Does your website target users in a specific location or around the world? Whatever the size of your business, you can gain valuable insights from the Google Analytics location report. Let's look at the top uses of this data, from beginner right through to advanced level.
Getting Around Location Reports in Google Analytics
The location report in Google Analytics is really good for national and international businesses and even those who pick up visits from around the world without even trying. It's there to help you understand where your visitors are located in the world so that you can see which markets are good for your business and where you may need to improve marketing or services.
The downside to this report is that Google Analytics works out the users location based on where the users IP is located (i.e., where their Internet connection is and not where they actually are). This means that the data needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as it won't always represent what you expect. Once you know this however, you can use the report to benchmark your data, understand usage and start making improvements to get better results.
There are a number of different ways you can use the location report to get the most out of it. These include:
- Clicking through on the map
- Clicking through the report links
- Using the additional links above the data for City, Continent and Sub Continent Region
- Reviewing Goal and Ecommerce data for each of the reports
- Applying Advanced Segments to the reports
- Using Location dimensions in advanced segments for analyzing data in other reports
I'll cover some of these now so that you can start to get more from this report for your website.
Using the Map
The map is a great visual aid, clearly showing the locations that saw the most visits and those that didn't see any visits. If you have a wide range of visits for different countries, then differentiating between the mid-range countries may not be so easy, so I'd mainly use this visual as an overview.
Hovering over a country will show you the country's name and how many visits the website saw from IPs in that country.
You can change the drop down in the top left of the map to show you a different metric to visits if that's of more use to you too. I think the best alternatives would be transactions or revenue. Any metrics which return an average would help with analysis, as those with high / low visits would be skewed and make the report misleading.
Clicking on a country on the map makes the view zoom in to that country and can show you the breakdown of data by region (state or country) as you can see here:
If you click through again, some areas will be able to show you the data for the cities and towns, like so:
Where clicking through again doesn't work you can click the City link above the data table to see this breakdown (as is the case for viewing more detailed data in the United Kingdom).
If you find yourself clicking through and back to different regions, you will find the navigational links at the top beneficial:
These make it easy to change between Cities or Regions without having to reload the previous page. It's also good to see the percentage of visits pie chart just below this, which can put the data you're looking at in to perspective. Luckily the website in the example is not targeting Los Angeles!
Location Report Table
You will notice that every time you click a country or city (whether on the map or in the table) you can then get a more detailed data breakdown in the table. This is great for comparing the performance across locations.
If you have a poor conversion rate in Los Angeles compared to San Francisco (two cities in the same state) you may wish to promote an offer for those in LA to help boost the conversion rate there. Alternatively, if you get traffic from LA, but don't offer your services in this location, you can use this report to gauge the interest and see if it would be worth the investment to expand your business to target that area.
Using Location Specific Segments and Filters
There are many beneficial reports in Google Analytics. Using advanced segments allows you to break the data down by a specific set of criteria to help you compare and hone in on important data.
To set this up to compare data for different countries, click the Advanced Segments link at the top then + New Custom Segment and build it like so:
You can choose Country, Country/Territory, Continent, Sub Continent Region, Region, City or Metro to break the segments down.
Build this for a few key regions or countries and comparing like for like to see where you may need to optimize your website.
Applying the segments to your Traffic Sources reports will analyze the marketing activities and reviewing the segments across Content reports will identify the types of content that are successful or unsuccessful for different locations.
In the past, I've reviewed Google Analytics accounts where there has been unusual activity and I've been able to pin it down to just one location. Creating a segment for that location enables you to identify patterns of behavior, such as accessing the site via one specific keyword every time, or from a specific device. If you identify unusual activity that skews the data, you may wish to create an exclude for this so that you can view the remaining data without this affecting it.
Using Locations in Remarketing
Taking location segments one step further, Google Analytics has the functionality to tag users from specific locations. This is achieved through remarketing cookies so that you can then use AdWords to show those users ads relevant to their location.
Consider creating remarketing lists for locations for the following ideas:
- A new store opening
- Discount in a specific store
- New / limited product lines available in specific locations
- Sale on locally
- Event at a specific store
- Book signings
- Free delivery in that area
The location report in Google Analytics is good to look at, whether you're a global business or a small local business. Use it to save money, grow your business, and uncover untapped markets – but bear in mind that at this stage it relies on IP addresses and not physical location.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!