discovered, after Google Analytics’ Acquisition reports got shuffled around, that the Organic Landing Pages report (which I use almost daily) is subject to sampling. Not sure if this is new or something I just haven’t noticed before. It’s a standard report and shouldn’t get sampled. But I figured out a hack to get around that for larger sites.
A What Report?
First things first, the Organic Landing Pages report tells you what pages people are finding your site most when they search Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, etc. Ever since Google took our keywords and went home, SEO practitioners are more dependent on the data we can get from landing pages to measure the effectiveness of our search efforts.
And since Landing Page is a session-based dimension — meaning it’s a characteristic of an entire visit to a site, not just a single page, like the Page dimension — it can provide you with insights from session-based metrics, such as pages/session, goal conversion rates, avg session duration, etc. You can’t get these types of insights from the Page dimension (which you see in reports like the All Pages report, under Behavior > Site Content).
You can check out this video where I demonstrate three ways to get your organic landing pages data and explain the drawbacks of two of them, for larger sites at least.
How a Normal Marketer Would Get This Report
Google moved its Organic reports to Campaigns > Organic Keywords. Then you need to change the primary dimension from the completely useless Keyword dimension to Landing Page.
This seems to be the most straightforward method. However, it’s not what I use because Google Analytics applies sampling as soon as you change the primary dimension from Keyword to Landing Page. That is, if the report you’re looking exceeds 500,000 sessions (FKA visits).
I don’t know why this is the case. If you change the primary dimension in other standard reports, sampling isn’t applied. So I’m not sure why we get it with this method. But it’s a huge bummer for larger sites.
The Tricky Backdoor Method
Go to Channels > click on Organic Search > change primary dimension to Landing Page.
Note: For Step 3, you actually choose Organic Search from the Channels report, but it was off the screen.
This method allows you to get the same exact data without sampling.
Least Preferable Option
Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and then use the Organic Traffic advanced segment. (You can close out of the All Sessions default segment to just see organic traffic.)
The nice thing about this approach is you can filter every report in Google Analytics by organic traffic by applying this segment. So if I pulled up the Device Category report (Audience > Mobile > Overview), I’d be seeing what percentage of my traffic from organic search is coming from desktop, mobile, or tablet.
But you’re also going to get sampling using this method.
Pro Tip: Remember to turn off this segment when you’re finished with it, or you will unwittingly analyze your data looking only at organic traffic. I’ve done this before. It is an express train to WTFville for marketers. To turn it off, click the down-facing arrow in the upper-left corner of the Organic Traffic segment and choose Remove.
For more Google Analytics report tips and tricks, check out my DIY Analytics Audit Template.