Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

google

Google Analytics: 7 things to do when you first start

If you are starting out with Google Analytics for a site (or sites), then there are a few first steps you should follow. Here are 7 tips to get you up and running…

1. Create an account

Make sure you sign up using a company email address, Preferably a non-personal one such as google@yourcompanydomain.com. This will make things much easier in the future, such as when you change roll, change your digital agency, or leave the company.

2. Think about your account/profile structure

Put some time into thinking how you are going to structure your Google Analytics account. There are accounts and profiles. This will be confusing at first. Without a bit of thought when getting started you run the risk of having a structure that further down the road you realise just isn’t right for you.

Google uses the analogy of a House with a number of rooms. An account should be a collection of related things – could be a brand, or a company. Profiles are the things; a particular blog, website, filter of another thing.

3. Insert the tracking snippet into your site

Make sure it’s the right version and in the right place – and working! It might be the case that an agency or a consultant has helped get you this far – double check and make sure they’ve used the latest version of the tracking snippet. The latest version at the time of writing is the asynchronous snippet.

Look at the source code of your site and compare the tracking snippet to the one shown on this page. If it looks more like this snippet, say thank you and goodbye. If they are putting the old snippet on new installations, they don’t know what they are doing.

4. Give your personal google account access

Yes Google are making it easier to switch between accounts, but you can’t do that yet with GA – so make life a little easier and add the Google account you normally log in with as a user for each account.

The best place to add yourself is via the user manager. You can find a link to the user manager towards the bottom of the account start page. From there you can give yourself access to all profiles within an account. Make sure you add yourself as an administrator.

5. Turn on site search

If your site is more than just a handful of pages, then there’s a good chance you’ve got a search box – or site search as Google calls it.

Turning on the tracking of site searches means that Google Analytics will record the search queries your visitors enter into your on-site search box. This can give you vital information as to what is important to visitors (and what they struggle to locate it via your information architecture and design).

6. Filter internal traffic

Every website has a significant number of visits from employees (or the site owners). This is a very distinct set of visitors, with different visitor goals and behaviour to your other target groups.

For many companies excluding internal traffic is quite straight forward as all Internet browsing usually goes through a gateway or a proxy. This means that internal visits will come from a known and limited number of IP addresses.

You should exclude this traffic, but I recommend that you also create a new profile for internal visits – as this means you can analyse the traffic if you need to.

Add an additional profile to the existing profile for your site. Perhaps with the same name as the original profile but with (internal traffic) as a suffix. Then create a filter that excludes everything apart from internal traffic. This means selecting “include only” instead of “exclude” when setting up the filter.

7. Get to grips with the basics

Learn what various figures and data actually mean – not all the statistics are necessarily what you think they are. If you’re going to be making business decisions based on GA stats, at least take the time to get to know them a little better first.

Traffic sources, bounce rate, and time on site, are three examples of data that is commonly misunderstood within Google Analytics.

13 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 6-7, 2011)

This time, a collection of links (and summaries) including articles related to: Social media and social search, web strategy and web management, Optimisation, usability testing and Eye tracking.


Social media & social search

Google Search Finally Going Fully Social With Shared Twitter Links And Even Quora Data

More Google (social) search news. Adding “shared” information to SERPs is a sensible way of making use of open data. It’s basically recommendations for search results. As I’ve written about, certain results shared by certain people (or combinations of people) seem to get a bump up your (personalised) search results.

How To Target Social Tribes On Facebook

Pressing the right psychological buttons is always centre to marketing, but the ease at which you can tribalise a brand varies a lot from sector to sector and product to product.


Web strategy & web management

Erase and rewind

The BBC is going to close and remove a number of old websites. This has generated an interesting and worthy debate about historical content and how it should be archived rather than destroyed. The cost (and difficulty) of keeping such archived content is hardly worth mentioning. The similarity has been raised between this wiping policy and the same one the BBC had for video tapes back in the 60s and 70s – resulting in programmes and performances being lost forever.

Are marketing images damaging your website?

Banners that don’t match the task a visitor is trying to complete and “filler” marketing images and being shown time and time again to be either ignored, or as Gerry points out there – even detrimental to the trustworthiness of a site and the chances of goal completion. Worth re-reading this Nielsen Alertbox article too

Linking Google Analytics to Webmaster Tools

A long awaited improvement. I’m of the opinion now that even if you are running another statistics gathering script on your page, you probably should make sure GA is there too.

How to read the RSS feed of any Facebook page

Cross-feeding updates from one social media site to another, or back to your corporate website is an increasingly important aspect of a web presence. For some organisations (such as Swedish Councils) archiving these updates is a requirement. Pulling out status updates from a Facebook page as an RSS web feed is possible, but how you do it is not widely known. This post explains how.


Information architecture

Guide to Website Navigation Design Patterns

A good quick overview of a number of navigation design patterns. Be careful with some of the drawbacks though, as some of them aren’t fundamental drawbacks of the particular navigation type. The Bible for anyone interested in this subject is James Kalbach’s Designing Web Navigation.


Intranet & Collaboration

The Social Business Employee Manifesto

Here’s another manifesto – from May last year – outlining the ground rules for the business employee relationship in the era of social business.

Why Yammer Failed

A little intranet story showing again how important it is to have management buy in. At the end of the day, someone above you can stamp on pretty much anything they want should they want to – no matter how well planned, justified, and implemented.


Optimisation, Usability testing & eye tracking

Appsumo reveals its A/B testing secret: only 1 out of 8 tests produce results

Not every A/B test will give you a strong result, as this article explains you might end up with an awful lot of non-results. Take-homes – Weekly iterations, patience, persistence, focus on the big.

A guide to carrying out usability reviews

A DIY usability review kit – including a scorecard template. Have a little play on your own website.

To Track or Not To Track

For me, it’s a no-brainer. Eye tracking combined with retrospective think aloud interviews gives you data and insight that other usability testing can’t. Make sure you read the comments on this post.

The value of eye tracking vs. observation and mouse tracking

Tommy expands on his comment to the “To Track of Not To Track” blog post above by showing the extra value that eye tracking can give compared to traditional usability testing (or mouse tracking). The post is quite technical in places, but ultimately what it explains is that eye tracking testing in this case highlighted issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been spotted.

Google Social search: followers and follows

This week Google rolled out a new feature to it’s SERPs and snippets when logged in. If you have a Google Profile and Google has indexed who you are connected to, there’s a chance that you will see a small profile picture along with a name and the text “shared this on <someplace>”.

a search result showing that a friend had share this page on Twitter

This is Google taking another step forward in integrating information it gathers about your social graph into it’s search results. This, of course, has a number of implications. You can read a bit more about the feature and what Google themselves have said about it in this Tech Crunch article.

Your connections

What isn’t apparent at first is who, exactly, are your friends. My initial presumption was that it was just the people I followed (on Twitter), but after a few searches it became apparent that it was both the people I follow and the people who follow me.

two snippets one showing sharing information from a follower on Twitter, the other sharing information from someone I follow

As you can see from the example above, the 4th and 5th placed search results are both indicated as being shared by people I’m connected to. I follow Alan Colville (Klout of 44), but Steve Cook (Klout of 23) follows me (I have Steve on a list, but I don’t directly follow him)..

Impact on SERPs

How much, if any, have those two tweets impacted upon the order of the results? Well, by logging out and doing a clean search for the same phrase the same two results are now 4th (still) and 9th. The second result has now dropped 4 places.

the two snippets from the previous example are 4 places further apart when not logged in

Ok, a number of additional factors could also be playing a role in moving that 9th placed result up to 5th – and as I didn’t do this test with the same Google account before this feature was launched I can’t say for sure how much of this movement is down to the shared link data. But I suspect it’s playing some part in it.

Importance of Twitter

What this does mean though, is that suddenly, following people on (public) social networks (in particular twitter) could lift the ranking of pages you’ve shared in those people’s search results. From an SEO perspective, the number of people you follow (and who follow you) became something to consider.

Shared links and little profile pictures makes Google’s use of this data really very obvious – but that’s limited to people logged into Google. What we can’t see as easily is how much Google is using this data in it’s regular organic search results, but we have seen from other case studies that it seems to already be a factor.

19 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Weeks 46-49, 2010)

A whopping 20 article post this time covering 4 weeks of articles spotted on my web-travels. Enjoy!

I’m not anti-SharePoint

Perhaps it’s not SharePoint thats rubbish, but the way it was implemented in your organisation?

Building Tomorrow’s Organization – without today’s IT?

You get the chance to start from scratch – how would you build your company’s IT organisation? Throw IT into the cloud! A provocative but insightful article.

Global Intranet Trends for 2011 – Sample

Last month the Global Intranet Trends report for this year was released. An executive summary and a some sample pages are included.

2011 Intranet Predictions

And once you’ve read the sample report from the Global Intranet Trends, why not compare and contrast its findings with these 10 predictions for 2011 from the Internet Benchmark Forum.

Building the Intranet Experience

Carolyn gives a few quick tips on how you can build a better intranet and then finishes off the post with a fine list of Intranet Twitter people.

Raising the Bar

It’s a people centric world, individuals are catching up quicker than businesses. Employees are circumnavigating policies and restrictions in the way they work in order to get the job done. Michael gives some suggestions of how you can act from both customer and employee perspectives.

Information flow part 4: Search statistics for our enterprise search

Kristian’s excellent series of posts continues with a look at how his organisation gathers and acts upon the search statistics that they gather on their intranet.

Internal comms at IBM shift from creation to curation

Insights into how the intranet and collaboration works at IBM. With over 400,000 employees IBM is like a small country. The sheer volume of content has forced IBM to embrace employee generated content and curation.

Why Joe Client Doesn’t Care About Standards

Selling web standards is no easy task. Clients need sites that are effective, but it’s our job as web professionals to bake web standards into our work – the client doesn’t really need to know the dirty details, just how (more) effective their website is.

Dark Patterns: User Interfaces Designed to Trick People

A wiki filled with examples of user interfaces (web sites) that are designed to trick people. Forget Wikileaks, this is the naming and shaming you should be reading. Educating and enlightening.

Thumbnail based web design?

Google Preview has the potential to make quite an impact in how people decide to click on a result in SERPs. Just now I suspect previews are not widely seen – but it’s wise to put a bit of thought into how your pages look in it – and an important web management task to check your preview thumbnails.

FAQ: Instant Previews

For anyone managing a website, you should read this FAQ. It pretty much explains everything you need to know about how Google collects, generates and uses the preview thumbnails. Many sites will need some tweaking – and right now i’m not talking about design tweaks, but under the hood stuff.

Web Designer’s Guide to PNG Image Format

The PNG image format has become the de facto standard in web design. This is probably the best guide and explanation i’ve read about PNG.

CSS Vocabulary

Pseudo-classes? Child-selectors? Descendant Combinator? Ever struggled to remember what all these odd sounding CSS terms mean? well now you’ve got an easy to read reference to help you out.

Content Strategy, IA, UX or SEO: What’s My Problem?

There are numerous aspects and angles to managing an effective web site and web presence. In this post Dan details some example scenarios and describes some possible solutions.

Becoming a Storyteller

A well researched and well written blog post by Andreas. My dumb-ass executive summary: Storytelling is da shit.

Social Media. It’s There To Give Your Brand A Body

Johan drums a similar drum sometimes in his posts, but it’s a drum that’s worth beating. He has my permission to keep writing this kind of blog post until the majority of companies have heeded his advice.

Mobile OS usage splits the world

As I highlighted in my blog post almost a year ago, the world-wide distribution of smartphone usage and Mobile OS usage is not uniform. The picture in India and Asia is vastly different to North America and Europe. It’s not all iPhone and Android y’know.

We Will Eye Track Almost Anything!!! (Part 3!)

And finally… More “Will it eye track” fun from the Acuity ETS blog. This time they show off some eye tracking data gathered from abseiling down a hotel. Pointless fun – well, almost pointless – it was for charity…

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