Articles in the Custom Data Solutions Category

March 23 2009

So, what’s wrong with Google Analytics?

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MoreVisibility - Google Analytics Authorized ConsultantIf you’ve been to our website recently, or have just seen our site’s footer, you’ll notice that MoreVisibility is a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC), making us one proud company. We love everything Google Analytics, which means you’ll read a lot of GA-oriented material on this blog. We really feel that Google Analytics can help every company, every business, every ONE, regardless of size, number of employees, or complexity of needs / wants.

With all that being said, this doesn’t exclude Google Analytics from suffering a few bugs, glitches, breaks, and flat-out inaccuracies – this is life on the World Wide Web. A lot of posts and emails have come across my eyes over the last few weeks about some of the troubles with certain elements in Google Analytics. So, below, I have a few of the biggest current bugs / issues with GA. Rest assured, each and every one of these items is currently being looked into or being worked on as you read this. They may not be able to turn things around in 24 hours – but give them a break; they are very busy people with a lot on their plate!

1. Column Sorting
Clicking on any column heading within any table in GA Reports will not properly sort that column by the metric you clicked on. It’s definitely a frustrating bug. In the meantime, what you can do is you can download the report in a CSV file, which is available towards the top-left of Google Analytics, and do any kind of sorting locally, if you absolutely must.

2. Site Overlay “Gray Screen”
This is an issue that has received a lot of attention, especially lately. At random times, Site Overlay will fail to load successfully, causing a gray overlay over your website’s homepage. You can still see your website, but none of the overlay bars or metrics will appear. If this happens to you, try closing your browser and re-open it (not just the tab where you have GA open – the entire browser).

3. AdWords “Clicks vs. Visits” Discrepancies
There are have been some issues in some accounts with the importing of AdWords data into the AdWords Campaigns reports in Google Analytics, found underneath the “Clicks” tab. Even though Visits are not the same thing as Clicks, they should be “somewhat close”. There have been accounts that have not had all of their AdWords data properly imported over, causing huge data discrepancies for some accounts. If this pertains to you, simply use the actual Google AdWords interface for the time being until this bug can be sorted out.

4. Inability to halt automatic reports
Some users are currently affected by a bug that continues to send them automatic reports from the Google Analytics Email Scheduler, despite being removed from the email (or despite the email being deleted). The workaround to this temporary problem is to set up a rule to automatically delete the email in your email client, or, click on the “Unsubscribe” link towards the bottom of the email.

5. Ecommerce Data “way off”…
This is something that has been mis-reported as a bug, when in fact it is just the way it works. The reports pertaining to Ecommerce in Google Analytics are on a different schedule in terms of viewing the data, separate from the rest of the GA Reports. It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours for complete Ecommerce data to appear in Google Analytics, which is different from all other data, which takes anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours. The solution? You will need to wait a day or two in order to view full Ecommerce data for your website.

6. Absolute Unique Visitors shows “N/A”
In almost every account, having an advanced segment turned on will show “N/A” for the Absolute Unique Visitors metric / report. This is not necessarily an error, but due to the way Google Analytics uses Advanced Segmentation, Absolute Unique Visitors is a metric / report that cannot be displayed.

I’m experiencing other technical issues / bugs with my GA Account, or I have a suggestion for Google Analytics – is there a way to tell them about this?
Yes, there is. You can use the Google Analytics Contact Us for, located here:

https://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/request.py?cf_question=qc_5_1&no_support=1&contact_type=login

You can also keep track of known issues with GA from this page:

http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/request.py?contact_type=knownissues

February 19 2009

Wednesday Interview Series: Average Time on Site

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Every Wednesday, I sit down and interview different metrics or report sections from Google Analytics. I ask the tough questions – and I expect straight answers! (This, obviously, is a fictional interview. However, if metrics or reports could talk and be interviewed, this is how I imagine their personalities being and how they would answer my questions. Hopefully this will be a fresh, interesting way to learn about the wonderful world of Google Analytics in a unique way).

Joe Teixeira: “Mr. Average Time on Site…how are things?”
Average Time on Site: “…Average…”
JT: “What’s with the sunglasses?”
ATOS: “…It’s bright in here…”
JT: “Well those are just the studio lights…I can have them turned down if you…”
ATOS: “No…it’s cool.”
JT: “Ummm…OK. Well let me ask you my first question. Can you explain to everyone exactly how you are calculated?”
ATOS: [Turns Away in Disgust and Rolls Eyes] “Man…come on, man. Why you gotta play me like that? Everybody knows it’s up to __utmb and __utmc to calculate the difference between the time stamps of each page. I ain’t got nuthin’ to do with any of that.”
JT: “So, two cookies – __utmb and __utmc – they calculate you…”
ATOS: “Yeah, man…”
JT: “…and the difference between each time stamp on each page is the time a user spent on that page…”
ATOS: “Yeah…”
JT: “…and then the Average Time on Site is the sum of all of the time a user – or groups of users – spent on the pages of a site, divided by the number of pages viewed.”
ATOS: “…something like that. If you know all this, how come you’re asking me, man?”
JT: “Because I wanted to hear what you’d have to say about it…”
ATOS: [Becoming more frustrated] “Look, man, this is how it goes down, a’ight? If somebody bounces from a landing page, guess what happens? I become an average of 0:00:00, because there ain’t no second timestamp to go by, so [pointing to the ceiling] the big man upstairs [GA] can’t give me credit for my time. It ain’t my fault, I’m just doing my job around here.”
JT: “So you really have a problem with this. What about people that leave their computers on and go to lunch, or go to a meeting?”
ATOS: “It’s the same thing, except backwards. Let’s say somebody goes to lunch for an hour and they leave they browser on…after 29 minutes of what they like to call “inactivity”, I stop counting. This happens ALL THE TIME, man. It just ain’t right! If they time me out, no second timestamp happens, which again means the average time for that page becomes 0:00:00.”
JT: “What I’m gathering from you is the message you’re trying to convey here is for people who look at you, and use you in their reports and presentations, to take you with a grain of salt…to use your number precariously.”
ATOS: “Well I don’t know what “precariously” means…but yeah, don’t do that.”
JT: “Last week, I talked briefly to Bounce Rate about setVar, and how his change in classification has impacted him. How has the update to setVar affected you?”
ATOS: “Man, it’s about time they did somethin’ about that. setVar ain’t nothing but a greedy metric, man. I’ve been tryin’ to tell people about setVar, and how it was being counted as an interaction hit, but they weren’t listening to me…but finally they took care of some business and straightened things out.”
JT:
“Well, thanks a lot for your time…”
ATOS: “Oh, shoot – we done already?”
JT: “Yeah, I’m sorry…”
ATOS: “C’mon, man…I get paid by the second…”
JT: “Sorry, ATOS…maybe some other time.”
ATOS: “…whatever, man. That’s what everyone always says: “Time”. More time, less time, average time…everyone always wants to know about time. People need to just chill for a second and look at everything else, not just me…”
JT: “Well…thanks again [I start getting up].

Wednesday Interview Series:
February 11, 2009: Bounce Rate

February 11 2009

Wednesday Interview Series: Bounce Rate

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Every Wednesday, I sit down and interview different metrics or report sections from Google Analytics. I ask the tough questions – and I expect straight answers! (This, obviously, is a fictional interview. However, if metrics or reports could talk and be interviewed, this is how I imagine their personalities being and how they would answer my questions. Hopefully this will be a fresh, interesting way to learn about the wonderful world of Google Analytics in a unique way).

Joe Teixeira – “Hey there Bounce Rate, how’s it going?”
Bounce Rate – “Hey Joe! Right now I’m doing great and flying low…but tomorrow I may be down on my luck…”
JT – “Well, why do you say that?”
BR – “There’s a reason my name is “Bounce” Rate – sometimes I’m very low and loved by everyone – other times, when I’m a bit higher, I’m scrutinized and examined like a Wall Street executive on Capitol Hill.”
JT – “Well, you’re a very important metric, Bounce Rate. People really seem to love you when you’re low…”
BR – “I know, I know…it’s just…why can’t they always love me, even when I’m high? I mean, I’m just a metric…why can’t more people look at other things, too?”
JT – “Are there any other places that you want people to start paying attention to?”
BR – “Yeah – and I hate to put him on the spot, because we go way back – but people should look at me when they’re looking at Top Landing Pages. I mean, it’s a great place for everyone to find out how effective each one of the pages of their website are as an entry point, as a landing page.”
JT – “So you feel as if people may be looking at you in a way that you feel is not necessarily the best?”
BR – “Oh yeah, absolutely! When people look at me on the Dashboard, they either love me or hate me – there’s never any middle ground. Well, I think people should really go beyond the Dashboard and see me when I’m broken down by each individual landing page or keyword!”
JT – “Have you talked to Top Landing Pages or Keywords about this?”
BR – I talked to Top Landing Pages – he agrees with me. It’s hard to get a hold of Keywords now a days, though. A lot of requests for him, you know…”
JT – “Sure, I bet.”
JT – “Let’s move on. What percentage makes you happy? 25%? 30%? 50%?”
BR – “See, there you go. You’re just like everyone else; you want a fixed percentage for me. Why can’t anyone accept me for who I am? Sometimes I can’t be 25% – but that doesn’t mean 25% is too high. Other times I can’t get lower than 60%, but – in a lot of industries – 60% is really good! Yet so many people tell me “I want you to be 15% across the board”, and depending on the site and the industry, I just can’t get that low…I just can’t…”
JT – “I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. But you’re so great at pointing out to [most] of us the pages, keywords, and even the site search terms that we need to focus our optimization efforts on…sometimes we get greedy and we want you as low as possible!”
BR – “It’s not like I’m not trying to be low, Joe…I DO try…but there’s nothing I can do when sometimes there are just so many bounces that have to be divided into the number of entrances…if people just focused more on helping me be lower, rather than yelling and cursing at me for not being low enough, I probably would be much lower over time!”
JT – “I agree with you. One final question before I let you go: recently, Google Analytics has decided that your long-time friend, setVar, would no longer be counted as an interaction hit. Have you spoken to setVar at all since the announcement?”
BR – “Yeah, I talked to setVar a few times – he’s sorrier for me than I am for him, because now that he’s not an interaction hit, I’m going to go up at least a few percentage points here and there. But I’m OK – and I’m happy for setVar, you know. I think it’s important that he’s classified and tabulated properly from now on.”
JT – “Thank you, Bounce Rate. Hang in there…”
BR – “OK, thank you…I will…”

Tune in next Wednesday, where my special guest will be the notorious Average Time on Site. You won’t want to miss it!

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