Google Analytics Demystified: Part 1 – The Introduction

July 10, 2007 by  
Filed under Website Analytics

Google AnalyticsThere seems to be so much confusion with understanding Google Analytics that I thought it would be appropriate to devote a special series to it.

Once I uncover the mystery surrounding its power, you’ll forever wonder how you lived without it.

Throughout the series, I’ll reveal the proper way to install Google Analytics and explain what it can tell you once it has been successfully completed.

I’ll also uncover the mystery surrounding its 4 main components including:

  • “Vanilla” Google Analytics Tracking
  • E-Commerce Tracking
  • Conversion Tracking
  • Goal Tracking (including Sales Funnels)

Together they all play an important part in the entire “statistics overview”, yet each one can operate independently of the other. As such, each one also has their own unique and separate tracking code that needs to be installed if you plan to use it. Simply installing “Google Analytics” will not install E-commerce Tracking, nor will it install Conversion Tracking or Goal Tracking. These are separate entities within the entire analytics package.

Ok, so now that I have pointed that out, let me explain the difference between the 4 main components.

“Vanilla” Google Analytics Tracking

The “typical form” of a Google Analytics install is what I like to call the “Vanilla” (or “plain”) version. It is the one that you are given tracking code for by default when you create a Google Analytics account.

“Vanilla” Google Analytics Tracking is used to track typical patterns you would expect to see with most “statistical tracking packages”. You’ll get things like “where your visitors are coming from”, “what type of browsers they are using”, “how many visitors came to your site”, etc…

The code you use to install Google Analytics looks something like this and is usually placed near the bottom of every page you want to track information for. It’s the tracking code that starts with “UA-” at the beginning.

Sample of “Vanilla” Google Analytics Tracking Code:

<script src="http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js" type="text/javascript">
</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
_uacct = "UA-xxxxxx-x";
urchinTracker();
</script>

E-Commerce Tracking

Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking is used to track product sales, sales revenues, transaction data, etc… When you install E-Commerce tracking, you’ll get reporting figures for things like “dollar amount of total sales for the period”, “product sales revenues for the period”, “top selling products”, and more.

The code you use to install Google E-Commerce Tracking looks something like this and MUST be placed BELOW the “Vanilla” Analytic Tracking code (shown above) on the sales RECEIPT page. This is the page a user arrives at after completing a successful sale at your store.

Sample of Google E-Commerce Tracking Code:

<form style="display:none;" name="utmform">
<textarea id="utmtrans">UTM:T|[order-id]|[affiliation]|
[total]|[tax]| [shipping]|[city]|[state]|[country] UTM:I|[order-id]|[sku/code]|[productname]|[category]|[price]|
[quantity] </textarea>
</form>

Google Conversion Tracking

If you are running any Paid Search (PPC) campaigns (especially through Google Adwords), then you will want to install Conversion Tracking to determine how effective those campaigns are at increasing conversion, and generating sales.

Conversion Tracking reports things such as “How effective your Adwords ads are”, “which actual keywords convert to sales, and which just cost you money”, “overall conversion rate for a campaign, ad, or group of keywords”, and more.

The code you use to install Google Conversion Tracking looks something like this and is placed on the sales RECEIPT/CONFIRMATION page. This is the page a user arrives at after completing a successful sale (checkout) at your store.

Sample of Google Conversion Tracking Code:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">

</script>
<script language="JavaScript" src="https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion.js">
</script>
<noscript>
<img height=1 width=1 border=0 src="https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion/ xxxxxxxxxx/?value=0.00&label=purchase&script=0">
</noscript>

Google Analytics Goal Tracking

Goal Tracking gives you the ability to track important events (actions/goals) that users take when they visit your site.

These Goals can range from simply filling out a contact form, to downloading a free brochure, to an actual sale that generates revenue. The choice is yours, but choose wisely. At the time of this writing, Google only allows you to track up to 4 total goals. I would choose those that have the biggest impact on the success of your business.

Unlike the first three components that are available to us in Google Analytics, the Goal Tracking component does not require any special code other than the “Basic” Analytic Tracking code that I showed you in the previous post. The thing is, as with most of the Google Analytics Tracking elements, this one relies on more than just “installation of tracking code” to get it working.

You can enhance Goal Tracking even further, to produce more powerful report data by creating what is called a “Funnel” to that Goal. By doing this, you will now be armed with the tools necessary to find out how effective the process leading up to an individual Goal really is. You will discover what flaws exist in the channel and where they are. In short, this will help you determine many things including, exactly at what point in your sales path users are abandoning the process. And as we all know, that is a critical element you need to know if you are to increase conversion.

The Introduction is Complete. Now On With the Show!

Ok, so I have introduced you to the 4 components that make up “Google Analytics”. The remaining parts of this series will go into more detail on each of the 4 pieces, explain how to set each up, give examples of such, and uncover how you can harness their collective power to help increase your conversion.

Until next time; keep the traffic flowing, and the analytics recording.

For more detailed information on how you can use Google Analytics to increase conversion of your website, be sure to check out Google Analytics Uncovered for Zen Cart: The Workbook..

Part 2 of this series discusses “Vanilla” Google Analytics including setup and troubleshooting for installation.

Are You Losing Google Page Rank Because You Forgot the WWW?

July 2, 2007 by  
Filed under E-Commerce Optimization

There are many reasons why you should remain consistent with your naming conventions on the Internet, especially when it comes to your domain name.

One reason is for the dreaded “duplicate content” hit you might take with a site that is indexed with both the “www” and the “non-www” form of the domain name. Another, and the one I will focus on here is the fact that you could be cheating yourself out of higher Page Rank from Google by actually “splitting it across two domains”.

What do I mean by “splitting” Google Page Rank?

Google Page RankFirst off, let me explain in short what Page Rank really is. “Page Rank” really is a measure of the incoming links to your website. Also understand that just “getting links” is not going to necessarily increase your Page Rank. The links must contain relevant content to what you offer in order to give you the most benefit. Naturally speaking then, it would make sense that the more relevant links you have coming to your website (from other similar sites), the higher your Page Rank will be.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let me present you with the following.

Have you ever noticed that when you go to your site using a url like http://www.yoursite.com (with the “www”) you see your Google Page Rank as one number (out of 10) and when you view your site as http://yoursite.com (without the “www”) you see a different Page Rank number (out of 10)?

Or, have you ever performed a Google search for your site as follows on http://www.yoursite.com and on http://yoursite.com and noticed that you are indexed by Google under both the “www” variation and the “non-www” variation?

If so, you are a victim of Canonical naming conventions at work, and you could be losing Page Rank because of it.

Why is this important and what does it all mean? Well, it’s important because if you want to follow better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, and get maximum benefit of your possible total Page Rank, then you need to pay attention to the way your site is indexed.

What does it mean? I’ll give you an example of what it can mean to you (for illustrative purposes only.) If your site has a possible (or potential) total Page Rank of 6 out of 10, and you are indexed with both the “www” and the “non-www” form of your domain name, then your Page Rank could be split to just 3 out of 10!

Much different than a 6 out of 10 right?

So how could it be just 3 out of 10 when its full potential is 6? Well remember, in our example, Google has you indexed as “2 different domains” (by Canonical naming conventions) even though you are the same website. Google has to allocate the incoming links to your site and give them a Page Rank accordingly so it “splits the links” across the two different domains. This split is not always “50 / 50”, but in our example I use that for ease of understanding.

It takes the portion of the links that point to your site’s “www” form (www.yoursite.com) and gives them a portion of the total Page Rank. It then takes the remaining links that point to the “non-www” form (yoursite.com) of your domain name and allocates them a Page Rank. This example assumes that 50% of the incoming links point to one domain form, and 50% to the other form.

Now does it make more sense? Google took the possible “6 out of 10” Page Rank and split it into two equal halves of “3 for one domain”, and “3 for the other domain form”.

The result — instead of having a Page Rank “6 out of 10”, you now have a Page Rank “3 out of 10”.

You can’t control how others link to you (the “www” vs. “non-www” form of your domain — although you can try), but you can control what happens once they arrive at your site.

So you know you are a victim, what can you do to fix it?

In a previous post I talked very briefly about how I used a 301 redirect to move content from my old site to this; then new, domain.

You can use the same concept to redirect requests from your “non-www” domain to your “www” domain and vice versa. Just be consistent with which version you choose.

Quickly, let me show you one more example to demonstrate what the proper setup for your site gets you. In this case, I’ll use my domain (zencartoptimization.com).

The following are two examples that get you the same “common” end result.

Click on http://www.zencartoptimization.com/ (a new window will open). What do you see in the address bar of your browser? You should see the “www” version of the domain name.

Now, click on http://zencartoptimization.com/ (a new window will again open). What do you see this time in your address bar? Right! You again should see the “www” version of the domain name even though the link points to the “non-www” version!

So now we have “Canonical naming” consistency and our Google Page Rank will be combined into one final value.

Now, try the same thing for your own site. Type it with the “www” and without the “www”. See what end result you get.

If you do not get a consistent result (either both “www” url’s in the end or both “non-www” url’s in the end — whichever route you choose,) then you may want to consider adding a few lines of code to your .htaccess file (make sure it is located in your website’s root directory) to correct the situation.

Dynamic 301 Redirects Correct the www/non-www Canonical Issue

If you use the www version use this code

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomainhere(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomainhere.com/$1 [R=301,L]

If you are using the Zen Cart Search Engine Friendly URLS Contribution, this still can be added as well (it’s not automatically included in the module, you have to add it yourself). In that case, you simply add the following to the bottom section of the .htaccess file that came with the module install.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomainhere(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomainhere.com/$1 [R=301,L]

The code above will 301 redirect the non-www version to the www version. Remember to replace “yourdomainhere” with your own domain name.

If you use the non-www version use this code

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yourdomainhere.(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yourdomainhere.com/$1 [R=301,L]

The code above will 301 redirect the www version to the non-www version. Remember to replace “yourdomainhere” with your own domain name.

So now you should know why it is important to be consistent in your naming conventions. A slight oversight could be costing your Zen store valuable Page Rank.

Got a different method to achieve the same effect? Let me know.

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