Web Analytics

Google-analytics-qualified-individualI first passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification test in 2009; since the certification is only good for 18 months, that means I was up for requalification this year.

I took the test—and passed it—again this November. (Yay!)

Here’s what I’ve learned after 2 years and 2 different test-taking experiences.


Test Basics

As before, the test is priced at $50 and your Individual Qualification is valid for 18 months. But now, you must score 80% or higher (rather than 75%) to pass.

Also as before, you’ll have a total of 90 elapsed minutes to complete the test’s 70 multiple-choice questions, and you can pause and come back within a time period of 120 hours (5 days).

As you go through the questions, you can right click to strike through any answers that are obviously incorrect. If this functionality was available before, I don’t remember it; I definitely found it helpful for some of the trickier questions.

If you’re uncertain if any of your responses, mark those questions for completion later. This puts them into a list that you can review before submitting, or at any time during the test.

If you don’t pass the test, you can re-take it again—but you have to wait 14 days and pay another $50.

Test Prep

The best way to prepare remains by reviewing the extensive series of Conversion University videos. This time, I took some notes as I viewed them so I’d have them available for reference as I took the test.

Example Test Questions Content

Once again, the set of questions you’re presented with will vary from person to person. So knowing the exact list of questions one person was asked will not tell you what questions to expect on your own test.

Having said that, here are some examples of the question content from the test I took:

  • Why you wouldn’t see CPC data in your reports, and how to configure a profile to see only CPC data.
  • How and why to use virtual pageviews, and the use of _trackPageView().
  • Attributes tracked when manually tagging an AdWords campaign.
  • A word problem on filtering that described the way a site constructed the URLs for its product pages and then asked which set of filters would produce the desired result.
  • Using Urchin and Google Analytics together.
  • How to track custom search engines.
  • What a high bounce rate on a landing page associated with a keyword suggests.
  • Goals: how many you can have, how they’re tracked.
  • Best practices for creating profiles vs. accounts for multiple clients.
  • Tracking the number of transactions vs. tracking the number of goal completions on an e-commerce site.
  • Understanding $Index.
  • How Google Analytics tracks visitors and the difference between first-party and third-party cookies.
  • Filter order and whether it’s important.

Looking at this list, you can see that the test content covers the major areas of functionality and concepts for Google Analytics.

So imagine you are creating the IQ test for someone else. What questions would you ask? You can get pretty close to the real thing by watching the Conversion University videos, looking at the subject matter groups they are arranged by, and then making a list of the main topic items for your questions.

What to Watch Out For

Google is in the middle of transitioning Analytics from the old interface to the new, entirely redesigned version. As of this writing, account owners can choose which version to view, but the new version will become the only option in January 2012.

The test question material didn’t rely on the version of the interface you’re using in order to determine the right answers to the questions.

However, the Conversion University videos are still using screen images from the old version.

If you think you’d find this confusing, you may want to wait to review for the test until Google has updated the videos to reflect the new Analytics UI.

(And we’re still waiting for an official graphic badge that Individually Qualified analysts can use to promote their now-certified Analytics expertise.)

Your Turn

  • Have you taken the Google Analytics Individual Qualification test recently?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • What would you change about the test?

Find out what your website’s data is really telling you about your site performance. Our team of Google Analytics Individually Qualified experts can help. Contact us today.

Bounce-rate On August 11, Google made a major update to Google Analytics, its free web metrics software (which we use here at CDG Interactive for all of our clients).

What makes the update major is that it changed the way visits to a site are calculated—as well as any other metrics that use visits. As a result, many users saw a big change in those metrics in their Google Analytics reports and now have to figure out what the new numbers mean.

Here’s what you need to know about Google Analytics’ change to visit calculations, and what we’re telling our clients.

What’s a Visit Anyway?

First of all, let’s make sure we understand what a “visit” is. Google Analytics uses anonymous cookies to track sessions of activity on a site. When a session begins, it signals the start of a visit to that site.

After a certain period of inactivity within a defined time period (typically 30 minutes) or closure of the browser window the session terminates and the visit ends—even if the user is still on the site and even if the user leaves and comes back several times during the session. Any activity after that point is recorded as a new visit.

(Keep in mind that this is different from a visitor. In a very rough sense, one is a session of time spent on a site, and the other is the person spending the time. So one visitor can have several visits.)

What’s Changed (or Solving the Problem of Ghost Visits and Attribution)

The problem with the previous way Google Analytics tracked visits is twofold: it assigned the visit to the first page and associated referral source, but it gave credit for conversions to the last referral source for any visit. Huh?

Let’s say you searched on Google for “purple stilettos” and clicked on a result that took you to Zappos. You’ve now initiated a visit session there with a referral source of “organic search.” You looked at 1 page, then you remembered you had a coupon in an email from Zappos. You went to your email inbox, clicked on the link in the email and came back to Zappos (adding a new referral source of “email”), looked at 2 more pages, then bought a pair of shoes—conversion, yay! You’re speedy, so all this takes place in a 30-minute session.

Google Analytics previously counted this as 1 visit, 3 pageviews, 2 referring sources and 1 conversion. The referring source for the visit is “organic search,” because it was the first. And that visit is associated with the first pageview. The referring source for the conversion is “email,” because it was the last.

But wait, there’s only 1 visit. That means that the 2 other pageviews as well as the conversion will have 0 visits. Ghost visits!

To solve this problem, Google Analytics changed the way it starts a new visit session. Now, in addition to 30 minutes of inactivity, a new visit starts every time the referring source changes. In our example above, there would now be 2 visits: 1 visit with 1 pageview for organic search with 0 conversions, and 1 visit with 2 pageviews for email with 1 conversion.

Same number of pageviews, same number of conversions, but more visits and precise conversion attribution.

What It Impacts

Changing what a visit means also changes every metric that uses visit as part of its calculation. This includes such top-level metrics as Pages Per Visit, Average Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Percentage New Visits, % New Visitors and % Returning Visitors. (Even though these last two are ostensibly visitor metrics, they are calculated based on the total number of visits.)

Most of these are self-explanatory formulas. They are ratios of a metric to total number of visits. But let’s take a look at two of the more complex ones:

  • Bounce Rate. Any visit with only 1 pageview is considered a bounced visit. You arrived and didn’t get any further inside the site. Bounce rate is the percentage of total visits with 1 pageview. With the new way visits are calculated, pageviews within a longer visit will get divided up between the referring sources. This may result in more visits with just 1 pageview—a bounce. Think of our shoes example. Previously, the 1 visit had 3 pageviews; not a bounce. Now it becomes 2 visits and the organic search visit has 1 of those pageviews; this is now a bounce.
  • New & Returning Visits. Before, you started your visit as a new visitor. All of the pageviews in our original scenario were associated with a new visitor and new visit. In our updated example, the first visit is new—but the second visit after you clicked on your email is a returning visit.

What It Doesn’t Impact

There are two main metrics that remain untouched because they are independent of visit numbers: unique visitors and total pageviews. This makes them good benchmarks for comparing data in your Google Analytics reports in the short term before and after August 11.

What You Need to Understand

It may be disconcerting at first to see changes in the metrics you’re used to looking at, such as bounce rate—seemingly overnight. But this update is creating cleaner tracking of visitor behavior, giving a more accurate picture of how visitors are interacting with your site.

Month-to-month data comparison will be challenging at first, but once the new formula has been in place for 60 days, we’ll be looking at a consistent baseline.

In addition, a relatively new feature of Google Analytics called Multi-Channel Funnels has gotten significantly more accurate. Out of the total number of conversions on your site, you’ll see how many of them were assisted—that is, had a referring source prior to the final source that got the credit.

In our example, the purple stilettos purchase was an assisted conversion because it included both organic search and email. This is a highly valuable insight into which marketing channels drive conversion alone or in combination with others.

Want to Know More?

CDG Interactive helps our clients make sense of their Google Analytics reports and we can help you, too. Contact us to see how.

Or read these detailed articles:

Bounce-rate On August 11, Google made a major update to Google Analytics, its free web metrics software (which we use here at CDG Interactive for all of our clients).

What makes the update major is that it changed the way visits to a site are calculated—as well as any other metrics that use visits. As a result, many users saw a big change in those metrics in their Google Analytics reports and now have to figure out what the new numbers mean.

Here’s what you need to know about Google Analytics’ change to visit calculations, and what we’re telling our clients.

What’s a Visit Anyway?

First of all, let’s make sure we understand what a “visit” is. Google Analytics uses anonymous cookies to track sessions of activity on a site. When a session begins, it signals the start of a visit to that site.

After a certain period of inactivity within a defined time period (typically 30 minutes) or closure of the browser window the session terminates and the visit ends—even if the user is still on the site and even if the user leaves and comes back several times during the session. Any activity after that point is recorded as a new visit.

(Keep in mind that this is different from a visitor. In a very rough sense, one is a session of time spent on a site, and the other is the person spending the time. So one visitor can have several visits.)

What’s Changed (or Solving the Problem of Ghost Visits and Attribution)

The problem with the previous way Google Analytics tracked visits is twofold: it assigned the visit to the first page and associated referral source, but it gave credit for conversions to the last referral source for any visit. Huh?

Let’s say you searched on Google for “purple stilettos” and clicked on a result that took you to Zappos. You’ve now initiated a visit session there with a referral source of “organic search.” You looked at 1 page, then you remembered you had a coupon in an email from Zappos. You went to your email inbox, clicked on the link in the email and came back to Zappos (adding a new referral source of “email”), looked at 2 more pages, then bought a pair of shoes—conversion, yay! You’re speedy, so all this takes place in a 30-minute session.

Google Analytics previously counted this as 1 visit, 3 pageviews, 2 referring sources and 1 conversion. The referring source for the visit is “organic search,” because it was the first. And that visit is associated with the first pageview. The referring source for the conversion is “email,” because it was the last.

But wait, there’s only 1 visit. That means that the 2 other pageviews as well as the conversion will have 0 visits. Ghost visits!

To solve this problem, Google Analytics changed the way it starts a new visit session. Now, in addition to 30 minutes of inactivity, a new visit starts every time the referring source changes. In our example above, there would now be 2 visits: 1 visit with 1 pageview for organic search with 0 conversions, and 1 visit with 2 pageviews for email with 1 conversion.

Same number of pageviews, same number of conversions, but more visits and precise conversion attribution.

What It Impacts

Changing what a visit means also changes every metric that uses visit as part of its calculation. This includes such top-level metrics as Pages Per Visit, Average Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Percentage New Visits, % New Visitors and % Returning Visitors. (Even though these last two are ostensibly visitor metrics, they are calculated based on the total number of visits.)

Most of these are self-explanatory formulas. They are ratios of a metric to total number of visits. But let’s take a look at two of the more complex ones:

  • Bounce Rate. Any visit with only 1 pageview is considered a bounced visit. You arrived and didn’t get any further inside the site. Bounce rate is the percentage of total visits with 1 pageview. With the new way visits are calculated, pageviews within a longer visit will get divided up between the referring sources. This may result in more visits with just 1 pageview—a bounce. Think of our shoes example. Previously, the 1 visit had 3 pageviews; not a bounce. Now it becomes 2 visits and the organic search visit has 1 of those pageviews; this is now a bounce.
  • New & Returning Visits. Before, you started your visit as a new visitor. All of the pageviews in our original scenario were associated with a new visitor and new visit. In our updated example, the first visit is new—but the second visit after you clicked on your email is a returning visit.

What It Doesn’t Impact

There are two main metrics that remain untouched because they are independent of visit numbers: unique visitors and total pageviews. This makes them good benchmarks for comparing data in your Google Analytics reports in the short term before and after August 11.

What You Need to Understand

It may be disconcerting at first to see changes in the metrics you’re used to looking at, such as bounce rate—seemingly overnight. But this update is creating cleaner tracking of visitor behavior, giving a more accurate picture of how visitors are interacting with your site.

Month-to-month data comparison will be challenging at first, but once the new formula has been in place for 60 days, we’ll be looking at a consistent baseline.

In addition, a relatively new feature of Google Analytics called Multi-Channel Funnels has gotten significantly more accurate. Out of the total number of conversions on your site, you’ll see how many of them were assisted—that is, had a referring source prior to the final source that got the credit.

In our example, the purple stilettos purchase was an assisted conversion because it included both organic search and email. This is a highly valuable insight into which marketing channels drive conversion alone or in combination with others.

Want to Know More?

CDG Interactive helps our clients make sense of their Google Analytics reports and we can help you, too. Contact us to see how.

Or read these detailed articles:

Klout in twitter stream
 
If you’re one of the thousands of businesses who have started using social media for marketing and promotion, you’ve probably started trying to measure the results of your efforts.

New users just beginning to swim in the social media waters may at least be paying attention to the number of “likes” for their Facebook fan page or their number of followers on Twitter. Sophisticated users you may even be calculating real dollar ROI.

Attempting to combine all of these individual metrics into a consolidated measurement of social media authority is a company called Klout.

Launched in 2008, Klout attempts to quantify your social media influence with a Klout score, taking into account activity on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (and soon Google Plus). In addition to this algorithmically generated number, Klout also lets other users “vote” for your influence with what it calls “+K.”

Initially more of a niche ego-checking tool, Klout has taken off substantially in the last year and was given a significant boost in July when music-streaming service Spotify’s closed U.S. launch was limited to invites—and people with high enough Klout scores.

So why does this matter for businesses?

Here are 3 reasons businesses and organizations should pay attention to Klout scores—both their customers’ and their own:

  • Reward engaged fans. With the Involver Klout application, you can limit the content displayed on your company’s Facebook page to visitors with a certain Klout score. Use this gate-keeping to build buzz or reward the socially engaged—but be careful not to alienate your existing fans. 
  • Focus your efforts on influencers. While it’s important to engage with as many people as possible on Facebook or Twitter, your social media team’s time is limited. Focus their efforts by identifying key influencers. The Hootsuite social media management app, for example, allows you to sort messages based on users’ Klout scores.
  • Be seen as an influencer. On the flip side, the higher your company’s Klout score, the more likely others are to engage with you. Let’s say a journalist is using Twitter to find companies like yours. Who will she contact first: you—or your competitor with a higher Klout score?

And it's easier than ever to see someone's Klout score in your Twitter stream with browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

To be sure, Klout has its detractors. And like any other scoring system, don’t take the numbers as a final word.

But given the rising clout of Klout, it pays to pay attention to what its influence could mean to your business’s social media efforts.

Your Turn

  • Are you paying attention to your company’s Klout score?
  • What other ways are you measuring your social media efforts?

Klout in twitter stream
 
If you’re one of the thousands of businesses who have started using social media for marketing and promotion, you’ve probably started trying to measure the results of your efforts.

New users just beginning to swim in the social media waters may at least be paying attention to the number of “likes” for their Facebook fan page or their number of followers on Twitter. Sophisticated users you may even be calculating real dollar ROI.

Attempting to combine all of these individual metrics into a consolidated measurement of social media authority is a company called Klout.

Launched in 2008, Klout attempts to quantify your social media influence with a Klout score, taking into account activity on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (and soon Google Plus). In addition to this algorithmically generated number, Klout also lets other users “vote” for your influence with what it calls “+K.”

Initially more of a niche ego-checking tool, Klout has taken off substantially in the last year and was given a significant boost in July when music-streaming service Spotify’s closed U.S. launch was limited to invites—and people with high enough Klout scores.

So why does this matter for businesses?

Here are 3 reasons businesses and organizations should pay attention to Klout scores—both their customers’ and their own:

  • Reward engaged fans. With the Involver Klout application, you can limit the content displayed on your company’s Facebook page to visitors with a certain Klout score. Use this gate-keeping to build buzz or reward the socially engaged—but be careful not to alienate your existing fans. 
  • Focus your efforts on influencers. While it’s important to engage with as many people as possible on Facebook or Twitter, your social media team’s time is limited. Focus their efforts by identifying key influencers. The Hootsuite social media management app, for example, allows you to sort messages based on users’ Klout scores.
  • Be seen as an influencer. On the flip side, the higher your company’s Klout score, the more likely others are to engage with you. Let’s say a journalist is using Twitter to find companies like yours. Who will she contact first: you—or your competitor with a higher Klout score?

And it's easier than ever to see someone's Klout score in your Twitter stream with browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

To be sure, Klout has its detractors. And like any other scoring system, don’t take the numbers as a final word.

But given the rising clout of Klout, it pays to pay attention to what its influence could mean to your business’s social media efforts.

Your Turn

  • Are you paying attention to your company’s Klout score?
  • What other ways are you measuring your social media efforts?

4182826573_3c20158212_m It’s the time of year when critics start compiling “best-of” lists. Not to be outdone, we’ve put together a list of the year’s top-10 resources for web professionals.

These resources are the ones we turned to again and again in 2010—for useful information, to learn something we didn’t know, or to think differently about marketing and copywriting.

Two of the categories are online (blogs and Twitter) and the third category, books, can be found either in old-fashioned paper-bound or electronic e-book versions.

Continue reading "CDG’s Top 10 of ’10 for Web Professionals" »

4182826573_3c20158212_m It’s the time of year when critics start compiling “best-of” lists. Not to be outdone, we’ve put together a list of the year’s top-10 resources for web professionals.

These resources are the ones we turned to again and again in 2010—for useful information, to learn something we didn’t know, or to think differently about marketing and copywriting.

Two of the categories are online (blogs and Twitter) and the third category, books, can be found either in old-fashioned paper-bound or electronic e-book versions.

Continue reading "CDG’s Top 10 of ’10 for Web Professionals" »

I know, I know. “New Year’s resolutions? Before Thanksgiving? What gives?”

Well, I contend that if CVS can put up Christmas decorations before Halloween, I can give you some New Year’s resolutions now.

In fact, the idea for this post occurred to me when I started prepping for our annual site reviews—both for CDG itself and for our clients. At first, I’d planned to provide guidelines for analytics and what you should look at in order to measure success.

But then I realized that I might be getting ahead of myself. After all, before you’re going to measure progress, you need to give yourself benchmarks for improvement. So, instead of giving you advice on how to look back at 2010, I want to give you a plan for moving forward in 2011.

Here are several action items to put on your calendar for 2011. You’ve probably already accomplished some of them. Prioritize the rest, and plan accordingly for next year:

Continue reading "Early New Year’s Resolutions for Web Professionals" »

I know, I know. “New Year’s resolutions? Before Thanksgiving? What gives?”

Well, I contend that if CVS can put up Christmas decorations before Halloween, I can give you some New Year’s resolutions now.

In fact, the idea for this post occurred to me when I started prepping for our annual site reviews—both for CDG itself and for our clients. At first, I’d planned to provide guidelines for analytics and what you should look at in order to measure success.

But then I realized that I might be getting ahead of myself. After all, before you’re going to measure progress, you need to give yourself benchmarks for improvement. So, instead of giving you advice on how to look back at 2010, I want to give you a plan for moving forward in 2011.

Here are several action items to put on your calendar for 2011. You’ve probably already accomplished some of them. Prioritize the rest, and plan accordingly for next year:

Continue reading "Early New Year’s Resolutions for Web Professionals" »

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