Improving the load time of your website has been proven many times to be an effective method for improving your websites conversion rate.

speedoI’ve been helping several websites with their site speed optimisation over the past couple of weeks which has highlighted a trend that appears to be affecting many Google Analytics accounts.

This trend is a lack of ‘Site Speed’ data in Google Analytics. In order to make informed decisions you have to have adequate data, if you only have 10 page load samples for a given page then chances are some of those samples do not represent an  accurate picture of the average load time for the page.

By default Google Analytics only collects data on 1% of page loads for their ‘Site Speed’ report and not all visits qualify for tracking depending on the capabilities of the web browser. This means that websites with lower traffic levels will undoubtedly have inadequate data to perform effective site speed analysis.

Luckily Google Analytics provides you with the ability to increase the number of samples that get recorded, all that is required is a small addition to your Google Analytics javascript.

We need to add a call to the _setSiteSpeedSampleRate() function asking Analytics to increase our sample rates. This call needs to be added above the track pageview request, like so:

_gaq.push([‘_setSiteSpeedSampleRate’, 10]);
_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

The above code will increase the sample size percentage from 1% to 10%. I would recommend 10% as a minimum to collect. It is believed that Google will limit samples to 10k per month.

Please go and make this change now so that you get enough site speed data to make informed decisions and don’t rely too heavily on unbalanced data.

So, your website is up and running, your Google Analytics code is tracking correctly and your bounce rate and pages per visit are looking good, my website must be performing well!

google-analytics-goal-trackingThe simple fact is that every website has some form of goal, whether it be selling goods, generating leads or generating ad revenue. By  tracking your websites performance against its goal you will truly begin to understand whether or not your website is working well.

As an example, my current goal for this blog is to grow visits and pageviews by over 100% in 2013, sounds ambitions I know, but by breaking that yearly goal down into several smaller goals I can make it more achievable. An example of one of those smaller goals is to get visitors to view 4+ pages during their visit.

I can set up Google Analytics Goal Tracking to let me monitor my goals and make it easier to analyze the current performance of my website.

I am going to guide you through the process of setting up a Google Analytics Goal so that you can begin monitoring goals on your website:

  • Click the ‘Admin’ button at the top of your Google Analytics account.
  • Select the account that you would like to add the goal to.
  • Select the ‘Goals’ tab.
  • Click one of the +Goal links to add a goal.
  • Enter a name for your goal in the box provided. Make sure you make it meaningful so that you will know what it is when you see it in your Analytics account. I have worked on many Analytics accounts where goals are not named properly and it makes it almost impossible to understand the reports.
  • You next need to select your Goal Type from the four options. The pages per visit and visit duration are relatively simple to understand and they are useful when you are looking to improve visitors time on your site. URL Destination can be used when your goal is to get people to a specific page, maybe a checkout confirmation page or thanks for subscribing page. Event allows you to assign a goal to one of your Events you have set up, not sure what events are? Read: What Is Google Analytics Event Tracking.
  • Depending on the option that you have selected you will get different options at this point. For the pages/visit and visit duration options you will be able to enter the number of pages you want people to be viewing or the duration you want them to remain on the site. Then click Save.
  • For the URL Destination option you will have to enter the page on your site that you want to track, so if you want people to go to example.com/last-page/ you would enter /last-page/ into the box, without the domain name. Next you need to select the match type, if your page generally has tracking code on the end of it that identifies a sale or a session then you want head match instead of exact match as exact match would not recognize all the unique codes on the end of the URL. Then click Save.
  • For the Event option, simply use the drop down boxes and fields to identify the event that you would like to track. Then click save.

Once you have done these steps Google Analytics will begin to analyze your traffic to see if people are performing your goals. You can view how your goals are performing by heading to the ‘Conversions > Goals’ section.

Now you are in a better position to analyze how well your website is performing and identify areas for improvement.

Do you use Google Analytics Goals to track the performance of your website? What goals do you track? Are you having problems setting up Google Analytics Goal Tracking? If so, drop a comment below and I will do my best to help.

Anyone who has run a campaign to drive traffic to their website will know the importance of adding Google Analytics Campaign Tracking to the links in their campaign to allow them to better monitor the performance of the campaign.

google-analytics-url-builderThese ‘tags’ that you add to links back to your site allow Google Analytics to group all the data that comes through via the URLs with the tagging and groups the data in the ‘Traffic Sources > Campaigns’ section for easy analysis.

One of the problems with this technique is that people forget what the URL tags are or do not understand how to add them to their URLs properly. Luckily Google have provided an answer for this query by creating an easy to use tool that helps you to generate links for your campaigns. We shall call it the Google Analytics URL Builder and it can be found here:

http://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en-GB&answer=1033867

It is a simple 3 step process that turns your current campaign URLs into Analytics optimized campaign URLs.

Here is what you do:

  • Firstly you will need to locate and copy the URL of the page that you would like to add tracking to.
  • Once you have your URL, paste it into the field in Step 1 of the URL Builder.
  • For step two you have to decide on the content of your tags, it is important to make your tags meaningful so that you can understand them when looking through your Analytics data. Only 3 are mandatory however it is good practice to fill in as many as possible.
  • Campaign source: In this  field it is a good idea to enter the location of where people are going to be clicking the link. E.g – Newsletter, Blog.
  • Campaign Medium: In this field you want to enter the medium in which the URL was delivered to the users. E.g – Email, Banner ad.
  • Campaign Term: If you have a keyword associated with your campaign, then enter it in this field.
  • Campaign Content: Many campaigns have several variations, you would enter the variation/content of the campaign in this field. For example if you have 2/3 banner ads for your campaign, you can add the name of the banner to this field and give each banner a unique tracking code to understand which banner is performing the best.
  • Campaign Name: Finally you just need to give your campaign a name. It is a good idea to make this understandable but remember that it is going to be included in the URL so their is a chance that your users will see it so make sure it is something that you do not mind other people seeing.
  • Now hit the ‘Generate URL’ button and you will be provided with the URL for your campaign.
  • Add the URL to your campaign and begin collecting valuable information about how your campaign visitors are interacting with your website.

I believe that these campaign tracking URLs are essential when running campaigns to drive traffic to your blog, they allow you to very quickly get an understand for what is and is not working.

Have you used the Google Analytics URL Builder? Do you tag your URLs? Are you having problems with the URL builder? If so then post them below and I will do my best to help you out.

Google Analytics Site Search allows you to track the queries that people are searching for on your website. This can provide a valuable insight into the content that you should look to provide on your website and the questions that people have when browsing your site.

searchIt can also be extremely valuable for e-Commerce companies who can use it to identify new products to stock or to identify in-demand products.

Luckily Analytics has a feature available to track these searches on your website and reports them under the ‘Content -> Site Search’ section. All it requires is some simple setup work in the Analytics admin section.

  • Click the ‘Admin’ button at the top right of the Analytics dashboard.
  • In the ‘Profile’ menu, select the profile that you would like to setup Site Search tracking on.
  • Click on the ‘Profile Settings’ sub-tab.
  • Near the bottom you will see the option to select ‘Do Track Site Search’.
  • Next you need to add the identifier for your search term. The easiest way to do this is to do a search through your search box and grab the URL. Next you need to find the name of the parameter that passes your search term. E.g. If your search URL is: http://davidshawblog.com/?s=analytics – You would enter s into the field.
  • Select whether or not you want to strip the query parameters from the URL. I will always strip query parameters from my URLs.
  • Click ‘Save Changes’.

Google Analytics will now start tracking the search activity on your website, however it may take up to 48 hours for this data to start displaying in Analytics.

If you are having any problems implementing site search tracking on your Analytics account, post your questions below and I will do my best to help you out.

Do you track search activity on your site? Have you learnt anything valuable from your site search data?

Over the past couple of days I have talked through some of the core metrics of Google Analytics such as Bounce Rate and Exit Rate. Today I will answer the question, What is Google Analytics event tracking?

google-analytics-event-trackingSo, lets start with the official definition from Google of Event Tracking:

Event Tracking is a method available in the ga.js tracking code that you can use to record user interaction with website elements, such as a Flash-driven menu system. This is accomplished by attaching the method call to the particular UI element you want to track.

Essentially, Google Analytics Event Tracking allows you to log information about what your visitors are doing whilst they are on a page, generally Google Analytics is set to measure page view based events (things that are happening during the loading of a page), Event Tracking allows you to monitor interactions on your website after the page has loaded.

Event Tracking can be useful for tracking actions such as downloading a file, subscribing to a newsletter or a click on a particular link on your page.

Setting up Event Tracking I would put in the moderately difficult category, if you have a small amount of experience with Javascript then you should find it relatively easily, if not then stick to the Google Implementation Guide and follow the process on there.

As a basic run through, Event Tracking works by placing a call back to Google on the events that you wish to track using their _trackEvent call, which takes the following format:

_trackEvent(category, action, opt_label, opt_value, opt_noninteraction)

Only the first two options are required, the other three are optional.

An example of this code in action might be a user click ‘Play’ on a video on your website. To do this you need to add an onClick call to monitor when an element has been click and add the call back to Google inside it, such as:

<a href=”#” onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Videos’, ‘Play’, ‘Baby\’s First Birthday’]);”>Play</a>

In this scenario, the reports for Events would display Videos as the Category, Play as the Action, and Baby’s First Birthday as the Label.

Hopefully this has given you an insight into what Google Analytics Event Tracking is and some examples of where you might be able to use it on your website. It is a powerful addon to analytics that allows you to gather more information about what your visitors are doing when browsing your website.

Having problems with Analytics Event Tracking? Not sure how to implement it? Post your questions below and I will do my best to help you out..

It would be great to hear how you have implemented Event Tracking on your website and whether you find the data useful?