Category Archives: Google Analytics Blog

Taking your website analytics into your own hands

At the heart of Google Analytics is a thorough analysis of views of pages on your website, and for most people, that’s plenty of information. But what if you want to know about more than just page views and who made them? What if you want to know about actions on your website, such as clicking buttons or “downloading” (i.e. viewing) PDF documents? That might be very useful, for example, in tracking where the visitors came from who actually bought something, made an enquiry or just showed real interest.

These actions can be recorded already, by attaching code to the things you want to track, but it’s an IT-intensive job which is too much trouble (and expensive) for many companies whose website is contracted out to a web design agency. Now, however, Google has announced a development which could change all that: “Auto-Event Tracking for Tag Manager”.

To take advantage of this, you need to have moved over to Google’s Tag Manager system, which (in my experience) very few companies have done. But it’s not a major upheaval; if you have an in-house IT person, or use a web design agency, ask them to have a look at implementing it.

Tag Manager acknowledges that most websites now have code in place on their web pages for more than one service, for example Google Analytics, AdWords Conversion Tracking, or Google AdWords Display Network Remarketing. You may have all this without even knowing it. With Tag Manager, you replace all of those sets of code with a single piece of code which calls them up when required. Crucially, however, this then takes their specification off the page and into an external interface which you control, rather than relying on the IT department or web designer to maintain things.

With the new “Auto-Event Tracking” addition to Tag Manager, you can now also specify recording of events (such as the previously mentioned clicking buttons or viewing PDF documents) without modifying the page. The first step is to implement Google Tag Manager, so if the idea is of interest, have a word with whoever’s responsible for your website maintenance right away.

Who’s keeping up with appearances?

Users of Google Analytics will have been aware that a new version, with some great features, has been available for some months now. You may be using it already. Unfortunately, some everyday capabilities have taken a long while to be updated for the new version, and for that reason the old version has remained available. These capabilities have included the creation of PDF reports, and the ability to email reports. As of a few days ago, however, you should see these too, and I don’t expect it to be long until the old version of Google Analytics is no longer available.

Every marketing manager must have access to full website analytics. If you can’t tell what your website visitors are doing, and where they’re coming from, you cannot market online effectively. Google Analytics is not the only product in town, but it’s an absurdly powerful product which just happens to be free, and that’s why 90% of the industrial and scientific businesses we support use it. If you’re still using some sort of “log analysis” (or not even investigating your website traffic at all), then you need to get a professional analytics application installed now. This can be done very cheaply (ask us to do it if your own website manager/designer can’t help) and the effort will be repaid almost immediately.

Traffic Flow in Google Analytics

Now you can see what Google thinks of your server speed

I’ve often argued with companies about the speed of their websites; I point out, gently, that things are a little on the slow side, and they disagree. But the reason is probably that they’re viewing the site from a browser (perhaps in the office) which has visited the site five minutes earlier and has all of the images and scripts in memory. Anyway, that’s all irrelevant now, because as of today, Google is giving you a whole lot of independent site speed data from within Google Analytics. You’ll need the new version of Google Analytics running (just click the link at the top of the page), and the site speed data is found under “Content” on the left. It’s very useful.

What’s an acceptable page load time? For human users, I remember some research from a couple of years ago which showed that 40% will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. However, as long as they can see the “above the fold” stuff in that time (i.e the screen area available without scrolling), then it’s not so important if the stuff down the bottom takes longer. I doubt that Google and other non-human visitors will be so tolerant, and Google has made it quite clear that fast page loading time is now a serious factor in giving you better search engine rankings. You might like to play around with sites like Which Loads Faster? to get a good demonstration of how your site compares. If you’re not performing well, it’s something your company seriously needs to look at. Quality, fast web servers aren’t expensive, and moving to one shouldn’t be too difficult.

All change on Google Analytics

If you’re a regular Google Analytics user (and you should be, unless you’re shelling out for an expensive alternative), then you’ll probably have heard about the sparkly new interface which is being introduced. Indeed, you may already have tried it. For many of us, however, it’s not been an option to date, because some of the most essential features haven’t been built in. These include the critical ability to produce PDF reports, as well as to schedule emails. The big news this week is two-fold: firstly, they’re about to add those missing functions from the traditional Google Analytics; and secondly, that existing version is going to be withdrawn from January 2012. Assuming that the report features work well, I’ll be quite happy to make the switch. Amongst the new features on offer, if you’re a Google Analytics fiend like me, are Real Time Analytics, Multi-Channel Funnels, Social Plugin Analytics and Flow Visualization. In different ways, these are all quite intriguing.

If it was this easy, anyone could do it

As it’s Friday, here’s something a bit more light hearted than usual. Visiting a website and performing any transaction, from downloading a data sheet to ordering and paying for a product, ought to be as easy as buying a loaf of bread. Unfortunately, here’s the bread-buying process which many websites put their customers through. Does this remind you of anywhere?

Click to watch…

Click to watch the video on YouTube