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):
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:
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:
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:
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?
So you’re getting a lot of traffic to your website. That’s great! A good amount of your website’s traffic is converting. Awesome! You’re even getting some returning visitors to your site, and they are buying things, too! What could be better than this? (Of course, you could say “Winning the Lottery!”, but that’s not realistic).
The first question that comes to mind about your website’s traffic is usually “Where is the traffic coming from?”, or some variation of that. This is something that we all want to know, whether to satisfy our own curiosity or to properly optimize your cost-per-click campaigns. Using Google Analytics, let me show you a few different places where you can go to find out the origins of your traffic.
1. The “All Traffic Sources” Report
This is normally where most everyone goes to know where people are coming from. It’s found underneath the “Traffic Sources” section (obviously). Now, you need to understand that, by default, Google Analytics groups all traffic in four separate categories, or, “mediums””:
Direct – Usually represented by (direct)(none), this is all of the traffic that either types in the URL of your website by hand, or accesses your website via a bookmark. Copying / Pasting your website’s URL and clicking on “Go” or hitting the Enter key also counts as direct traffic.
Referral – A referral is any visit from any website that links to yours. Usually appears with the name of the website or IP address (Example: myspace.com / referral)
Organic – Any traffic originating from an organic search engine listing. As of this post, Google Analytics automatically recognizes 39 different websites as search engines, but this number is always changing. (Example: google / organic)
CPC – Traffic that originates from a pay-per-click marketing program, such as Google AdWords. You’ll see it listed as “google / cpc”. Note: you will need to have your URLs coded with Google Analytics URL Tracking on all of your non-Google AdWords Paid Search campaigns in order to see them listed as “cpc”. Otherwise, they will be lumped in with the “organic” listings. Visit the Google Analytics URL Tool Builder Page to learn how it’s done.
2. The “Referring Sites” Report
This report is one of my personal favorites. I really like to look at this report, so I can see who is either linking to me or referencing me in a blog or message board. This report is also found in the “Traffic Sources” section, and it will list any website which you have received at least one visit from. The best part about this is that if you click on any website listing, you can see the exact page where your link is found, and you can also click on the small “double-window” icon next to the full page path to go to that page, to see your link on their site.
3. The “Search Engines” Report
Finally, you can use the Search Engines report to view your total amount of search engine traffic. You can also click on the “paid” link next to the segmenting tool to view all paid Search Engine traffic, or you can click on the “non-paid” link to view all organic / non-paid Search Engine traffic. Clicking on the name of the search engine that’s listed there will allow you to segment that search engine by keyword, so that you can see which search terms are responsible for bringing you traffic.
These three reports are a great start for you to start to see where all of your traffic is originating from.