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Using Google Analytics to Manage Content Groups

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Content grouping refers to collecting a group of pages together on a Web site, and treating them as a single entity. For example, a good application for a content grouping would be if you had a Web site that sells products, and these products can be organized several different ways, perhaps by size, color, and shape.

You might want to take all your pages that focus on the size of the products and treat them as one content group, and all the pages that focus on the color of the products and treat that as another content group, and so forth. One reason to do that is that you may have a common template across all of the pages that present products by color. You may want to examine user behavior within the context of that template, and if there are many content groups, it's difficult to do on a page by page basis.

So you create a content group to allow you do look at all those pages as a single entity. You can then study the links where people exit, other pages they visit on the site, and discover how the page helps you convert people into customers, in a much simpler fashion.

At first blush, it looks like Google Analytics is limited in its capabilities to deal with content groupings. It does offer good filtering capabilities, but once you apply a filter, Google Analytics applies it to every report in your current profile, and you have to go back and turn the filter off if you want to look at your stats without the filter in place.

So it seems as though there is no simple way to setup multiple content groups, and leave them in place for repeat filtering, without having to turn the filters on an off over and over again.

And it's a shame, because Google Analytics has advanced filtering capabilities. For example, if you want to place a filter on a content group by the format of the URLs, you can use Perl compatible regular expressions to describe groups of URLs that fit very complex patterns of URLs.

Google Analytics also supports some basic types of visitor segmentation. This is a method that allows you to separately analyze the behaviors of different groups of users.

But it turns out that there is a simple way to workaround this problem, so you can unlock the power of content groupings quite effectively in Google Analytics. So let's take a real example and see how you can set it up within your own analytics profile.

1. Add a new website profile.
2. Choose: "Add a Profile for an existing domain".
3. Choose the domain you want to monitor content groupings on.
4. Name the Profile.
5. Save it.
6. The find the new profile in your list of profiles, and click Edit, next to your new profile.
7. Select Add Filter.
8. Name your filter.
9. Pick Custom Filter from the drop down list box.
10. Select "include" from the list of radio buttons.
11. Pick Request URL.
12. Enter your URL (minus the domain name part).

Once you have completed this list, you will have a new profile in your Google Analytics account that applies your filter. Any time you want to check stats on a particular content group, all you need to do is select this profile when you login to Google Analytics. This should provide you with an excellent tool for checking out the performance of your content group.

While this is a bit of a workaround, it works quite well in achieving your Web analytics monitoring goals. One thing to be aware of is the naming convention of your profiles. If you are an agency that is running Google Analytics for many clients, you will want to name your profiles so that all the profiles for a given client are clustered together.

This makes management of the profiles simpler to deal with. What we typically do with these types of groups of profiles is to start the all of the profile names, including the unfiltered profile, with a set of initials that are representative of the site name. This does the job of clustering all the profiles of one site together.


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