The Ignite Visibility UCSD Extension Web Analytics course starts today. So in the spirit of the new course, I figured I would offer a few little known facts about Google Analytics.
Average Time on Page
Did you know that in Google Analytics, when the program calculates the average time on a page for your website, that it does not take into account the last page in the session? So for example, say I go to https://ignitevisibility.com. I start on the home page, then go to the SEO page and eventually end up on the social media page. The time I spent on that social media page is not counted in the average time on page. So why would Google do this? The main reason, in so many cases, the person leaves their browser open and that last page, and then walks away from their computer to do something else. Or maybe they just start doing something else on their computer and leave that page open. Either way, Google Analytic’s does not count the time on page for the last page in the session.
Issues with Fake Traffic
The normal fairly educated analytics user is now just starting to understand that not all the traffic to their website is correct. In some cases, bots can inflate traffic significantly. You can usually see when this happens because one IP address will send a significant amount of visits. Outside of this, and the fact that there are now thousands of these bots on all levels online, there are just general issues with looking at traffic data. For example, maybe multiple people use one computer or one person uses multiple devices. If you site is accessed more than one time in each of these situations, it can throw your numbers. Also, don’t forget to block traffic numbers from all the people you work with, right?
Server vs Tags vs Third Party
Most people don’t really realize how analytics tools work. There are four main ways. The first is a server side analytics tool. Most hosting companies offer a basic program like this, but they are not advanced enough in almost all cases to make any marketing decisions. Third party analytics programs, such as SEM Rush, Alexa, Quantcast, etc, look at certain metrics regarding how the Internet interacts with your website. Some of these third-party analytic tools can be fairly accurate. However, they are usually not precise.
Tags, or code that is placed on your actual website, allows the analytics program to capture information following a page load. Google Analytics is actually a hybrid of a Tag and Server based analytic program, and therefore the fourth option. This generally thought to be the most accurate. But this may all change with the new Universal Analytics.
Analytics Tracking Code Not Installed
One issue with a tag or website based analytics tracking program, such as Google Analytics, is that if you do not have the analytics code installed on the page, that page will not be tracked. This is especially an issue with larger websites, who are predicted to be missing website tracking code on as much as 20% of their pages. Think of how much traffic is not being accounted for! This is a huge issue, and it speaks lengths about having an analytics person or using an agency if you have a large web presence. We recently had 2 large clients discover that tracking code was not on large sections of the website, so it happens often.
Summing it Up
I hope you found these little known facts on analytics interesting. If you want to learn more, I encourage you to attend our UCSD extension course in the summer. Feel free to contact us to learn more about the course or to ask any analytics questions.