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The purpose of this article is to show you how to use Google Analytics to help you make decisions on the content on your website with regards to bounce rates, page speed monitoring, click tracking, keyword popularity and setting up custom reports. This article talks about and uses the new beta version of Google Analytics.

Sections in this article




Introduction

For a free package, Google Analytics is an essential tool for any website owner. You can monitor all the traffic to your site, see which country they came from and see which pages are the big hitters.

Not all the information in this article will be relevant to you, so I have broken it all down into sections for you to easily jump to.

 

Accessing Google Analytics (New Version)

Google is currently in the process of creating a new version of Google Analytics, which is a lot easier to use and has more functionality. I image they will roll it out as default sometime in the new year (2012), so now would be a good time to start using it. To get started, follow the steps below.

  • If you need to create an account, go to https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin and sign up for a new account.
  • If you have an account, you can log in here: http://www.google.com/analytics/.
  • On the first page you will see in the top right-hand corner your email address and a link that says “New Version”. Click this link.
  • This is personal preference but unless you have any reason to keep using the old version, click on the “make this version default” link.
  • Now all you need to do to access analytics for your website is to click on it from the list on the home tab.

Keywords that led to visits

Every time someone performs a search on the internet, they use certain keywords that dig out your page. If your page is optimised for those keywords then you will most likely be listed somewhere on the first page. To see all the keywords your visitors used to find your site, follow the steps below.

  • Click on the Traffic Sources option in the left-hand menu.
  • Click Overview and the page on the right will update.
  • Scroll down to the keyword section and click on View full report.

You can now see all the keywords that led to a visit to your website. Now would be a good time to look at all the keywords that you are tracking in your keyword monitor and make sure all these top 10-20 keywords are in there and look at where you rank. If you want to see how many clicks you could get on your links in the SERPs, based on where your position then take a look at the table below.

Position %age of clicks
1 ~35%
2 ~16%
3 ~11%
4 ~8%
5 ~6%
6 ~5%
7 ~4%
8 ~3%
9 ~2%
10 ~2%
11 ~1%
12 ~0.8%
13 ~0.7%
14 ~0.5%
15 ~0.4%
16 ~0.3%
17 ~0.3%
18 ~0.2%
19 ~0.2%
20 ~0.2%


As you can see the click through rate from position 5 to position 1 increases tremendously! Just remember, traffic = sales and you are losing out if you’re not in the top 3 really.

If you are interested in moving up the SERPs but not sure how your competitors are back linking to improve their rankings then I offer service where I will analyse all the links and anchor text used by your 3 main competitors on page 1 of the search results so that you can see what you need to do the catch them. Click here to find out more.

Monitoring landing page statistics

Carrying on from the keywords that led to visits section above, you now want to show the pages that these keywords led the customer too. To show the landing pages on this report, do the following.

  • Above the 1st keyword you will see Secondary dimension.
  • Click on the down arrow in the box next to it and choose Traffic Sources then Landing Page.

Landing Pages

Now you should be able to see the keyword used and the page it directed the visitor to. You will also be able to see, total visits to that page, average time spent on that page and the bounce rate.

In an ideal world, your content would be appealing enough to keep them on that page as much as possible and have the lowest bounce rate as possible. The bounce rate represents a visitor that comes to a page on your website from Google or a link and leaves without visiting any other pages on your site. Ideally, you don’t want too many links on your pages that go off to a 3rd party site and enough content and links on the page to make people want to explore your site a little. A little creative copywriting and nice call to actions (CTAs) will do just the job on these pages.

As mentioned above, the more links coming to a landing page, the more it will move up the SERPs, and the percentage click through rate will increase. If you are ranking 1st for certain keywords then make sure those landing pages are optimised as much as possible. If they are sales pages then you need to talk about 1 message and follow the AIDA principle with little distractions on the page. The AIDA principle is all about formatting the content on your pages, as shown below.

  • Attention (A nice emotive headline to stop people in their tracks)
  • Interest (Tell the visitor what the page is about and what you are offering)
  • Desire (Sell the benefits of what you are trying to do or sell)
  • Action (A nice big Call To Action ‘CTA’ button)

 

Tracking links and their clicks

When you are optimising your web pages, you’ll probably want people clicking through to certain pages that will sell your products or services. Sometimes a plain link would do the trick and other times a nice colourful button. But, what you need to be able to do, is ascertain which method is best to use or is working for you.

The easiest way to do this is to place Event tracking on all your links and monitor their usage through Google Analytics. You may even want to go one step further and A/B split test some of your pages. I’ll cover this later on in this article.

So, to start tracking your links, follow the steps below.

The next line shows you the code that you will place onto the hyperlinks in your webpages.

  • onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Category’, ‘Action’, ‘Label’]);”

Example usage

  • <a href=”mylink.php” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Category’, ‘Action’, ‘Label’]);”>Click here</a>

So, we have 3 options to fill in. These can anything you want but you may want to do some categorisation here.

  • Category could be text link, image link, menu link etc.
  • Action could be click, download, press etc.
  • Label could be the destination page that the link is going to.

So for our test we would want to see if a text link was being used more than a nice glossy button, so you would use the two lines in your links.

Text link

<a href=”mylink.php” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘TextLink’, ‘Click’, ‘MyPage.php’]);”>Click here</a>

Image button link

<a href=”mylink.php” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘ButtonLink’, ‘Click’, ‘MyPage.php’]);”>Click here</a>

When you have implemented something similar on your text/image buttons, give it a few days for some data to be recorded in Google Analytics and then have a look at the results.

To see the event results, follow the steps below.

  • Inside the new version of Google Analytics, click on Content in the left-hand menu.
  • Now click Events then overview.
  • You will now be able to see all your events and the clicks each one has had.
  • You can also drill down a little and just look at Event Actions and Event Labels.

All that remains now is for you to analysis the data and see what’s been working and roll it out across other pages on the site. If you want to split test the same page and just change the link types, then you can use Google’s Website Optimiser. See the next section for advice on how to do this.

Website Optimiser - A/B split testing

If you want to display the same webpage to your visitors but just change a few small elements on the page then you can gauge the success of your changes by performing an A/B split test on them. It’s better to perform a test first of all just in case your changes have a negative effect. If this is the case then you can quickly stop the test and revert back to your original page.

To see how to start split testing your pages, read the article below.

  • Go to http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer and log in with your Google account details.
  • Website Optimiser will now be added to your Google account.
  • Click on the Create a new experiment link to, err… create a new experiment.
  • For the purpose of this guide, choose A/B Experiment.
  • Before you start you need to ensure that you have
    • A page that you want to run the test on
    • An alternative version of the page that you are testing
    • A page that you deem to be a conversion page. It could be a page that you are trying to get people to click through to a thank you page after a shopping cart completion.
  • Place a tick in the I’ve completed the steps… box and then click on the create button below.

Now you need to fill in a few details about your experiment.

In the first part give your experiment a friendly name that will remind you what the experiment is about.
In the second section, paste in the location of both of the pages that you are testing. You should get a nice green tick next to each link. No green tick means that you forgot to upload the pages!
Finally, put the location to the conversion page in section 3 and then click on the Continue button.

A/B Testing

On the next page, click the You will install… radio button and then click the Continue button.

Now comes the hardest bit of the whole process, placing your tracking codes on each of the pages. So let’s get on with it. If you are unsure about any of the this then check with your network administrator before implementation.

  • Go to the original page that you are testing in section 1 and paste the code given immediately after the opening <HEAD> tag.

Now you may experience a problem here if you use the same header file across all pages. The simple solution to this is to create a php file called ab-testing.php and put the following PHP commands in it.

<!--Experiment 1 Start !-->

<?php if($_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]==’/speed.php’){ ?>
<meta name=”zone” content=”test1” />
<?php } ?>

<?php if($_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]==’/speed2.php’){ ?>
<meta name=”zone” content=”test2” />
<?php } ?>

<?php if($_SERVER[‘PHP_SELF’]==’/thanks.php’){ ?>
<meta name=”zone” content=”test3” />
<?php } ?>

<!--Experiment 1 End !-->


Now, you need to change the path to the pages above to those that match your experiment and paste your bits of tracking code in-between the 2 php tags. I have put a random meta tag in there first of all so that you can see it working on your sites before you put in the long tracking code.

When you entered your 3 bits of tracking information and have uploaded the ab-testing.php page, you need to include this page underneath your <HEAD> tag in the header.php file, just like the example below.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>
<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>
<head>
<?php include $_SERVER[‘DOCUMENT_ROOT’].’/assets/includes/ab-testing.php’;?>


  • Now you’ve uploaded the ab-testing.php file, view the source of your pages to make sure that the tracking code is showing.
  • The final step is to click on the Validation button and the 3 pages with the tracking code on them should turn green in the validating URLs window. Once this happens, click on the OK button.
  • Now click the Start Experiment button and you experiment will be live!

What will happen now is that 50% of your visitors will be shown the original version of the page and the other 50% will be shown the page that you are testing. To see the results, come back to the Website Optimiser area in a few days and there will be some data to look at that should show you which page performed the best.

Setting up goals

Whether you’re tracking sales or just monitoring click through rates to a certain page, goals are the ideal tool for monitoring such results. Goals can also be tied in to custom reports, which we’ll cover in the next section. To start setting up goals, you’ll need 2 things.

  • A landing page.
  • A destination page.

Once you have those two bits of information, follow the steps below to start setting up your own goals.

  • Log into Google analytics and you will be presented with you main Visitors’ Overview screen.
  • Click the little cog symbol in the far right of the screen, as show in the image below.
Settings
  • Now you are presented with the settings screen for your website.
  • Click on the Goals tab and click on the +Goals link in Goals (set 1).

Goals setup

  • Now give you goal a name, something like Competition entered.
  • The goal type wants to be URL Destination so click the radio button for this option.
  • You will now be presented with some more options below. In Goal URL, you need to put in the page that is at the end of the conversion process. Usually a thank you page.
  • Choose Exact match if you URL is clean like http://www.yourdomain.com/thanks.php
  • Choose Head match if your page has a query string like http://www.yourdomain.com/thanks.php?session-id-1
  • Give the goal a monetary value based on what that conversion means to your business. If you are not sure, just put 50 in there to give us some data to work with later.
  • If you have more than 1 page between your landing page and goal page then you can enter all the pages in-between in the Goal Funnel section, but this is completely up to you.
  • When you have entered all the necessary information, click on the Save button.
  • This goal is now called Goals (set 1): Goal 1.

 

Custom reports give you details and save time

If you’re constantly extracting data from Google Analytics and need to drill down a little deeper then you can do this with custom reports. These reports can be based on any of the metrics that Google Analytics records and saved for you to use in the future and pinned to your dashboard so that you can see this information every time you log in.

Let’s assume you want to make a custom report detailing the entrance rates for each page on your website. An entrance is where somebody 1st begins their journey on your website. These are quite possibly your main landing pages that are being found in Google or have been bookmarked by people for future reference.

So, this custom report needs to show, the top 10 pages that people entered your site on, the total time people spent on those pages, the keyword used to land on the pages and the average page load time.

What you would be looking for from this report would be pages that aren’t getting many entrances, pages with long load times and the total time spent on the page. From this data you could then extrapolate that long load times were causing people to click away from the page or your entrance pages that used to get many views could be dropping in the SERPs for their main keywords. See the Keywords that led to visits section above to see how click through rates differ tremendously depending on the position you are ranking in.

 

Creating a custom report

To create the custom report mentioned above, please follow the steps below.

  • Log into Google Analytics.
  • Find your site from the list and click on it.
  • On the top bar you will see Custom Report, click this tab.
  • Click the button called New Custom Report.
  • Give the report a name, call it Landing page analysis.
  • Give the Report content tab the same name.
  • Now choose Flat Table. This will give you all the information on screen.
  • Click the green box called +add dimension.
  • Place a tick in the Display alphabetically list box. This makes things so much easier to find!
  • For the first dimension you want to look for Keyword and click on it.
  • A new blank green box will also appear on the left. Click in this box and add Landing Page.
  • Under metrics you want to add the following as shown in the image below.
    • Entarances
    • Avg. Page Load Times
    • Time on Page


Dimensions & Metrics

Right, click on the Save button at the bottom and your report will be saved and shown on the screen. If you want to add this report to a dashboard then follow the steps below.

  • Click on the Add To Dashboard option at the top of the screen.
  • Select an existing dashboard ort choose New Dashboard
  • Place a tick in the box next to Table and then click the Add to Dashboard button.
  • You now have a new dashboard with this custom report pasted to it.

 

Keyword vs goal conversion custom report

This is just a quickie report for you to make as the information you get from it can be tied into your keyword ranking data and you will then be able to see which keywords are bringing in your conversions.

Download the keyword recording spreadsheet here.

  • Follow the guide above but use the following Metrics and Dimensions
  • Dimension = Keyword
  • Metrics = Goals (set 1): Goal 1 that we created in the setting up goals sections above or another goal that you have setup.
  • Click on the Save button.
  • Now choose the date range from January 1st to today’s date and click Apply.
  • All the keywords that led to a goal conversion will now be shown.
  • Where it says Show rows, change this to 50. When we export the data we will have 50 lines of data
  • Click on Export at the top of the screen and choose CSV.
  • When the file has downloaded, copy it to the same folder that the keyword monitoring spreadsheet is in, that you downloaded and call it goals.csv.

To import the spreadsheet into the keyword monitoring report, follow the steps below. This example is using Microsoft Word 2010.

  • Go to the Goals worksheet in the spreadsheet.
  • Click on the Data tab then click on the orange box in the spreadsheet.
  • Now click the From Text icon in the Data tab.
  • Browse to the goals.csv file that you just created, click it and click on the import button.
  • Choose Delimited and click on the Next button.
  • Leave the tick in the Tab box and click the Next button.
  • Now click the Finish button.
  • When you see the Import Data window appear, just click on the OK button.

Right, your data has been imported and if your keywords are listed on the main report, the goal data relating to those relevant keywords will be show next to them. All done!

 

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