18 (of the) Best Web Analytics Guides of 2011

The measurability of the web can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the data should allow companies to monitor every activity, every campaign, to evaluate based on solid data what’s working, what’s not, and where to expend budget, time and effort to improve results.

On the other hand, the sheer volume of data and variety of measurements can lead to “analysis paralysis” and confusion over which metrics are truly important and what response or changes to current activities should be implemented or prioritized.

Fortunately, there is help. When it comes to questions like which web metrics are most important, how to scrutinize Google Analytics reports for actionable data, how to create custom reports or evaluate social media ROI, and how to improve SEO, reduce bounce rates or measure YouTube success, these 18 articles and posts on using web analytics to improve marketing performance offer invaluable assistance.

What You Can Learn from Bounce Rate & How to Improve It by KISSmetrics

Frequent best-of honoree Kristi Hines defines bounce rate, explains why it may be a problem in at least instances (e.g., if your goal is just to get visitors to call an 800 number to learn more—not to have them browse your site), how to determine bounce rate by page, and what steps to take to reduce bounce rate and make your site “stickier.”

How To Track Mobile Visitors In Google Analytics by Local SEO Guide

Andrew Shotland concisely explains how to use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics (GA) to separately track mobile visitor behavior on your website—or even create specific segments by device (e.g., iPhone vs. Android).

10 Quick & Dirty SEO Success Metrics by Search Engine Land

Noting that “in the end, ROI needs to be justified in order to keep the flow of budget and resources moving to each individual marketing effort,” Andy Komack identifies “quick and dirty” SEO success metrics to track, including (his least-favorite) keyword rankings, keyword diversity, and inbound link count.

35+ tips and tricks for sexier Google analytics reports by Webdistortion

Paul Anthony passes along his collection of tips, tricks and reports to get at the wealth of data GA really collects, for example a drill down report which “shows what content draws people in, and from what sources and mediums. Find it under custom reporting,” along with a list of helpful plugins and scripts that extend GA.

Analysis of Online Marketing Campaigns Effectiveness from A to Z by Search Engine Journal

In this amazingly detailed and extensively illustrated post, Roman Viliavin demonstrates how to establish web-based objectives for marketing, sales, customer service and web development, then track progress and results through GA reports, concluding that “You don`t need to buy expensive tools of web analytics because a free tool Google Analytics can solve 99% of problems.”

Recommended for YouWebcast: Sales and Marketing Alignment: 7 Steps To Implement Effective Sales Enablement

Time On Site & Bounce Rate: Get the real numbers in Google Analytics by Brian Cray
***** 5 STARS

Brian Cray eloquently explains how GA can systematically over-report bounce rate and under-report time spent on your website (“Bob enters your site, loyally reads an article for 2 minutes and 13 seconds, saves it to his browser bookmarks, then leaves. Can you see the problem? Bob never interacted with the webpage. To Google, this is a bounce”), then provides a simple javascript that can correct the problem. Brilliant.

The New Google Analytics Available to Everyone by Google Analytics Blog

Trevor Claiborne highlights some features of the new (as of late last spring) version of GA, including the ability to create an additional dashboard to focus on important metrics, set up an Event Goal to track interactions like downloads and video engagement, and graph and compare any two rows over time. But personally, I still prefer the old version.

How to Use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics to Isolate SEO Problems [Tutorial] by Search Engine Journal

Glenn Gabe explains what Advanced Segments in GA are, how they work, how to set up an Advanced Segment to track and analyze the online behavior of traffic from a specific source (such as organic search), and possible next steps to take once you are able to isolate and examine this data.

Google Analytics To Add Search Query Data From Webmaster Tools by Search Engine Land

Barry Schwartz reports on the addition of Google Webmaster Tools data to GA: “It will add a new section under ‘Traffic Sources’ named Search Engine Optimization with sub-sections for Summary, Queries and Landing Pages…you can also use this data to create deeper reports through the advanced reporting features, so you can compare impressions to clicks to conversions directly from the search results.”

Creating Custom Reports in Google Analytics by PPC Hero

Bethany Bey steps through the process of creating a custom report in GA using metrics (the columns in a GA table) and dimensions (the rows), from creating a new report and naming it to selecting your dimensions and metrics, and specifying who has access to view the finished report.

4 Steps to Measure Social Media ROI with Google Analytics by Search Engine Watch

Nathan Linnell outlines a process for measuring social media ROI in GA. It starts with using GA’s campaign tracking capabilities, about which Nathan notes “you need to ensure you’re always using campaign tracking on any links you put out on social media sites that point back to one of your sites. It’s a fairly easy process, but one that can be a bit tedious to manage at the outset.”

11 Analytics Metrics That Are Actionable by The Daily SEO Blog

Paddy Moogan provides his list of metrics that are actionable, or as he puts it, “Metrics that help you get stuff done.” Included on his list are the percent of visitors who view product pages (improve navigation and internal site search to impact) and branded vs. non-branded search traffic (“Measure non-branded keywords and see which ones convert best, then focus on increasing rankings for these”). While the post is ecommerce-focused, much of the information will be helpful to B2B marketers as well.

The Seven Performance Metrics that Matter Most by eMarketer

According to the book Digital Impact: The Two Secrets to Online Marketing Successby eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey and Vipin Mayar, EVP of McCann Worldgroup, “There are only seven metrics that are critical for performance measurement across digital channels. While countless other metrics are available to marketers, these seven are the ones that marketers should seek to master.”

Google Analytics Changes the Rules of the Game by iMedia News

Brandt Dainow explains how changes made by Google in August of last year impact reporting in GA, specifically how these changes would increase reported bounce rate, increase reported visits, decrease reported new visits, decrease conversion rates and reduce reported pageviews per visit—all without any change in actual traffic or user behavior. I haven’t noticed any impact on the scale Brandt reports, personally, on our client results.

New SEO Reports in Google Analytics Now Here by The Daily SEO Blog

Cyrus Shepard takes a look at three types of SEO reports in GA—query reports, landing pages reports, and geographical summaries—and explains what each report is really measuring, along with “Pro Tips” on how to capitalize on the data provided to improve SEO results.

Four Hidden Gems Within Google Analytics by MediaPost Search Insider

Ryan DeShazer reveals details of four “hidden gems” in GA V5: events as goals, customizable dashboards, advanced funnel analysis and rank-at-the-time-of-click using custom variables (which would account for the different rankings visitors may see for the same keyword and web page based on personalized search, regional biases, and new +1 results). An interesting set of features, but not for the faint of heart.

The Analytics Measurements You Must Track by Single Grain

Sujan Patel recommends a set of metrics to measure and act upon on a weekly basis, divided into three categories: on-site statistics (e.g., bounce rate, average time spent on the site), social networking measurements (amount of website traffic received from social sites, number of RTs or shares) and conversion numbers (opt-ins, cost per conversion).

YouTube Launches New and Improved YouTube Analytics by HubSpot Blog

Corey Eridon details YouTube’s recently revamped dashboard overview (“You’ll still be able to see a summary of your views, videos demographics, and popularity by region…but now your dashboard will also display overall channel performance, engagement, and how people find and view your videos. You can click into each report to see more detailed information”) and explains why it’s important for marketers to measure video performance.

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