Tonight I will be your friendly live blogger for our discussion of Google Analytics. I will do my best to capture the conversation as it occurs.
Our presenters: Paul O’Brien, Nick Batik and Seth Thomas.
Plugins to use/track/monitor Google Analytics:
Paul uses a plugin called Google Analytics for WordPress, written by Yoast, an active plugin developer, but it requires a separate plugin to see the analytics on the dashboard. Nick also recommends Web Ninja, which gives you the analytics right on the dashboard. Our third presenter, Seth Thomas, uses Ultimate Google Analytics. A fourth plugin some people like is Google Analyticator.
The important point is that Google doesn’t care which plugin you use, and you won’t lose stats if you switch between them – so use one you like.
A few other plugins:
Analytics360: allows GA integration with Mail Chimp
Twitter Tools: allows you to send notifications of new blog posts to Twitter; Twitter Tool Tagger allows you to actually track twitter traffic in tandem.
Three additional plugins Nick mentioned that might also be helpful (but for which I missed the explanations he gave) are Headline Split Tagger, and Phoenix Split Tagger, and Google Analytics Multisite Asynch.
Tips for Google Analytics accounts:
You will get one account in Google Analytics but then get individual IDs for each website in GA so you can have separate metrics for each site you administer. You can also give people view only or admin privileges to see the metrics.
Make sure your clients get their own Google/Gmail account and give them access to metrics; don’t give them access to your GA account itself.
Even if you don’t think you need the data, add GA to your site now. Let Google collect the data, and you can worry about analyzing it later when you or your client needs it. Always good to have the data collected just in case.
Looking at Google Analytics itself:
Paul pointed out the most important basic metrics:
He noted that this can be interesting but may not be useful to everyone.
- Direct traffic: people who have typed in the actual URL for the site
- Search engine: what comes from searches
- Keyword traffic: organic and keyword searches
This tells you which pages are being consumed, what they are looking at, how long they stay on a page, etc. It is important to look at keyword and content reports to see what people care about, which is a good way to tailor the business or blog in a way that is useful to your visitors.
A metric that shows how many people hit your site and then leave immediately. It is interesting, but may not be immediately actionable. If the bounce rate is high, it could affect how Google ranks your page. 34% is about average; if it’s above 50% it needs some work.
These are things you want to occur on your site exclusive of buying things (for the most part): hitting a certain page, watching a video, filling out a form. These can be set up in your profile settings. You choose which kind of goal (URL destination, Time on site, Pages/visit) to track. The reason to set up a goal is the funnel which is important if you take orders online.
A goal funnel is how successful your goal is, such as how many people click from home page to the order form and then make it to the confirmation form. The data will show how many people don’t complete the “funnel” and where they leave the process.
How many dollars were spent, where the orders were places, the type of purchase that was made, etc. You will see conversion rate (how many people convert, or pay $), how much is spent, the SKUs (what is purchased), where the money is coming from (did they hit site directly, or through search). Helps to see how effective the site is and what people are buying.
Paul pointed out that the GA dashboard can be customized with the content you most want to track.
You can see which sites (such as Facebook) are driving traffic to your site over time. Good to look at week by week.
This allows you to slice the data in any way you want, pulling different metrics however you want. You can see mobile traffic; just the blog (with keywords, traffic sources, etc); you can look at all data from Facebook; all the traffic for a specific order type; people who return to site; and so on. It requires boolean (and/or) considerations: e.g. traffic source AND recurring users.
He suggested you play with the advanced segments and see what you get; you can’t break anything.
New features that are a little funky/buggy still:
- Intelligence: compares site to other similar sites.
- Overlay: shows a heatmap of the site traffic.
Next, Seth Thomas demonstrated how his company uses Google Analytics. He showed a spike in traffic that came from a blog mention, and it’s worth noting those things in case there are server considerations. Because he is a server admin, he uses an iPhone app called Analytics Pro to watch metrics on a daily basis.
He is interested in browser stats. He can tell that they are tech savvy (lots of Chrome users). He can also tell that they don’t like ads – which he knows, but he has data to prove it. He likes to see connection speed as well.
He noted that it’s a good idea to have the GA code in the footer of your site, and even better to have it be asynchronous, which helps optimize page speed. However, it may cause some discrepancies, because the full page has to load and the script has to fire, or that visit isn’t counted. Both the Google Analytics for WP and Web Ninja plugins put the code at the bottom and do it asynchronously.
(For those who get this far… bonus points if you get the joke in the post title.)