Google recently released an updated version of Google Analytics with an improved user interface. Included in the changes are clearer icons, improved graphing and faster display through caching.
We decided to see what we could do with the new version and came across two additional areas that will be of interest to many clients.
Many of our clients produce regular content in the form of articles on their websites. These might be in the form of informational articles, news articles or job positions.
Traditionally page views are tracked to give an indication of content consumption but this has always been a bit frustrating as it gives a simplistic metric. We were looking into finding a way of providing a more meaningful metric based on actual page usage. Rather than measure that a person has clicked on a page, we were hoping to discover a way of measuring what they did on that page.
New methodologies have emerged from the SEO realm that allow us to track when a visitor clicks on an article page, when they start scrolling on that page and when they scroll to the end of that article. We can measure this and infer if they are either reading that article based on the time spent on the page or merely skimming it.
This ties back in to Google Analytics with Custom Variables, Events and Advanced Segments to give us measurable statistics over time. We can see not only which articles are visited but also how these articles are read.
Clients taking advantage of this will now be able to see which articles provide interesting content to readers and react accordingly. They might find that an article attracting a high volume of page visits was in fact less effective than they thought if visitors spent very little time on the page and didn’t read the content. This article could be reviewed and changed in an attempt to provide readers with better focussed content.
Equally an article that had low page visits might actually be more effective once the statistics for the content consumption were reviewed. For example, the page might be visited infrequently but visitors might be spending a long time on the page and scrolling slowly to the bottom, indicating a methodical and engaged reading style. If clients could find these types of pages or articles and analyse the content to see why visitors liked the content they could learn a great deal about their target audience.
Social Network Users
Another aspect of Google Analytics that we wanted to explore was social network usage. We implemented some techniques that were designed to see whether a visitor was also logged in to a social network at the same time as visiting the client’s website.
The metrics provided in Google Analytics can show the general interaction of active social network users over time or specific networks such as Facebook, Twitter or GooglePlus. After reviewing the results for a variety of sites we gained a good insight into how prevalent concurrent social network usage is and how important it is for clients to understand this.
The graph above shows that about a quarter of all visitors are logged in to a social network of some kind. The peak usage coincides with a peak in total visits and then tails off quickly. The client can now devise a strategy for engaging social network users and promoting their business via social media at the optimum time and targeting each social network stream in a focussed and coherent way.
Through this analysis we can see if Facebook users create different patterns to GooglePlus users. Analysis of this kind provides the client with the metrics to map out what is actually happening on their website.
Google Analytics is going from strength to strength with each version introducing new functionality and improved design. At Betley Whitehorne we are focussed on learning new techniques that clients can include in their analysis and strategy.