Today I’m going to talk about Content Groupings and why you should be using them, starting now.
What are Content Groupings and why bother?
The Branded3 website is currently laid out like this:
With Google Analytics as is, I can report on both the site as a whole and individual pages. The middle part of the above diagram takes a bit more work.
With Content Groupings, I can easily report on the middle part.
They allow me to change this:
A filter won’t do this – they filter in or out certain visits to your website. A Content Grouping keeps all the visits you want it to keep.
An advanced segment can’t do this by itself – you would need to be running several advanced segments at once to be able to compare one set of pages to another.
Google Analytics’ search functionality won’t do this – it can only search for one group at a time and isn’t good for comparing different groups.
That is why Content Groupings are amazing.
Content Groupings sound great – how do they work?
Content Groupings are effectively a kind of Google Analytics filter. However, instead of filtering sessions out so you can’t see them, it puts them into a box depending on rules you’ve created.
There are three different ways for you to tell Google which “box” everything should belong in. Which method you use depends on what kind of website structure you have, the amount of development resource you have, and whether or not you have an understanding of RegEx.
Method 1: Tracking Code
- You can add tracking code to every page of your website
- Google Analytics uses the code to determine what kind of page it is
- Google Analytics automatically assigns a category based on the code
- This relies on good developer knowledge
Method 2: Extraction
- This is defined in the Admin section of Google Analytics
- You use RegEx to extract a section of a URL
- Google Analytics assigns this extraction as the category
- This relies on good site taxonomy and knowledge of RegEx
Method 3: Rule Defining
- Rules are defined in the Admin section of Google Analytics
- You can set your own rules based on URL structure
- Rules can be specific or more generic
- No specialised knowledge is required
Content Grouping Comparison
|Method||Tracking code||Extraction||Rule defining|
|Need access to site code||Yes||No||No|
|Need admin access to Google Analytics||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Need developer knowledge||Yes||No||No|
|Must understand RegEx||No||Yes||Maybe|
|Needs a site with good Taxonomy||No||Ideally||Ideally|
|Automatically applies to new URLs||No||Yes||Yes|
|Automatically applies to new site builds||No||Yes, but needs checking||Yes, but needs checking|
|Requires manual naming of Content Groups||Yes||No||Yes|
|Pros||Can be used regardless of sites taxonomy||Automatically groups for you||Easy to implement|
|Cons||Need developer knowledge/very manual process||Difficult without RegEx knowledge||Difficult for sites without good taxonomy|
|Best for||Sites with inconsistent taxonomy||Sites with dynamic URLs||Sites with easily grouped subfolders|
How do I create a Content Grouping?
Here is how to create a Content Grouping in a few simple steps:
- Login to Google Analytics
- Click “Admin”
- Under “View” click “Content Grouping”
- Click “+New Content Grouping”
- Choose the method you want to work with: Tracking Code, Extraction, or Rule Definitions
- Save your Content Grouping
If you require any further help with the implementation of Content Groupings, Google has a good, in-depth guide on Content Groupings.
How do I see the results of my Content Grouping?
OK, now that you’ve created a Content Grouping you might want to know how to actually see the data.
- Login to Google Analytics
- Select your reporting view
- On the left-hand side, click “behaviour”
- Select a report from “Site Content” (any report that includes pages is fine)
- Under the graph, there is a label called “Content Grouping” – select the Content Grouping you have previously created
- The table below will change from URLs to Content Groups!
Content Grouping best practices and precautions
A few things to bear in mind when creating Content Groupings for the first time:
- Decide your groups before you create your Content Groupings.
- Like filters, Content Groupings do not work retrospectively.
- Similarly, once a Content Grouping has been applied, that data cannot be regrouped. If you change your Content Grouping, only the data going forward will be included in the new group.
- If using the “Rule Defining” Content Group, be aware that the rules apply in order. For example, if you have a URL like “/blog/5-tips-for-credit-card-owners/” and you have two rules, one for anything containing “/blog/” and one for anything containing “credit-card”, the rule at the top of the list will apply first. So, if the blog rule is above the credit card rule, this page will be classified as a “blog” page. If the credit card rule is above the blog rule, this page will be classified as a “credit card” page. Think carefully about your rule orders.
- Your homepage should be within its own “homepage” group, as the homepage serves a function that no other page serves and should be reported on separately.
- If using the “Rule Defining” Content Group, the final rule should be “page URL matches RegEx .*” and it should be named “Other”. This means that any page that did not fall into a prior category will be categorised with “Other”.
- If your website’s taxonomy changes, check your Content Grouping rules to see whether they require any amends.
- If using the “Tracking Code” Content Group, ensure that the additional code is placed on any new website pages.
If you liked this post, you may like my previous Google Analytics blog posts such as How to get awesome actionable data from your events in Google Analytics and Google Analytics metrics for dummies (and clever people): Parts 1 and 2.