Shifting to _utmz to _ga

Some years back I had written about the __utmz cookie that Google Analytics uses to identify source attribution for visitors. If you are interested in reading that post, click here on Understanding the __utmz cookie.

Google evolves beyond Urchin

Google Analytics is based on the Urchin tracking management system and has been improving on that system over a period of time. As I have seen this product evolve, and many more features that were not there in Urchin … one of the major changes has been in the usage of cookies.

That makes my earlier post defunct.

The utmz Cookie

The utmz cookie used to contain the information about where the user has come from, which campaign, source and medium did the user react to arrive at the site. This information could be read and stored in a separate system (such as a CRM whenever a lead is captured). This could help in attribution of paying customers, and bring in all the crunchy goodness that you wanted.

Unfortunately, the utmz cookie no longer exists. The cookies have changed, if you are interested in know which cookies Google Analytics uses now, you can read this support article.

Where does that leave us?

So how do we go about finding more information about the user. This information is now not readable. However, what information we have on hand is a unique identifier of the cookie. That much still hasn’t changed.

So let’s take a look under the hood shall we,

The _ga cookie contains a value. This is the client id of the user. If you see the cookies collection, there are multiple _ga cookies, however, when you match it with the domain column, for every user – domain combination, there is a single _ga cookie.

This cookie is accessible by your server side script as well as your client side JavaScript. Therefore, we can get access to the _ga cookie value and store the client id within.

What is a client id?

To understand this, let’s go to Google Analytics. In GA, under the Audience section, we have a User Explorer report. Here’s a screenshot from my GA –

Check the value – 129754452.1496423206

This is available in the _ga cookie as well as in the user explorer. I can now identify specific users and leads in my CRM based on their client ids.

Therefore, I can even start checking their user behavior on the site, like so –

This is how the user has been visiting the site over a period of time. Notice the source is changing for different visits.

In a world where I would have been storing just the final source in the CRM, now I have a much more detailed view of how the user keeps coming to my site. This allows me to explore other attribution models and share the credit of the user’s conversion across channels.

This brings me one step closer to the World of And.

The World of And

In case if you haven’t already watched this, you need to watch this –

 

Taking a look at Jetpack Stats

Let me state upfront that I love Google Analytics. I use it at work in 13 Llama Interactive to measure the effectiveness of the campaigns that my team runs.

That being said, I will try and not be too biased about comparing Jetpack Stats to Google Analytics. As a marketer, the way I look at an analytics package is from an ability to extract a fair amount of data.

However, Jetpack Stats is on top of WordPress and available to all WordPress based sites which are connected to the WordPress.com site. This makes Jetpack Stats primary user base as bloggers.

Let’s see what Jetpack Stats has to offer.

The wp-admin Dashboard Integration

Jetpack Stats puts a nice pretty looking graph on the wp-admin Dashboard. This is how it looks like for my site –

Jetpack-Stats-on-wp-admin-Dashboard

Now, this is fairly similar to the Audience Overview you get when you check out Google Analytics.

Google-Analytics-Dashboard

Straight off the bat, I prefer Jetpack Stats overview as opposed to the one given by Google Analytics. Jetpack Stats also provides me with how my posts have performed this day, this report would be available in GA witin the Behavior section, the Site Content report.

The Top Searches that you see in the screenshot would have been helpful had it been accurate. Unfortunately, Google accounts for the majority of organic traffic on my site, and most of that traffic is encrypted. Thus, these keywords that you see (really, I rank for ‘big ass girl dunes’) are not a complete set!

Jetpack Stats does not talk to Google Webmaster Tools, which now is the only source of this keyword data.

Jetpack Stats Posting Activity

One awesome feature about Jetpack Stats is the posting activity screen –

Jetpack-Posting_Activity

This data is shown with a correlation of average traffic per day as well as traffic per month. You could always get this data in Google Analytics (here is a useful post I had written some time back – Google Analytics for Content Marketers).

It’s just this kind of insights that makes me keep Jetpack around for my measurement requirements.

Jetpack Stats vs Google Analytics

Jetpack Stats is a very lightweight tool and it would be useful for a simple blog. However the minute we enter the realm of finding user engagement and performance marketing, Jetpack simply does not have those features yet.

This is where Google Analytics shines through with its Event tracking.

Having said that, Jetpack Stats is an apt solution for a user who is more focused on the publishing process.

A new player in Referral Bots – social-buttons.com

social-buttons.com

Some months back, I noticed a trend in the Google Analytics data of all the sites I monitor. It was Referral Bots leaving behind a spammy domain with the hopes of the webmaster will visit that domain out of curiosity. I wrote about this Black Hat tactic of Referral Bots as well.

Continue reading “A new player in Referral Bots – social-buttons.com”

5 Ways to use Audience Interests in Google Analytics

Audience Interests

Google Analytics updated their UI and offered a new feature for all the free users. This lets a site owner see the interests of the site’s audience. What this means, is that from now on you can actually track what kind of an audience is viewing your site, and what kind of content are they going to like.

For those of you who haven’t enabled Audience Interest yet, here is the help document.

Check out the Interests screenshot of this blog

Audience Interests
Audience Interests lets you check which topics interest your audience.

A quick look will let you know that the top segment of visitors are technophiles, so how can we use this data to drive higher engagement or even traffic to the site?

Identifying your Niche

Now that you know what kind of an audience frequents your site, write more of that type of content. I used to post frequently about Games, however the data that you see before you clearly suggests that I should write more on Tech, Updates in Technology and even Arts!!

Having a site with a broad interest range has it’s traps, this tool will help you get out of that trap and identify your niche … a niche which clearly works for you!

Deciding the Language for your site

Look at the Age Demographic of your site. Correlate that with your Audience interests. Is the copy you are using on the site apt for this demographic?

Would you be a grammar nazi on a blog where a young audience base visits to read about the games you have played? I guess not. Would you watch writing the f*** word when you know your audience is 35+ yrs and the main interest group is Finance? No again. Would you swear at badly written code with sample snippets and screenshots on a blog such as this? Yes!!

Sometimes in creating content for our site, we do not necessarily close the feedback loop that is available by such data. This is a big mistake that serious content marketers need to avoid.

Tailoring Content for your Audience

A high traffic site needs to do two things –

  1. Get new visitors
  2. Make the new visitors keep coming back for more

Easier said than done! Getting new visitors is the simpler part, there are multiple ways for doing that … social sharing, optimizing content, buying clicks, etc. However, now that the user has visited your site, how do you keep them coming back?

Well, keep writing about subjects which are of interest to the user, and do that on a regular basis! I was tempted to blog about multiple games that I have been playing in the past week, but the data that I have seen shows that I need to focus more on articles such as these instead of Gaming … oh, well!!

Connecting to your Audience

This tool can also be used to generate relevant traffic for your site. If you can find sites which have similar audience profiling, then you can start connecting with that target audience either by Display Ads or by participating in that community and developing your cred. Google has a great product to do this, it’s called Doubleclick, which lets you plan your Display Campaigns properly.

However, using this tool you can also find sites which have similar interest profiling for their audience. Once you have narrowed down to a list of 10-15 sites, go ahead and see how to acquire traffic from them! If the audience cannot come to your site, then you might as well take the site to them!!

Finding the right Audience

This tip is useful for you especially if you have configured Goals on Google Analytics. Goals could be a simple metric such as getting more than 3 Pageviews per Visit, or it can be a purchase on your online store.

If you are familiar with the standard set of Advanced Segments that Google Analytics has, then you would know that there is a Converters segment. This is a segment of all the traffic that converted to a Goal  that you have configured in Analytics.

Obviously, increasing the number of Goals would be a metric for you and your content strategy. The Converters segment alongwith the Audience Interest report will help you find the audience which is converting the most.

Wrap Up

Digital marketing is moving closer to traditional marketing paradigms (the 4Ps, Audience Demographics). The good part about this is that data is immediately available as opposed to conducting surveys which consume a lot of time and money (and of course a few summer interns!).

What about you, how useful do you find the Audience Interest report in Google Analytics? Do share your thoughts!

Hacking your Alexa Ranking

In case if you are working in any web related business based in India, then you would be aware of Alexa. The site which maintains website rankings by traffic. These numbers are indicative, however some people rely on them so much so that they look at a definitive way of increasing the rankings only … instead of actually working on making an awesome site.

I am going to share a little secret with you.

These rankings can be easily hacked.

So, if you have a boss or a reporting manager who fusses over Alexa rankings, then here’s what you need to do –

  • Convince your team or co-workers (who are most likely bound to keep visiting your site on a regular basis) to install the Alexa browser plug-in. It’s a nifty tool for easily checking rankings of any site. Not only that, but also this is the plugin that Alexa uses to guesstimate traffic numbers on the site. Having more plugin users visit the site reduces your Alexa ranking.
  • To correctly estimate the figures, Alexa asks you to include a javascript on your site. Using this javascript, a small widget is displayed on your site … now although that might ruin the look of your initial design, the javascript will ensure that all your traffic is correctly accounted for by Alexa. Soon you should see a reduction in your Alexa rank.
  • Claim your site. Add as much detail as you can and also get some friends to give you good testimonials for the site.

Now I know what you will say … how does this really help your cause?

  • Well … over a period the person who monitors this false metric will see an improvement and hopefully ask about it. Then you can tell them about the hack. Reckoning will soon follow.
  • A competitor who is trying to assess your site’s traffic will be overwhelmed

Alexa rankings are an extremely rough and over rated method of traffic estimation. Let me repeat what I said earlier, this is a hack and should be treated as such … ideally you should be focusing on your product/service.

What is Branded Traffic?

Have you ever searched your own name on Google?

Don’t answer that, it’s a trick question! We all have!! In fact, if you have not yet (which I would be surprised to know), you must be doing that by now!

It’s always the little bit of curiosity, perhaps a bit of reflection that drives us to see what gets listed on our own name … on our brand name. We people are brands, and the reason we search our own names is to see what shows up in the search … do our profiles show up or does a different person stealing away your thunder!

Site owners also do this, in fact they have a nice name for traffic which originates from such searches. It’s called Branded Traffic.

Branded Traffic is not only limited to search, a portion of the branded traffic is also the direct traffic viz., the set of people who already know your site URL by-heart (love you folks :-D).

Importance of Branded Traffic

Shakespeare had written in his famed Romeo and Juliet,

What’s in a name?

Well, apparently a lot! Branded Traffic is important for us …

  • These are the set of users who KNOW your site … who are searching for you. Be nice to them, these are your friends
  • If you do work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies, then you will notice that your brand keywords will have awesome Click through rates … eye popping ones. At EduPristine, the CTR of the “pristine” keyword is around 32%, that of “edupristine” is a whopping 70%!!
  • Google will always give you additional benefit for your branded keywords, so get ready to be ranked on top! In fact the sad state of the Indian SEO industry I see is that most of the sales people get clients using such statements like “

Sir, we will get you on the top of Google Rankings (Meh!!)

  • If you do have Conversions setup on your site, then you will notice that your brand keywords will perform better as compared to your non-brand keywords!! If this is not the case, then perhaps you should consider taking a serious look at your site’s navigation and information architecture
  • This traffic is yours for the taking! I cannot stress on how important tracking this metric is … in fact as your site becomes popular you should see an increase in this traffic. It’s the digital version of your brand value.

How do you measure Branded Traffic?

This one is easy-peasy!

In case if you have a Google Analytics (GA) account setup, go to Advanced Segments, and define one segment.

Branded Traffic

I have set this up in my GA, you can use this segment and customize the keyword field with your brand terms! Get the Custom Segment for your GA profile here. Please keep a note to edit this Advanced Segment after you import this in your account and change the brand keywords!!

Do set up this segment and watch the general metrics for your site. I am sure that for your branded traffic all the metrics would be outperforming the site average!

Doesn’t it feel good to be loved!