Q&A: Google Analytics demystified

Q&A: Google Analytics demystified

On Monday 20 April, Graham Hansell, Digital Marketing Strategist and CIM Course Director, hosted our Practical Insights webinar ‘Google Analytics demystified’. With over 18 years’ experience in digital marketing, initially working for the UK's first web directory and then founding the UK's first website optimisation company, Graham answers your questions on how to use Analytics to improve your website, your conversion rate and, ultimately, its ROI.

Q. What if you have a traffic referral as an IP address, but no other detail?
A. An IP address should always resolve somewhere if it is another website, otherwise nobody could ever reach it. Therefore, there are tools that will do a ‘reverse IP lookup’ for you and tell you what domains are pointed towards that IP address. Examples of these tools and outputs – which are all free of charge – include:

  1. MxToolbox, Inc.
  2. YouGetSignal.com
  3. Reverse DNS Lookup
  4. ViewDNS.info

Q. Does Google Analytics measure ‘Bots’?
A. Google Analytics measures any browser visiting the website that can trigger JavaScript. Over the years, ‘Bots’ have become more sophisticated and work like ‘real visitors’. Therefore, they get reported in Google Analytics. This misreporting can be improved by enabling the ‘Bot filtering’ feature in the admin section for your particular site view.

For details on how and when to implement this, review this great post on Understanding Bot and Spider Filtering from Google Analytics.

Q. I have a huge problem with spam referral and am struggling to filter it out. How can I remove this?
A. This can be a big problem for some sites. It is best dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, I suggest that you read the Definitive Guide to Removing Referral Spam from Google Analytics by Analytics Edge and test to see which solution solves the particular spam your website is receiving.

Q. When calculating visits, does Analytics automatically exclude internal visits to websites or does this need to be set up?
A. This will need to be setup. Normally, this is done via the view level in your Google Analytics account. Here, you will need to create a new filter called ‘Exclude internal traffic’. Please note that this filter can’t be applied retrospectively; therefore, it needs to be put in place as soon as possible. To find out more, please visit: support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034840?hl=en

Q. What do you mean by ‘brand’ websites?
A. These are websites whose aim is to build awareness and engagement with branded content. This content needs to be able to enforce more understanding of the brand values or messages to visitors and hopefully leave a residual memory. This is a different, but likely, secondary objective to that of eCommerce or lead generation websites.

Q. How do you handle ‘(not provided)’?
A. This refers to the wide exclusion of organic keyword data, which is best handled by setting up and connecting Google Webmaster Tools to your Google Analytics account.

Q. What about keyword searches in Google Analytics?
A. The only reliable data on organic keywords is now held in Google Webmaster Tools and not in the referring URL (which is stripped of keyword data approximately 90% of the time). Therefore, getting keyword data back into your Google Analytics is a two-step approach:

  1. Setup Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Link your Google Webmaster Tools account to your web property in Google Analytics.

Q. What three things on Google Analytics should a start-up marketing consultancy embrace?

  1. Setup clear Goals that support your website. If your goal is to generate business leads, then measure your ‘calls to action’ (e.g. emails, phone numbers, forms etc.). This shows what content (in the different stages of the sales process) drove particular lead enquiries.
  2. Content Groups to see how your website’s different content-types perform and what you need to do more of.
  3. Acquisition Reports, especially Organic Search and Referrals to see what type of traffic you’re receiving from search engines, and other sites that drive traffic to you. This Referral report can show you potential partnerships that can expand beyond traffic-driving to real business.

Q. In determining whether a website is mobile-friendly, does this include a website built for mobile or a fully accessible and responsive desktop website?
A. Both are a solution to ‘mobile-friendly’. However, to check which website is working in a particular circumstance, try the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool. As an additional test, type your target keywords into Google on a mobile browser and count which type of website (mobile or desktop) appears. This can steer you as to what your visible competition are doing.

Q. Is it worth using Google’s Demographics reports on a B2B website? What would be the most useful statistics to look at for insights?
A. Demographics reports can be insightful on any website with over 5,000 visits per month. From Demographics, you have the normal factors such as age (e.g. is there a lot of 18-25 year olds visiting certain content?) and gender. In addition, it will show the Interests reports (e.g. the other types of websites they visit), which will allow you to do some relevant advertising in order to attract more of the same demographic to your website.

Due to the way Demographics are reported, thresholds are applied in order to stop individual users being identified, which is why you need a website with at least a thousand of visits to guarantee meaningful data.

Q. How does Analytics know the age range of your website visitors? What data is being used from your website for Analytics to know that your visitors are aged 45, for example?
A. As it states in the Google Analytics Help file, this data is drawn from “…third-party DoubleClick cookies (for web traffic)”. This data is recorded and stored based on web behaviour and is then supplied to Google Analytics when a person visits a website. You can then see your own demographic advertisers profile to check how accurate it is for you.

Q. My analytics doesn’t seem to be registering everything. For example, MailChimp says that someone has clicked-through on an email campaign, but this action is not being shown on Analytics. Why is this?
A. You will need to track all campaign landing URL’s with Custom Campaigns (UTM tags). You can do this manually using the URL builder, which enables any campaign on different types of media (owned, paid and, in some cases, earned media) to be tracked. However, with MailChimp it is even simpler via this easy 'check one box' solution.

Q. What percentage of search is via Google?
A. This depends on which country you are located in. In Europe, Google generally makes up to 80% of traffic, however this varies dramatically in other regions of the world.

Q. Are there sector-specific norms so that you can see how well your website is performing in comparison to others?
A. You can cross compare your website against the average for your sector by enabling Benchmarking. You can do this by simply following the ‘Enabling Google Analytics Benchmarking’instructions. Once this is completed, you’ll be able to cross-compare channels (e.g. social, direct, referral, organic search, paid search, display, email etc.), look at how your website is doing by country/territory and also by device type (e.g. desktop, mobile, and tablet traffic etc.).

To make these benchmarks relevant to your specific website, you can vary the comparison by Industry Vertical (with over 1600 industry categories available to choose from), Size (by daily visits) or Geographic location (websites from the same country).

This is a great report to see how your website is doing. However, it doesn’t reveal the identity of the other websites, therefore can’t be used as a ‘competitor spying tool’.

Q. What is an example of an ‘organic’ channel?
A. Google Search is the largest ‘organic’ channel in Europe – all searches that leave Google by the ‘usual, unpaid for listings’ are deemed to be ‘organic’. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are also deemed ‘organic’.

Graham Hansell Course Director CIM
Back to all