Introducing Weighted Sort in Google Analytics

- September 1, 2010

Today on the Analytics & Site Intelligence blog, I’d like to introduce a brand new feature that may change the way you think about your report data.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever sorted by the Bounce Rate column within your Google Analytics account, only to be disappointed with the sheer number of single visit bounce rates at 100%! I know I have. Additionally, have you ever re-sorted that Bounce Rate column (clicked on the column heading a second time) and saw single visit bounce rates at 0%? How useful was that information?

Last week, the Google Analytics team introduced Weighted Sort, which applies statistical significance to column sorting. Now, when you sort your report table by Bounce Rate (or, any other computed metric, like Goal Conversion rate, Ecommerce Conversion Rate, or %New Visits), you will see a new check box that will appear above the data columns labeled Weighted Sort. When this check box is clicked, your data will no longer be sorted by Bounce Rate (or your computed metric of choice) – your data will now be sorted by its rank, or, its weight (hence the name!)

Let me show you what I mean, visually. First, the image directly below this sentence shows you a cross-section of the All Traffic Sources report, within the Traffic Sources section in Google Analytics. Notice that – by default – the report is sorted in descending order by Visits (symbolized by the downward-pointing arrow):

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Instead of viewing my All Traffic Sources report sorted by visits, I want to view the report sorted by Bounce Rate. So in this second image, I have clicked on the Bounce Rate column heading:

weighted-02

As expected, I am seeing 100% Bounce Rate traffic sources with a few visits listed for each – which traditionally has not been very helpful. However, with the new Weighted Sort check box (as shown at the top of the image above), I can tell Google Analytics to disregard the traditional sorting method and apply statistical significance to give me a better read out of how my traffic sources are performing. Now, in the next image, check out the results:

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Even though some traffic sources with higher bounce rates are listed higher up within the report table now than other traffic sources, Google Analytics takes the volume of traffic (visits) into consideration with Weighted Sort. You’ll need to force yourself into the habit of looking at the far left of the report table, where the rows are numbered, to know where each item on your report ranks when you use weighted sort. Look at the very left of this last image and you’ll see each row numbered from 1 to however many rows of data your report contains:

weighted-04

Even though I used the All Traffic Sources report as my example for this blog post, you can use virtually any report in Google Analytics and enable Weighted Sort on it (for example, the Keywords report). Weighted Sort should give you a much better perspective as to how your data ranks from a statistical standpoint than the previous column sorting / ranking method that Google Analytics traditionally used.

Google Analytics’ new Weighted Sort feature should help take even more guesswork out of your day-to-day analysis equation – who doesn’t want that?

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