The use of online analytics has come a long way in a few years. Five years ago, during a Search Engine Strategies panel, I asked the audience how many people were tracking conversions and using analytics. Only about 30 percent of the audience said they had analytics installed on their websites.
This was somewhat understandable because analytics packages were expensive back then and Google was just in the process of buying Urchin and offering Google Analytics for free. But the adoption was slow and even now the vast majority of people using analytics don't fully understand how to get the most out of their data.
My next two columns will outline some methods that will help you become a better tracker, showing you how to look at the dirt and see who has been there and what made them take their various actions.
AimClear's Marty Weintraub wrote an article everyone needs to read and start using, about the segmentation option Google Analytics offers. Funnels and filters are important, but sometimes we get distracted looking at the broad paths to conversion and never drill deeper to find the elements within these paths that can be manipulated to further improve conversion.
You can find the way to create a segment by clicking the Advanced Segments link on the left or the segments link at the top right in the dashboard. Here's where you want to end up:
From there, you can pull parameters from any of the data sources on the right using drag and drop and get results for their success for specific keywords, pages, and many other factors:
Marty explains this all in great detail in his post, so read all about it.
Virtual Pageviews and Event Tracking
Many times, we don't track videos and other actions that occur during a site visit in terms of its contribution to success. It's been hard to monitor these actions in the past. But the introduction of virtual pageviews and event tracking lets us now add this to the data analysis mix.
Would you like to know what videos are engaged on the way to conversion? Would you like to be able to determine how many buyers downloaded a white paper?
Paul Spreadbury gives a good overview of how to use these two elements. The trick is to know how to choose each tracking method.
As Bill Slawski noted: "Looking at Search Trails may provide a whole different range of searcher behavior type information. By studying the pages that people travel down, from their selected page amongst search results to a final destination page, there may be information that can be related to that initial query that just isn't captured by looking at query sessions and refinements alone." Though he was discussing how the engines track our behaviors and use the information to improve search results, the statement applies equally to how we monitor our visitors' actions.
Next time: segments in AdWords, building and submitting trackable video sitemaps, and a few tricks for pulling more success metrics from your already collected data.