Articles written in August, 2009

August 31 2009

Become a Fan of the Top Landing Pages Report

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Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes, fewer words can speak at a higher volume than lots of words. Sometimes, a simple, neat, and easy to read report can have a greater effect than a report filled with endless columns and rows of data. This is the case with the Top Landing Pages report in Google Analytics.

Tucked away quietly in the middle of the Content section of your Google Analytics profile, the Top Landing Pages report won’t dazzle you with an AJAX-based, “do-it-yourself” module like the Custom Advanced Segments area or fancy click-data on top of your web site like the Site Overlay report. In fact, the Top Landing Pages report has only three quantitative columns – most reports start out with at least five or six.

The report even has an evil twin – the Top Exit Pages report, which for the few folks who discover Top Landing Pages, can confound the two reports and even go as far as thinking that one is the continuation of the other (ouch!).

So what is it about Top Landing Pages that is so valuable, and such a hidden gem? Two words: Bounce Rate. The sole purpose of the Top Landing Pages report is to compare Bounce Rates against the entry pages that your visitors used to reach your web site. And, as we all know, Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits to your web site. High bounce rates are bad, because they suggest that your Landing Pages are either broken, unattractive, or did not meet visitor expectations. Low bounce rates are very good, because they suggest that your Landing Page content was interesting and persuasive enough to entice a visitor to go to another one of your site pages.

When you bring up the Top Landing Pages report, you’ll immediately see your top 10 Landing Pages (or, entry points) of your web site, and three metrics for each Landing Page: Entrances, Bounces, and Bounce Rate. You can use the “Rows” drop-down at the bottom-right of your report table to see more Landing Pages if you choose, and the “Filter” tool on the bottom-left of your report table to include or exclude certain pages from the report.

Top Landing Pages report

I mentioned two paragraphs ago that a high bounce rate is bad, and a low bounce rate is good. However, I won’t give you a percentage and say whether or not that figure is good or bad. A Bounce Rate of 35% may be very high for your web site, or it may be very low, which depends on several factors, such as visitor demographics and your web site’s industry vertical. Comparing your Bounce Rate against a static number will not give you an accurate measure of performance. However, Comparing your Bounce Rate against your site’s average will allow you to provide a backdrop of context for each individual Landing Page, as shown in the following image, with the Comparison to Site Average view enabled:

Top Landing Pages - Comparison to Site Average

After you’ve used Top Landing Pages for your own web site, determine which pages are in need of some optimization work. Is a Landing Page that you’re using for your pay per click campaigns suffering from a really high bounce rate? Now would be the time to possibly re-write that page’s content, make it more conversion-oriented, or fix any technical errors that may be present. Is one of your category-level pages a rock-star with a minuscule bounce rate? You may want to give Kudos to your SEO team, as their copywriting and keyword-matching optimization work is paying off.

Now that the best-kept Google Analytics secret has been exposed, add this report to your dashboard, or set-up a scheduled email report so that you can stay ahead of the curve and begin lowering those Bounce Rates!

August 18 2009

New Google Analytics Feature: Secondary Dimensions

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Back in May of this year, Google Analytics announced the release of some new features that will soon be available to everyone worldwide. This announcement includes two new features that we are very excited about: Pivot Tables and the subject of today’s blog post, Secondary Dimensions.

What are Secondary Dimensions?
Secondary Dimensions allow you to add in a layer of data to any report table within the Google Analytics interface. With secondary dimensions, you can save time and effort, while simultaneously obtaining valuable insights within your report data. All you have to do is visit any report – Keywords, All Traffic Sources, or your Top Content report – and look for a new drop-down menu directly underneath the scorecard, shown in this image:

Secondary Dimension Drop-Down

Then, you can start diving deep. For example, segment your Traffic Sources report by “keyword“, and you’ll get this:

Secondary Dimension: Keyword

You can also do fancier analysis, like segmenting your Traffic Sources report by City, while using the Comparison to Site Average view to evaluate the percentage of New Visits from each location, which can help you evaluate your geo-targeted marketing efforts:

Secondary Dimension: City

With the power of Secondary Dimensions, you will be able to take your analysis efforts to the next level. Because every standard dimension is available in secondary dimensions, you have virtually limitless possibilities. Try segmenting your Keywords report by Landing Page, your Top Content report by Visitor Type, or your Map Overlay report table by Source for some fun (and useful) information! Secondary Dimensions are addictive, so consider this your only warning!

Next time we will talk about another new Google Analytics Feature, Pivot Tables (or Pivoting), and show you how to use Pivoting in conjunction with Secondary Dimensions for even greater reporting power!

August 10 2009

It Takes a Village to Raise a Culture of Web Analytics

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The last 2 years have seen an influx of business men and women getting involved with Web Analytics. Owners, Presidents, VPs, Directors, Marketers, IT personnel and even Administrative Assistants have all taken an interest in this still relatively new dimension of the internet.

While it’s great that so many folks are diving head-first into the ocean of analytics, it’s very important to understand that one individual cannot do it alone. Everyone — even one man / one woman shows — needs a village…a community of individuals that can support, educate, and collaborate with one another to install, upload, and subsequently measure and take meaningful, useful insights from their analytics data.

Each person needs to rely upon any one (if not all) of the following types of people to truly achieve Web Analytics success:

1. The Web Analytics “Champion”
Each organization needs that one person who stands proud and champions the cause to their colleagues. This person takes command and learns everything possible about Web Analytics, and can eat and drink metrics and reports for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This person can calculate search campaign ROI and Average Order Value figures in their sleep. He / She is the quarterback / point guard / captain of the team.

2. A Colleague who Shares the Vision
Forging a relationship with a co-worker who can get as excited and enthusiastic about Web Analytics as the “Web Analytics Champion” is key to promoting a culture of data insights throughout your organization. It becomes contagious to the rest of the company when they see that others are being positively influenced by Web Analytics, and they’ll want to be a part of it.

3. A Friend in Need is a Friend in IT
No matter what type of Web Analytics program you choose to run with, a technical / IT person is going to be necessary at one point or another. IT folks can help you upload any necessary scripts, code your website’s pages, manage APIs, parse server log-files, fix and repair bugs, and anything else needed for Web Analytics success. Making friend(s) in the IT department is a crucial, often overlooked step.

4. Don’t Forget the Marketers
At the end of the day, the purpose of Web Analytics is to understand the behavior and actions of your website’s visitors. Marketing / advertisement is what drives traffic to a website, be it a pay-per-click ad or a couple of months of hard-nosed SEO optimization work. The marketing department is going to need reports and statistics from Web Analytics to be able to refine their efforts, and evaluate which are working and profitable, which ones are wastes of money, and which ones have potential.

5. Sell, Sell, Sell!
Sometimes, the concepts and the philosophy of Web Analytics are hard to explain throughout an organization — anyone who has ever heard “Why Should I Spend Any Time with This?” will understand. This is a great opportunity to get a sales rep, or even the VP of Sales on board with Web Analytics. They can probably share with you some persuasive techniques that can be used to attract interest.

6. Who’s The Boss?
Not Tony Danza — unless he IS your boss. The Senior VP, Chief Technical Officer, Executive Vice-President, or perhaps the CEO themselves should be on board the Web Analytics gravy train. This is, understandably, a vital part in the ultimate success of building a culture of Web Analytics within your company — important colleagues or co-workers who were on the fence before may be strongly persuaded to jump on the bandwagon if a supervisor, partner, or even the owner supports the efforts.

In a lot of situations, people do not have the ability to take the reigns and create this prosperous culture of finding actionable insights. They work alone, in a small group, or in large companies where teams are spread across several offices, making building a community near impossible. Fortunately for us, MoreVisibility is that culture of Web Analytics. We are a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, a Google AdWords Qualified Company, and have an entire organization of colleagues who champion the cause for Web Analytics.

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