Posts Tagged ‘Google Analytics’

How to Import Google Analytics Goals as AdWords Conversions

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

If you use Google AdWords, you should be using the conversions measurement. If you’re not, never fear, all you need is Analytics!

I’ve been using Google AdWords conversions for quite some time now, but haven’t noticed (until today) that you can import your Google Analytics goals (as long as your AdWords and Analytics accounts are connected) as AdWords conversions. That way, you only need to install one set of code: your Google Analytics code. Evidently, the ability to do so has been available for almost a year!

Confused yet? These screen shots should help explain.

Under the Reporting tab, click “Conversions.” Without any conversions set up, you should see a screen that looks like this:


Again, you’ll need to connect your AdWords and Analytics accounts to see this screen.

Click “Import from Google Analytics”. In the past you would have had to insert a code (and you still can), but now you have the option to sync your Analytics goals.

import goal

Click import, and you’re good to go!

Nicki Hicks
Google: Making life easier one day at a time

3 Free Tools You Can’t Live Without as an SEO

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

It’s not specifically for AdWords users, and it gives you probably the most accurate data for Google keyword queries and competition, as well as related keywords and phrases.

google adwords keyword tool

Yahoo Site Explorer

To date, Yahoo’s Site Explorer gives the most accurate picture of what websites are linking to yours.

yahoo site explorer

Since Yahoo will soon begin incorporating Bing’s search results, Yahoo Site Explorer may not exist for much longer; so here are two other sources that work just as well (and arguably even better):

More recently, I’ve discovered another great site for tracking incoming links: Majestic SEO. Without logging in, you can check one website’s backlinks. By subscribing (for free), you can compare up to five different domains against one another.

This week, SEOmoz launched their brand new Open Site Explorer, what could be the eventual replacement to Yahoo Site Explorer. Those with PRO membership will have unlimited access, and for the next 24 hours, SEOmoz is offering a free trial for everyone!

Google Analytics

I talk about Analytics relentlessly, but the thing is…you’re not going to get a better Analytics system for free. And you need Analytics, so the choice is logical.

ga dashboard

There are thousands of tools out there – from tools for checking PageRank, to checking cache dates, to checking keyword density. They’re all great. Like I said, these are just the three you can’t live without. ;)

Nicki Hicks
Hey – these tools are all search engine-owned!

How to Draw Conclusions from Google Analytics Data (Part 2)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Since there was too much to say from last time, I’m continuing thoughts on drawing Analytics conclusions today.

Bounce Rate

Crap. Bounce rate went up.

  • Did it increase drastically? For the most part, bounce rates don’t change more than a few percent unless something major happened. Did you get a powerful link that brought in ton of traffic? (In which case, maybe the call-to-action on that page wasn’t strong enough.)
  • Does your website have a blog, or is it a blog? Blogs tend to have excruciatingly high bounce rates, since individual blogposts answer a question and once the question is answered, the visitor will move on. The key for a blog: is your high bounce rate coupled with a high new visits rate and/or a low subscription number? If visitors never return (your new visits rate is high), then you need to work to bring it down. Likewise with subscription rates – what can you do to make people subscribe? Sometimes it’s as simple as making a call-to-action to subscribe a little more “in your face”.

Yes! Bounce rate went down!

  • Like pageviews, a decrease in bounce rate can sometimes be a negative thing. Is it difficult for people to find what they want so they have to visit multiple pages?
  • Did you start displaying your phone number prominently? We’ve become a web-based world, but that doesn’t mean people don’t pick up the phone anymore. Many companies actually prefer to be contacted by phone, by burying any web-based means of contact and displaying phone number in the forefront. In this case, the call-to-action is to call so a low bounce rate (hopefully) means they took that action. By creating a means of measurement for this (by using a service for it), you’ll be able to successfully track this assumption.

A note on bounce rates: good vs. bad bounce rates depend heavily on your industry, as well as website vs. blogs. The flyte website typically stays around a 75% bounce rate, this blog about an 80% bounce rate. I’ve seen them get as low as 20-30%, typically in the hotel/inn industry.

Average Time on Site

Crap. Average time on site went down.

  • Are your conversions going down too? Then you might have an issue on your hands. If people are spending less time on the site, and not doing what you want them to do while they’re there, take a look at your top landing pages and optimize them in order of popularity. Take time to make your call-to-action bold and attractive.
  • Did pageviews also go down? That might not be a bad thing. Did you add a better call-to-action? Check your conversions. They might be up!

Yes! Average time on site went up!

  • Has bounce rate also gone up? Then there might be a problem. Luckily, people are still taking the time to look for what they need; but then they’re leaving. Make it easy for your visitors with easy-to-use navigation and, can’t say it enough, your call-to-action.
  • Add a really popular new page or blog post? Or perhaps you have a great new incoming link? In that case, people are actually reading what you write – which is fantastic! (Find out which page/post it is by sorting your top content by time on site.)

New Visits

Crap. New visits went down.

  • First decide: do you want new visitors? If the answer is “yes”, then have you been writing articles? Blog posts? New content? That’s where you should start. Then, try social media and social bookmarking. You’ll reach new audiences (nearly) every day there).
  • If you want to keep your old visitors coming back, give them a reason to. Add a blog, or a section that changes often. Maybe an email newsletter is the answer: incorporating links to keep your visitors hungry for more.

Yes! New visits went up!

  • Have you been active on social media or social bookmarking sites? Make sure you’re well aware of any pages that go viral (and thank folks who might have ReTweeted you ;) .)
  • Check your traffic sources for where these new visitors are coming from. That should share even more insight.

In conclusion

Google Analytics isn’t perfect and you can’t see why every visitor does what they do on your website. But, you can get a great picture and even gain a lot of insight.

Nicki Hicks
Mind reading through Analytics

How Do I Edit Google Analytics Scheduled Reports?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

About a year ago, a client requested to receive weekly Google Analytics reports; a request I was more than happy to oblige. In order to stay on top of the client’s statistics, I added my own email to the list.

Now, months later, our contract has been completed and I’m still receiving those pesky emails. While I’m ecstatic my client’s website continues to perform well, it’s become annoying that Google Analytics emails me every Monday clock work.

This morning I decided to do something about it.

After some searching, I found the current Google Analytics Help section on the topic is somewhat out of date, having been written before one of the minor redesigns.

In an effort to help others pestered with the same annoyance I was having, the solution is simple.

Go into “View Reports” of the account in question. On the left hand menu, you’ll see hiding under “My Customizations”, an Email button:

email settings

Once here, you can change, manage, or update any of your scheduled reports!

Nicki Hicks
Happily no longer receiving GA reports

Google Analytics Advanced Segments: What they are and Why you need them

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Ever wanted to see how much traffic you’re getting from your social media networks? Or your email newsletter? How about from a particular link – maybe a directory?

You can obviously filter this traffic using Google Analytics; but with Advanced Segments, spending a little time now will save you a lot of time filtering from now on.

In the top right of your dashboard, you’ll see “Advanced Segments”, with a default drop down of “All Visits”:

dashboard advanced segments

Basically, an Advanced Segment is simply a way to compare sets of Analytics data against each other – whether it’s traffic, referring sites, time on site, etc. These are many of the pre-set segments.

Let’s say I want to see my total visits compared to those from referring sites. By simply checking off those two boxes, I can then see the data:

vists vs referral traffic analytics advanced segment

vists vs referral traffic graph

Keep in mind that you can change the date range, as well as travel to any other page (bounce rate, for example) and still have the segment set.

Since Google Analytics couldn’t create every segment, you have the ability to create your own. Click the drop-down Advanced Segments menu, then choose to create a new advanced segment.

create advanced segment

You’ll be taken to this page:

new advanced segment

Let’s say I want to see how much traffic I get from Facebook. I click down within Dimensions > Traffic Sources > Source, and drag it to the Dimension or Metric box. In this case, I’m going to match the dimension with “Contains”, for the traffic that contains the domain Input the domain, name the segment, and you’re done!

facebook advanced segment

Notice you can add “or” and/or “and” statements depending on the segment you want to set. You’d use these if you were tracking traffic from multiple sources; for instance, all social media sources (,, and

Not sure you did it right? Click “Test Segment” to see if it worked.

Then, if I go back to my dashboard and set “All Visits” and my new “Facebook” segment, I can see the comparison:

visits vs facebook

visits vs facebook graph

Again, this process takes some time to set up, but once it is, you’ll be able to create seemingly customized reports in no time!

Nicki Hicks
Create custom reports with the click of a button

Google Analytics Intelligence: Who’s Watching Your Alerts?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

google analytics intelligence

Google rolled out the Intelligence feature a few months back, but it was only showing up on select accounts at that time. Now, it appears to be available for all accounts. In your Analytics, you’ll see a curious new navigation tab.

What’s so great about it?

Instead of checking every nook and cranny in your Analytics, simply go to the Intelligence section and check out your alerts.

Google will automatically alert you for significant changes in all of your main dashboard items:

  • Traffic
  • Pageviews
  • Pages/visit
  • Bounce Rate
  • Average Time on Site
  • New Visitors

google analytics intelligence alerts

There are also a few added bonuses. You can sort your alerts by day, week, or month to get a more specific view or the one from 20,000 feet. Like custom reports, you can also create custom alerts – if you’d like the GA assistant to ping you if a particular statistic changes significantly.

Don’t be too critical, Intelligence is still in beta. All things considered, it’s an intuitive (and quick) way to check any unusual (good or bad) behavior on your site.

Nicki Hicks
Google’s so Intelligent

How to Track Traffic to an Outbound Link with Google Analytics

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Have an outbound link you’re desperate to get traffic reports for? Maybe the affiliate reservations site you use? Well you can track it using your Google Analytics!

All you have to do is insert a piece of javascript into the href tag; in this example I track the link to flyte:

ga code outbound links

Then, you can track who clicks on the link by looking at your “Top Content” in Google Analytics.

top content google analytics

In Top Content, look for the name you gave the page. In this example, it would be “”. That’s all there is to it – it’s really that simple!

Nicki Hicks
Tracking outbound links

What is a Good Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

First of all, what does your bounce rate mean? The bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a particular page and then leave the website from that very same page. For instance, if I search for “maine seo”, land on my blog, decide that it wasn’t what I was looking for, and then go back and try my search again…that would count as apart of my bounce rate. At the same time, if I searched the very same query, find this blog, find what I’m looking for by reading a post or two, then leave…that again would count towards by bounce rate.

For this reason, bounce rates can be misleading. A person could spend 5 seconds or 5 minutes on the page before “bouncing”, you don’t know. They could very well have found what they’re looking for and decided to call you or email you. Google Analytics goals, in this case, wouldn’t help with this disconnect. Only by asking your customer with something like “How did you find us?” would you know they actually ever visited your site.

But I digress…the only additional information Google provides if you drill down into the bounce rate section is the bounce rate per day:

daily bounce rate

If you go into the Content section, you can see the bounce rate for individual pages. Typically, the pages with the most pageviews (or the top content pages) will also have the highest bounce rate. You can also see that the % Exiting is often similar to the bounce rate:

page bounce rate

maine seo bounce rateSo, what’s a good bounce rate? It really depends on your industry. My blog has almost an 80% bounce rate. This is fairly typical for both my industry and for blogs in general. With blogs, searchers will read a post or check out the homepage and then move on – hence the higher rate.

In particular, I’ve notice that websites for hotels, inns, and motels tend to have a low bounce rate – something in the 30% range, since people searching for hotels know specifically what they’re looking for when they click on the result. Furthermore, when you’re perusing a hotel’s site, you want to check out more than one page. At a minimum, that includes something that resembles amenities and rates pages.

When are you in trouble? In general, the bounce rate isn’t the most important stat to pay attention to. But there a few things you should keep your eye on, including:

  • If your bounce rate increases or decreases dramatically. Did you change something for the better – or worse?
  • If the bounce rate on one particular page is significantly higher or lower. This might cause you to change that page (for a higher-than-average rate), or other pages on the site to replicate it (for a lower-than-average rate).
  • If the % exiting far exceeds the bounce rate. This means that people have visited more than one page on the site, but something is causing them to leave the site from this point. Should they be?

Your bounce rate is heavily dependent on both your industry and your site architecture. But if you bare the above in mind, you can effectively manage it.

Nicki Hicks
Bouncing is what Tiggers do best

How to Block Google Image Traffic from your Analytics

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Last time I talked about how image alt tags affect your traffic, and mentioned that you can block traffic from image searches through your analytics.

I would suggest blocking the image search domain only if you aren’t recieving qualified traffic, which would apply for almost every industry.  However, there may be some searches you wouldn’t want to block.  For example, if you run a destination wedding service and many customers find you by image searching for destination weddings, you might want to keep track of who finds you image searching.  (You could set up a special goal tracking this data.)

edit accountIn order to block Image search engines, simply go to your Analytics Settings Dashboard and click “edit”.

Scroll down and choose the “add filter” button in the Filter section.add google analytics filterThen simply enter the Filter information – a name that you’ll recognize, the filter type (from domain), and finally the domain (Google Images, in this case).

google images filterNicki Hicks
Tracking Quality Traffic

How Image Alt Tags Affect Traffic and Why You Should Use Them

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

maine seo image search for search engine differences

If you Google image search for “search engine differences”, you’ll find a chart I made as the first result for a post I did a while back.  The small matter of whether anyone is even searching for “search engine differences” (especially in the Image Search) doesn’t matter at the moment.  What does matter is that I optimized that image for that keyword phrase:

<p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-602" title=
"search engine differences" src="
alt="search engine differences" width="522" height="511" /></p>

WordPress gives images a title tag when you give it a description, and one of the SEO plugins I use adds the alt tag you can see.

What’s the point?

You should use alt tags.  Since traffic these days comes from every direction from email newletters, direct traffic, and good ol’ web searches to blog, image, and video searches it’s necessary to optimize for every possible avenue.

So, use keywords and phrases where you can; but by effectively describing the image.  Rich talked about Matt Cutts’ video on this a few months ago.

referring sites google analytics

Why you have to be careful

When you look at your Analytics, image searches may often skew the results.  Take a look at this blogs traffic sources – Google’s image search is number 6!

But, when you take a look at how long those people spent on the site, it’s only an average of :22.

time on site from image search

If these stats are negatively affecting your Analytics, you can set up a filter like you would to block your IP address to block traffic from Google (or other search engines) Images.

Nicki Hicks
A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

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