Articles written in July, 2011

July 27 2011

How to Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics

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Earlier this year, we wrote about how to measure visitors using Custom Reporting. The post was published exactly seven months ago today, but as you may be aware, a lot has happened since then!

Today’s blog post is all about creating a Custom Report within the new Google Analytics platform. Keep in mind that the new Google Analytics platform is still in Beta mode, which means that slight changes and modifications may be implemented before the Beta label is taken off.

To get started, log-in to your Google Analytics account and find the Custom Reports tab on the top of the screen. Click on it, and then click on + New Custom Report to get started (see figure below):

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On the next screen with a heading of Create Custom Report, you should see four distinct sections, from top to bottom:

1. General Information

All that you need to do here is give your Custom Report a name, as I’ve done in this screen-shot:

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You may want to come up with some type of naming convention if you’re planning on creating more than one Custom Report (Something like “Joe’s Reports – Goals and Ecommerce“).

2. Report Content

The way that Google Analytics Custom Reports work is by organizing your desired data within tabs. Each Custom Report can have up to five tabs, but you must have at least one tab. Within each tab, you can have one or more metric groups (more on metric groups in just a little bit).

You can give each tab a name and add a report tab here:

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Notice in the above screen-shot that you can select a Type. Custom Reports with Google Analytics have two types: Explorer and Flat Table.

An Explorer Custom Report will structure your report to look like one of the standard Google Analytics reports, where you see metric groups (statistics) and a trending graph across the top of the report, and a table with dimensions and metrics below it. With the Explorer report type, you can create multiple metric groups and up to five dimensions:

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A Flat Table Custom Report will structure your report to look like a spreadsheet. There are no metric groups with Flat Table reports, but you can choose up twenty-five individual metrics and up to two dimensions, which makes it perfect for exporting and integrating with a CRM system or an in-house database:

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3. Filters

With Custom Reports in Google Analytics, you have the option to filter your reports data to exclude or only include certain criteria. This is the equivalent of applying an Advanced Segment within your Custom Report automatically. For example, if you wanted your Custom Report to only show you traffic from visitors who originated from the United States, you would apply a filter that looks like this:

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4. Profiles

At the bottom of the Custom Report creation screen, you’re provided the option to apply your Custom Report to other profiles that you have access to. Click on the drop-down menu labeled None to view the profiles to which you have access to apply your Custom Report:

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Don’t forget to hit Save to create your Custom Report!

Editing, Sharing and Deleting your Custom Report

When you hit Save, you will be taken to the report that you created. On the left navigation menu, you can click on the Overview report to view a listing of all saved Custom Reports, with options to edit (go back to the Custom Report Creation screen), share (copying an encoded URL that you can email or instant-message to someone) or delete (wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch).

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Migrating Custom Reports from the old Google Analytics to the new Google Analytics

Finally, you can import Custom Reports that you’ve created in the old Google Analytics platform. There is a Migrate button directly underneath the listing of your saved Custom Reports:

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Walking through the Custom Report creation steps is only the first phase of this effort. What are you going to do with your Custom Report? What insights, analysis, and decisions will you make from the Custom Report that you’ve created? How will use this Custom Report’s data to improve your website and your marketing campaigns? These are the questions that you should ask yourself to truly take advantage of this robust feature of Google Analytics.

July 18 2011

Search Engine Optimization and Analytics: Your Competition’s Worst Nightmare

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In the last five years, website owners and marketers have become more and more in-tune with the many, many things that visitors do on their websites, and all of the interesting statistics and data points that web analytics measurement tools anonymously collect from said visitors.

The web analytics industry has grown tremendously in a relatively a short amount of time behind the leadership of vendors like Omniture (Adobe), WebTrends, CoreMetrics, Yahoo! Web Analytics, and, of course, Google Analytics. Throughout that time, and well before the emergence of the measurement industry, stood the practice of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that is still the most critical element in improving your website and increasing your website’s performance to this very day. Without a solid SEO strategy, website owners often find their competition ranking higher than they are for important, business-critical key phrases and search queries, costing them valuable leads and possibly sales.

Successful webmasters have been using Google Webmaster Tools to discover key insights into their SEO / natural / organic traffic, such as the search terms potential visitors are typing in to Google and the volume of impressions (displays) of website search engine listings. Today, in 2011, webmasters can link their Google Webmaster Tools account with their Google Analytics account to combine the knowledge of SEO efforts with the advanced visualizations and filtering capabilities of Google’s robust data platform.

At the time of this writing, Google Webmaster Tools to Google Analytics integration is in a limited, closed pilot, but soon enough you’ll be able to link these two accounts together. When you do, you’ll notice a new Search Engine Optimization report link within the Traffic Sources section of your Google Analytics account (In fact, that report link may already be there for your account, but you won’t see any data until you have the opportunity to link Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics).

Within the Search Engine Optimization sub-section, you’ll find three reports:

– Summary: A 30,000-foot view of your Google search result performance (see screen shot below). You’ll find the number of impressions (the number of times your search listings appeared within a Google.com search result page), the number of clicks on your search listings, and the click-through rate (Clicks / Impressions, *100) for all of your Google.com search listings. Within the Summary report, you can toggle the view of the report by Google Property, to see a breakdown of how much volume Google.com, Image Search, Mobile Search, and other Google web properties generated.

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– Queries: This report showcases the actual search terms that generated impressions and clicks on your Google.com search listings. In the Queries report, you’ll also see the Average Position that your search listings appeared when a searcher used a particular search query. A high average position number for a search query you’re trying to optimize for can give you an indication that some additional work or adjustment needs to be made on your SEO strategy for that query (The higher the position number, the lower / further back your search listings appear in a search result; a position of 1 is the highest on-search result page position a listing can have).

– Landing Pages: What a searcher types in to the Google.com search bar, and how the Google ranking algorithm evaluates a page on your website in relation to that searcher’s query will influence which page a searcher starts their visit within your website. This Landing Pages report highlights the top entry points into your website, helping you tie-in Average Position and Click-Through Rate metrics to give you an understanding on your webpage performance from an SEO standpoint. Pages with high Click-Through Rates and low Average Positions are most likely the pages that are the solid contributors to your bottom line (leads and / or sales).

When Google Webmaster Tools becomes available to link to your Google Analytics account, the website owners who jump on it as soon as possible will be the ones who may very well surge past their competitors and gain the competitive edge that could make the difference for the remainder of the 2011 calendar year.

Do subscribe to our Analytics & Site Intelligence blog to stay up to date on when Google Webmaster Tools will be available for your Google Analytics account, as well as updates and great information on the web analytics industry!

July 5 2011

How socially engaged is your audience? Find out with Google Analytics!

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Phew! Have you been having a hard time following all of the recent Google announcements the past few months? Yeah, you’re not the only one feeling that way. It seems that every time you check the Google blog, your feed reader, or your mobile device, you hear about a new feature or product offering from the search giant.

In the last few months alone, Google has introduced:

A few days ago, Google made yet another big announcement by introducing an improved way to track social interactions from your website within Google Analytics.

With some quick and easy customizations to the Google Analytics tracking JavaScript, you can now track Facebook likes, Twitter shares, and other social media bookmarklets that live on your site in this new social reporting section.

It’s even easier to view interactions for websites using the Google +1 button, because Google Analytics can automatically track +1’s on your site!

The next time you log-in to your Google Analytics account, you will find within the Visitors section a link to Social. Inside of the Social link, you’ll see three new reports:

Social >> Engagement: A breakdown of what social interactions your website visitors have performed, including Google +1’s and any custom interactions, like Facebook likes. Visitors who don’t interact socially on your website will be defined as “Not Socially Engaged”.

– Social >> Action: The source and the action performed by a socially-engaged visitor. Likes, shares, follows, and more will appear in this report. You’ll also see metrics like Unique Social Actions and Actions per Social Visit to help you analyze on-site performance by socially engaged visitors.

– Social >> Pages: Each social action can be tied back to a specific page on your website that a visitor’s social interaction took place from. This way, you can assign additional value to pages that lead to high volumes of social interactions, or improve upon pages that don’t.

While this section is a great way to obtain deep insights on your social visitors, you should still tag your shortened URLs for Google Analytics, to track the interactions on shared items on social media websites that lead visitors back to your website.

Social reporting is available to all Google Analytics users, so get engaged with social today!

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