Tracking Google Product Search Traffic in Google Analytics

Written by  April 7, 2010

I recently had a member ask me this question and after some research found a number of answers. All were interesting.

The question we are looking to find an answer to is “how can we track traffic arriving from Google’s Product Search separately from all other traffic within Google Analytics?” For those of you not familiar with it, Google’s Product Search provides product based results on items that are loaded through Google Base accounts.

Here are two main options I found for accomplishing this.

The first option is a quick way to use filters in GA to segment the traffic. This option might be best for sites that have a lot of product linked urls listed in Google Product Search. The second method uses url tagging (we talked about this in recent posts) and can be arrived at two different ways and although works, might not be the best if you have a lot of urls to change.

Option 1 (Use GA Filters):

Using filters can help alleviate the need to tag many urls. We can setup a filter within GA that segments the data we are already receiving and breaks out the portion of traffic that comes from Product Search. Here’s how:

When you perform a search on Google, you’ll see that your results page has a URL that looks something like the following:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=product+search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

The key point to note here is that when performing a search from the Google Search Engine all searches start with the following string:

http://www.google.com/search?

However, when you perform a search from Google Products the url looks something like this:

http://www.google.com/products?hl=en&q=product%20search&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wf

The key point to note here is that when performing a search from the Google Product Engine all searches start with the following string:

http://www.google.com/products?

Knowing this we can setup a filter using the Referrer field to differentiate between the two and then use the Source field from within Analytics to view the data based on referrer.

Tracking Google Product Search

Field A in our filter looks for a Referrer like one of the Google URLs shown above. Field B limits the data returned to only organic searches (AdWords ads can appear on the Google Product Search pages also, and we don’t want to mess up that reporting). The Output To section actually changes (or rewrites) the Source to “google base” instead of just “google”.

Here is what it would then look like in reporting:

product search source reporting

Option 2 (Use URL Tagging):

Method 1:
If you don’t have a lot of URLs to tag and want to do option 2 then you might be able to get away with the information presented here:
http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=160634

Method 2:

If however you have lot of product URLs to tag and want a better way of doing it then the following might be a better option.

This method uses the same concept I had introduced in previous post on using Google’s URL Builder to for tagging.

In this method though we tag the URLs with:

?utm_source=google&utm_medium=base&utm_campaign=products

The components that are going to let us get segmented reporting on the traffic from Product Search within Google Analytics are source=google and medium=base.

When you go this route your reports will be broken down as follows:

product search tracking

Here are the steps to follow for tagging your URLs:

We are going to use the native Excel format for the feed to address the tagging.

1. Download your product feed and open it with Excel

2.Insert two columns to the right of the column that contains your product URL (column header should be “link”)

3. Write your tracking code into the cell to the right of the URL (see below):
tracking_productsearch_ga4

4. In the next cell to the right the one you just inserted, write the following formula, substituting cell numbers if appropriate:

=CONCATENATE(B2,C2)

You should see a result similar to the screenshot below showing the two cells merged together:

tracking_productsearch_ga5

5. Copy the cell formula all the way down to cover all of your products so that all of them having the tracking added.

6. Highlight all of your product URLs (in the third column of the spreadsheet) which now have the tracking code added, and then copy and paste them into Notepad

7. Delete the columns you’ve just created so that you only have the ones you started with.

8. Paste in all of your new URLs over the top of the old ones – you have to do this in order to get the spreadsheet back in a format to be uploaded – the extra columns will be rejected.

9. Upload revised feed to Google

10. After a day or two, log into Analytics and go to traffic sources. You should be seeing traffic from Google / Base showing.

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