Articles in the Analytics 101 – The Basics Category

February 19 2008

Why are my Visits different from my Clicks?

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Traffic Sources Navigation in Google AnalyticsA very popular Google Analytics report amongst the Campaign Management and Campaign Strategist teams here at MoreVisibility is the AdWords Campaigns report, located within the Traffic Sources section. This report is fantastic, as it pulls in click, impression, and click-through rate data straight from your Google AdWords account, and integrates it within the Google Analytics system.

This report really makes our lives easier, as we don’t have to toggle back and forth between two different systems. All of our Google AdWords Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Keywords are all in GA, and we can even see how much we spent! This report is probably one of the most under-rated features of all of Google Analytics.

Anyway, let’s talk about the title of this post, which is another very common question that I get asked. First of all, let’s define both “Visits” and “Clicks” – this is exactly how Google Analytics defines them:

Visits – The number of Visits to your site
Clicks – The number of Clicks on your search ad(s)

Clicks are pretty simple to understand – a person clicks on your ad, a click is registered, and counted as such. Visits is the tricky one. Visits counts the number of unique sessions created by your visitors. A unique session is basically a connection between a user and a webserver (your website).

There are a few different reasons why these two metrics are always different from each other, in the exact same date-range:

Multiple Clicks – There is nothing stopping a person from clicking on your ad multiple times in a specific date-range. No, it’s not click fraud, it’s probably comparison shopping. They click on your ad once, they go back and click on a competitor’s ad, then they go back again and click on your ad again, because they liked your offer or website better :). AdWords will record both clicks in that same session; however, Analytics only counts that as one visit, as the session was never terminated (they left your site, but the connection was still alive / their browser was still open). AdWords = 2 Clicks, Analytics = 1 Visit.

Multiple Visits – This is very close to the opposite of the first reason. Someone can click on your ad, close their browser or shut down their computer. Later, they can come back to your site via a bookmark, or if they remember your URL, they’ll type it in manually in the address bar. In this case, AdWords = 1 Click, Analytics = 2 Visits.

The Impatient Visitor – There’s also nothing stopping someone from clicking on your AdWords ad, and while your website is loading, they may get tired of waiting around for your website to load and go back to Google Search, or hit the “Stop” button on their browser. AdWords will count that click, but chances are that Analytics will not have had enough time to register that person as a visitor. Here, it’s AdWords = 1, Analytics = 0.

Invalid Clicks – There is always the issue of invalid clicks on your AdWords ads. The Google AdWords system automatically filters out invalid clicks from your account before you even see them. However, if these clicks land on your website, Analytics has no choice but to count those as visits. Analytics can’t automatically filter out “invalid visits” like AdWords can filter out “invalid clicks”. Therefore, the score here can be something along the lines of AdWords = 4, Analytics = 9.

The best possible answer that I can provide for the question “Why are my Visits different from my Clicks?” would be that both metrics are tracked and calculated differently by two completely different systems. Remember, you’re charged for the clicks – the visits are free ;).

February 15 2008

Goal Values can increase the Value of your Goals

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Google Analytics uses the Goal Value of each Conversion Goal to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) metric, as well as other currency-oriented figures that you see almost every day. Often, the Goal Value – which is optional – is left blank, leaving over 40 different reports in GA without this very important piece of the puzzle.

The most common reason I hear regarding why this is done is “…because I am not an Ecommerce website, so my Goals don’t have a monetary value…”. In my opinion, this is exactly when you need to insert a Goal Value, so that you can attach some kind of Dollar, Euro, or other currency to the actions that you want your website’s visitors to take. For profiles in Google Analytics that have Ecommerce enabled, the Goal Value is automatically populated into the reports (if that Goal is where the Ecommerce code happens to be processed). For any non-Ecommerce goals, you’re going to have to enter the value in yourself.

“…but how do I know what my Goals are worth? How do I calculate my Goal Value?”
There are a few different ways that you can determine your Goal Value. First, there’s the common approach taken by most people with non-Ecommerce goals. For example, let’s say that you have an inquiry form on your website, and the “Thank You” page of that inquiry form is a non-Ecommerce goal. These leads get sent to your sales team, and your sales team can close 10% of those leads. Let’s also say that the average sale amount for each closed lead is $2,000. You can take $200 (10% of $2,000), and use that as your Goal Value (don’t worry, Google Analytics will do all of the math for you in its reports).

Another way that I’ve seen Goal Value being used is by taking the amount given to a customer on a coupon or promotion code. If you have a “Print this $50 off Coupon” page as Goal, you can use $50 as your Goal Value. You would just need to constantly remind yourself of how you came about using $50 as your Goal Value when looking at reports, so that ROI and Margin figures don’t appear to be ridiculously low (or high) for you.

Finally, you can even make up a number! Does $25 sound good to you? How about $82.15? Perhaps $150,000 works for you? If your website or your online business structure / purpose doesn’t allow the flexibility of calculating a monetary value for a Conversion Goal, then you can just make up your own, so that you can get the most comprehensive set of data to look at and analyze.

Knowing how valuable your Goals are can let you know where you stand, and whether or not they are performing well or worth your efforts. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether your Goal Value was invented out of thin air, or if it was precisely calculated – as long as you have a number in there, you can begin to evaluate your Goals with a greater level of intelligence than you could before.

February 12 2008

The Four Views of Google Analytics

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Okay, I knew I couldn’t go three posts without talking about Google Analytics in some way, shape, or form. So, I’m not going to fight it – let’s talk about the four main “views” available in regular reports in Google Analytics. The names of the views aren’t official, but they’re what I like to call them.

Toward the right-hand side of most every report in Google Analytics, you’ll see the Views toggle menu – you can click on any one of the four icons to instantly change the view:

GA Views - Toggle Menu

View #1: The Table View

The Table View in Google Analytics

The Table View is the default view for most reports in Google Analytics – so, if you’ve been in GA at all, you should be very familiar with this view. Within all of the reports, Google Analytics emphasizes the importance of displaying several metrics together, so that you aren’t making any snap decisions or quick judgments based upon one individual metric. And, of course, each view comes equipped with Site Usage, Goal Conversion, and when applicable, Ecommerce tabs for your analysis pleasure. In the Table View, you can click on any one of the column headings to sort the table to your liking.

View #2: The Pie Chart View

The Pie Chart View in Google Analytics

The Pie Chart is a standard in any business report, and provides a pretty viewing alternative to any data that you need to present. With the Pie Chart view, you can now change the metric that you’re viewing with the drop down on the left-hand side of the report, and change the metric’s contribution to total metric with the drop-down menu on the right-hand side. Play with this for a bit the next time you’re in Google Analytics.

View #3: The Bar Graph View

The Bar Graph view in Google Analytics

I love Bar Graphs. Specifically, I love vertical Bar Graphs. This report view gives me all I need in that department. It’s an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand view, with the ability to change the individual performance metric on the right-hand side. Anyone in the world can understand that the bigger the bar, the more / higher / worse the line item is.

View #4: The Comparison to Site Average View

The Comparison to Site Average view in Google Analytics

Finally, the most interesting report view in Google Analytics. This shows how each individual line item is performing in comparison to the average of everything on your website combined. This report is great for easily picking out the winners (and the losers) in the group. You will be able to tell which items are bringing your site averages down, and which ones are your rock stars. (Red = Bad, Green = Good…pretty simple I would say). Again, change the metric that you’re using as the comparison with the drop-down menu on the right.

It’s very important that you become comfortable at looking at similar data differently. This will enhance your analysis skills greatly over time, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how different views can show you different things – from a similar set of data.

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