The ROI Revolution Blog
8 Reasons to Bid on Your Own Branded Keywords in Paid Search
June 7, 2011
We're sometimes asked "why should I bid on my own branded keywords?" In most cases, the asker wants to know if they can save money (or improve ROI) by not bidding on their brand keywords. It's an interesting question, with a not-so-simple answer. Each click costs money, so yes, theoretically, you can save money by not bidding on your own branded searches. But with that same logic, can't you also save money by keeping it under your mattress instead of in a 401k?
It's understandable to initially focus more on the cost of branded keywords, rather than the value. Cost is a measurable, absolute number that's seen in paid search accounts and credit card statements. The value is usually less-measurable, with some shades of gray in the calculations.
Sometimes it can be tough to quantify the effect of branded exposure, especially in dollars and cents. Our experience shows that branded keywords almost always convert at pennies on the dollar, with very high profitability. That's only for the immediate, measurable traffic though. What about the long-term effects in customers' minds or residual traffic that may come later on? In my opinion, the harder-to-measure effects of "bidding on your own branded keywords" are almost always a reason to spend more on them, not less.
Here are eight reasons why bidding on branded keywords can be a good idea (and a good investment):
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Updates to AdWords Search Funnels Reports
October 14, 2010
One of my biggest complaints about Google AdWords and Google Analytics has always been the oversimplified attribution models they use. Last touch attribution sucks. It completely ignores upper funnel search visits to your site—first-time visitors who use broader search terms to get there. These are people who are curious about your products or offers, but not quite ready to buy.
Thankfully, Google is not oblivious to the need for more in-depth attribution funnel analysis. This past spring, they introduced AdWords Search Funnels, which finally gave AdWords advertisers the ability to drill down and see the search paths that visitors use when clicking through to their sites.
And last week, Google added additional features to these reports, including an increase in the conversion history window and a way to sanitize conversions that were potentially affected by cookie deletion bias.
Are you using the AdWords Search Funnels yet? If not, read on to find out why you should.
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Why You Shouldn't Use the Top Landing Pages Report in Google Analytics
March 18, 2010
If you're trying to get landing pages that really grab your visitors, there's one Google Analytics report you absolutely cannot live without. And guess what?
It's not Top Landing Pages.
Before I unveil the report that ROIers use to do quick landing page analysis, let's find out why we're not big fans of the built-in Top Landing Pages report:
- It only shows entrances, bounces, and bounce rate
- It doesn't tell us conversion data for our landing pages
- It can't show the revenue generated by our landing pages
Thankfully, there is a way to get what we need for robust landing page analysis out of GA. Hit the jump to find out how.
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Are Long Page Load Times Driving Your Visitors Away?
November 25, 2009
You're always checking on your landing pages, right? You read the blogs, run experiments, and generally try to make your site as user-friendly as possible.
But chances are, if you're reading the ROI Revolution blog, you're on a high speed internet connection. If your webpages are loading in nanoseconds with your T1, how are they faring for those visitors who aren't as lucky as you? You know, the ones on crappy cable modems and DSL and (gasp!) the dreaded dial-up?
Does it matter? Well, it depends. If you're a gaming website or Internet marketing blog, most of your audience is probably on broadband. But if you're running a site for a retirement community in Florida, then my grandma is hitting your Flash-encrusted site in her AOL browser and she's waiting. And waiting. And waiting. She's a patient old gal, my Meemaw, but she's not going to wait all day. She's going to point her browser and her pension elsewhere.
Aside from your visitors, your site's load time is also important to Google. Not only does page load time affect your AdWords Quality Score, but according to Matt Cutts, it's going to be playing a bigger role in the organic search ranking.
So read on to learn how to optimize your landing pages' load times, and maybe make a few bucks off my Meemaw.
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ROI Revolution Attends 3rd Annual GAAC Summit
October 30, 2009
Hey, look! It's a gaggle of GAACs!
Every year when autumn rolls around, you'll find the ROI Revolution Analytics Team hard at work planning our strategy. Not for clients (we do that
all year 'round, of course) but for the strange and fun activities planned at the annual Google Analytics Authorized Consultant Summit. Last year, it was Rock Band
. This year, trampoline dodgeball.
Not all of our time at Google is spent jumping around on trampolines and pegging each other with balls. For four days, Google Partners from around the world convene in Mountain View to talk about the state of analytics and optimization, learn from one another, and push the limit when it comes to supporting our favorite free analytics platform.
Click for a rundown of what we covered...
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Check Landing Page Performance by Browser
October 6, 2009
Every browser is different.* Ask any web designer about their craft and you'll eventually get them talking passionately about these differences. How Internet Explorer 6 renders CSS pseudo-elements (badly) and handles padding and spaces (randomly). How IE7 ignores CSS drop shadows. How floating divs never seem to work the same way in any of the browsers. These peculiarities have driven many a developer to strong drink.
When it comes to testing new webpage designs in Google Website Optimizer, speed can be essential. You want to get the experiment out the door as soon as possible so you can get preliminary data. Sometimes this means that things slip through QA. Browser testing is exceptionally finicky and time consuming. Not every office has a spare Mac sitting around, and with three different versions of Internet Explorer still in wide use—and no easy way to install all three versions on a single PC—it's no small feat to make your page variations all work perfectly in every popular browser.
With just a few Google Analytics Advanced Segments in your arsenal, however, you'll be able to see whether or not your new pages are functioning fine in all the right browsers. Hit the jump for details.
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Five Google Analytics FAILS
August 21, 2009
Here at the ROI Revolution blog, we usually strive to provide you with helpful how-tos and the best examples on making your Google Analytics accounts lean, clean, and useful. Today, we're going a different route in the hope that instead of teaching by example, we can show what not to do.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our top five Google Analytics FAILs. These are real life examples that our intrepid Google Analytics support staff have encountered in the line of duty. They are not pretty. You have been warned.
1. There Can Be Only One: utm_nooverride=1
We've talked at length about utm_nooverride before. We're big fans of using the utm_nooverride query parameter to make sure that branded and email traffic doesn't overwrite more important long tail referral data.
But there's really only one parameter value to use in this situation. One. It's one. The only one is one. Does that make sense?
No? Ok. Well, see the screenshot to the left? That's what you shouldn't use.
First of all, you should never see the utm_nooverride parameter in your Google Analytics reports. Secondly, you should spell it correctly. Third, don't pass "2" as a value. It doesn't work. Just follow Shawn's instructions in his three-part series on using utm_nooverride and you won't FAIL.
2. You Are Not Selling Medium Green T-Shirts
At the very least, you're not selling only medium green t-shirts, right? Well, maybe you are. Who am I to judge?
The example provided in the Google Analytics Help Center article on e-commerce is just that: an example. But I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't seen people cut and paste that example script right onto their receipt pages, then called it a day.
Google Analytics can't figure out what you've sold unless you tell it. You need to roll up your sleeves and find the variables that contain a visitor's transaction data. Then pass that data to Google Analytics. It's like a relay race, except you're passing product names and revenue figures.
Place a test order. If you view your receipt page's source code and you don't see the correct order total or the products you purchased (or if your code says you bought a medium green t-shirt), then you've got more work to do.
You'll probably also want to check out the values you're passing. We've seen some pretty hinky stuff show up in the Google Analytics e-commerce reports because someone threw too many numbers into the revenue or shipping fields (see left).
Start by checking out Caitlin's article about de-stressing your Google Analytics e-commerce setup. If you're still mired in FAIL, you can always hire us.
Hit the jump for three more epic Google Analytics FAILures.
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5 Advanced Segments for Ecommerce Analysis
May 15, 2009
Back in the day when I was but a wee web analyst, if I wanted to segment my website traffic data with Google Analytics, I had to use filters. This meant a lot of upfront work, a flimsy and fragile analysis environment, and way too many profiles.
It was also pretty limited. I could segment by dimensions and a select handful of metrics only. If I wanted to see only the traffic that came from a specific source and then bought a high priced item from my online store, I was out of luck.
Now, though... Now we have Advanced Segments. You kids are so lucky these days with your iPhones and text messages and Advanced Segments. Why, in my time we had to work for our segmentation.
Instead of complaining about the past, though, I guess I'll just look to the future with five advanced segments that can help you breeze through your own analytics ecommerce data. Hit the jump for more information on how you can start slicing and dicing your way toward better insights about your sales.
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Website Optimizer Wednesdays - Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics Renew Their Vows
November 19, 2008
More than a year and a half ago, my co-worker Shawn Purtell and I were on a red-eye flight to Raleigh. We had just spent two days at the Googleplex immersed in Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer and our minds were reeling. While I tried unsuccessfully to get some much-needed sleep, Shawn kept going on about combining the multivariate experiment data from Google Website Optimizer with the more detailed metrics in Google Analytics.
Google Website Optimizer uses a single metric, conversion rate, to determine which combination of variations is king. But what about other metrics that may be just as valuable, like Page Value, Avg. Time, Conversion Rates for multiple goals, Bounce Rate, Exit %, and Full Navigation Analysis? What if you want to segment your traffic or filter out internal hits? Well, now you can find out just about everything you want to know about combinations by using Google Analytics.
He raises a great point. Google Website Optimizer is all about conversion rate, but in many cases, that's not the best metric for the job. Since posting his script back in April of 2007, we've had thousands of downloads. It's clear that others agree with Shawn. So does Google, it appears, because they've just made it a lot easier to integrate Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics.
Read on for more about official updates to the marriage between Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer.
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Google Website Optimizer Graduates from Google Beta
April 16, 2008
They grow up so fast, don't they? Today at ad:tech in San Francisco, Google announced that its multivariate testing tool, Google Website Optimizer, was coming out of beta and getting its own digs. Here's the official announcement.
Up until recently, the only way to use Google's free tool to test and improve your website's content was through a tab in AdWords. Now that Google Website Optimizer has moved on to the big leagues, it has a new standalone website independent of AdWords, where you can log on and start running tests right away.
Here's a look at the new multivariate walkthrough:
Read on for a list of new improvements and support options...
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Google Analytics Keyword Sleuth vs Search Query Performance Report
March 24, 2008
If you've been following this blog, you've likely heard several references to the Google Analytics Keyword Sleuth that Michael Harrison wrote back in April of 2007. This is a tool that anyone in paid search should be using. Basically, it captures and displays an ongoing list of new keywords and phrases straight from your customer's mind. We're often advised to "imagine what your customers are typing before they see your ads, then bid on those keywords." With the Keyword Sleuth in place, you don't have to imagine anything. They've already told you.
For a long time, Google, Yahoo!, MSN and others would not reveal exact search queries, and still don't for the most part. They'll tell you the bid keyword, but not the exact search query. In May 2007, Google stepped up and created the Search Query Performance Report (SQPR), which now shows this data within the Adwords reporting tab. There was a wave of excitement when Google released the SQPR, and it's become a popular report for Adwords users.
Both the Keyword Sleuth and the SQPR were developed to do essentially the same thing, but in reality, they can be worlds apart for the PPC manager. In explaining the Keyword Sleuth to other PPC professionals, I'm often asked how it's different than the Adwords SQPR. There is a lot that is different. A side-by-side comparison between these two tools is long overdue.
First, I'll run Google's SQPR. When that's done, I'll retrieve the same data using Michael's Exact Keyword Sleuth. In summary, I'm gathering the same data from the same Adwords campaign and the same time frame (one month), using two different methods. My teammate Matt will time it from the moment I touch the keyboard to the moment the report is viewable on screen.
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Google Analytics Benchmarking in Beta
March 5, 2008
Today, Google announced new benchmarking functionality within Google Analytics. Combined with a new data-sharing option, this will allow Google Analytics users to compare their site's data against aggregate data from other sites in various industries. These two new features are in beta, but should begin to show up in all Google Analytics accounts throughout the day.
Click to enlarge
Also briefly mentioned was the unveiling of the Audio Ads integration, with an official blog post to come tomorrow.
For more information, check out the official announcement at the Google Analytics blog, the benchmarking FAQs, and the data-sharing FAQs.
Exact Keyword Tracking with ga.js
February 14, 2008
Last April, I posted a script that allowed paid search advertisers to view the exact search queries of their visitors
. This was essentially a free tool that gave website owners the ability to weed out ineffective keywords and put more money toward the precise phrases that were really driving their business.
Google Analytics doesn't do this out of the box. It will tell you exact search queries for visits from organic listings, but for paid search, you're stuck with the keywords that you're bidding on. With broad and phrase matching, these could vary pretty drastically from what the visitors typed into the search engine.
. Always happy to oblige, we've been hard at work on our new version of the Google Analytics Keyword Sleuth. Call it a Valentine's Day gift from ROI Revolution to you.
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PPC Summit in Dallas, Boston
January 10, 2008
If you are into PPC advertising in any way, shape or form, then very seriously consider attending the PPC Summit.
Like I've said before, this conference is arguably the most valuable conference for anyone in search marketing, as it's focus is 100% PPC advertising. The variety of tracks and presentations at any given time makes it easy to find something that you both need to learn and want to learn. Within each session, you can choose between keynote speeches, clinics, panel discussions and workshops, on three simultaneous levels: fundamental, advanced or advertiser-specific. Everyone is covered.
Attendees also have several opportunities to strike hands and hob-knob with industry experts from all sorts of companies and agencies. Historically, PPC Summit has brought in reps and marketers ranging from big-name companies (Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, eBay, Amazon) to independent entrepreneurs to agency team members. Either way, you'll be surrounded by expertise, ideas and experience to draw upon from passionate PPC marketers.
Some of the tracks include:
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Goal Matching Revisited
December 26, 2007
Almost a year and a half ago, I posted a brief guide on the different match types that Google Analytics uses to define goals. For something that is so integral to a successful Google Analytics configuration, goals are easily one of the more confusing aspects of the tool, and we get more questions about goals than perhaps anything else.
Last week, Google quietly updated the Google Analytics Goal Settings page. They rearranged the order of the fields, and also clarified something that has long been somewhat under-emphasized. In the explanation text for the Goal URL:
For the goal page "http://www.mysite.com
/thankyou.html" enter "/thankyou.html"
Previously, the example text basically told users to just copy and paste the entire URL from their conversion page. Now, only the Request URI is required.
Actually, this isn't a change to the way that Google Analytics recognizes goals. It's always worked this way, targeting only the Request URI. It would simply discard anything in the Goal URL that wasn't part of the Request URI (anything after the dot-com, basically) and match what was left.
Now that the official recommendation is to use the Request URI, it looks like old-school goals are still backwards-compatible and will function with the whole URL. But for future reference, for a goal URL of:
You only need to put:
Into the Goal URL field.
How do you use Google Analytics' Goal Matches? Are you a regular expressions junkie, or do you stick to tried-and-true exact match? Leave us a comment!
Funny Adwords Contest: Round 2
December 12, 2007
Welcome back to another episode of ROI Revolution's Funny Adwords Contest. We're pleased to announce the arrival of the next wave of ads that have been collected over the last several months.
You can see the Round 1 Winners here.
The rules: Read the ads and post a quick comment to declare your winners for the top 3 funniest Adwords Ads. You can just put the ad numbers in your comments, but clearly label each ad 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. If you enjoyed this post, forward the link to people you know and encourage them to vote too. The more votes we get, the more indisputable the winners are.
The point system will be as follows:
- 1st place vote = 3 points
- 2nd place vote = 2 points
- 3rd place vote = 1 point
The more votes we get, the better, so pass it on. Later on, we'll announce the winners, losers, whatever. The funniest.
Funny Adwords Contest: Round 1 Winners
November 6, 2007
What do replacement grandmas, weed, new brains and vacations to Hell have in common? If you just said "They're all being advertised with Google Adwords" then you are correct!
I'm sure we've all seen some strange stuff out there in PPC land. There have been so many wacky things in Adwords that I decided it's time to have a little contest before these weird little ads disappear. So, I Introduce to you ROI Revolution's First Annual Funny Adwords Contest.
Update 12/12/2007: Round 1 Winners:
|1st Place: #6- eBay (40 Points)|
|2nd Place: #1- Kayak.com (20 Points)|
|3rd Place: #7- NextTag.com (14 Points)|
|Honorable Mention: # 5- Target (13 Points)|
See Funny Adwords Contest: Round 2 Ads.
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Happy Halloween from ROI Revolution!
October 31, 2007
From left to right: Mark Curtis, Denis Coombes, Meredith Smith, Michael Harrison, Shawn Purtell, Justin D'Angelo. Sitting: Page Christenbury, Kathy Scott
Here's hoping that you're having as much fun as we are this Halloween. We held our first annual company-wide costume contest, and here are the results:
Check out all of the photos!
- Scariest: Meredith, as a witch (though Mark's Clay Aiken came very close)
- Most Original: Denis, as a World Cup-winning Springbok
- Best Overall: Kathy, as a barmaid
Custom Segmentation: It Slices, It Dices (Your Data)
October 28, 2007
So, a few months back I posted on how to view the exact AdWords search queries your visitors use to reach your site (a feature that is, so far, unsupported out of the box with Google Analytics). My method involved grabbing that keyword phrase and storing it within Google Analytics' User Defined field. In the article, I said:
"There are lots of great applications for the User Defined variable... If you can get by without using it, you can then save the User Defined field for something else that might prove more powerful. Like tracking search terms. :)"
I'll be the first to admit that this statement is a little wishy-washy. What are these great applications? Why save it for tracking exact search queries? What precisely does the User Defined variable do?
In a nutshell, you use the User Defined variable to perform custom segmentation on your visitors. Google Analytics already provides a number of built-in segmentation features. It's so intuitive, most users probably aren't even aware that what they're doing is segmentation. From your Traffic Sources report, you see a specific group of visitors that came in from a specific source, and you click the hyperlink. Now, you're looking solely at the data for that source. Congratulations! You've sliced and diced your data down to a very specific segment of traffic.
So, you can segment your traffic by visitor type (new or returning), by source (where, how, why they came to your site), by organic search queries, by browsers or screen resolutions or Internet speed... but what if you want to get a little more specific?
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PPC Summit: The One & Only PPC-Only Conference
October 24, 2007
If you're serious about making your Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) campaigns really shine, then don't waste time or money attending generic, dime-a-dozen "online marketing" conferences.
Here's why: Most conferences offer a more general online marketing theme all bundled into one "jack of all trades" conference, with a few general PPC tracks if you're lucky. "Okay, PPC people, go into that room over there. We'll see you again in about an hour for an ice cream break." Sound familiar?
It's great that many marketing conferences offer break-outs or alternate tracks for PPC. Really. But it's almost always to cater to general marketing professionals who either want to know what PPC is or are still deciding whether to use it in their marketing mix.
So hold on, what about the PPC gurus who sit at their desk polishing PPC accounts all day? What if I don't give a rat's behind about SEO or affiliate programs? I don't know about you, but I'm tired of sitting through "Intro to Adwords" and "definition of CTR" slides for 3 hours. Especially after slapping down $1,000 to attend. My order: Less milk & honey, more steak & potatoes...with A1 sauce.
That's why I'm so pumped about the upcoming PPC Summit in San Francisco (Thursday & Friday November 15-16). No matter what hour of the day, no matter which room I wander into, it's PPC-focused and designed for enlightening the PPC die hards. This is the ONLY conference that can boast that.
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Adwords For Dummies: Who's the Dummy Now?
September 14, 2007
2 years ago, NOBODY was a bigger dummy than I was when I first began fiddling with Google AdWords. For me, it was an overwhelming mix of internet articles here, a free eBook there, some trial and error and a pinch of "how hard can it be" that got me started (if you're one of my clients, please stop crying. This is long before I worked here). My first Adwords recipe wasn't a complete disaster, but it certainly wasn't anything delicious either. It was like pulling the dish out of the oven, waving off the smoke, and then scrambling to read every cookbook I could find to figure out what went wrong. Times have changed, and I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the words WARNING: Read the instructions first!
So, I just finished reading Adwords for Dummies by Howie Jacobson. First things first, congratulations to Mr. Jacobson. This is the first "For Dummies" book that I finished, cover-to-cover, every single word (except the index). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the other Dummy books, but I typically treat them more like dictionaries than books. Yes, it's a reference book. But regardless, I read it straight through and it still kept my interest. That's certainly no small feat.
Howie explains things very well, evenly balancing casual tones with occasional (and necessary) tech talk. His steady use of examples, analogies, humor, tips, pictures and additional resources will no doubt engage readers, whether they seek the "techy" stuff or just a casual read on Adwords. With so many best practices, business blessings, warnings, and parables, one could rightfully call this the Bible of Adwords and feel somewhat justified. There's even a Revelation-esque chapter at the end called "The Ten Most Serious Adwords Beginner's Mistakes," crammed with stories of woe and all manner of marketing budget destruction. Regardless, there is still a happy ending.
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Tales of Overanalysis: My Organic Traffic Has Tanked!
September 4, 2007
I just implemented AdWords autotagging for my website, and now my organic Google traffic has dropped dramatically. What gives? Is Google Analytics ruining my search rankings? Who do I blame for this? Can you fix it?
Okay. Calm down and breathe. There's nothing to worry about.
First, the bad news: your organic search traffic wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
But, the good news: now that you've turned on autotagging, your Google Analytics profile is more accurate than it has ever been.
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More Work For the Webmasters
August 3, 2007
This post is dedicated to all of those hard working webmasters out there who have enough to worry about as it is without the marketing staff breathing down their necks about campaign tracking and revenue analysis and all sorts of other stuff.
Look, I'm a code monkey, too. I understand the dilemma. No one likes to ask permission from fifteen different people before they make the slightest change to a site.
But here's the thing: Google Analytics is script-based, and it collects live traffic and conversion data. If it's not on a page, and someone visits that page, they don't get counted. It's not rocket science (but I'm no rocket scientist, so I must defer to someone who is).
So if you know that the site you're working with has the Google Analytics script on it, then think twice before you make any major changes. Here's a quick list of what to consider...
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Google Analytics Graphs and Charts
June 15, 2007
One of the new features of Google Analytics that hasn't really seen too much press in the past month (has it really been that long?) is the new and improved graph and chart view. These graphs and charts don't vary drastically from those seen in the old interface, but they're still different enough to warrant a bit of explanation.
Basically, all of the data tables in Google Analytics have alternate graph displays for easier visual analysis of your data. Accessing these additional reports is easy. There's a series of little "Views" buttons at the top right of your data table, and each button offers you a new view for your data.
More info on each view after the jump.
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New Google Analytics Features
June 13, 2007
As first reported on the Official Google Analytics Blog, and then picked up pretty much everywhere else other than our own blog here, Google Analytics has seen its first minor feature update since the launch of the new user interface. While we certainly weren't first to break the news†, due mostly to putting the finishing touches on our updated Google Analytics training series, I did want to post my top three favorite improvements after the jump.
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Google Analytics: Extreme Makeover Edition
May 8, 2007
Yes, Google Analytics has been redesigned. Please do not panic.
As several folks noticed last week, Google has redesigned Google Analytics. Log into your account and you'll be met by an announcement:
Over the next several weeks, we will be migrating all existing Analytics accounts to the new Google Analytics interface. You will be notified by email once your account has been migrated. For an entire month you will be able to access both the original interface and the new interface. During the migration, you should experience no interruption in service and you’ll be able to see all of your data regardless of which interface you use. For a sneak peek at the new Google Analytics, take a look at the following resources.
Change can be a tough thing to come to terms with. Some people might wonder why Google is changing everything just as they've started to get used to it.
We loved the old interface, too. Don't get me wrong. It's kind of like those ridiculous makeover shows on TV. Sure, you love your mom before she gets her wardrobe rebooted, but no one's complaining when she comes back minus the muumuu.
Let me assure you, this redesign is a very good thing. We've been using the new interface for over two months now, and it's made day-to-day analysis a breeze. I've had lots of time working with both, and the new one is superior in almost every way.
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View Entire Referring URL in Google Analytics
Jesper Rønn-Jensen, a usability specialist who writes for one of the best blogs on UI and web standards, takes a look at the new Google Analytics interface. Jesper's still a little concerned about the number of clicks it takes to show you referring URLs down to the referral path.
We've had the chance to work with the new interface for a couple of month and I have to assure Jesper and others that it is now a bit easier to find this information. Now, on the new Referring Site report, instead of clicking on the now-missing Analysis Options icon (the little purple guy over to the left of each line item) and choosing Content from the dropdown, you just click on the referring site. This immediately shows you all referral paths from that specific domain. Very handy, in my opinion.
Check out some screenshots after the jump.
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Desktop Widget for Google Analytics
April 30, 2007
While the ROI team were out at Mountain View last month, enjoying our training session with the Google Analytics team, we got the chance to meet Michael Whitaker of Monitus, LLC for sushi. Michael is the brains behind the Monitus Yahoo! Store Tools, which includes a really cool Web Analytics Connector that actually makes Google Analytics possible with Yahoo! Stores.
It was great to actually put a face to Michael's great reputation in the Yahoo! Store development field.
Michael surprised us, though, with a sneak peek at his cool new VivAlytics Widget. This little tool allows you to track defined Key Performance Indicators for multiple Google Analytics accounts, profiles, reports, whatever. Find out whether a specific metric has increased or decreased over a given week or month. It's a really great resource for people who might be too busy to log into their Google Analytics account every day, but who still want to see how their websites are performing.
Not too long after we got back to Raleigh, Michael quietly made Vivalytics public over at www.vivalytics.com. It's a free download, it's cross-platform (Mac and PC), and just requires the (also free) Yahoo! Widget Engine. Do yourself a favor and take it for a test drive.
Exact Keyword Tracking with Google Analytics, Revisited
April 23, 2007
UPDATE: We have posted a new version of the script mentioned in this article at Exact Keyword Tracking for ga.js.
Last November, Jim Newsome of Omega Digital Media and the
GA Experts blog, posted a really clever trick on how to view detailed keyword information within Google Analytics. If you've ever searched through your AdWords Bid Terms and wondered what the actual Search Terms were, then you know why such a filter was in great demand. For PPC marketers, it's a great opportunity to weed out ineffectual broad match keyword phrases, and hone in on the most popular user search queries.
Here's an example: you've got a shoe store and you're running Broad Match AdWords ads for "shoes". When a visitor searches Google for "blue suede shoes", your ad shows up. This is all well and good, but what if you don't sell blue suede shoes?
Read on to find out how to track exactly what your visitors are searching for before they see your PPC ad and click on over to your site...
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Google Analytics: Get It Right the First Time
April 19, 2007
We have a client that recently came on board with us after having installed Google Analytics themselves nearly a year ago. Back then, they were skeptical about our services: "Do people really need help setting up Google Analytics? It's so easy!" We had to agree that, yes, for a lot of sites, this is true: configuration is easy. Sign up, take the script, put it on all of your pages, and then sit back and start collecting data.
Unfortunately, its simplicity can be a little deceiving. There are a lot of little ifs and buts with Google Analytics. If you set up your Google Analytics profile incorrectly, it can mean huge repercussions for your data, weeks, months, even years down the road.
So when Client X finally hired us, we hopped right into their account and audited their Google Analytics profiles. What we found just further confirmed what any Google Analytics Authorized Consultant already know: setting up Google Analytics is not always a cakewalk.
Here's what happened, and let it stand as a warning to ye who may venture forth in similar fashion. Our client has a single site with multiple subdomains. For those playing along at home, this requires the addition of a parameter to tell Google Analytics how to assign and manage cookie data.
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NCAA Tournament Contest Update
March 19, 2007
you're following the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, then you're probably
well aware of how crazy the weekend was. Hopefully you've also entered
our Elite Eight Contest and, if you're doing better than I am with your
picks, you've got a good chance to win a really beautiful
pearl necklace from Magnum's Jewelers.
It's worth $500, so even if you're not a huge basketball fan, you really have
no excuse not to enter.
Saturday saw three games that went into OT, but Sunday came with the sad realization
(at least for Shawn and
I) that the upsets were not to be. Aside from UNLV's win over Wisconsin and
perhaps Vanderbilt's narrow triumph over Washington State in the Battle of
the Derricks (Byars and and Low), it was par for the course. To put my own
spin on a common sports writer's cliche, Goliath went home with David's little
slingshot as a trophy.
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Here's to Avinash!
March 6, 2007
Avinash Kaushik has been blogging for nearly a year, and in that relatively short amount of time, he's cemented himself as one of the premier web analytics experts in the blogosphere. Today, Avinash announced on his blog that he'll be leaving Intuit, where he has worked as Director of Web Research and Analytics since 2003, and will be striking out as an independent consultant.
We'd like to congratulate Avinash on this exciting new opportunity. It takes a lot of guts to go indy, but if this means more time for him to write more great blog articles, then I don't think Avi has anything to worry about. Plus, his first assignment is working as an Analytics Evangelist for Google. He's going to be spreading the word about analytics, and working with the Google Analytics team on speaking and education engagements. I can't really think of any better representation for the tool.
All this just a couple of months away from the release of his much-anticipated new book, Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. If you need proof of how great a guy Avinash is, he's donating all proceeds from this book to two great charities, The Smile Train and Doctors Without Borders. We've already pre-ordered two copies for the office, and if you have any interest in web marketing or analytics, you should head over to Amazon and do the same. For more information on the book, check out its official page: Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, by Avinash Kaushik.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Yesterday, I wrote about tracking your website's visits to both Google Analytics and Urchin. Today, I'll answer a different question: can you track visits from a single website in multiple Google Analytics accounts? Certainly not as popular of a question, but still one that we're asked from time to time.
First things first, you'll need to understand the difference between a Google Analytics account and a Google Analytics profile.
Your GA account is tied into your Google Account, which is a single-entry login point that gives you access to most of Google's free services (Personalized Homepage, Personalized Search, Google Groups, etc.) If you're logging into Google Analytics, then you already have a Google account (but, contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily mean that you have a Gmail account).
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Your Choice: Urchin, Google Analytics... or Both?
March 5, 2007
If you're analyzing logfile traffic in Urchin using the "IP + User Agent" tracking method, you're fine. The standard Google Analytics tracking code will integrate seamlessly with your website. If, however, you are using the UTM method, you will need to make a few minor modifications on your site.
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Tracking PayPal Transactions in Google Analytics
February 13, 2007
We've had a lot of people enrolled in our Google Analytics Quick-Start Courses asking about PayPal. We've helped a few of our clients track PayPal e-commerce within Google Analytics, thanks to the Payment Data Transfer function and a bit of scripting on the back-end.
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January 30, 2007
We've had quite a few questions about how to track outbound AdSense clicks from a website using Google Analytics. There's an older post (from 2005) over on Aaron Wall's SEOBook blog, but it should still work. Check out how to track Google AdSense clicks in Google Analytics.
Understanding Google Analytics' Data Over Time Report
November 1, 2006
While the Google Analytics Help Center is, for the most part, well-written and comprehensive, I've gotten a lot of questions in the past about the Analysis Options feature. In case you're unfamiliar (and if you are, you're really missing out... this little button is one of the most powerful features of Google Analytics), I'll quote from the official source:
The Analysis Options icon provides access to:
- Data Over Time shows the values for the selected page over a selected date range.
- Overlay Page loads the Site Overlay report for the selected page.
- To-date Lifetime Value calculates that page's values since Analytics tracking began.
- Cross Segment Performance breaks the page's data down by the specified variable.
That's actually the entirety of the article that deals with Analysis Options. That's it. There's nothing more. Which is unfortunate, because it's such a downright effective tool. I get a lot of questions about each Analysis Option, so I'm going to spend some time over the next couple weeks detailing each individual report.
To start with, we'll go over Data Over Time. Contrary to the explanation given by Google, Data Over Time does more than display values "for the selected page" over time. You can also use it to measure visitor segments, campaign conversion rates, average revenue, and product performance, all over a customized period of time. This is very useful for trending, and for a quick at-a-glance view of your site's performance over the days and months.
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Using Google Analytics to Track Google Checkout Orders
October 13, 2006
Some really great news over at the Official Google Analytics Blog. Merchants using Google Checkout can now track purchases made on their site with Google Analytics. The procedure is outlined here.
Guess this is just another example of "features, not products".
Tracking Multiple Domains
September 26, 2006
Justin Cutroni has yet another great series of articles over at his blog, all about common Google Analytics configuration mistakes. His most recent post discusses third party domains, and getting Google Analytics to track across them. As usual, it's well-written and very informative.
One thing that many people don't know, however, is that, by default, Google Analytics will track only the request URI of its tagged pages.
What's the URI, you ask? Take a look at the URL below:
You see that the part of the URL that is surrounded by red is "/index.htm". So, when a visitor hits the page above, Google Analytics registers a unique visit to "/index.htm". Because the majority of Google Analytics profiles are focused on only one domain, the hostname (surrounded by blue) is ignored in the reports.
But what if you have two domains? And what if you have pages on both domains that have the very same URI?
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View Visitor IP Address in Google Analytics
September 20, 2006
There's no way to view your visitors IP addresses right out of the box with Google Analytics. You can view visitor location and ISP in Marketing Optimization > Visitor Segment Performance, under the Domains and Geo Location reports.
But surely Google Analytics must collect the IP address, or there's no way that it could calculate visitor location and ISP.
In fact, it does collect this data from each visitor that accesses your site. Better still, the data is easily accessible with a fairly straightforward Advanced Filter and the User Defined variable. Here's how.
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Google Analytics Gadget for Google Desktop
September 11, 2006
Camden Daily and Chris McKeever have whipped up this nifty little Gadget for the Google Desktop program. It doesn't give in-depth analysis of your GA data, but it's worthwhile if you're interested in keeping an eye on hourly and daily numbers without logging into your account:
See your visitor statistics in real time without leaving the comfort of your desktop. This little guy plugs right into your desktop and pulls all your Google Analytic profile Data in daily and hourly views.
Click to download.
More Profiles Means More Control
August 1, 2006
It's official. Google has increased the number of default profiles for a Google Analytics account from 5 to 10. Why does that mean more control?
Well, with more profiles comes the ability to restrict a user to only those sites for which they need access. You can track subdomains and subdirectories separately in a new profile, and if you've filled up the four goals available in your main profile, just create a new one for the same website and set up some new goals. You don't even need to change the tracking script on your webpage.
Which Match Type Do I Use For My Goals?
July 25, 2006
When you set up a goal within Google Analytics, you have the option of including a funnel. The funnel is a series of the pages leading up to your goal action: each step in the path to requesting a whitepaper, for example, or the checkout procedure of your online store.
With traditional static websites, coming up with a funnel is a painless process. You plug in the static URL from your site into each field, give it a label, and then you're done. But if you're running a database-driven dynamic site, or need to include more than one page within a single step, you may be interested in the additional Match Types available for funnel creation.
Below the Define Funnel form of each Goal Settings page is a section called Additional Settings. Here you'll find a number of options to help you closely identify the steps of your website funnel, even if those steps are a bit more complicated than a series of URLs.
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New AdWords Keyword Positions Report
June 27, 2006
The Google Analytics team have really been busy, it seems. In addition to the extremely useful AdWords Analysis report released early this month, it looks like they have unveiled a new tool for AdWords advertisers: the AdWords Keyword Positions Report.
Where do your AdWords ads appear on Google search results pages? How does each position convert for your particular keywords? Drill down from any keyword to see its display position: T1 through T3 indicate that your ad was promoted to the top of the search results page. Positions 1 and higher indicate a position in the right-hand location.
So you can see how your ads perform while in specific positions and use Position Preference from within AdWords to target your highest-converting spot.
This is some very powerful stuff here. Two really great reports in just one month. Anyone else wondering what else is up their sleeves?
Hat tip to Andy
Transform Google Analytics Reports into PowerPoint Slides
June 20, 2006
Robbin Steif details a pretty cool application that takes Google Analytics xml data and builds a set of PowerPoint slides detailing the reports of the profile. While Google Analytics has an easy-to-use Dashboard for Executive, Marketing, and Webmaster staff, this tool is great for presenting a dataset to folks who may not have access to GA itself. It's definitely worth checking out.
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.
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New Google Analytics AdWords Analysis Report
June 2, 2006
Some very exciting news for Google AdWords customers currently using Google Analytics to monitor CPC performance. Google has added a new report to the Marketing Optimization set that gives a very quick and easy drilldown into all AdWords campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. Behold the brand new, immensely useful AdWords Analysis report.
Impressions, Cost, Clicks, CTR... everything available from within the AdWords Campaign Summary is here, but you also get the great Revenue and Cost-Per-Conversion stats that Google Analytics offers, all in an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
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Say Goodbye to Expensive Analytics
May 19, 2006
Intuit's Avinash Kaushik started blogging earlier this week. The blog is called Occam's Razor after William of Ockham's famous principle: "Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity."
Kaushik's blog has already proven to be a keenly written and enlightening read. In his latest post, Kaushik offers a few suggestions to those spending a boatload on web analytics:
- Apply for a free Google Analytics account at GA Sign Up Page
- Once you get the code implement Google Analytics on your website in parallel with your favorite expensive analytics tool
- Get a comfort level for delta between the two sets of key numbers (you know visitors, conversions, page views etc etc) and create a multiplier (my tool shows visitors 10% higher and page views 10% lower than Google). You will use this multiplier in future to compare year over year trends if you want to.
- Cancel the contract with your favorite expensive analytics vendor and take that $50k or $100k or $200k and: 1) Hire a smart analyst for between $50k to whatever maybe your areas great salary 2) Put the rest of the money in your pocket.
Makes a lot of sense when put that way, doesn't it? You can save a lot of money, just by switching to a free utility like Google Analytics. As Kaushik says, "Your smart analyst will be able to extract just as much value from GA than your old tool, in fact my prediction is that it will be a lot more."
So, basically, don't multiple your entities--in this case, your web analytics spend--beyond necessity. Turns out William of Ockham knew a thing or two about web analytics.
Hat tip to Andy Beal
Lee Odden Interviews Eric T. Peterson
May 17, 2006
Over at the Online Marketing Blog, Lee Odden has posted an interview with Web Analytics Demystified author Eric T. Peterson. As Odden writes:
"When you think of authorities on web analytics, one person that should be on your list is Eric T. Peterson."
Couldn't have said it better myself. Anyway, great questions from Odden, and, as usual, Peterson's clear, well-informed answers about the field make for enlightening reading.
Read the interview.
Customize Your Google Analytics Dashboard
May 12, 2006
UPDATE: This blog post refers to an older version of Google Analytics that is no longer available.
With over 80 comprehensive reports right out of the box, Google Analytics can get a little overwhelming for the average user. Since there is data within each Google Analytics account that can benefit each and every department of the typical organization, though, it's important that everyone have quick and easy access to the information that they need most.
That's why there are three handy predefined Dashboards available in every profile: Executive, Marketer, and Webmaster. Each provides a hand-picked selection of the most applicable Google Analytics reports for any given job. The Executive Dashboard gives fast, top-view analysis of a website's performance. Marketer Dashboard focuses on the various advertising and media campaigns driving to the traffic. The Webmaster Dashboard is a great resource for the creative department, giving them a snapshot of design-centric visitors metrics: screen resolution, browser version, operating system, etc. Each of these Dashboards gives quick and clear answers to the questions that every member of your organization has about your website, all in an attractive, easy-to-read format.
Now, for the great news for Google Analytics users: you can now customize the Default Dashboard of a specific Google Analytics user, giving them immediate access to the information they need to do their job. Here are the details:
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Collecting Web Data: A Look at Web Analytics Methodology
May 1, 2006
A few months back, I posted briefly on Script-Based Versus Log-Based Tracking, discussing the differences between various web analytics data collection methods. With more and more questions cropping up about reporting discrepencies between the two types, I felt the time was right to revisit the topic and put some key concerns to rest.
Logfile Analysis, the older of the two methods, simply counts the hits made in the web server logs and stores the data in an easily-readable, easily-managable format. This method is based on server-side data collection; there is nothing stored on the visitor's computer, nothing that runs in their browser.
In the late 1990s, search engine spiders were increasingly present on the web, and made a considerable impact on the logfiles of the sites they crawled. Along with web proxies, the popularity of consumer Internet service (and subsequent rise in dynamic IP assignment), and browse caching, it became apparent that logfile analysis needed a breath of fresh air. Supplementing logfile analysis with cookie tracking and robot exclude lists helped to solve some of the problem, but a second method was already being developed.
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Interview with Google Analytics' Alden DeSoto
April 20, 2006
We had the opportunity to interview Alden DeSoto, Editor of the Google Analytics Conversion University and the Voice of Urchin (so named because Alden was the
narrator of the Urchin tour on urchin.com), and asked him some questions about the move to Mountain View, the mission of Conversion University, and the importance of web analytics to sites large and small.
ROI Revolution: It's been just over a year since the Urchin team moved from the former home of Urchin in San Diego, CA (due to Google's purchase of Urchin Software) to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA. What's it been like over the last 12 months?
Alden DeSoto: Hard work, but fun and incredibly stimulating. I feel like we get to do really big things here. Like rolling out Google Analytics to everyone who wants it, and for free. We're helping so many businesses this way and I love meeting customers and hearing about their successes. And, Google itself is an amazing place. There are a lot of brilliant and really passionate people around here. It's one of these places where you'll sit down to lunch at a table with someone you don't know and end up having a fascinating conversation. And, we get authors and speakers doing presentations at Google all the time. Some of these people are my personal heroes--Jimmy Carter and last week, Al Gore. So, I'd say I get continually re-inspired here at Google. It's hard to imagine being anyplace else.
ROI: What's your background, Alden, and how has your role changed since the Urchin buyout by Google?
AD: My background is in communications. Before Urchin (I joined Urchin in October of 2003), I was a writer at Sun Microsystems and Siebel Systems, here in Silicon Valley. I also spent a year in Guatemala working for an NGO, developing and teaching a computer literacy curriculum for Guatemalan high school students. I basically like to use my writing ability to help people.
At Urchin, my job was copywriter-technical writer-corporate communications all rolled into one. But, my mission was to help people understand how they could use Urchin to be more successful online. And, as editor of Conversion University, that is still basically my mission here at Google. The more information that is out there on how to actually use Google Analytics to market more effectively, to build a better site, to create more compelling content, the better businesses are going to do. And, the more useful the web will be to your average person or consumer. I have to admit, I'm looking forward to the day that when I click on a search result, I can always expect to land on a landing page that shows me what I'm looking for, without having to hunt around. It's frustrating for me (and it makes me sad for the business), when I end up leaving a poorly designed site because I can't find what I'm looking for. So, I guess I'm trying to help create a better experience for myself and everyone else!
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Google Analytics Feature Updates
April 13, 2006
Some exciting news from the developers about some great feature additions to Google Analytics. Here's the official announcement at the Help Center, and here's a quick overview of what has been added:
- Localized time zone: Now you don't have to convert your data from Pacific Standard Time.
- Rename Your Accounts: If "UA-12345" isn't descriptive enough, now you can change it to whatever you want.
- Language Preference Support: Change your UI language setting with the new My Account link at the top of each Google Analytics page.
The best part of the announcement, though:
"We're adding support for more users and sending new invites all the time."
There has been such a huge demand for this free tool that, as Timothy posted last week, Google Analytics invitation codes have started showing up on eBay. With increased capacity for new accounts, this might mean that new sign-ups won't have to wait quite as long as before to get a peek into their website's performance, and they might not have to resort to bidding wars. So, if (for whatever reason) you've been waiting to sign up, now's the time.
All the above changes are being rolled out to all Google Analytics users and should be available in their accounts currently, or within the next few days.
What do you think about the new features? How are you planning on using them in your current Google Analytics setup? Any feature requests that didn't make it into this round of updates? We'd love to hear what you have to say.
Tracking Downloads with Google Analytics
April 4, 2006
With log-based web analytics utilities like Urchin Software, tracking downloaded files is easy. Your web logs register a hit whenever someone grabs a pdf or views a movie.
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Exclude Internal Visits from Google Analytics
February 22, 2006
Back in November, Amit Agarwal wrote about preventing Google Analytics from tracking visits via an edit to the Windows Host file. This is an effective work-around for excluding traffic from internal PCs with dynamic IP addresses, but tweaking the Hosts file is a bit tricky for the average user. Plus, if you've got dozens or hundreds of employees, it's really not practical.
Using Google Analytics' Visitor Segmentation, you can achieve the same result, much more efficiently and with a lot less work on your internal users' end.
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AdWords Extends Print Ad Auctions
February 16, 2006
Looks like AdWords is extending their print ads auctions until February 24th. If you missed the opportunity, be sure to act now, and don't forget to track your offline advertising with Google Analytics.
Google Acquires Measure Map
February 14, 2006
If you're a blogger looking for a way to connect with your audience, you might be interested in Google's Acquisition of Measure Map, an analytics service that focuses on weblogs. It should very intriguing, watching what they do with this already-popular utility. Go check out Measure Map now and sign-up for an invitation code.
Tracking Email Campaigns with Google Analytics
January 25, 2006
NOTE: Please see the UPDATE at the bottom of the article.
If you've ever sent out a mass email newsletter to your clients, you've probably found yourself pausing before clicking "Send" and wondering just how many people will actually open the thing, and of those, how many will find their way onto your site.
Google Analytics can help answer those questions, and a number of others, with its easy email tracking features. Open rate, click-through rate, and conversions can all be tracked within Google Analytics. You can even measure the effectiveness of your email campaign against your CPC, banner, and print campaigns.
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Google Analytics Link Tagging 101
January 13, 2006
The only way for you to see which advertising media are actually returning your investment is to tag your ads. It's an extremely simple process with Google Analytics, once you're prepared with the basic knowledge on how to categorize your various campaigns.
First, understand that you only tag what you need to tag. Don't confuse yourself, or add unnecessary work. For example, if you need to track a Google AdWords account that is linked with your Google Analytics account, you don't need to tag your AdWords URLs at all. Google Analytics does it automatically. Other paid marketing campaigns like banners, and unpaid media like email campaigns should definitely be tagged.
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Script-Based Versus Log-Based Tracking
January 6, 2006
There's an interesting post over at the Search Engine Roundtable Forums about the reliability of Google Analytics data versus data generated by Urchin 5.7 software. Barry Schwartz points out a 20% hike in traffic stats through Urchin when viewing data for one of his sites.
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Filtering Your Data
January 4, 2006
Control is everything when it comes to web site analytics. You want to make sure you're tracking the right data, and you need to make sure you're tracking the data right. With traffic filters, you can control exactly which data are flowing into your Google Analytics profile, and which aren't.
There are three predefined filters that you can use, right out of the box:
- Exclude all clicks from a domain (hostname), which can be used to exclude all clicks originating from one network. Get rid of the hits from your internal office network. Just plug in your hostname here and apply to your profile.
- Exclude all clicks from an IP address, which is great for removing any clicks from a single IP address, or even a range of IP addresses. Take a visit to www.whatismyip.com, then plug in the IP address here to exclude any computer that has a static IP address from your data results.
- Include only traffic from a subdirectory will allow you to set your profile to only report on a subdomain or a subdirectory. Use this to only see traffic to your nonfiction titles (www.example.com/nonfiction/) or to your user's section (users.example.com).
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