Moving Beyond Hits – Gaining Insights With Google Analytics
There are four steps to really taking advantage of your data. Measurement, Reporting, Analysis, and Implementation. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of implementing your data tracking, and then measuring and reporting on that data, but never really analyzing or acting on it. The entire point of your implementation of tracking, and measuring it, should be to use that data to improve your website’s performance.
Move Beyond Hit Counters
Remember hit counters? It’s kind of funny that for awhile that was really the pinnacle of digital measurement. Businesses, even legitimate ones, would have hit counters on their pages, as would anyone who had the ability to actually make a web page in those days. It would increment with every hit, and visibly show that number to the world. “Oh our page got 2000 hits! let me refresh and see how many we have now. 2001! Woo hoo!”
It was pretty useless from an analysis point of view, but it did lead eventually to a number of different companies, including Urchin, which eventually became Google Analytics, providing much richer data insights. These days it’s way too easy to fall into the hit counter trap. You set up your Google Analytics tracking code. You look at the numbers and trend lines and see your pageviews (essentially hits) and the number of your visitors are up. Maybe you look at your overall ecommerce numbers: transactions, average value, total revenue. You move on. You’re really not doing much more than vanity number gawking like they did 20 years go on the nascent web. You’re just leaving too much on the table. You’re measuring, and doing some basic reporting, but you’re certainly not analyzing the data, and if you ARE acting and changing things, you’re doing it blind.
Track the Browser Size with Google Analytics
Google Analytics reports the “screen resolution” of the visitor’s computer but skips the other important metric which is the size of the browser window. These two numbers will be approximately similar if the browser window is kept in maximized state but not otherwise.
Take a look at the example below. The screen resolution of the desktop is 1920×1080 (this is the number recorded by Google Analytics) but the actual browser window size (where your website is displayed) is a little over 900×600 pixels. Google Analytics displays the Screen Resolution and not the actual Browser Size of the visitor.
It calculates the actual height and width of the browser window and then rounds off these numbers to the nearest 100. For instance, a browser size of 985×1190 pixels is recorded as 1000×1200 pixels. You can then access this data in Google Analytics through Content -> Events -> Overview and then choose “Browse Size” as the Events Category.
Analytics Tools: Learn What’s Really Going on With Your Websites
Are you working with client websites? Maybe as a designer, a developer, an SEO or perhaps you just manage their hosting. If you answered yes, chances are you’re not the only person who has access to vital parts of the site, “parts” which must be treated with care. And, ff you’re the person who is responsible for the website’s SEO performance, you should be doing website health checks on a regular base too. To this end, here’s an list of tools you can use to make sure that you’re aware of the site’s health at all times
Google Analytics Custom Alerts
Every website that needs improvement should have some form of additional analytics installed. Builtwith.com currently reports over 17M websites running Google Analytics. W3Techs estimates a 82.1% market share for GA across the web, so it’s safe to assume that most of you are using GA on your websites. The question is; “Have you enabled Custom Alerts?” Give yourself a pat on the back if you said yes. Otherwise, have a look at the video and see for yourself what possibilities you’re leaving on the table. If you’re wondering what sort of alerts you can create, here’s 55 different custom alerts by Lunametrics to get you started.
Google Advanced Operators
Besides GA, Google Search is another one of your best friends. Simply use the site: operator to get an indication of how many pages Google has indexed. Does this, give or take, correspond with the amount of pages you were expecting? A significant difference might indicate an indexing problem. It can be quite easy to accidentally introduce problems with duplicate content or canonicalization. Also, the robots.txt file and the robots meta tags often cause problems, especially when someone else has been working on the site. (I’ve seen this happen to SEO agency and web development company sites!)
Google Providing Authorship Analytics To Google+ Users
Don’t expect the buzz around Google+ and authorship to be fading anytime soon. Geekbeat.tv found an interesting option that some Google+ users (who’ve enabled authorship on articles) have found, Authorship Analytics. It shows traffic to pages where you are identified as the author. This appears to be rolling out for select users and appears in the lower right side of any Google+ profile page.
When clicked on, users are delivered to an analytics page located directly within Google+ that show search traffic for user content. The report displays the overall impressions derived from a user’s content (as well as stats for each post) along with the number of clicks, and click-through rate. A toggle-able time period dropdown also exists for easy time segmentation.
If you’re signed up for authorship, people can see your photo next to the content you’ve authored along with a link so they can engage directly with you on Google+. We’re experimenting with a new feature that enables you to see clicks and impressions data in Google+, which is helpful if you don’t use Webmaster Tools where this data is also available. We’re currently testing this for a small percentage of authors before releasing it for everyone.
3 Hidden Optimization Tips in Google Analytics
It’s no accident that Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics platform on the web. According to W3Techs, and cited by TechCrunch, GA has an overwhelming market share among web analytics platforms at 81.9%, and is used by more than 55% of the top 10,000 sites.
Beloved for its intuitive format and multi-dimensional reporting abilities, Google Analytics not only provides basic metrics like visits, time on site, bounce rates and conversions, it can also provide valuable insights for any web marketing manager looking to take their business’ online presence to the next level.
Below are three advanced tips that will help you unearth hidden optimization opportunities with Google Analytics. You’re well-versed in the importance of content to organic search. You’ve done keyword research, tracked your rankings, and obsessed over getting more visits from your top non-branded terms. But that’s only part of the equation.
When Google analytics doesn’t tell you the whole picture (and what you can do)
Briefly, Google Analytics uses sampling in much the same way a research company does – to make assumptions about your site based on a sample of activity. It only does this once the traffic on your site gets to a certain volume (around the million mark), or if you start changing the standard reports (creating segments, custom reports or secondary dimensions).
Mostly it does it for practical reasons: it takes an enormous amount of time and power to process high volumes of data, so analysing a sample that will still give you a true indication of what’s going on within your site is a good solution. The way Google Analytics samples works well for most sites. If you have a fairly straightforward site with a relatively small number of sources, and regular flow of traffic, then Google Analytics reports will give you a very accurate picture of your site’s performance. That’s probably enough for a smaller site.
For very big sites however, especially those that have a lot of rapidly rotating content and an elaborate traffic profile, the sampling methods that standard GA uses may not be adequate when you start to use segments, custom reports and secondary dimensions, and can start to throw up some inaccurate results.
Making Google Analytics Custom Reports Useful
Custom reports is an under-utilized feature of Google Analytics (GA) very often. It’s a shame, because custom reports can be a great resource for quick overviews and insights. I know, it requires some setup, and it can also lead to higher sample rates if you are mixing dimensions and metrics that aren’t normally supposed to mix in GA (like keywords and pageviews), but hear me out.
What Can I Do With Custom Reports?
What can’t you do?! Find yourself struggling to come up with long-tail keyword ideas every Thursday afternoon? Custom reports can help with that. Have a client that is constantly bothering you about a specific campaign’s performance? Custom reports can keep both you and your client happy. Desperate to boost conversion rates for a campaign but no idea which landing pages to focus on? You guessed it, custom reports.
Now that you know this, the world is your oyster! Select whatever combination of dimensions and metrics you deem fit. You can even add in filters so that your report is filtered to what you want by default, so you don’t have to apply filters or segments every time you open the report.
Google Rolls Out Authorship Analytics to Google+ Users
If you’re not familiar with Google Authorship, just do a Google search for “How to Hack Passwords“, and when you see my little avatar beside a listing you’ll know what Google Authorship is. It’s a great way for people to choose between the links they are viewing based on people they recognize rather than just the sort order of the links.
Well, Google is apparently rolling out new analytics to show us something having to do with how things are performing in search results. Here is an example of what my analytics are looking like from the first page of the report.
Presumably the results have appeared 4.5M times, and about 200k of them have resulted in click-throughs in the last 30 days. That’s interesting, if not yet useful. And I suppose it might be a higher click-through rate than others who are not known may be experiencing.
Analytics at Google: Great Example of Data-Driven Decision-Making
Google is a company in which fact-based decision-making is part of the DNA and where Googlers (that is what Google calls its employees) speak the language of data as part of their culture. In Google the aim is that all decisions are based on data, analytics and scientific experimentation.
Google is a multinational Internet and software corporation specialized in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies, based in Mountain View, California, USA. Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. And with this mission, Google is very serious about using information to inform their decisions.
Data to inform decision-making
In companies data should be collected to provide answers to the most important questions and unless you are clear about the questions you need to answer, data is pretty useless. (For more information on how to define these questions read my white paper on Key Performance Questions)
How To Use The New Google Analytics Cost Data Import Feature
Google Analytics has just released the newest weapon in their arsenal for online marketers. This new feature allows users to import cost data from any advertising platform directly into Google Analytics reports. With this data, users can quickly and easily determine ROI of marketing campaigns right in GA. We have been lucky enough to work with this feature on one of our clients, and the new insight this data provided was quite impressive.
The first step you need to do is create the data sources through the Google Analytics interface. Note that to create data sources, you will need to be an admin on the account. In the “Admin” console, you’ll now see a new tab for the web property called “Custom Definitions”. This new tab is where you’ll be able to create new cost sources.
To add a cost source, click on the “New Custom Data Source” button. This will bring up the wizard. Simply fill in the name, a brief description, select the profiles you want to apply this cost source to, and click “Save”. That’s it. Very simple.