The ROI Revolution Blog

Google Analytics and the Extended Sales Cycle

June 9, 2006

Some organizations have extended sales cycles spanning multiple visits to the site, with unusually large amounts of back-and-forth between the site and the user. Typically, knowing what drove a visitor to the site immediately prior to their conversion is what's important to a marketing team, but what if we want to keep track of what initially led the visitor to the site? In these cases, the initial referrer is more valuable than what got them to the site the second, third, and final time. It provides essential intelligence about attrition rate, customer loyalty, and ROI.

In our experience with such clients, we have encountered some very intriguing challenges while implementing Google Analytics. One of these clients, a leading physician in his field who performs elective operations on patients who travel from all over North America to see him, receives a large amount of paid traffic from many of the major search engines.

Sounds like every other website, doesn't it? Well, here's the rub. The client's sales cycle is long enough that visitors are hitting the site multiple times before their final conversion. There are a number of steps along the way where our referral information can get overwritten. Let's take a quick look at the entire process.

Visitor X comes to the site from PPC Ad Y and browses around. She fills out a preliminary form that gives the physician's office contact information, including her email address. She then receives an immediate confirmation email that contains a number of links to medical articles on the site. Visitor X did not notice these articles on her first foray through the site, so she clicks on a few of the links and reads up on the procedure she's thinking of having.

Over the next few days, while waiting for the doctor's staff to get back to her, she heads back to the site for more research. She adds the homepage to her bookmarks, this time, so she doesn't forget the URL.

After about a week, she receives a phone call from the staff. She's ready to go through with the procedure, she discusses payment details, and they schedule her appointment. The only thing left is for Visitor X to fill out a form on the website, providing key medical history and giving the physician permission to access medical records. The representative on the telephone tells her to expect an email with this vital next action.

She then receives the email, which instructs her to click a link to fill out the form. She does so, fills it out, and submits. She's ready for the procedure, she's made her payment, and this form submission is the ultimate conversion that our client has been waiting for.

Can anyone see where our vital first contact metric gets lost? There are at least four chances where Visitor X could feasibly overwrite the initial referral: PPC Ad Y:

  1. Instant confirmation email with links to medical articles on the site
  2. Direct visit to the site for research while she waits
  3. Bookmark to the site
  4. Email from staff directing her to physician permission form

By default, Google Analytics does not overwrite a visit from a UTM-tagged link with a direct visit to the site (i.e., address typed into a browser, or bookmark accessed). It will overwrite with any tagged link, any referral from another website, or any search query. So, in our example, if both PPC Ad Y and the instant confirmation email were tagged, PPC Ad Y gets overwritten, and the eventual conversion will be attributed to the instant confirmation email.

So, we don't tag the emails. Easy enough, right? The only problem here lies with the growing popularity of web-based email. It turns out that Visitor X uses Yahoo! Mail. So if we remove the UTM tags from the instant confirmation email, everyone using a client-side email client is fine, but Visitor X's initial referral, from the PPC ad, gets overwritten, and her conversion is now attributed to something like "us.f326.mail.yahoo.com".

There's a way around all of this, though. We tag the email links, and any other referral links, with the utm_nooverride parameter. Simply tack this onto the end of your links like so:

<a href="http://www.roirevolution.com/blog?
utm_nooverride=1">Click here!</a>

The 1 tells Google Analytics to turn on nooverride, which ensures that this referral does not overwrite any existing referral information. You can use this on email links, referrals from external sites (just ask politely if the site owners don't mind adding the parameter), and tagged PPC destination URLs. Any links you have control over, basically.

For the majority of sites, it's not absolutely necessary to attribute only the very first referral to the sale. Some prefer to see the latest action that a visitor made to reach their site before a conversion. With Google Analytics and the utm_nooverride function, however, you can customize this metric to your own specifications.


Google Analytics for Online Advertisers
Here at ROI Revolution, we consider Google Analytics tracking essential for paid search, so it's included in our PPC Campaign Management service.

Comments

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

Robbin Steif said:

I love getting this kind of nitty-gritty information. Keep it up.

Robbin

June 12, 2006 9:50 AM

Drew said:

Question -- if I am sending out an email newsletter complete with tagged links and I use nooverride in order to ensure that people who receive the newsletter who previously have a referrer do not lose it, am I also eliminating the possiblity of tagging with links in that email? IOW, if the tag exists if will not be overrode; if it does not exist, I can still create one?

June 12, 2006 1:43 PM

Michael Harrison said:

Drew,
If I understand correctly, you're asking whether utm_nooverride will actually attribute a referral to someone coming to your site for the first time via the newsletter. The utm_nooverride parameter will only ensure that existing referral data does not get overwritten. It will still assign visitors who have never been to your site to the "newsletter" referral group. Make sense?

June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Rose Sylvia said:

Do I understand correctly that an eventual buyer who finds a site using a PPC ad, doesn't buy immediately, and returns to that site to make a purchase in the future will not be counted as a PPC conversion for the original ad in any of these instances:

1. If they search for the business and click on an organic listing

2. Click on another of the same advertiser's ads (different keyword or different PPC engine)

3. Happen to visit the site between the original click and the eventual purchase by clicking on any tagged link from any other site? (Probably likely if they're comparison shopping, use any of the shopping portal pricing sites, etc.)

Please confirm yes or no on the above.

Here is a likely scenario for merchants selling products. Internet user does a search and sees a result page with a mix of organic and paid ads for retail sites plus numerous shopping comparison sites.

They randomly visit a variety of these sites comparing prices and products planning to buy later. If I understand correctly, if they happen to click on any other organic listing or a shopping comparison site where you are listed after they visit your site through your ad the PPC ad tracking will be overwritten. Yes?

On top of all that, it looks like there are other referrers for merchants using Yahoo stores that are likely to overwrite tags. For example, I see sales attributed to each of these in GA:

store.domainname.com[referral]
search.store.yahoo.com[referral]
order.store.yahoo.net[referral]
us-f1-edit.store.yahoo.com[referral]
domainname.com[referral]

If someone arrives at a Yahoo Store from a PPC ad and then uses the search on the site the results page starts with search.store.yahoo.com/. I wonder if that causes the sale to be attributed to that instead of the PPC ad? Why would your own site's search show up as a referrer?

Any page visited that is in the search results starts with store.domainname.com and so is every page visited after that until they put something in the shopping cart. Why should your own site's store.domainname.com show up as a referrer? (They're already on your site.)

If they go to your shopping cart the page they're on says order.store.yahoo.net and if they return to the site all pages say store.domainname.com. Why would order.store.yahoo.net show up as a referrer? (They're already BUYING on your site.) Could that be because they emailed themselves the order page link from a different PC? (I just tested that theory. The link works and you can complete the purchase.)

When selecting landing pages for PPC ads for a Yahoo store you can use www.domainname.com/page.html OR domainname.com/page.html OR store.domainname.com/page.html. I now suspect what you use in your ads may be critical to tracking.

If visitors to your Yahoo store are shown a mix of www.domainname.com, domainname.com, store.domainname.com, order.store.yahoo.net and search.store.yahoo.com and all of those are showing up as referrers it is clear to me that tracking in GA will be a mess.

On top of all that, if GA uses a thirty day cookie any sales made past thirty days will not be tracked either. Are these GA configurations issue? Yahoo Store setup issues? A combination of both? Neither and there is a work-around?

Thanks in advance for any clarification or potential solutions you may have.

October 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Michael Harrison said:

Whew. Lots of questions there, Sylvia, and lots of good points. The short answer is that much in the way Google Analytics tracks visitors--which source it keeps, how it overwrites that source, etc.--can be customized. Give us a call and we can discuss your specific issues.

October 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Eric said:

Thanks for the excellent post! Is it possible to mark your paid Google campaigns as nooverride?

March 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Greg said:

Due to a long sales cycle, people may find our site via an AdWords PPC ad, but later arrive at our site via an organic search for our company name, and only during this visit hit our goal conversion page.

Is it true that in Google Analytics an organic search will always override a previous PPC visit, attributing the conversion to the organic search?

If there is no way around this, what are some good strategies for determining the effectiveness of your PPC ads?

Thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM

Michael Harrison said:

@Eric: Currently, there's no way to tag auto-tagged AdWords ads as nooverride.

@Greg: This is an issue that we've faced many times before. We've toyed around with a few hacks that include storing referral data in the Google Analytics custom segment, so that you have a timeline of the visitor's referrals. It's not an easy fix, per se, but it could give you some insight into initial referrals versus return referrals. Drop me a line and maybe we could help you out with something like this.

March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Blair Gorman said:

I want to ALWAYS set utm_nooverride so as not to overwrite any existing referral information, but don't want to have to do this in all my email links.

I'd therefore like to set this variable from within the javascript code before the call to urchinTracker().

It looks like I may be able to achieve this by setting the value of _ucno before making the call to urchinTracker().

Will this work OK? What would I need to set _ucno to in order to make it work?

Thanks!

April 26, 2007 1:22 AM

Michael Harrison said:

@Blair: This is a really great question, and one we've been toying around with for quite awhile... ever since I first posted this blog article, in fact.

Keep an eye on the blog. We've got a method for doing just what you're looking for, and it should be up in the next few days.

April 27, 2007 9:30 AM

Joe Pest said:

I was wondering the same thing. Most of my returning buyers are direct. But how do I find out what originally got them to the site?

It would also be interesting to see on a individual bases how they found us and how often they return in the future. And on a larger scale so we could see the value of customers X from PPC source Y are greater then customers Z from PPC source Q because customer X buys more often and stays longer. Where as customers Z bought only once and never returned.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM

Simone Rodewijk said:

Hello Michael,

Is it true that nooverride=1 has to be at the end of the link or it will not work? Is that why it's not possible to add nooverride to auto-tagged AdWords links, because gclid= will get pasted behind nooverride=1?

Thanx!

December 3, 2007 10:13 AM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Simone: It is not true that utm_nooverride needs to be at the end of the destination URL. You should be able to add it to auto-tagged AdWords links. Just put it in the destination URL field, and it should work just fine.

December 11, 2007 9:58 AM

Pablo said:

Hi all,

I've been reading many posts in this and other group forums, but found no answer to my problem. Hope I can get some help from any of you guys. I find my problem related to what this post is about .... thanks beforehand for any advice!

I have a site www.domain.com that has information about a product.
In order to sell it, it links to a third-party shopping cart - www.shoppingcartdomain.com

The GA code in the first site www.domain.com is ...


var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXX-1");
pageTracker._setDomainName("none");
pageTracker._setAllowLinker(true);
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();

I set up the "_setDomainName" to "none" and "_setAllowLinker" to "true" following the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532&ctx=sibling
I also use the "_linkByPost" in the form link so that cookies are passed to the shopping cart domain.

The shopping cart web has 3 steps in order to finish the transaction.

1st step - choose the number of items to buy
2st step - fill your personal data and credit card info
3rd step - confirmation page; transaction already made

The three steps take place under the same domain www.shoppingcargdomain.com and use https instead of http

The landing page in the shopping cart domain is the 1st step.

What GA code should I put there? I put the same code that I had in www.domain.com with the only difference

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 1: selection of items");

instead of

pageTracker._trackPageview();

In step 2 I have the same GA code except the call to trackPageview which now is

pageTracker._trackPageview("Step 2: fill your data");

In step 3 I have the GA code to track transactions. I followed the instructions in http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55528

First question I have is .... should the GA code in the landing page of the shopping cart be the same than in the original page? I'm doing so (with the difference of the trackPageview) but I'm not 100% sure I should be doing that.

Second questions is .... now that I'm on the same domain, and in order to move to step 2 and 3 ... should I need to use the "_linkByPost" feature again for moving from step 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3? I put the code just in case ... but I'm not sure it was a good decision.

The good news is that I'm seeing transactions together with the value in \x80, the type of item I'm selling and all the information specified in step 3 (when the transaction occurs). But when I go to the "referring sites" in my GA account, I see that ALL the transactions come from www.domain.com. I guess that makes sense because it's the only place I'm selling stuff from ...

... but if I go to "all sources of traffic" I see that Google is top referral but no transactions are assigned to Google. All transactions are assigned to www.domain.com. It's like the referral information (how the user ended up in www.domain.com) is not being passed through the entire process to the final transaction page (step 3).

As a consequence, I have no clue what search portal (Google, Yahoo, ask, etc.) is the most profitable to me. And I need this information to know where to put my money in!

Thanks for any help you may provide.

Regards

Pablo

November 7, 2008 1:50 PM

Mark Curtis, Paid Search Team Leader Author Profile Page said:

@Pablo: That looks pretty complicated, actually, and not very related to the extended sale cycle. Have you ever thought about hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant to help you with your setup?

November 19, 2008 3:09 PM

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