Advanced web metrics with google analytics 2nd edition
Praise for Advanced Web Metrics withGoogle Analytics, Second EditionWeb analytics has become an essential part of every online marketer’s toolkit. But youcan’t just rely on the flood of data alone—you need to interpret it, and in many cases,fine-tune reports to accurately reflect your own goals and objectives. The second edi-tion of Brian Clifton’s Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics is a comprehen-sive roadmap to helping you get the most from your metrics—an indispensable guideto helping you take your online marketing campaigns to the next level. —Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine LandThe field of web analytics has evolved very quickly both in terms of the tools as wellas best practices. Fortunately, Brian Clifton has done the hard work for us in updatinghis excellent first book so this second one is the must-read for anyone looking to getthe most value out of Google Analytics and web analytics more broadly. —Ashley Friedlein, CEO, EconsultancyAdvanced Web Metrics is a unique book that combines high-level management adviceand nitty-gritty detail in an easy to understand and, above all, useful way. It’s greatfor web managers, analytics specialists, and marketers alike. — an Drury, Director, Bowen Craggs Co., and Author of the Financial D Times Index of Corporate Website EffectivenessIf you’re looking for a practical, tactical guide in how to implement and think aboutweb marketing optimization, look no further. Brian Clifton spells it out by industry,by job function, by Key Performance Indicator, and more. Brian has been studying and consulting on web optimization since the inception ofonline marketing. He provides an in-the-trenches look at making the most of a free butpowerful tool that every web owner should get to know. This is the hands-on guide towhat you need to know that answers questions like: So what do I do with all this web data? How do I use all these reports? How do I measure the impact of promotion codes and discounted pricing? How can I make sure I’m going to earn my bonus? —Jim Sterne, Founding Director and Chairman of the Web Analytics AssociationIn a time when companies are aggressively trying to do more with less, Brian deliversan arsenal of real-world examples and techniques for wringing more opportunitiesfrom our website and marketing campaigns. Guarantee your future employment—buy,read, and implement all of the techniques of this outstanding book. —Bill Hunt, Coauthor, Search Engine Marketing Inc.
If you are in search of an excellent, in-depth guide to traffic conversion, look no fur-ther. Brian explains how to make informed decisions based on how visitors interactwith your content. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is serious aboutimproving their bottom line through data-driven decisions rather than guess work. —Hessam Lavi, Former Search Quality Team Lead, GoogleBrian worked for Google, and there are few people I know who know more aboutGoogle Analytics (GA). His book is typically thorough and has many great examples ofhow to get the best out of the tool. What I liked most, however, was the fact that a lotof the principles and practical ideas could be applied to any analytics tool, not just GA. The biggest challenge with analytics is that there is a fundamental lack of process toget people involved and interested in how analytics can help them achieve their busi-ness goals. Brian addresses this with a simple KPI process that could be implementedin any business. In short, good stuff! — teve Jackson, Director of Business Insights at Kwantic, and Author of Cult S of AnalyticsBrian is one of the most knowledgeable people in the field of web analytics. He haspoured his years of experience working with various clients into this book. It providesyou with everything you need to know about Google Analytics and is an invaluableresource for all those who want to drive actionable insights from web analytics data. —Anil Batra, Vice President of Search Analytics, POPBrian shares his great experience of web analytics in a book that offers clear configu-ration steps to leverage Google Analytics to the max while providing supportive infor-mation to convey the concepts. The combination of hands-on examples and learningscenarios offers the best of both world. It’s a must-read to get beyond basic metricsand achieve online optimization. — tephan hamel, CEO and Lead Consultant, immeria.net, and Director, Web S Analytics AssociationThis book has it all! It explains what a marketer needs to understand and guide aninternal analytics team (or implement it themselves), and it advances you beyond justcollecting data by showing real-world examples of analysis and its application. Usethe book as your guide to improving your results and business. You can’t lose! — ara Anderrson, CEO and Senior Strategist, Search Integration AB, and S Chairperson, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), ScandinaviaBrian highlights which are the most important things to get right in setup and how toexploit the most important, yet underused, Google Analytics features like goals, fun-nels, advanced segmentation, and event tracking. — r. Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Author and Strategy Consultant at D Marketing Insights Limited
AdvancedWeb Metrics withGoogle Analytics ™Second Edition Brian Clifton
Dear Reader, Thank you for choosing Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics. This book is part of afamily of premium-quality Sybex books, all of which are written by outstanding authors who combinepractical experience with a gift for teaching. Sybex was founded in 1976. More than 30 years later, we’re still committed to producing consis-tently exceptional books. With each of our titles, we’re working hard to set a new standard for the indus-try. From the paper we print on, to the authors we work with, our goal is to bring you the best booksavailable. I hope you see all that reflected in these pages. I’d be very interested to hear your comments andget your feedback on how we’re doing. Feel free to let me know what you think about this or any otherSybex book by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you think you’ve found a technical error inthis book, please visit http://sybex.custhelp.com. Customer feedback is critical to our efforts at Sybex. Best regards, Neil Edde Vice President and Publisher Sybex, an imprint of Wiley
“ dvanced web metrics is about doing the basics very well and A a pplying it in a clever way” —Sara Andersson, CEO, Search Integration AB
AcknowledgmentsAs for the first book, writing this second edition has been both very rewarding andvery hard work. The second edition started off as a list of straightforward updates,yet turned out to be a complete rewrite of content—such is my obsession with pro-ducing what I hope is a worthy book. I have never considered myself a natural writer. Endlessly agonizing over everysentence, I would yearn for perfection, or at the very least adequacy. The first book,written while working twelve hours a day at Google, took me eighteen months tofinish (mainly written on trains and planes or in various hotel rooms across Europeor in the US). This time I got myself organized and even more obsessive (if that werepossible) and completed the second edition in six months. The relief of my much-supportive partner, Sara, friends, and family is almost palpable. Yet the process of writing remains enjoyable. In fact, I am already looking for-ward to my next writing project, though I am undecided as to what that should be!However, I am not a one-man band, and many people have happily contributed theirtime to make this book even better than the first. First, special thanks go to Alex Ortiz-Rosado, Nick Michailovski, and TomasRemotigue, all of Google, who have significantly contributed to my knowledge andunderstanding of the internal workings of Google Analytics over the years. All workedlate and on their own time to sanity-check and expand on the technical aspects ofthis book. Alex is my much-appreciated technical editor. His eagle eye for detail andpatience at explaining some of the more complex intricacies of Google Analytics haveenabled me to write a much more comprehensive book. Significant feedback, help, and brainstorming were also freely provided byShelby Thayer, a web analytics practitioner, enthusiast, advocate, and all-round niceperson working for Penn State University. Shelby kindly proofread and commentedon every page of this book, ensuring content relevance and continuity. Thanks also go to Leonardo Naressi and Eduardo Cereto of DirectPerformance for their expertise and advice with Flash event tracking; Ophir Prusakof POP, who provided detailed explanations and workarounds when integratingGoogle Analytics with Website Optimizer; Dan Drury and Abdurashid Atahanov ofBowen Craggs Co. Limited for their input on effective KPI strategies within largecorporations; Neal McGann and Andre Wei of VKI Studios for sharing their experi-ence of Website Optimizer; Jeremy Aube of ROI Revolution for his continuous sup-port of the GAAC community; Sara Andersson for her generous advice and strategicthinking regarding integrating offline and online marketing and for sharing her ideason search marketing, social media engagement, and life in general; Avinash Kaushikfor reviewing this book and for honoring me by writing the foreword; Mikael
Thuneberg, Nikki Rae (Fresh Egg Ltd.), Eran Savir (Kampyle), Ravi Pathak (Tatvic),and Eyal Eldar (easynet (seperia) Ltd.) for providing case study content to includewith Chapter 12; and all members of the Google Analytics Authorized Consultants(GAAC) network for their stimulating discussions, experiences, and thoughts whenimplementing Google Analytics for their clients. Last but not least, many thanks to the Wiley publishing team: Willem Knibbe,whose enthusiasm for this topic meant that I was always going to produce a secondedition of this book; Tom Cirtin, who kept the structure and cohesion going in astraight line throughout; Dassi Zeidel, Linda Recktenwald, and Jen Larsen, and themany other people at Wiley who work tirelessly in the background to help create andpolish what I hope you will consider is an enjoyable and informative read. Ultimatelythis was my mission, for what potentially can be a very dry subject. That’s quite a long list, with people from all over the world (at least sevencountries) helping to shape, expand, and improve the content provided. I hope I haveremembered everyone.
About the Author Brian Clifton, PhD, is an internationally recognized Google Analytics expert who consults on website performance optimization for global clients. Coming from a web development and search engine optimization (SEO) background, he has worked in these fields since 1997. His business was the first U.K. partner for Urchin Software Inc., the company that later became Google Analytics. In 2005, Brian was the first person with web measurement experience to join Google Europe. As former Head of Web Analytics for Google Europe, Middle East, and Africa, he defined the strategy for adoption and built a team of pan-European product specialists. He is now CEO and Senior Strategist for Omega Digital Media. Brian received a BSc in chemistry from the University of Bristol in 1991 and a PhD inphysical and theoretical chemistry in 1996. Further work as a postdoctoral researcher culmi-nated in publishing several scientific papers in journals, including Molecular Physics, Colloidsand Surfaces, and Langmuir. During that time, he was also an international weightlifter, repre-senting Great Britain at world and European championships. Studying science at university during the early nineties meant witnessing the incrediblebeginnings of the Web. In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist working at the CERN laboratory inSwitzerland, launched the first web browser and web server to the academic community, therebysowing the first seeds of the World Wide Web. Although the communication potential of the Web was immediately clear to Brian, it tooka little while for ideas to formulate around business opportunities. In 1997 he left academia tofound Omega Digital Media, a U.K. company specializing in the provision of professional ser-vices to organizations wishing to utilize the new digital medium. Since leaving the field of chemical research (and weightlifting), Brian has continued towrite—either on his blog, Measuring Success (www.advanced-web-metrics.com/blog), as a guestwriter on industry forums, or via whitepapers. Brian holds the title of associate instructor at the University of British Columbia for hiscontribution to teaching modules in support of the Award of Achievement in Web Analytics. Youcan also hear him speak at numerous conferences around the word, where he discusses data-driven online strategies and site optimization. Brian was born in Manchester, United Kingdom,and now lives in Sweden.
Contents Foreword xix Introduction xxi Part I Measuring Success 1 Chapter 1 Why Understanding Your Web Traffic Is Important to Your Business 3 Website Measurement—Why Do This? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Information Web Analytics Can Provide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Where to Start . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Decisions Web Analytics Can Help You Make . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The ROI of Web Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 How Much Should I Invest in This? 12 How Web Analytics Helps You Understand Your Web Traffic . . . . . . 13 Where Web Analytics Fits In . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Where to Get Help . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Resources Provided by Google (Free) 15 Non-Google Resources (Free) 16 Official Google Analytics Authorized Consultants (Paid) 16 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Chapter 2 Available Methodologies and Their Accuracy 19 Page Tags and Logfiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Cookies in Web Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Understanding Web Analytics Data Accuracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Issues Affecting Visitor Data Accuracy for Logfiles 24 Issues Affecting Visitor Data from Page Tags 25 Issues Affecting Visitor Data When Using Cookies 28 Comparing Data from Different Vendors 31 Why PPC Vendor Numbers Do Not Match Web Analytics Reports 37 Data Misinterpretation: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics 39 Improving the Accuracy of Web Analytics Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Privacy Considerations for the Web Analytics Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Chapter 3 Google Analytics Features, Benefits, and Limitations 45 Key Features and Capabilities of Google Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Standard Features 46 Advanced Features 51
ForewordLet’s get one thing out of the way first. This is an excellent book. If you are standing in a bookstore scanning this Foreword, rush to the checkout counterand buy it right away. You are not going to regret it. I promise. If you have already purchased this book and are just starting to read it, then let meassure you that you are in for a delightful treat. How often do you hear that about a book aboutnumbers? I am thrilled that Brian has updated Advanced Web Metrics. That’s because the core rea-son I personally love the Web, and I do looove the Web, is that it is in a constant state of evolu-tion. It stands to reason then that key web analytics solutions like Google Analytics also evolve. In just the last year Google Analytics has released really wonderful features likeIntelligence (which applies control limits, statistical algorithms, forecasting, and sensitivityanalysis to help identify key insights), Custom Variables (now you can collect metadata aboutyour site and visitors in a way that was impossible before), an open API (now the sky’s the limitwhen it comes to you being able to analyze, interpret, and display your data in unique ways), andso much more. Notice that I am not even mentioning my beloved analytical technique, AdvancedSegmentation! Especially because you have so much power at your disposal, Brian’s book is key to yoursuccess. Five years ago, when working at Intuit, I postulated the 10/90 rule. It states, simply, thatfor every $100 you have to invest in making intelligent decisions on the Web, you should invest$10 in technology and $90 in people. On reflection, that rule is even more true today. You canuse a portfolio of free tools for web analytics, surveys, competitive intelligence analysis, andpretty much anything else you want to do. What these tools don’t come with is the expertise andskills required to use them to the fullest potential that they all promise. That is where Brian comes in. Brian has spent a lifetime in the field of web analytics (okay, okay, lifetime as thought ofin Internet years!). He has deep expertise by being a practitioner. He has worked at Google andhelped influence Google Analytics while he was working with some of the largest companies inthe world to help them measure what they thought was impossible to measure. In the last coupleof years, through his consulting practice, he has made that last quest his full-time job. I cannot think of anyone better to gently walk us down the path of morphing fromReporting Squirrels to Analysis Ninjas. Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics starts atan easy clip, explaining the basics, getting you acquainted with the new world of data. It thensteps up slowly but steadily to a crescendo, where you are truly dancing with the data. I have had the privilege of writing two web analytics books, and I learned so much aboutGoogle Analytics by reading Brian’s book. I am confident you are in for a similar experience.
Let me close with this thought: Getting access to data in our world is easy. Taking that data and revolutionizing how your business makes decisions, makes money, and makes your cus- tomers happy are not easy. This book will make that not-easy journey easier. Good luck! Avinash Kaushik Author, Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day Analytics evangelist, Googlexxfor e wor d ■
IntroductionAlthough the birth of Web took place in August 1991, it did not becomecommercial until around 1995. In those early days, it was kind of fun to havea spinning logo, a few pictures, and your contact details as the basis of youronline presence. My first website was just that—no more than my curriculumvitae online at the University of Bristol. Then companies decided to copy (orworse, scan) their paper catalogs and brochures and simply dump these ontheir websites. This was a step forward in providing more content, but theuser experience was poor to say the least, and no one was really measuring xxiconversions. The most anyone kept track of was hits, which nobody ever ■ Ireally understood, though they were assumed (incorrectly) to be visits. Around the year 2000, fueled by the dot-com boom, people suddenly seemed to realizethe potential of the Web as a useful medium to find information; the number of visitors using it ntroductiongrew rapidly. Organizations started to think about fundamental questions such as “What is thepurpose of having a website?” and considered how to build relevant content for their online pres-ence. With that, user experience improved. Then, when widespread broadband adoption began,those organizations wanted to attract the huge audience that was now online, hence the reasonfor the rapid growth in search-engine marketing that followed. Now, with businesses accepting the growing importance of their online presence, they areprepared to invest. But how much money and resources should an organization put into this? Forexample, should the site cater to ten languages, accept five currencies, and run in four browsertypes from visitors with six different operating systems, including mobile? How should the sitebe marketed, which channels are most effective, and can we predict the return on investment forthe next campaign? Answering such questions requires data and hence a measurement tool. Put simply, this iswhat web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, allow you to do—study the online experi-ence, in order to improve it. But what can be measured, how accurate is this, and how can a business be benchmarked?In other words, how do you measure success? Using best-practice principles I have gained as aprofessional practitioner, this book uses real-world examples that clearly demonstrate how tomanage Google Analytics. These include not only installation and configuration guides but alsohow to turn data into information that enables you to understand your website visitor’s experi-ence. With this understanding, you can then build business action items to drive improvements
Chapter 5: Reports Explained reviews in detail the top reports you need to understand. Chapter 6: Getting Up and Running with Google Analytics gets you quickly up and run- ning with the basic install. Chapter 7: Advanced Implementation takes you beyond the basics to give you a more com- plete picture of your website’s activity. Chapter 8: Best-Practices Configuration Guide provides you with the knowledge to define success metrics (KPIs) and segment your data. Chapter 9: Google Analytics Hacks gives you some lateral thinking for adding extra func- tionality to Google Analytics. Chapter 10: Focusing on Key Performance Indicators is about how you focus on the met- rics most important to you—KPIs and the process required to build them. Chapter 11: Real-World Tasks jump-starts your analytical skills by showing you how to identify and optimize poorly performing pages, site search, and online and offline market-xxiv ing. Website Optimizer is introduced as a method for testing a hypothesis. i n t roduc t ion ■ Chapter 12: Integrating Google Analytics with Third-Party Applications shows you how to integrate data either by capturing cookies or using the new Google Analytics export API. Appendix A: Regular Expression Overview gives you an introduction to understanding regular expressions. Appendix B: Useful Tools describes some useful tools for helping you implement and use Google Analytics. Appendix C: Recommended Further Reading gathers together books, blogs, and other web resources that can help you. GA IQ Coupon Democratizing web analytics data was a big part of the initial adoption strategy of Google Analytics. In 2007, while I was at Google, we really wanted to see such useful data being shared between sales, marketing, PR, senior management—anyone who had an interest in improving the company’s website. However, providing such large-scale access to data presented another problem: People didn’t know how to interpret the data or what to do next. There was a serious dearth in web analytics education available to help people. I knew I could assist by writing this book, and another ambition was to establish an online learning center for Google Analytics. It was therefore a logical step to produce an online version of our tiered internal train- ing system so that any person, not just Googlers, could work through the online tutorials and then take the exam to demonstrate to their peers and potential employers their analytical and p roduct-specific skills.
We started building the www.conversionuniversity.com online learning center in late 2007and introduced the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GA IQ) in November 2008. Itwas a huge achievement for the team and one that I am immensely proud of. While there is nothing like a classroom workshop for a great learning environment—younot only learn the necessary skills but you also gain from the expertise of the trainer (as well ashave time to pick their brains directly over a coffee!)—that’s not always possible. Fortunately,this book, conversionuniversity.com, and the GA IQ help users learn Google Analytics and thenhave tangible proof of their proficiency. If you haven’t taken the test, I encourage you to do sosoon after reading this book. Use the coupon code on the last page to get 50 percent off the testwhile supplies last.How to Contact the AuthorI welcome feedback from you about this book or about anything related to website measurementand optimization. You can reach me via any of the following means:• Website: www.advanced-web-metrics.com xxv ■ I• LinkedIn interactive group for readers of this book: http://www.linkedin.com/ groupInvitation?groupID=66386• Twitter: http://twitter.com/brianclifton• LinkedIn profile: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/brianclifton ntroduction• Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/brianjclifton Sybex strives to keep you supplied with the latest tools and information you need foryour work. Please check their website at www.sybex.com, where we’ll post additional content andupdates that supplement this book if the need arises. Enter advanced web metrics in the Searchbox (or type the book’s ISBN—9780470562314), and click Go to get to the book’s update page.
Measuring Success Lord Kelvin is often quoted as the reason why metrics are so important: “If you cannot mea- sure it, you cannot improve it.” That statement is ultimately the purpose of web analytics. ByI enabling you to identify what works and what doesn’t from a visitor’s point of view, web ana- lytics is the foundation for running a successful website. Even if you get those decisions wrong, web analytics provides the feedback mechanism that enables you to identify mistakes quickly. In Part I, you will learn the following: Chapter 1 Why Understanding Your Web Traffic Is Important to Your Business Chapter 2 What Methodologies Are Available Chapter 3 Where Google Analytics Fits
Why Understanding Your Web Traffic Is Important to Your Business Web analytics is a thermometer for your website— constantly checking and monitoring your online 3 ■ W h y U n d e r s ta n d i n g Yo u r W e b T r a f f i c I s I m p o rta n t t o Yo u r health. As a methodology, it is the study of online experience in order to improve it; without it, you are flying blind. How else would you determine1 whether your search engine marketing is effective at capturing your maximum potential audience or whether negative blog comments are hindering conversions? Is the user experience a good one, encouraging engagement and return visits, or are visitors bouncing off your website after viewing only a single page? In Chapter 1, you will learn: The kinds of information you can obtain from analyzing traffic on your site Bu s i n e s s The kinds of decisions that web analytics can help you make The ROI of web analytics How web analytics helps you understand your web traffic Where web analytics fits into your organization
Website Measurement—Why Do This? It’s an obvious question and one that has an obvious answer —as provided by the 19th- century scientist Lord Kelvin, in my opening paragraph of Part I. But this question still comes up at initial meetings within an organization where website performance is being discussed. The idea of applying a measurement tool to assess a website’s effec- tiveness is an easy sell—every business owner/executive understands the importance of measurement, but “why do we need another measurement tool in our business?” The most common fear is data overload—collecting more information just because you can inevitably leads to more confusion, not clarity. This is particularly the case when your website is operating as a silo, that is, not integrated with the rest of your business—a common problem if yours is a nontransactional website. Therefore, an important early step when deciding on a website measurement strategy is to define the value that web measurement can bring to your business. You can achieve this whether yours is a transactional site or not (see “Monetizing a Non-E-Commerce 4 Website,” in Chapter 11, “Real-World Tasks”), though here I illustrate value using U n d e r s ta n d i n g Yo u r W e b T r a f f i c I s I m p o rta n t t o Yo u r Bu s i n e s s ■ transactional examples because these are easier to grasp in the first instance. Figure 1.1 shows the improvement a travel website gained by optimizing their online booking process—that is, the steps a visitor takes in order to book a chosen vacation. (In Google Analytics terminology, the booking process steps are referred to as a funnel—directly analogous to any sales funnel in your organization.) 2.00 1.50 Client Makes Funnel Changes % Bookings 1.00 Data Review 4× increase 0.50 0.00 1 10 19 Week1: W h y Figure 1.1 Conversion rate change of a travel website before and after improvements. Line of best fit for guidance only. chapter
As you can see, the changes to the booking process took several weeks to imple-ment (the client was not confident enough to take on board all the recommendations atonce!), but the cumulative impact was dramatic—a 383 percent increase in their book-ing conversion rate. Put in monetary terms, this equated to an annualized increase inrevenue of $7.5 million. The second example of the value of web measurement is shown in Figure 1.2.In this case, a measurement tool was able to quickly identify problems following thelaunch of a new site redesign. Essentially, server redirects were incorrectly assigned inthe new site, which resulted in a 48 percent loss of search engine traffic and a 21 per-cent loss in sales revenue. Following the identification of the problem, the client’s visi-tor and revenue numbers were back to previous levels within four weeks. New Site Launched Search Engines Visits Graph by: 590,000 90,000 ■ W e b s i t e M e a s u r e m e n t— W h y D o T h i s ? –48%45,000 45,000 Apr 1, 2009 – Apr 4, 20 Apr 12, 2009 – Apr 18, Apr 26, 2009 – May 2, May 10, 2009 – May 16, May 24, 2009 – May 30,Figure 1.2 The loss of search engine traffic following the launch of a new design If your website is an important part of your business strategy, then website mea-surement is also important to that strategy. The magnitudes of each are strongly corre-lated—that is, the more valuable your website is to you, the greater the significance ofyour web measurement tools. Such tools can be used to identify growth opportunities,measure efficiency improvements, and highlight things when they go wrong. Glossary of Terms At this stage it would be useful for you to be familiar with some of the terminology used in Google Analytics. The following is a short summary. For a more complete list, see http:// www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/topic.py?topic=11285. Bounced visitor A visitor who views only a single page on your website and has no further actions. This is generally considered a bad experience. Campaign The name of a paid campaign, for example, “book sales” (for a paid search cam- paign), “spring sale” (for a banner campaign), “January newsletter” (for an email shot). Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) This snippet of code must be added to every page on your website to enable Google Analytics to collect and report on visit data. Also more generally referred to as the “page tag.” Continues
Glossary of Terms (Continued) Goal conversion O ften abbreviated to just “goal” or “conversion,” this is a desired action on your website that is defined as being more valuable than a standard pageview. For example, a “purchase confirmation” page (visitor becomes a customer), a “thank you for registering” page (visitor becomes a prospect), a download page, or an online presentation (visitor becomes engaged). Funnel A well-defined process (most usually pages) leading to a conversion goal, for example, a check-out system. Landing page The first page visitors arrive on when they visit your website. Also known as the “entrance page.” Medium In the context of campaign tracking, medium indicates the means by which a visi- tor to your site received the link to you, for example, “organic” and “cost-per-click” for search 6 engine links, “email” and “PDF” in the case of newsletters, “referral” for sites that link to you, and U n d e r s ta n d i n g Yo u r W e b T r a f f i c I s I m p o rta n t t o Yo u r Bu s i n e s s ■ “direct” for a visitor who types your web address directly into their browser. Referrer The URL of an HTML page that refers visitors to a site, that is, the external page visitors click on to bring them to your website. Return on investment (ROI) Calculated as (revenue - cost) / cost and displayed as a percentage. Session Also referred to as a “visit” or “visitor session,” this is the period of interaction a visitor has with your website. A session ends when a visitor either closes their browser or 30 minutes has elapsed without activity. The session timeout value can be adjusted (see Chapter 7, “Advanced Implementation”), though 30 minutes is the unwritten industry standard. Site search A website’s internal site search facility (internal search engine), mostly used on sites with large volumes of content in order to improve the user experience, that is, find information faster. Source In the context of campaign tracking, the source is the origin of a referral, for example, google.com, yahoo.co.uk, the name of a newsletter, or the name of a referring website. URL (Uniform Resource Locator) A means of identifying an exact location on the Internet. It is how Google Analytics tracks and reports on pageview activity for your website, for example, http://www.mysite.com/products/widget1.php. URLs typically have four parts: protocol type (HTTP), host domain name (http://www.mysite.com), directory path (/products/), and filename (widget1.php).1: W h y chapter
Information Web Analytics Can ProvideIn order to do business effectively on the Web, you need to continually refine and opti-mize your online marketing strategy, site navigation, and page content (as well as howyour offline marketing, press releases, and communications interact with your website).A low-performing website will starve your return on investment (ROI) and can damageyour brand. But you need to understand what is performing poorly—the targeting ofyour marketing campaigns, poor reviews of your products/services on the Web, or yourwebsite’s ability to convert once a visitor arrives. Web analytics provides the tools forgathering this information and enables you to benchmark the effects. Note that I have been deliberately using the word tools in its plural form. This isbecause the term web analytics covers many areas that require different methodologiesor data-collection techniques. For example, offsite tools are used to measure the sizeof your potential audience (opportunity), your share of voice (visibility), and the buzz(comments/sentiment) that is happening on the Internet as a whole. These are relevantmetrics regardless of your website’s existence. Conversely, onsite tools measure the 7 ■ I n f o r m at i o n W e b A n a ly t i c s C a n P rov i d evisitor’s onsite journey, its drivers, and your website’s performance. These are directlyrelated to your website’s existence. Figure 1.3 schematically illustrates how onsite and offsite web analytics tools fittogether. From a vendor perspective, the separation of methodologies is not as mutu-ally exclusive as Figure 1.3 suggests. For example, Hitwise, comScore, and Nielsen//NetRatings also have onsite measurement tools, while Google, Yahoo, and Microsofthave the ability to provide offsite search query data to complement their onsite tools—see,for example, Microsoft Adlab resources (http://adlab.microsoft.com/AdLab-Resources.aspx) and Google Insights (http://www.google.com/insights/search/). Offsite Metrics Onsite Metrics HTML Internet (potential audience, share of voice, buzz, etc.) Website/Server (visitor data, server data)Figure 1.3 Onsite versus offsite web analytics