We’re coming to the end of the Fundamentals section of the Adido Analytics Alphabet (All past posts can be found here on the Adido blog).
To conclude the beginner level of analytics, we’re going to look at Referral, Revenue, Search, Source, UA and Visits.
The referral source is a dimension in analytics which includes any visitor to the site who has clicked on an external website link to reach it. With referral traffic you can see which domains (and in most cases pages within these domains) have driven traffic to the website.
Referral sources are usually automatically generated, however manually tracked links can also be included in the Referral medium category if they follow the same naming convention (‘referral’).
If they do follow the same medium label then they’ll be included in the Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals data.
If there is any spelling/capitalisation deviation, the data will only appear in the Acquisition > All Traffic > Campaigns section (not within the Referrals section).
When tracking Ecommerce transactions revenue can be recorded in two fields:
- Total revenue (this can include VAT and postage costs depending on the setup)
- Product revenue (from individual product SKUs).
The revenue reported in most Ecommerce data views will be the total revenue, so be careful if this value also includes VAT and postage when calculating ROI!
Contrary to what the Adido Analytics Alphabet states, search is no longer a standard report in its own right in Google Analytics. Within the Acquisition section, organic search and paid search are distinctly labelled in a variety of reports (Adwords vs. Search Engine Optimisation or Paid Keywords vs. Organic Keywords in the Campaign section) but there isn’t one standard universal report for the channel.
However, there are still some useful ways to look at your overall search performance using a combination of these data views:
- Compare paid vs. organic search traffic to understand the interplay, and whether there is incremental volume or cannibalisation. One interesting test to do is to decrease or increase your PPC spend in a certain timeframe and see how this impacts your organic performance.
- Add Source as secondary dimension to see which search engine performs best for you on paid vs. organic listings, and therefore understand where you should be investing more time in optimising your site.
- Add Keyword as secondary dimension, to see the type of terms delivering you search traffic and goal completions, and how each term compares in performance when clicked on organic vs. paid. Useful to complement your organic and PPC strategies so that you maximise the volume around certain terms
- Add Advanced Segments to look at Mobile vs. Tablet vs. Desktop traffic to discover potential differences you might be able to resolve.
Note that when logged into Google, the keyword data will be encrypted into (not provided) for organic search, however paid search data won’t be affected.
Organic traffic will be tracked automatically by Analytics and attributed to the referring source engine, but please note that for paid search data to show you will need to:
- Manually tag your other paid search accounts such as Bing, using the Google URL Builder
Not following this process will result in (not set) data appearing under campaign and keyword dimensions in your search report, and incorrect attribution of your paid traffic as organic.
Source is a dimension in Analytics. It contains all the different origins of traffic to your site, which could be either be names of search engines, domains, links on emails or direct.
Sources can be further split into type (or Medium) and one source can be of different types.
For example, in the report Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium we might see that Google as a source can be split into Google organic, Google cpc (paid search traffic), Google referral, Google Shopping etc...
It is important to look at traffic source and medium, in order to understand the different areas that bring traffic to your site, how profitable they are and where potential for investment lies in.
Source can either be automatically defined by Google Analytics or it can be manually generated when custom URLs are created to track links (see U – UTM builder) for external traffic sources.
Automatic definitions are: google, bing, yahoo, (direct) and any other domain which is automatically tracked as part of a Referral link.
When manually tagging URLs be careful to ensure that if aggregate data is required for similar traffic types – automated (e.g. bing organic) and manual (e.g. Bing PPC ads) – make sure that the default label is used (e.g. bing). Any variation (e.g. Bing) will make aggregation more time consuming as it will be shown as a separate source.
UA can mean two things in the world of Google Analytics these days. At the time the Alphabet was written it referred to the Google Analytics tracking ID (the UA- number) associated with the account.
What’s your Google Analytics UA number?
A company should have one analytics account to gain access to the Google Analytics interface, but it can have multiple Properties and multiple Views.
A Property is associated with a single UA number, and for simple tracking should be related to one website domain. The Property tracking ID can be used on multiple domains, but this can complicate analysis and should be avoided if you’re a novice.
The UA number/tracking ID is available in Property Settings within the Admin section, and is also visible in the tracking code which is pasted on every page of the website during setup.
When implementing (or checking for) Google Analytics tracking it is important that the UA number in the code matches the UA number of the Google Analytics property. If it doesn’t then either there is another Google Analytics Property setup or the code has been manually amended which will prevent the system from tracking your website.
Have you upgraded to Universal Analytics?
The second thing UA now relates to is the term Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics which was introduced early last year. I’d be surprised if your account hasn’t been migrated to Universal Analytics by now.
With this version of Google Analytics there are some code adjustments required to make the most of the features available. The full guide can be found here.
Visits (or sessions)
Visits, or now more commonly referred to as Sessions in GA, is one of the most important, bread and butter metrics in Analytics.
It is important to understand the difference between sessions and visitors as so many features, reports and metrics depends on how GA calculates these two metrics:
- A visitor is the person landing on your site, whereas
- A session is the process of coming to the site and performing various actions, within a certain timeframe. Think of it like a container for all of these actions.
- One visitor can generate multiple sessions on your site.
By default, a session is considered as ended:
- after 30 minutes of inactivity by the visitor,
- at midnight
- or if a person arrives on the site via one campaign, leaves and then comes back via another campaign source
Each of these scenarios causes the opening of a new session, and the dropping/ updating of 1st party Google Analytics cookie. Sessions can occur on the same day, or over several weeks or months.
Each completely new visitor to the site will receive a cookie for your website (new person from a new device/ browser), which remains valid for 30 days in Analytics and can therefore be updated anytime the user re-visits your site within this window (through the same browser and device).
If the device or browser is changed, even though it’s the same physical person, it will be counted as a new visitor.
If the user doesn’t accept cookies, they are tracked via IP numbers, which, whilst a solution, isn’t a very reliable method of tracking.
Clicks are not visits or sessions! Clicks denote the number of times your listing was clicked on, so it takes a marketing channel stance. Conversely, visits take a website stance, looking purely at the number of individual sessions initiated by all the visitors to your site. This is very important when comparing reports from Adwords and Analytics.
If you’ve got to grips with all of these fundamental basics of Analytics you’ll be well on your way to tackling some of the more intermediate features and analysis techniques that will be coming up this year.