Advanced use of Google Analytics and the new interface

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  • June 7, 2007
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Update: following lots of peoples questions I have posted Google Analytics Tutorial Part 2.

Google Analytics
Since Google Analytics was launched in 2005 it has become one of the top analytics packages for small to medium sized websites. Growth was initially slow due to the frustrating waiting list system initiated by Google to avoid over stretching their servers. Now that the waiting list has been removed anybody can sign up to use this great service.

The user interface had a major redesign in May 2007 and a lot of the features we love have become hard to find. This guide should help you find your way around the new system.

I see a lot of comments on the forums asking whether Analytics can do X, Y and Z. In most cases it can do it but people just don’t realise it. As webmaster of several large sites I have been using GA for around a year now to track a huge number of variables. In this post I will go through a few of the more obscure interactions that GA can tack on your site.

Tracking exit clicks, banner clicks and RSS feed subscribers

Have you ever wanted to know how many people clicked on a particular link or banner on your site? You may wish to find out how many people click on an affiliate link, how many people from a certain country click on your banner advert or even the number of visitors from Digg that clicked to sign up to your RSS feed.

GA can track this for you quite easily by simply adding an onClick event to your hyperlink code.

<a href="" onClick="javascript:urchinTracker ('/outgoing/rssfeed'); ">

Every time somebody clicks on the link above GA will register a page view on the page To view the stats for the link you will need to follow the directions below:

Select Content and then Top Content

In your GA account visit Content > Top Content and you will see the most popular pages on your site. Enter the term “outgoing” into the filter box as shown below and you will see a list of all the pages on your site with “outgoing” in the url. Normally this will just show exit clicks unless you happen to have real pages with “outgoing” as part of the url.

Drill down to the content you require

To drill down into the data simply click on the url you are interested in and you will see a snapshot of data like the image below.

Page snapshot

(screenshot courtesy of Gas Fires Galore) If you want to drill down further by clicking on the “Segment:” drop down menu you can see details such as the source of the visitors, the keywords they were searching for and the landing page they arrived on.

This data is extremely valuable to webmasters who are not selling products. Sites selling products can measure ROI accurately by looking at the profits made on a particular sale compared to the cost of obtaining the visitor whether by SEO or Pay Per Click marketing. If you don’t sell products you need to place a value on other aspects of your site. How much are you willing to pay to acquire another blog subscriber? Was the $5000 you spent on link bait worthwhile?

All these actions can be tracked using the onClick event in Google Analytics.

More information at the Google Help Section.

How do I track downloads?

Downloads can be tracked again using the onClick event as above:

<a href="" onClick="javascript:urchinTracker ('/downloads/map'); ">

More details

Tracking ecommerce revenue

Tracking where your visitors come from is very important. Tracking where your actual customers came from is even more important. If you knew that people searching for your keywords on MSN Live were twice as likely to buy your product as people searching on Google you can happily bid far more for your Adcenter clicks as your Adwords clicks. Thanks to SEO specialist Dave for giving me the screenshots for this section.

Sales reports by traffic sources can be found under the “Traffic Sources > All Traffic Sources” section of the menu.

Before explaining how to track your transactions lets look at the data that GA can provide on this subject. These figures are for April 2007. Some details are blocked out for privacy reasons.

Revenue from different sources

Lets drill down into the stats for Google (keywords removed):

Revenue from different keywords

From the chart above we can see that some keywords earn £31.52 per visit whereas some only earn £5.72 per visit. This data is hugely valuable as you can adjust your PPC bids on high and low paying keywords to maximise your profits.

GA also lets you drill down to see stats such as the number of people who bought product A after searching Google for Product B.

Now we know why we need to see these stats it makes the task of enabling the tracking slightly more appealing.

How to track Sales

To track your sales you will need to use some server side script on your confirmation page (the page people see after they complete a transaction on your site) to populate a form in the following format:

<body onLoad="javascript:__utmSetTrans()">
<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>


UTM:T|34535|Main Store|111108.06|8467.06|10.00|San Diego|CA|USA

UTM:I|34535|XF-1024|Urchin T-Shirt|Shirts|11399.00|9

UTM:I|34535|CU-3424|Urchin Drink Holder|Accessories|20.00|2

Once you have populated the form GA will start tracking your sales right away.

The Google Help Section has a good reference guide for this topic.

Tracking 404 errors

Google Analytics makes the process of tracking your 404 errors fairly straightforward. Simply add the code below to your error page and GA will tell you the source of the traffic that is generating the error.

Make sure you replace the xxxxx-x with your GA account number!

<script type="text/javascript"
<script type="text/javascript">
_uacct = "xxxxx-x";
urchinTracker("/404.html?page=" + _udl.pathname +;

If there are any other advanced features of Google Analytics you would like us to talk about or if you have any questions on how to implement these ideas please post in the comments below.

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