Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

How Google Analytics Works

Google Analytics is enabled by including a tracking code in the template of your website. This way, Google's indexing bots can see every page of your site and tell you all kinds of information about the traffic you're receiving on those pages.

This is fundamentally different from how Urchin works: Urchin is installed on the same server as your website's database, so it looks at your website from the "inside" and tracks traffic in terms of hits to the database. Since a hit is registered every time a file is requested from the database- every word, image, CSS or javascript file- consider just how many hits might be logged just from loading our homepage! Also, Urchin lumps in database files along with your pages in its reports, so don't be surprised if "robots.txt" is the most popular file on your site. What Google understands is that you are interested in how people use your website, so they've built their analytics tool around that principle.

Humans, Not Bots

Google Analytics looks at your website from the "outside" and attempts to closely approximate the experience of a human user. Consequently, many people notice that their numbers tend to decrease when transitioning from using Urchin to Google Analytics. This is not a bad thing; it's much more realistic. Remember, though the numbers may be lower, they're just numbers. What's more important than big numbers is accurate data.

By the way, Google allows you to add IP addresses to a filter in your analytics account so that your numbers are not skewed by your own traffic on the website. If you haven't set this up, you should (see Slide 6 in the SlideShare presentation I included for more on this). It would be a real bummer to go on thinking your website is crazy popular because you spend hours clicking through it every day.







Comments

Christopher Butler | January 28, 2009 10:57 AM
For those viewing the SlideShare presentation, I neglected to mention that on Slide 18, I had extended the date range to show 1 calendar year rather than just the past month. I did this in order to point out that our monthly newsletters (sent out at the end of each month) created a pattern of spikes in traffic. Also, for the slides showing the Advance Segments filtering (Slides 20-23) I also extended the date range several months back in order to have more data to show.
Russ | January 29, 2009 11:16 AM
I agree completely. Google Analytics blows away Webtrends or any other web analytics package I have ever used. And it is so granular and free. There is a bit of a learning curve, but well worth it to analyze your visitors...
Eric Salerno | January 29, 2009 1:18 PM
Nice work, Chris. Great intro to GA. Some follow up notes for your readers: Although Google limits the number of Goals to 4, that limit is per profile, not per account, so by adding new profiles to the account, you can add as many Goals as you need. (Slide 3 is actually displaying a list of profiles) I am sure Chris would agree that Goals should not only be part of your Analytics strategy, but part of the website development and prototyping process (that Newfangled does so well). By prototyping around your website's objectives, which often involve some sort of conversion (download, viewing, registration, purchase, etc.) will make it easy to keep your goals organized later on. For instance, will all conversions have a unique set of characters in the URL? If so, you can create one goal just for those characters, saving your other 3 goals for that profile for something else.

Some of you might have also noticed a link/image labeled "Website Optimizer." This great tool helps you identify what combination(s) of content and images work best at converting website visitors. [Contact Mark or Chris @ Newfangled about how to incorporate this feature into your NewfangledCMS environment]
Christopher Butler | January 29, 2009 1:33 PM
Eric,

Thanks for reading and your comment.

You make a great point (which I hope all our readers pick up on) about Goals. Your suggestion of consolidating goals and using multiple profiles to extend the limit is right on. Everyone take note! (For those who don't know, we've worked with Eric for years now- he knows his marketing strategy. Check him out at Red Ember Marketing.)

Also, thanks for getting in touch with us about the Website Optimizer. We'll definitely be getting on that.

Chris
Richard | January 29, 2009 11:07 PM
Hey Chris,

Cool presentation about GA, I am sure many will benefit from it. One thing I feel that is missing, are analytics directly infused in applications for startups.

You should check out http://mixpanel.com, they have a pretty cool analytics package that does a few things GA sorta sucks at.
Christopher Butler | January 30, 2009 8:51 AM
Richard,

Thanks for the link. I'd be interested in your take on what features Mixpanel has that Google Analytics doesn't have. From a cursory look at the site, they look pretty comparable. Anyway, Google Analytics must be good enough for them, too. You can tell from the page source that they're using Google Analytics.

Chris
Brian | February 1, 2009 11:07 AM
I noticed that Google Analytics has an XML export feature. What data is included in the feed? Can we tie it in with our CMS?
Christopher Butler | February 2, 2009 11:29 AM
Brian,

There is an XML feed for every unique report available in Google Analytics. In fact, each report can be exported as a .CSV or .PDF file, too. Our Engineering team has been experimenting with including the XML feed as part of the newest version of the NewfangledCMS by making a curl() to get the XML and then displaying it in our GUI. Right now, we've limited our trials to the basic traffic report, but multiple report feeds could be pulled and combined as needed.

Google has not yet released a data API, so for now, finalizing implementation in our CMS is risky since Google could change the format of the XML feed at any point and our tool would no longer work. At this point, it's also rather slow to pull real time reports in context on a page by page basis in the CMS, but the API should take care of that, too.

So, once the API has been released, our Engineering department will finalize the Google Analytics data integration with the CMS, and it will be available for those that upgrade to the latest version.

Great question, by the way!

Chris
Chris Holleman | February 5, 2009 1:58 PM
You guys are awesome. Newfangled is an invaluable resource.
Christopher Butler | February 5, 2009 2:02 PM
Chris,

Thanks for your kind words! We've enjoyed working with you all, too.

CB
Richard | February 14, 2009 1:07 AM
Hi Chris,

Interestingly, you should read their blog post:
http://blog.mixpanel.com/2008/12/introducing-analytics-for-startups/
Kai Lo | March 15, 2009 3:48 PM
Thank you for this post! As a new Google Analytics user, I am having a difficult time understand the concept and all those graphs inside. This video has definitely increase my knowledge on how to use GA.
William | April 6, 2009 7:54 AM
We've been receiving a lot of traffic from a mistaken referrer, whom we've tried to contact and request to remove the link pointing to us. How can we filter out this traffic so that we can see what our actual stats are without it?
Brian | April 6, 2009 10:30 AM
Hi William,

To view your data without the influence of an errant referrer, I would highly recommend using the Advanced Segmentation tool that Google Analytics offers.

I'll set up a blog post just about Advanced Segmentation shortly on my blog for Newfangled. On a side note though : your issue can be addressed by using Filters as well. (My blog post about Filters in Google Analytics) Filters can cripple your incoming data stream if done improperly, so be careful if you choose that route. (read my blog post above to find out why Filters can be dangerous).

If you wanted to set up an Advanced Segment for your website, do the following.

1. Dashboard view of your Google Analytics account.
2. Top right hand corner, click on "All Visits" next to the Advanced Segmentation.
3. Click on Create a new advanced segment
4. On that page, you will see a dotted box that says "dimension or metric" and a box on the left side with criteria that can be dragged into that dotted box.
5. Expand the Traffic sources box. Click and drag "Source" into the dotted box.
6. Pull down Matches exactly to, does not Match exactly.
7. Type in the domain of the referrer that is sending you errant traffic.
8. Name the segment, and click the button that says Create and Apply to Report.

This advanced segment will show your data without the referrers traffic skewing your data. On any of the criteria that Google Analytics allows you to segment your data by, you can get a definition of what that criteria is by clicking on the question mark that sits next to it (very helpful if you're confused as to which criteria to use).

Let me know how that works for you.

Brian
Willem Bannock | May 14, 2009 8:06 AM
Google Analytics does indeed have superior data but for my market I am quite happy with the basic stats package. I agree that is can be enormously valuable for those who need to delve in at a deeper level than I do though.
Mark | October 9, 2009 11:13 PM
Thanks for this article Chris. Google analytics has taken analytics industry to the next level. The best thing about Google Analytics is that is free. I was using statcouter before but I was worrying about the 500 count limit. Now I switched to analytics and I love these graphs.
Yan | November 1, 2009 9:40 PM
Thanks Chris, very useful information. Google analytics has so much to explore. I'm just on my way as a beginner and the resources you provided at this post helped me. Thanks again:)
andrew | February 9, 2010 9:41 AM
Wasn't there on the web a cheatsheet?
Andrea | February 24, 2010 2:11 AM
Hi, I just wanted to thank you for a really clear, informative presentation on google analytics. As someone with limited tech/computer experience, it was really easy to understand. Thanks and keep up the great work!

Mark | March 6, 2010 10:57 AM
My first reading and exposure to Google analytics and the power behind the reports. Thanks for explaining a complicated tool into basic segments.
Pierre Lebrun | April 26, 2011 11:54 AM
Thanks Chris,

Good stuff :-) I've always wondered what effect tabbed browsing has on Google Analytics since I've a heavy tab browser myself. Any thoughts?
Julie Ann Ensomo | April 29, 2011 6:22 AM
I'm only starting to learn about google analytics and I'm mighty glad to have stumbled on your website. That was a pretty thorough presentation on it's basics. I didn't know about goal setting, the top content, landing page and some other information until I watched your presentation!

Thanks for sharing this, this is so great, I am so looking forward to watching more of your presentations. Thanks again! :)
Christopher Butler | April 29, 2011 8:09 AM
Pierre: I haven't thought of this before, so I'm not sure. What do you think?

Julie: I'm glad this was helpful to you. You might also want to check out a more recent newsletter, Measuring What Really Matters, which is a follow up to this one.
Ron Lee | July 7, 2012 5:03 PM
Enjoyed the Slideshare on Google Analytics!
Thank you
Ron Lee
Author, The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics - Google Analytics Ebook - http://www.GoogleAnalyticsEbook.com
Emilita Castro-Lindo | June 6, 2013 6:32 AM
I can't seem to find the SlideShare anymore. Would it be possible for me to ask for a copy of it?
Ben Weeks | July 30, 2013 12:33 PM
I can't find the slideshare on this page either. But luckily it is on Christopher's slideshare page;

http://www.slideshare.net/chrbutler/how-to-use-google-analytics-presentation

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