Articles written in January, 2011

January 27 2011

Measuring Visitors using Custom Reporting

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Yesterday I asked the following question on Twitter:

I need some ideas for my weekly [Web Analytics] blog post. Anyone?

To which Twitter user nedeniarecel replied:

What about custom reporting to measure entrances and bounce rate metrics by geography and time of day?

Excellent! I want to show nedeniarecel (and you, of course) how to set this up, but I also want to discuss what to do with this report once it’s set up. That is, the insights and decisions that we take and make from this new custom report that we are about to create. A report is only as good as the insights it can provide.

I’m going to use Google Analytics to show how to set this up, but regardless of what tool you’re using, you should be able to apply the same principles that I have here.

To set up this Custom Report,

1. Log-in to your Google Analytics account, select your profile of choice, and click on Custom Reporting from the left hand navigation

2. Click on Manage Custom Reports, and then on the subsequent screen, click on Create new Custom Report on the upper-right.

3. Give your report a name, and, if you want to, give your tab a name. Drag and drop metrics / dimensions from the left-hand side into the areas of the report on the right-hand side. Your report should look something like this screen shot:

custom-visits1

4. Click on Save at the bottom of this screen and you’re good to go!

Or – are you good to go?

This kind of report will give you some good data by itself. We have entrances by country / territory (you can do region or even city level geo’s instead if you wish), and it will provide you the bounce rate for each country / territory – which is the percentage of single-page visits from each location.

You can even click on any country and get a breakdown of entrances and bounce rate by the hour of the day.

What is important to do at this point is to ask ourselves whether or not this report can answer a question, add a specific value, or, allow you to extract a valuable, usable insight. For example, can you take an action from this report on your website or on your marketing efforts? Is this report adding a value that you didn’t have before? Can someone make or suggest a decision with this report?

If you don’t feel that you can, then I would suggest a few modifications / additions to this report, while maintaining the integrity of the request. I would do something along the lines of this screen shot:

custom-visits2

In a manner of speaking, I “pimped out” the original custom report to include:

1. An additional site usage metric, Pages / Visit, gives me a pinch more insight on average on how deep their engagement was.

2. Three goal-oriented metrics: Total Goal Starts, to see how many visits started the goal completion process; Total Goal Completions, to learn how many visitors completed an important action on my website; and Goal Conversion Rate, to obtain the ratio of visits to goal completions.

3. Two final metrics, Search Exits and Event Value. These last two give me clues as to the performance of both my website’s search function and any non-page view Events that I am tracking, like videos or PDF file downloads. Search Exits represent the percentage of visits that leave your website after performing a search – like a bounce rate for your website’s search function. Event Value is the total value of all events.

4. A new dimension, Source / Medium. This way I can get an informative breakdown of how each source of traffic + each medium viewed and performed on my website, and then I have the option of clicking on any individual source / medium to view a country / territorial breakdown. If I want to go deeper than that, I can click on any country / territory and get another breakdown by hour of the day.

Now, I can take this data for any source and know what I need to do next, because I know what country visits came from, what their bounce rates and conversion rates are, and what these visits thought of my search function, events, or PDF files. I know if I need to work on my SEO if my organic traffic sources aren’t matching my performance expectations, or if my pay-per-click efforts are doing fantastic and if I need to allocate more budget there. I can see if my E-mail newsletters tanked or if my direct mail piece was a smash hit.

I can do all of that from that custom report. The great part about custom reporting is that there are thousands upon thousands of different combinations that you can put together, just as I did above. What are some of your custom report combinations in your favorite web analytics tool? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!

January 19 2011

Five ways to perform keyword research with Google

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When I first started professionally working on the internet back in the stone ages of the mid-to-late 1990’s, all we cared about was:

1. Making HTML changes to web sites.
2. Learning about exciting new languages like XML and JavaScript.
3. Stuffing the “keywords” meta-tag with as many keywords as humanly possible (for SEO reasons).

Back in those days, you could do very little to tell Yahoo, Excite, HotBot, or Altavista what your web site was about so that if someone searched for something you did, you would show up higher than the other web sites in the search results. I vividly remember copying and pasting important words and phrases from client’s home pages into their “keywords” meta tag, hoping that Yahoo or Netscape would find the web site and rank it high. Man, those were the days.

When we fast-forward to 2011, we realize that we’ve learned quite a bit and have started using a few flashy tools along the way that this start-up company called Google has created to learn about what keywords we should be targeting, bidding for, or optimizing our web sites with. You may have heard of Google. 🙂

For today’s blog post, I review five tools that Google has made available for website owners and marketers to perform proper keyword research. Don’t worry, pure web analytics fans – you just may learn something new today!

Tool #1: Google Insights for Search
When you visit Google Insights for Search and start entering in a few of your favorite search terms, you’ll understand why this tool is becoming very popular and highly regarded. Within a matter of milliseconds, you’ll see historical search term trends, options to filter by industry, national and regional interest levels, other related search terms that have been used, and even which websites visitors are going to when they use your keywords.

Use Google Insights for Search to learn about the traffic volumes on the internet for your keywords, and learn about what websites people are visiting when they search for your keywords.

Tool #2: Google Trends
At first glance, Google Trends seems similar to Google Insights for Search, but it works in a different way and provides you different information. Google Trends specializes in comparing keywords, regardless of whether the keywords are related or contrasting. It also gives users search volume index figures and important news articles that boosted search volume over time. You can also compare websites and enter in URLs to compare your website with a competitor’s.

Make use of Google Trends by comparing and contrasting keywords and websites to refine your understanding of what volume is out there for your keywords.

Tool #3: Google AdWords Keyword Tool
If you’re like me, you need lots of ideas – fast. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is great for both advertisers looking to build keyword lists for use in pay-per-click, but also great for discovering alternate keywords or synonyms. You can find keywords based on a word, phrase or website, and have the ability to receive traffic estimates and filter your results by industry. The tool works in a similar fashion as Google AdWords does, with a very similar look & feel.

Maximize the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find new, related keywords to target your website (or, marketing efforts) for.

Tool #4: Google Suggest
You don’t have to look very far to use this great Google tool. Simply start searching for anything on Google.com, and you’ll see the Google Suggest tool in action. This is actually an excellent way to further explore the possibilities that exist for any keyword you type in. You’ll be able to see what other searches Google suggests to you via this auto-complete approach. I guarantee you that you have not thought of every possible variation or combination, so go use Google!

Take advantage of the standard Google.com search engine and see what possibilities exist for your keywords that you didn’t think of.

Tool #5: Google Analytics
With a pinch of editing (installing a small piece of JavaScript on your website pages), you can get access to hundreds of reports and thousands of possible views with Google Analytics. The great thing about analyzing the keywords reports that come bundled with this Web Analytics tool is that the keywords you see in reports are from visitors who have visited your website. Unlike the four other tools, the keywords here aren’t hypothetical or estimates – they actually happened and were actually responsible for visits to your website. Mining your Google Analytics account for keywords shows that you are paying attention to your visitors and learning how they are finding your website.

Create a Google Analytics account today and start learning what keywords visitors are using to find your website and what they are doing on your website after they arrive.

January 12 2011

Match types aren’t just for pay-per-click (Google Analytics Goals)

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In pay-per-click advertising, keywords are what an advertiser bids on to have their ads shown in front of relevant web surfers. Advertisers have many different settings at their disposal to leverage keywords to maximize their marketing efforts. One of those settings is called the match type, and it’s used to control the relevancy, quality, and to some extent the volume of impressions and clicks that your ads will be eligible to receive.

For example, let’s say you’re bidding on the keyword “Miami Dolphins”, and you’re advertising with Google AdWords. Your match type will determine the quality and volume of traffic you receive:

– If you’re using Broad Match, your ad will appear anytime someone uses “Miami”, “Dolphins”, or any combination of those two words with any other words. So, searches like “Miami Heat”, “Miami Vice”, “Dolphins in the ocean”, and “restaurants in Miami” would all make your ads eligible when your keyword match type is set to Broad Match.

– If you’re using Phrase Match, your ad will only appear when the search term “Miami Dolphins” (in that order) appear before, after, or in between other words. Searches like “Miami Dolphins website”, “tickets to the Miami Dolphins”, or “directions to Miami Dolphins stadium” will all make your ads eligible to appear using Phrase Match.

– If you’re using Exact Match, your ad will only appear when a searcher types in “Miami Dolphins” (in that order), and with no other words before after, or in between “Miami Dolphins”. No exceptions.

(Google also has a new “Modified Broad Match” option. There’s a good article to read from the Google AdWords blog if you’re interested to learn more about it).

You must be wondering why the heck am I spending time writing about pay-per-click keyword match type options. Well, most everyone at MoreVisibility is well versed in pay-per-click, and anyone who works with Web Analytics knows at least a little bit about how pay-per-click works (and, if you didn’t know about keyword match types…now, you do!). If you’re creating and editing goals in Google Analytics, you’re going to need to be well versed in goal match types. Otherwise, what appears as a goal may not be what you wanted or expected.

In Google Analytics, there are three goal match types (for URL destination goals): Head Match, Exact Match, and Regular Expression Match.

1. Head Match.
Head Match for Google Analytics URL destination goals works somewhat like Phrase Match works in the pay-per-click advertising world.

Let’s say that I am using /thankyou as my goal URL. Using Head Match, Google Analytics will record a goal whenever any of the following pages are viewed:

/thankyou
/content/blogs/thankyou
/content/thankyou/blogs/page.html
/thankyou/youre-welcome.html
/thankyou/content/blogs/thankyouagain

Essentially, with Head Match, any time /thankyou appears in a URL (or, as we like to call it, a Request URI), and a unique page view is recorded for that URL, Google Analytics will record a goal. Notice that there are some possibilities above that you may not have considered that will count as goals using Head Match.

2. Exact Match.
This goal match type is exactly what it sounds like. It will match your goal URL exactly, without exception. This match type in Google Analytics is just like Exact Match in the pay-per-click world.

Using /thankyou as your goal URL and using Exact Match, Google Analytics will only record a goal when a unique page view occurs on:

/thankyou

Google Analytics WILL NOT record a goal when you’re using Exact Match for unique page views on pages like:

/thankyou.html
/thankyou.html?id=1234
/content/thankyou
/content/thankyou.html

Notice how, using Exact Match, Google Analytics will not even count “/thankyou.html” as a goal. Exact Match is a very strict goal match type, but it may be exactly what you’re looking for, especially if you want to avoid the type of scenarios on bullet point 1 above.

3. Regular Expression Match.
The last goal match type is Regular Expression Match. Basically, this match type allows you to do all sorts of things with your goal URLs, using the power of Regular Expressions.

(Don’t know anything about Regular Expressions, or need a tune up? Don’t worry – I wrote an entire article about Regular Expressions a while back).

Regular Expression Match is great for lots of things, including combining multiple URLs into the same goal slot, or, forcing Google Analytics to match your goal URL depending on what it either starts with or ends with.

Example: you want Google Analytics to count a goal for any page that starts with /thankyou. Using the Regular Expression Match type, enter in:

^/thankyou (<– Yes, that’s the ^ symbol above your “6” key)

Using ^/thankyou will tell Google Analytics to match anything that starts with /thankyou, like:

/thankyou/blogs
/thankyou/content
/thankyou.html
/thankyou.html?id=1234

However, it will not match anything like:

/content/thankyou
/blogs/thankyou
/whatever/thankyou

(You can use the dollar sign symbol, $, to match a URL by what the URL ends with…do read my post on Regular Expressions to know what I’m talking about).

Is your head spinning yet? Not to worry – comment below with your questions and I’ll try to answer them for you.

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