Pat Grady, owner of RhinoFish Media (http://www.affiliatesummit.com/pat-grady/) provided a great session on Google Analytics for beginners, during the Affiliate Summit Orlando Meetup on Tuesday, 10/30/12. Here are his slides.
Affiliate Summit Orlando Meetup Group: Google Analytics for Beginners
Google Analytics -- BasicsAffiliate Summit Meetup - Orlando Pat Grady RhinoFish Media
Outline:This session is a general introduction to the basic areas and functioning of GoogleAnalytics, followed by Q&A. By demystifying the fundamentals, well set the stagefor future exploration of this complex and powerful analysis platform.• Tracking Code Basics• Tagging URLs• Traffic Sources and Reporting Basics• Events and Goals Basics• Content Experiments Basics
What is Google Analytics?• Google Analytics (GA) is a platform that collects and organizes website visitor data.• How visitor information is collected depends on proper setup and URL tagging.• GA is structured by Account, then Profiles – but further granularity is available via filters, segmenting, groupings and more.• By analyzing data, users gain insights into where site traffic came from, and what visitors do once they arrive.
Google Analytics Is Complex• GA is a modular analysis platform with hundreds of features, most beyond this evening’s scope.• The advanced features depend on every analyst having a thorough understanding of basic data collection and reporting.• GA is constantly changing as our industry grows, features are being added and enhanced at a remarkable pace – new features for mobile, social, apps and real-time analysis, new segmentation tools and new reporting tools.• But there’s good news - there are very few “gurus” who understand every aspect of GA, cementing the basics will put you ahead of the majority of Analytics users.
Tracking Code Basics• To identify incoming and existing traffic, a simple script is added to every page of your website.• Most content platforms have a module where you enter the script or your GA profile number, and your traffic tracking code is then automatically inserted onto every page.• The question is, what does this code do?
What Does The Tracking Code Do?1. Determine where a visitor came from (cell phone analogy)2. Collects information about the visitor’s browser and device, their clicks, pages visited, actions completed, and more.These two sets of information, source and visitdata, are then compiled into an endless variety ofreports that can be analyzed.
Cell Phone AnalogyLet’s write a procedure for identifying an incoming phone call… seems trivial,but it’s exactly analogous to how GA identifies the incoming traffic source. 1) Caller ID – receiver’s phone automatically identifies who’s calling, based on the known phone number of the caller. 2) Caller ID Override – the caller specifically tells the receiver who they are, and the earlier automatic Caller ID is ignored.
GA Script Identifies Traffic Source1a) Referrer Header (Caller ID) – The referring site passedalong a referrer header, GA uses the referring domain as thetraffic source (ex: google.com).1b) GA knows every search engine (ex: aol.com) and classifiesthese known search referrer domains, as organic traffic.1c) If the referrer is not a search engine, it’s classified as“referred” traffic, from that domain.2) Referrer Header Override (Caller ID Override) – If theincoming URL contains tagged URL source data, GA thenignores the referrer information, and classifies the source astagged.
How To Tag URLs for GA• Example of Tagged URL: o http://www.urchin.com/download.html?utm_sou rce=newsletter4&utm_medium=email&utm_cam paign=20121028• Tool to Tag URLs: o Google ‘how to tag URLs for Google Analytics’ o URL Builder
What Traffic Needs Tagging?• If the referrer header won’t properly identify the traffic source, TAG IT!• Thumb rule is… Tag all paid traffic and email. These are the most common sources of traffic where the Caller ID will get it wrong, so tag these incoming URLs to override the referrer info.• Email links aren’t on a webpage. Paid ads are on a variety of mixed ad servers. The referrer detection technique will not work in these cases.• If there are no URL tags AND the referrer header is not available, GA has no clue what the traffic source is, so it is reported as: Source = (direct). Medium = (none). Keyword = (not provided). Often referred to as “not set” by webmasters.• Some search engines, for privacy reasons, block referrer information (including keyword data) when users are securely (https) logged in.• Examples of common “not set” traffic: Privacy settings of browser Privacy settings of referring domain Blocked referrer headers Direct type in traffic Browser Bookmarks
Source Implies Visit, But What’s A Visit?An arriving visitor starts a “visit”, but how does a “visit”end?1. Close your browser.2. Remain idle for 30 minutes.3. Arrive again from a different traffic Source.Note: Returning from the same source (ex: 2nd search isdone, ad is clicked again) or an unknown source (“notset” bookmark or direct type in), will not break theprevious session’s visit.
Reporting Basics• Now that we understand how the traffic source is determined, and that Analytics is collecting site visit data for every page visited, let’s take a scenario based approach to learning more about reporting.• Pat gets a phone call from a client, asking… ManCaveSite.org (rambling but informative discussion follows?)
Reporting Basics 2• Let’s take a look at some referral visits, see if we can put all of the pieces together.• Client GA: Traffic Sources, Referrals Understanding SAS, Facebook, Email, PayPal• Search: “PayPal” for referring site Holy cow that traffic converts well… Or does it?
Events and Goals Basics• We know how they got here, and what pages they’re visiting, but what’s the point?• The site owner wants them to do something – buy, click, watch a video, download an app, email their friends a link.• By setting up Events and Goals, we can tie our traffic and visitor actions and behaviors, into what we want them to accomplish.• Without Events and Goals, analysis of source and visit data is a pointless exercise in futility!
Example Goals & Events• Only stores have special GA Ecommerce Conversion Data, but any website can use Goals and Events.• Goals (page based) each GA Profile is limited to 20 Goals o Sale (visited “receipt” page) URL (for web) or Screen (apps) o Subscribed (visited newsletter signup confirmation page) o Engaged (spent more than 10 minutes on your site) time on site, or in app o Funnel Read (visited two consecutive specified pages) Pages/Visit (web) or Screens/Visit (app) o Did Action (based on completed Events)• Events (elements that aren’t page views) o Flash web pages visits or interactions o Video, game and music player interactions o AJAX events o File downloads o Clicks on external links More details about their differences
Recommended Articles• Google’s Blog for Analytics• Google URL Builder (Tag Links)• Why Clean Source Tagging Is Worth Your Time• How To: Google Analytics Installation For Novices & Beginners• Understanding the Basics of Google Analytics• How To Turn (Not Provided) Into Useful, Actionable Data• Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics• 6 Useful Ideas for Google Analytics Custom Reports• 11 Google Analytics Tricks to Use for Your Website• Analytics for Agencies #4 - Optimizing AdWords & Search• Track Your Bing (MSN AdCenter) PPC Keyword Data in Analytics• Occams Razor by Avinash Kaushik• How to Setup Goals in Google Analytics• Conversion Goals and Events in Google Analytics: What’s The Difference and When To Use Them• Introducing Multi-Channel Funnels• 14 Ideas To Utilize Custom Variables For Search & Social Tracking
Pat Anticipates A Question (Probably From Chuck) About Blocked Keyword Data• Search engines are blocking referrer data, including valuable keyword information.• SEOs and Webmasters are rightfully chapped about this. But other than being a hater, there’s not much you can do. If the keyword info is removed from the referrer, it is not available.• But other useful data might be available.• One such creative recovery tactic is to create a custom filter for these cases, and gather alternative actionable data. o Segment = a slice or subset of visitor data. o Filter = modification (including exclusion) of certain visitor data.