All posts tagged Google Analytics
Being able to demonstrate a return on investment to higher-ups is becoming a priority these days, and Google addressed this with its new, user-friendly custom dashboards tool. This Analytics gem provides for even simpler customization features, including your choice of layouts and widgets. By personalizing your reports, you can access more meaningful data to share with others.
To enable this feature: Choose your account, choose the “Reporting” tab, and click on “Dashboards” in the left sidebar.
For those of you who have been frustrated in the past by not being able to see what changes were made to your account (or by who and or when), Google Analytics Change History will make you very happy. With Change History, you can view this important data complete with the date, user’s email, and type of activity. Sometimes, change is good.
To enable this feature: Click on “Admin” at the upper right, choose the breadcrumb for the account you want, and click on the “Change History” tab. Only users who can perform administrative tasks will be able to access this Google Analytics tool.
Enhanced Link Attribution
Ever wonder which of the links on your pages is performing the best, especially if the links point to the same page? Enter Enhanced Link Attribution, a brilliant addition to the Google Analytics set of tools, offering precise numbers for individual links as well as performance data. Now you can see which links are more valuable and use the information to improve your pages.
To enable this feature: Click on “Admin” at the upper right, choose “Property Settings”, and check the box for Enhanced Link Attribution.
Google Tag Manager
If you currently use Google AdWords, remarketing tags, and Google Analytics, then you know how many tags you deal with on a daily basis. If you also have a separate developer to handle the changes, it could be quite frustrating to wait on them to make all the separate account changes using your updated tags. Now, with Google Tag Manager, you can enter new tags and manage existing ones in the same interface. Then, just give the developer one piece of code to enter into your site. Best part is, it won’t slow down your load time.
To enable this feature: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2013/02/google-tag-manager-implementation.html
Google Tag Manager, Change History, Enhanced Link Attribution, and custom dashboards are some of the latest Google Analytics tools designed to give you better access to valuable information and help you better understand the data. Log in today and explore these new options to see which ones will help you pull away the veil of mystery.
In a recent article that focused on online retailers’ usage of Google Analytics, it was stated that a whopping 80 percent were using the analytics tool incorrectly. The study broke it down to reveal what these companies were doing wrong.
Of the 50 e-commerce sites surveyed:
- Only 50% tracked main conversion points
- 67% did not integrate social media tracking
- 73% inflated traffic in their reports
- 60% did not sync correctly with Google Adwords
That wasn’t all.
Other data from the study showed that a large percentage of e-commerce sites did not track micro conversions, such as those that come from newsletter sign ups or account registrations. Around 30 percent of the online retailers surveyed did not track site search keywords or had incorrect e-commerce tracking implementation.
Clearly, something is missing.
First of all, if you’re an online retailer, it’s important to understand how and why your buyers are coming to you. Are they being referred to your site because of that unbeatable offer you advertised on Facebook? Or are they finding you through your on-page SEO efforts? If you were to thoroughly analyze this data using Google Analytics, you would know exactly which marketing and advertising approaches were making you the most money. And you could capitalize on it.
Secondly, if you were spending the money to develop an e-commerce site, then wouldn’t you want to know what your return on investment looks like? It’s like paying the kid down the block to mow the grass but never actually going outside to see what kind of job he or she did. It just doesn’t make sense.
Thankfully, these retailers don’t have to go blindly through their online experience, and it’s never too late to do a little housekeeping. They just need to learn the language of Google Analytics, invest a little time in the basics, and then dedicate some of their resources to web services or seek out a certified Google Analytics consultant who can make a real impact.
In our previous post, we discussed the importance of micro conversions in setting and tracking the specific goals of your website. Google Analytics now allows you to experiment with different variations of your content to see how these are affecting both your micro and macro conversions.
Announced earlier this month, Google Analytics’ Content Experiments will now allow you to optimize for the goals you have already set up on your site’s account by delivering actionable data on which page designs, layouts, and content are most effective for driving conversions. It’s a similar tool to Google’s Website Optimizer, only instead of being integrated with AdWords, it’s built into Analytics. As a result, Website Optimizer will be phased out over the summer with the last day of access scheduled for August 1, 2012.
Some early critics of this offering have mentioned the inability to run multivariate testing (testing various combinations of components on a single page) within the tool, but this is actually a totally different type of testing. In theory, Content Experiments would be a more dynamic form of testing than standard A/B or multivariate. By combining a robust new statistical engine with an intuitive layout, it promises:
- A setup wizard providing step-by-step instructions for setting up experiments and quickly launching new tests
- Reuses existing GA tags so that you only need to add one additional tag to the original page
- Provides insight into which content performs best and identifies a “winner” once statistically significant data has been collected
By offering different variations of your site’s content, you’re essentially letting your audience decide how your site should look and function. Google is rolling this out gradually, so it won’t be available for all sites for at least a few more weeks. Once available, it is simple to set up:
- Under the Content section, click Experiments
- Add the URL for the original page, then the variations you’ve uploaded
- You can add up to five full variations of the page you’re testing (or six, according to their rollout video)
- Select which goal you’d like to improve, and what percentage of visitors to include in each page experiment
- Once the code is added to your site, you can review the full experiment and go live
Once live, it tracks how visitors convert and compares the experiments to the original page while in progress. During the testing phase you can also see the likelihood of the variations to outperform the original – giving you quicker, predictive data that you can act on without having to wait for a clear-cut “winner”.
It’s important for the Google Analytics novice to understand the distinction between macro and micro conversions, but it’s a simple one. Basically, macro conversions are the key objectives of your business model, and they vary company by company. A few examples:
- Selling products
- Generating leads
- Generating content/publishing
- Customer support
And while tracking these macro-conversions are one of the main reasons for using web analytics in the first place, typically only 2% to 4% of a site’s traffic ends up as a macro conversion. This doesn’t mean that the other 98% of traffic is worthless, in fact there is a lot of value and potential to be found within this group. There are many indicators of a future macro conversion all over your site, and they are called micro conversions.
Savvy web analytics users depend on micro conversions to tell a more complete story about what makes a site really hum. And by determining which visitor actions are leading to your site’s macro conversions, you’ll have the actionable data to optimize your site and fine tune it for your unique target audience. Not only that, through determining how well you’re engaging them, you’ll be able to build a stronger relationship with your visitors.
Micro conversions can be any number of things, and they are different for every unique site, but usually you want to look for actions that indicate some interest in your product/service or an interaction with the site’s main architecture. A few good examples of micro conversions for a typical website include:
- Adding products to the shopping cart
- Using live chat
- Playing games
- Watching video
- Subscribing to newsletters
- Sharing social media content
- Commenting on blogs
While these may not be generating immediate revenue for your business, they are strong indicators of a connection with your site. And it’s really that initial connection (after driving traffic to the site itself) that can lead to the macro conversions that your site is aiming for. In the next few posts, we’ll go over how to set up conversion tracking in much more detail.
When running a website, being able to figure out where your traffic is coming from and what it’s doing once it reaches your site is critical. Because of this glaring necessity, Google Analytics is arguably one of the best things that’s ever happened to webmasters, but it can also be an information overload to the uninitiated. Even those who have been using the tool for a long time often discover a new feature or a new way to take advantage of an existing one.
If you’re going to start using any version of web analytics, be it paid or free, learning the lingo is a good foundation to build upon. Once you learn some of the basics, the intuitiveness of many of these platforms, especially Google Analytics, will allow you to track and influence your site’s traffic and significantly increase its value.
Understanding some common terms in analytics is essential. For instance, “bounce rate” is a term that is thrown around frequently. The bounce rate is simply the ratio of people who visit your site and leave after seeing one page compared to the total number of visitors. “Unique visitors” is another term that is used often. This is a term that simply refers to individuals who come to your site for the first time. Also, learn your acronyms! Terms like CPA (cost per action), CPC (cost per click), and CTR (click through rate) are some of the most commonly referred to, and most important metrics within web analytics.
Identify Where Revenue Comes From
One of the nice things about using web analytics is that you can actually see exactly where your revenue is coming from by identifying which traffic sources produce the most sales or conversions. For instance, if people that get to your site from the search engines convert at a much higher rate than those who get there from advertising, you’ll know which visitors you want more of on your site. Additionally, you can create custom channels to segment the data even further. Find out which traffic sources are being used by people who have already been to your site, and which are being used by first time visitors.
Broaden Your View
Try to use a holistic approach to examining your website traffic. These means focusing on several key parameters in order to get a comprehensive idea of what is happening. Most people who use analytics focus on just one piece of data, like the overall number of visitors, or the keyword that is sending the most traffic, or with the highest conversion rate. These can only give you a skewed view of what’s happening. It’s just as important to focus on time on site and many other factors that aren’t always immediately obvious.
Use Calculated Metrics
When examining the traffic from your website, you need to use calculated metrics as much as possible. For example, using the ROI or return on investment metric will help you see exactly what you are getting out of the dollars that you’re investing in your site.
Another attractive feature of using analytics software is that it allows you to convert the data into graph mode. When you see things on a graph, they are much easier to visualize, especially historically. This allows you to figure out where trends are occurring and what is really happening on your site. Since numbers can only go so far to give you an idea of what is going on, using graph mode is the best way to get a bird’s eye view of what’s really happening on your site – the image at the top of the post being a great example of this.
In our ongoing effort to provide the highest standard of web analytics consulting, we’re introducing our new ongoing Google Analytics series today. We plan to cover both general strategies as well as more granular tactics that both web analytics novices and experts can glean helpful information from. To begin, we answer a simple question: what are the benefits of using web analytics?
Analytics is the difference between a good website and a great website. Without knowing where your traffic comes from or when and why it leaves, your website will not be able to become the successful website you want it to be. Google Analytics fulfills this essential need by creating a web analytics solution that can be used by both website owners and marketers to better understand their users’ experiences, optimize site content, and track marketing performance. In essence, Google Analytics is a lot like a football team’s video analysis personnel who monitor every play for exactly why it failed or succeeded. It’s not glamorous and it doesn’t come with a lot of thanks, but without it, any team is hard pressed to win.
Google Analytics is user friendly and intuitive to use, meaning anyone with a website can set up Google Analytics relatively easily and start tracking the traffic to their website in a short amount of time. The data is reliable, and for a free service, quite robust. Website owners can establish goals, track conversions, determine which keywords are driving people to their site, and with newer versions of Analytics, even determine what percentage of clicks certain buttons on a page drive. Once Google Analytics is installed it starts collecting all of this data and more about the website in order to help website owners make informed decisions that can help their websites succeed.
Regardless of your objectives for your website, it’s important that some sort of analytics tracking is established to monitor how your website is performing. Without analytics a website owners’ ability to grow their website into a successful, thriving business or community is almost impossible. Google Analytics is the best choice for any website owner looking to improve their website and have a myriad of tools at their disposal for little to no cost.
Keep coming back for more information about best practices for using Google Analytics, as we plan to cover many of its important aspects and how it can help your business in the posts to come.
The SEO industry has been crying foul since October over the controversial decision by Google to make Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) search the “default experience” for signed-in users. Why? Because SSL allows Google users to encrypt their search queries, and as a consequence, stops passing query data to analytics software – including Google Analytics. Once the switch was made, analytics users began to see “not provided” appearing in their data, indicating that the search had been encrypted and the keyword data was therefore not available.
Google’s reasoning, ostensibly, was to protect the privacy of its signed-in users. As they explain on their blog, “(Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that helps provide secure Internet communications for services like web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers.” Though this may be true, there are a few glaring holes in this move towards increased “privacy”:
- Google’s rapidly expanding suite of services and social media encourages users to stay logged-in, depriving webmasters the necessary data on their users to improve their content and engagement.
- Part of the reason they made the switch was to reduce the effectiveness of their competitor’s products. Google has accused Bing of using Google data to boost their own search algorithm on a few occasions, and they’re attempting to block as much of this data as possible from being seen by anyone but Google.
- Google is giving PPC advertisers exclusive access to query data while refusing to provide insights to site owners who want to grow and improve the traffic organically. So it seems that the privacy protection does not extend to you if you click on a paid ad.
- It appears to be another bold move toward boosting their expanding social network, Google+. They crave the “+1”s that users add while logged-in, so that they can recommend sites to the people in your circles. Since their main rival at the moment, Facebook, has had a few major headaches in the past over privacy issues, Google continues to position itself as the more private, secure network.
But what benefit, if any, does this provide the user? The general consensus is that it does not accomplish much of anything, other than making analytics users’ lives more difficult. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily a horrible thing; however, if the user’s privacy and online experience is in no way enhanced by these changes, then it seems like a questionable decision .
And bear in mind that HTTPS (what shows in the URL field) is not a catch-all solution for online security. While it is good for protecting login pages and forms that handle sensitive information, essentially forcing much of the web to use this protocol could be considerably expensive, while providing minimal benefits:
- HTTPS uses more bandwidth, requiring more power and more servers.
- Pages usually load more slowly – especially on mobile devices and congested networks.
- Offers no real security advantages for static HTML pages – you can still be spied-on while browsing.
- It can cost a few hundred dollars per annum, per domain to set up HTTPS. For a small business that may be a prohibitive expense.
Obviously, we have not been thrilled with the news here at RSO. Not allowing us to see where some of our clients’ organic traffic is coming from (and it remains to be seen what percentage of the data is being blocked) is not so much detrimental to us, but to our clients’ business. Tell us what you think.
Google Analytics is one of the most widely used web analytics tools available, perhaps more than any other tool. The ability to track visitor behavior allows you to determine what is working for you, and what isn’t. That said, many people who use the tool have found themselves wanting more. Google has responded to these needs, and has now added new real-time capabilities.
In the past, Google Analytics was used entirely to measure the behavior of site visitors in the past. This is great for getting an idea of what worked in the past, but it doesn’t allow you to respond to problems and behavior as it is emerging. Real-time tools are nothing new, but in the past they were only available on paid services. Google’s software is available for free, so this will change the way many site owners approach the web.
Those who are already familiar with Google Analytics and like the interface will be happy to see that the real time interface fits right in. It maintains the same color theme and has a similar menu system. Real time is located in a drop-down on the left side of the home page of the analytics interface.
Options available include overview, locations, traffic sources, and content. Most people will be content to use the “overview” option, which includes a summary of all the most relevant information about what is happening on your site right now. This includes information about how many visitors are currently on the site, the top keywords, the top locations, and the most popular content.
One of the most helpful things about getting real time information is the fact that you can determine what time of day your site is busiest. This lets you make changes regarding when to submit new posts. It also allows you to determine what content is most popular during which times.
Real time is also very useful for visitors who are bringing traffic to their site through social media. By monitoring when a social media channel stops bringing in traffic, you will know when to post a new tweet or another announcement of Facebook, for example.
Perhaps the biggest complaint that most people have about the real time feature is the fact that it is “too” real time. In other words, it only tells you what is happening on the site right now. The standard analytics tool still offers information about daily traffic, but there is a gap between standard analytics and real time analytics. You can obtain information about the past several days, weeks, or months, and you can obtain information about what is happening right now, but you can’t obtain information about the past ten minutes or hours.
This means that in order to determine what times of day are most popular, you need to actually be in your analytics account watching what is happening. Taking full advantage of real time requires constant monitoring, which can be a little excessive.
All in all, the real time analytics update is a very helpful tool to take advantage of. It will be most useful for sites that need to change and adapt to the behavior of their visitors as it is happening. This means that blogs and news sites will benefit the most. Sites that want to make sure they are properly capitalizing on current events will be able to benefit from this tool more than anybody else.
More serious sites will need history of traffic throughout the day, rather than just what is happening right now. While they will not be able to rely on Google Analytics exclusively, they will be able to use it as a comparison in order to make sure that their other tracking software is working properly.
Google just announced last week that they are introducing a Google Analytics Premium Service geared towards their largest customers, some of the new additions announced in their Sept, 29th posting:
- Extra processing power – increased data collection, more custom variables and downloadable, unsampled reports
- Advanced analysis – attribution modeling tools that allow you to test different models for assigning credit to conversions
- Service and support – experts to guide customized installation, and dedicated account management on call – all backed by 24/7 support
- Guarantees – service level agreements for data collection, processing and reporting
GA Premium was developed in close coordination with the same large clients that it is intended for. During the extended pilot phase, Gucci, Travelocity, TransUnion, eHarmony and others. During this period, the Premium service was tailored to their needs and addressed their issues with the original Analytics.
So for a yearly fee, Google will provide a stronger server to run custom reports, a dedicated account manager, and a 24/7 support and service level agreement (SLA). What’s missing from the announcement? The price tag. Various sources have reported that it will be in the neighborhood of $150,000 per year. It may seem like a hefty price, but by comparison, paying over $100K a year for Adobe’s Omniture SiteCatalyst platform is not unheard of, and considering the size of most of these companies, $150k is a drop in the bucket.
Besides the price, this announcement begs two other important questions. The first is whether or not it’s worth the price. If you are already using a paid service and paying per pageviews or hits, GA Premium offers a higher level accuracy and can handle around 1 billion hits per month. It also allows you to switch back to the regular Analytics if you lose your web analytics budget, all without losing any data or having to switch tags again. Also, the premium version allows you to turn off data sampling at higher volumes, powering the collection and processing of this information at higher data limits (1 billion hits a month). The expectation, according to some analysts, is that reports should load faster and data will be fresher, even at these larger volumes. And lastly, you can now get 50 custom variables for advanced audience segmentation (it is currently 5), allowing for a more in-depth analysis and more accurate audience targeting.
The second question, understandably, is whether Google is now going to neglect the free version of Analytics. According to Google, this won’t be the case, and so far they have delivered on that promise by delivering a slew of powerful new updates over the past 3 months, and releasing Google Analytics v5 recently. This news is really just an indicator that Google is now targeting the enterprise level by addressing customer concerns over the limitations of their free service, and offering it at a comparable price to other web analytics services.