Using PadiTrack to Measure Site Navigation

PadiTrack is an easy to use, free tool that enables you to extend Google Analytics with more flexible goal funnels and other navigation path tracking.

PadiTrack offers several advantages over Google Analytics for setting up goal funnels:

1. Historical data – with Google Analytics, setting up a goal funnel means the data is reported starting the day the funnel is set up, so no historical data is available. With PadiTrack, you can set the date range as far back as your Google Analytics data goes.

2. Segmentation – advanced segments can’t be applied to funnels in Google Analytics, but PadiTrack provides the opportunity to apply segments, including custom advanced segments that you have set up in your Google Analytics profile! (Late-breaking: the *new* Google Analytics now in beta allows for segmentation of goal funnels – but it’s not fully rolled out yet.)

These strengths make PadiTrack a powerful tool for monitoring progress down the goal funnel, but also make it very useful for understanding navigation from one page to another.  This especially applies if you have a dynamic site and want to understand the movement of visitors from one page ‘type’ to another. For example, you may have ‘product category‘ pages with URLs like ‘www.site.com/category.php?cat_id=111‘ and ‘product detail‘ pages that have URLs like ‘www.site.com/product.php?prod_id=123‘. If you want to know frequently visitors go from category to product pages, you have several options:

  1. Simple calculation: If the only way a visitor can get to a product detail page is via a category page, the calculation is straightforward, based on unique pageviews of each type in the Content Report. But modern sites are rarely so strictly laid out, since we usually want prospects/customers to be able to get to product detail pages via search (off-site or on-site) or other convenient means.
  2. Set up a Google Analytics Goal Funnel either with with product detail pages as end goal, or as part of larger goal. Sensible approach, but doesn’t help if you want to see last month’s results in order to make a decision on testing priorities. Also, only the first step can be set as required, so it is not uncommon to see leakages in to the funnel steps from pages that are not previous steps. And you can’t segment the funnel data – at least not until you have access to the new features currently in Beta.
  3. Use the ‘Navigation Summary’ report, which is helpful in getting a sense of flow through a given page. But it only applies to individual pages (including previous and next), is based only on clicks, and only shows a limited number of pages in the ‘next’ list. The ‘class’ of pages we want to measure may be dispersed over a large number of individual pages.
  4. Use ‘In Page Analytics’: again, only one page at a time and, while it can be a helpful visualization, tends to be an unreliable data source.
  5. PadiTrack gets around all these issues! You can use various match type options or regular expressions to identify page types by URL or Page Title (bonus!), select your desired date range, and *boom* dat’s it. For more granularity, you can filter by top referrer or top keyword or apply GA advanced segments.
Paditrack select page

Example: setting up first step in PadiTrack

Once you set up your steps – as few as 2 or as many as 5 – PadiTrack will create the funnel on the fly for your chosen date range:

PadiTrack conversion funnel

PadiTrack Funnel/Navigation Path

So we can see in this case that about 15% of those visiting a category page went on to a product detail page during their visit. Depending on our expectations/goals, this may warrant testing changes to the category page design in order to improve flow-through to product details. Or you can extend the funnel by adding more steps (up to a total of 5) to assess further progress toward the end goal. Or you may compare this to other key navigation steps on your site to prioritize testing efforts. All easy to do, with results available in minutes.

Care to share any thoughts or experience with PadiTrack or other conversion funnel/navigation tools? Please do!

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New Ways to See AdWords Search Query Terms

AdWords Report CenterAs part of Google’s phasing out of the AdWords Report Center, the traditional ‘Search Query Performance’ report is no longer available. But there are new and better ways to get this critical data!

Using Google AdWords reports to track performance of the keywords you are bidding on is fundamental to search marketing success, and the ease with which this can be done is a source of delight for search marketers, especially when compared to measuring traditional forms of advertising.  If you are bidding on ‘industrial supplies’, for example, it is easy to get metrics like impressions, clicks, conversions, cost per conversion and then make decisions that will lead to better performance.

But most folks also realize the additional value of being able to look behind the scenes to see the actual search queries that users are typing in and using that information to refine campaigns.  Because if you are bidding on ‘industrial supplies’ on anything other than exact match, your ad will be showing up for a lot of terms beyond strictly ‘industrial supplies’. These could be: ‘cheap industrial supplies‘, ‘industrial supplies oregon‘, ‘industrial equipment and supplies‘, ‘industrial painting supplies‘ and thousands of other variations. The value of having this deeper insight into the terms triggering your ads is obvious.

Not so very long ago in the short history of search engine marketing, this was data was not as accessible as many would’ve liked, served up only in a special report, with large chunks of information missing. (The infamous ‘other unique queries’.)

Times change (quickly) and this industry evolves (rapidly) and now more complete search query data is available from a couple of sources. At the same time, the traditional Search Query Performance report has been phased out of the AdWords Report Center – along with just about every other kind of report. So let’s look at how we can get at AdWords search query data now:

1. Within AdWords Keyword data in UI: Recent enhancements to the AdWords user interface include the ability to generate an ‘on the fly’ report on search terms.  From the ‘Keywords’ tab, you can select the ‘See search terms’ button to go to a report on search terms.  This shows all the search terms used, with indications as to which ones are currently being bid on.  The nice thing here is that you can instantly add keywords or even add negative keywords directly from this report.  And you can also download the report in CSV format.

AdWords search query terms
3. Google Analytics AdWords data: With the new AdWords reporting enhancements to Google Analytics, it is easy to get a look at actual search terms being used. Simply go to ‘Traffic Sources’>’AdWords beta’>’Keywords’ and then use the second dimension box to select ‘Matched Search Query’. Here you get a nice side-by-side listing of keywords you are bidding on along with matched terms.  The additional advantage, of course, is that you get all that juicy post-click behavioural data, such as bounce rate, goal completions, and – if you have Ecommerce tracking set up – revenue.

GA search query

So there are 2 ways that I know of to investigate AdWords search query data and use it to improve performance of your keyword advertising. Both of these methods offer some advanced flexibility and power compared to the old AdWords Search Query Performance report.

Pulling Data from Google Analytics API, Pt. 2: Tatvic

Part II in a series looking at getting data from Google Analytics into Excel via the API

Part 1: VBA macros

Tatvic GA Excel Plug-in

The Tatvic GA Excel Plugin requires users to download and install a plugin in order to extract data from the Google Analytics API, unlike the VBA macro approach.  In exchange for this small inconvenience, you get a more robust tool with a built-in interface that makes it easy to grab the data you want.

Installation is intuitive and trouble-free.  Once installed, all you need to do go to the ‘Add-Ins‘ tab in Excel, hit ‘Login‘ and enter a GA username and password.  Click on ‘Add New Data Block‘ and all the accounts and profiles associated with that username will be available for downloading. Pick an account and profile, date range and range breakdown.  This breakdown feature is very handy, as it allows you to, for example, get a year’s worth of data broken down by month – something you can’t do within the GA interface.

Tatvic GA Plug-in screen

Tatvic GA Plug-in screen

After selecting the account, profile and date range you want to report on, next step is to pick your dimensions and metrics.

Tatvic GA Plug-in data selection screen

Tatvic GA Plug-in data selection screen

Hit next and the data lands on your spreadsheet, starting in a cell of your choosing.

Tatvic GA Plug-in data results

Tatvic GA Plug-in data results

Note that in this case I choose to breakdown the data by week, with the weeks being identified as numbers in the output. Not exactly optimal, but with some fiddling with Excel functions, the date for the first day of the week can be derived.

Some of the real convenience factors here include:

  • drop-down list of all available accounts and profiles associated with the username – easy to grab data from multiple profiles in the same spreadsheet file.
  • ability to breakdown time period by day/week/month or year
  • built-in list of all the available GA dimensions and metrics
  • easily add multiple dimensions and metrics, with preview pane showing generally what it will look like
  • can edit reports after the fact if you want to add a metric, dimension, etc.
  • ability to select starting cell, so you can add to existing data over time.

Tatvic GA Plug-in is currently available as a free demo.  Not sure what the future plans are, but at the current price it offers excellent value. Check it out at http://gaexcelplugin.tatvic.com and keep up to date at the Tatvic blog.

Pulling Data from Google Analytics API, Pt 1: VBA Macros

As mentioned back in April, the release of the Google Analytics Data Export API was bound to lead to a variety of options for accessing/manipulating GA data without going through the interface.  More recently, the Google Analytics Blog did a quick list of some of the approaches that are now available for extracting GA data into Excel.  There are some real advantages to being able to pull Google Analytics data into Excel – especially for larger sites with lots of rows of relevant data.  Being a ‘roll up the sleeves’ kinda guy, I thought I would test these various methods and assess some of the pros/cons of each.  There are 4 tools mentioned in the Google Analytics Blog:

1. VBA Macros (with template by Mikael Thuneberg) – described in this blog post

2. Tatvic Excel Plugin

3. Excellent Analytics

4. ShufflePoint

I plan to look at them each in some detail, so I will do a separate blog post on each one, starting with…

VBA Macros (demonstrated by Mikael Thuneberg)

This is the most straightforward approach and requires no additional tools other than Excel.  Mr. Mikael Thuneberg has provided a good explanation of how it works in his blog Mikael’s Excel Page and – even better for those of us not well-versed in VBA – a spreadsheet template that can be used to fetch data.  So the easiest way to get started is to download GA_data_fetch.xls from Mikael’s page and fill in the boxes.  Below is a screenshot of what I got with my login info and the default report settings:

GA-data-fetch1

You can use Google’s Dimensions & Metrics Reference to find other dimensions and metrics that can be added (using & between them), in which case the possibilities are almost endless.

GA-data-fetch2

The worksheet uses an array formula to display multiple dimensions and metrics. It is set up to display 34 rows of data but the VBA module can fetch up to 10,000 rows (which I think might be the max allowed by GA in 24-hr period – see the API Quota Policy).  In order to display a larger set, you will have to expand the area of the array formula.  This can be easily done:

1) select the entire expanded area (including existing data)

2) F2 to enter edit mode

3) CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to copy array formula to empty cells.

A very flexible solution that quickly gets data into Excel for further manipulation.  You can set it up to pull data from different profiles into different worksheets in the same Excel file to have easy access to them. And it’s free!

Next up: Tatvic Excel Plugin

Breaking the 500-Row Barrier in Google Analytics

Google Analytics has many strengths as an analytics tool, but it has its limitations. A major one has been the restriction of only being able to export 500 rows of a report at a time.  For example, the screenshot below shows that the report for Site Search Terms has over 22,000 rows, yet we can only select a maximum of 500 rows to display at once (number of rows displayed is the number that will be exported):

GA 500 row limit

GA 500 row limit

It may not be particularly useful to look at all 22,000 rows, but even if we want to get a report on the top 2,000 search terms, we would have to create 4 reports, selecting 500 rows each time, exporting, then moving on to next 500. Tedious – to put it mildly.

Accessing data via the Google API offers one way around this limitation.  However, the Google Analytic Blog has provided a more straightforward solution that anybody can use.  In this Tip for Exporting Rows, it is explained that the 500-row limit can be overcome using these easy steps:

1. Go to the report you want to export.

2. Append &limit=x to the end of the report URL (where x=number of rows you want to export)
Example: https://www.google.com/analytics/reporting/search_keywords?id=6146&pdr=20090727-20090826&cmp=average#lts=1251391512461&limit=2000

3. Hit enter to refresh the page (double-check to make sure the &limit= is still there)

4. Export as CSV.

Voila! Easy and efficient!  Thanks to the folks at the Google Analytics Blog for sharing this trick.

Making Notes in Google Analytics

Last month I was lucky enough to attend a very full day of  Google Analytics training led by the well-known GA expert Justin Cutroni.  One of the many awesome tips Justin offered to us was the GA notes Firefox extension developed by EpikOne, where he works.  This little plug-in greatly enhances Google Analytics by allowing users to take notes and keep an on-going record of events (whether online or offline) that may impact on web stats, right inside the GA interface.  This ability to keep track of information that can help make sense of the numbers and tie them to real-world events is often lacking or sub-par in analytics programs.

To help solve this problem, the EpikOne plug-in is free and easy to install, and the notes can be shown or hidden at the click of a button.  All you need is Firefox and Justin”s instructions on adding business data to Google Analytics.  What you get is the ability to do this:

ganotes21

Another way to get actionable business intelligence from your web analytics.  For more great advice on maximizing Google Analytics, check out Justin”s Analytics Talk blog.

Floodgates Open: Google Analytics API Launched

Google Analytics Blog announced on April 21 the long-anticipated release of the Google Analytics Data Export API, opening it up for developers to get in and start building applications that can extend the power and availability of GA.  From the blog:

Developers can integrate Google Analytics into their existing products and create standalone applications that they sell. Users could see snapshots of their Analytics data in developer created dashboards and gadgets. Individuals and business owners will have opportunities to access their Google Analytics information in a variety of new ways.”

Big news, and we can expect to see lots of cool applications being developed in the coming months.  More info in the blogpost about what this all means and how to take advantage of it.