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Exploring the New Google Analytics, Standard Reporting Part I

By Edited Aug 12, 2015 0 2

Google Analytics(62262)


All of you Google Analytics users have no doubt noticed the change in the website's interface and may be confused about how to navigate all the new features. After exploring the new system for a few days I've decided to write out this tutorial explaining what's new and where to find all the old features you love. Also, it is important to note that Google is changing to this version permanently in January; this is a your chance to get ahead of the competition and utilize all the resources Google has to offer. If you are interested in learning how to optimize your content using Google Analytics, please refer to my article, Using Google Analytics for Info Barrel Writers.

Audience Secondary and Tertiary Menus
Before beginning the tutorial note that the explanation discusses the features under the Standard Reporting tab of the Main Menu. To make my explanations more clear, let me first define the terms I will be using when talking about different aspects of the site. Looking at the Sidebar there are five headings as listed above; these will be referred to as Primary Menus (written in all CAPS and a blue font color). Next, when you click on any of the Primary Menus an expanded list appears which includes two further submenus. The first expansion has titles with an arrow marking them as expanded or unexpanded; this is referred to as the Secondary Menu (written in gray, some with arrows to the right of the title) . Within each Secondary Menu is a last sidebar expansion known as the Tertiary Menu (written below the secondary menu items and shown when the arrow is click and shows the expanded list). Lastly, the Tertiary Menus have tabs within each of them, some have multiple tabs and some only have one tab; these can be referred to simply as Tabs. This tutorial will be explained in parts for each  of the primary menus of the sidebar: Audience, Advertising, Traffic Sources, Content, and Conversions. In each part I will explain all the features of the primary menu item, and all of its secondary and tertiary menus. This is Part I of my five-part tutorial for Google Analytics Standard Reporting that will discuss the primary menu, Audience.


The Audience Primary Menu, a Brief Description

This is basically the Visitors section from the old version renamed. The differences are in the sidebar secondary menus, which have listed (in order) Overview, Demographics, Behavior, Technology, Social, Mobile, and Visitors Flow. Many of the old sidebar secondary menys are now packaged away as tertiary menu components of this new list. Among those components is a common tab called Explorer. To save some time and repetition, the Explorer tab lets users analyze the number of visits, page views, etc. that are associated with each Primary Dimension (these variables are listed horizontally between the line-graph and the list of each sub-variable by number of visits, page views, etc.). Each primary dimension variable can be further defined in profiles for Site Usage, Ecommerce (sales revenue), and AdSense (advertising revenue). I will explain the options for the primary dimensions for each tertiary menu that uses this tab.

Now moving on to the explanations of each secondary menu, its tertiary menus, and the tabs associated with each tertiary menu.


1. Overview

This is secondary menu does not have any tertiary menus. The tab used in the secondary menu is Overview, which is the same as any overviews shown in the old version. It is almost identical to the last interface except it removes the links from the Visitor Segmentation Menu (on the page) and shows Demographics, System, and Language statistics instead of a Technical Profile at the bottom of the page.

Audience Overview


2. Demographics

Location - this includes the Map Overlay tab from the old version; it shows a geographic map with color shading to define regions (countries/territories) according to how many visits were from users each place. The Explorer tab's primary dimensions are countries, cities, continents, and sub-continent regions that the majority of visits are coming from.

Language - The Explorer tab is used again here. In this menu, it displays the list of top languages used on the internet browsers of the visitors. These languages are abbreviated into codes representing the names of languages. For referential purposes, the list of all of these abbreviations can be found here. This tab again shows options for further specification; which are: Site Usage, Ecommerce, and AdSense.

Custom Variables - These are defined by the user by accessing the analytics code of your site(s) and adding the script _setCustomVar (index, name, value, opt_scope). 

Custom Variables
  • The Script Parameters:
    • Index - slot for a custom variable; requires that the number is a whole value that is within the range 1 - 5. These should be placed in one slot only and not re-used across different slots (meaning you cannot use the same number if the same variables are being used in each other parameter). On the Analytics interface, these are shown as Key 1, Key 2, etc. next to the name of the custom variable within this tertiary menu.
    • Name - name for a custom variable; requires that this is a string which identifies the custom variable and appears in the top-level Custom Variables report of Analytics. The custom variables available are Site Usage, Ecommerce, and AdSense. 
    • Value - value for a custom variable; requires that this is a string paired with a name. The string should be a list of values (from the UI of the website's analytics profile) paired with a custom variable name. This will normally have two different values such as male and female for the custom variable name gender.
    • Opt_Scope - scope for a custom variable which defines the level of user engagement with your site. Requires a number thats possible values are 1 (visitor-level), 2 (session-level), or 3 (page-level); the default state is page-level.
  • Examples and further explanation can be found at this article in the Google Analytics Help Center.

User Defined - this is another tool for setting custom values that can be tracked within your Analytics account. This works similarly to the Custom Variable tertiary menu and is defined by the script added to the analytics code. The script is: _setVar( ) which can be attached to a form widget, a tracking code, or within a link to a the page on the site. This is a bit more open-ended than custom variables and so is more complicated; further explanation can be found in this article from the Google Analytics Help Center.


3. Behavior

New vs. Returning - this is the same as in the old version of Analytics. The Explorer tab charts the top browsers, operating systems, screen resolutions, screen colors, and flash versions, of the visitors. It also has a "more" option which opens a search function to add more variables to the analytics dimension (the primary variable being charted).

New vs. Returning

Frequency & Recency - another aspect saved from the last version. The Explorer tab shows the Count of Visits (frequency) and Days Since Last Visit (recency) for all of your visitors.
  • Count of Visits - number of times a visitor has been to your site (uniquely) and the percentage of total visits/page views that each count (1 visit, 2 visits, etc.) makes up.
  • Days Since Last Visit - number of days since the last time your visitors have been to your site and the percentage of total visits/page views that each counter (0 days, 1 day, 2 days, etc.) makes up.

Engagement - this includes the Visit Duration and Page Depth which are comparable to the Length of Visit and Depth of Visit features of the old Analytics interface. 

  • Visit Duration - number of seconds that visitors have spent on your site and the percentage of total visits/page views that each counter (0-10 seconds, 11-30 seconds, etc.) makes up. 
  • Page Depth - number of pages that visitors have viewed on your site per visit and the percentage of total visits/page views that each counter (1 page view, 2 page views, etc.) makes up.


4. Technology

Browser & OS - comparable to the Browser Capabilities feature of the old interface; the Explorer tab includes the primary dimensions Browser, Operating System, Screen Resolution, Screen Colors, Flash Version, and Other (when clicked this opens a search function for more variables like in the New vs. Returning tertiary menu discussed above).


Network - comparable to the Network Properties feature of the old interface; the Explorer tab includes the primary dimensions Service Provider (by name not IP address) and Hostname (this should be your domain name but may include other hosts such as translate.googleusercontent.com).


 5. Social --> NEW FEATURE 

This secondary menu is used to measure the social media interactions of your visitors while on your site(s).

Engagement - defines the number of visitors that are Socially Engaged and Not Socially Engaged. This is assessed by the number of Google "+1's," Facebook "Likes," and Twitter "Tweets" that are clicked on by visitors to your website(s). To setup tracking for this, you need to install the Social Plugin-in Analytics. Google +1's are automatically tracked but to track Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network you must edit the analytics code in your website by adding the script: gaq.push( [ ' _trackSocial ' , network, socialAction, opt_target, opt_pagePath ] ) ;

  • The Script Parameters: 
    • _gaq - the JavaScript Array which assigns the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) and indicates that a web page should be tracked in a designated way (depending on the rest of the code that the _gaq script is used with)
    • push (commandArray) - this is the Javascript Array for the .push part of the code. It executes the given command array (in this case the command array is _gaq) and functions so that an array can be used in place of _gaq before Analytics has completely loaded so that the commands will be pushed/queued into the array as it loads and executed when finished loading. To put it simply, this part of the script automates the process of returning analytics data based on a different type of function (such as tracking the number of page views from a defined customer type). 
    • Network - a string representing the social network being tracked; this is required for the script to run properly and may identify any social network with trackable meta data linked to the socialAction.
    • socialAction - a string representing the social action being tracked; this is required for the script to run and may identify any social action that leaves trackable meta data (such as the meta data in Facebook "Likes" or Twitter hashtags). 
    • opt_target - a string representing the URL (or resource) which receives the action when a user clicks on the "social action button" (ex: the Facebook "Like" button). This should be the ID of the page as defined in your content management system (ex: if the page is domain.com/page, then the ID is page); typically this is the same page that the social action button is on. This is also an optional aspect of the script but if left undefined the tracking code default is document.location.href.
    • opt_pagePath - a string representing the page by path (including parameters) from which the action occurred.This is basically the "page-path" of the page where the social action was done (where the social action action is located). This is an optional aspect of the script but can be useful so I will explain how to to format this correctly. All you need to do is write the trail behind the domain name for this value (ex: if the button is on the page for domain.com an the url is domain.com/page/index.html, then the page-path is /page/index.html). If this value is left undefined, it defaults to location.pathname + location.search. 
  • Obviously creating this sort of script can generate a huge number of different combinations. It is extremely useful for those interested in tracking various social actions and could potentially be used for any action that is considered socially engaging, not just the social actions prescribed by Google. For example, you could create your own call-to-action button that links to a forum so that the participation in a string of comments about some subject would be counted as taking a social action. 
  • To wrap up, since adding codes for different social networks can require a lot of information I would recommend any readers interested in learning more about this at the Google Analytics Help Center at this article

Action - this tracks the number of social actions taken by the visitors to your site(s). The way that this works will be the same as that of social engagement with the same protocols for adding the social tracking script to your analytics code. As previously mentioned, the social action of a visitor can be defined as whatever the analyst wants but typically will represent the button of a Facebook "Like" or Twitter "Tweet;" the standard analytics code will automatically track Google +1 metrics. The tabs under this menu are Site Usage and Interactions. Site Usage functions pretty much the same as the Explorer tab and the Interactions tab tracks the primary dimensions Social Source and Action and Social Source, which can be further specified by Social Actions, Unique Social Actions, and Actions Per Social Visit. All of these new terms may be confusing for some, so I am going to take some time to explain what each one means.

Social Action
  • Note: Google has not released explicit definitions of these metrics that I could find, I drew my own explanations from examining Google Analytics reports that included these metrics and what information I could find from Google's Help Center.
  • Interactions Tab Primary Dimensions:
    • Social Source and Action - the social source is simply the social media site that the action is connected to. The action can be any social action that is associated with a given social media site; typically they are social networking sites (Facebook, Linkedin) or microblogs (Twitter). 
    • Social Source - previously explained; see the above description. 
    • Social Actions - previously explained; see the above description.
    • Unique Social Actions - this is the number of visitors that are engaged in a social action per unique visitor. In other words, this is the number of unique visits in which the visitor has taken a social action (this may be one social action or multiple social actions).  
    • Actions Per Social Visit - this is the number of social actions that a visitor has engaged in per "social visit." A social visit may be defined as a visit in which at least one social action was taken by the visitor.

Pages - this tracks the number of social actions that are taken on each page (these would be the pages on your site that include social action buttons). This menu uses the Interactions tab which has the primary dimensions, Social Entity and Page.

  • Interactions Tab Primary Dimensions:
    • Social Entity - the page that the social action is taken upon (the page being "tweeted," "liked," etc.) 
    • Page - the page on which the social action was taken
  • These are different because it is possible for social actions to be referential to content that is not on the same page as the social action buttons. For example, think of a page that has social action buttons attached to a YouTube Video embedded in a webpage. 
  • These metrics can be specified further by choosing a secondary dimension in the Interactions Tab  that "Pivots by" Social Source and Action, Social Source, or Social Action and includes the Pivot Metrics from a search function of all social actions that are being tracked. Note: Pivot is used to generate tables like the ones used in Analytics by pulling specific types of data from a webpage.


6. Mobile

Overview - this includes the Explorer tab which has the primary dimension Mobile and thus shows how many visitors came from mobile devices and how many did not, as well as the other standard metrics of Google Analytics such as Pages/Visit, Avg. Time on Site, % New Visits, and Bounce Rate.

  • Explorer Tab Secondary Dimensions:
    • Visitors - Language, Continent, Sub Continent Region, Country/Territory, Region, City
    • Technology - Browser, Browser Version, Operating System, Domain, Screen Colors, Screen Resolution, Flash Version, Java Support
    • Traffic Sources - Source, Medium, Keyword, Campaign, Ad Content, Visitor Type, Landing Page
    • Content - Hostname, User Defined Value 
  • Note: these are written to show the category of the specifying metrics and a list of which are available; definitions of each of these metrics can be found throughout this tutorial and in this index of Google Analytics metrics.

Devices - includes the Explorer and Map Overlay tabs;

  • Explorer Tab Primary Dimensions:
    • Mobile Device Info - the model and version of the device on which the browser was used by the visitor; this shows the number of visits that have come from each type of device out of the total number of mobile visitors. 
    • Mobile Device Branding - the brand of the mobile device (ex: Apple, Android, etc.); usually this is also listed in the Mobile Device Info. This shows the number of visits from each brand out of the total number of mobile visitors.
    • Service Provider - the provider of the internet access of the mobile devices visitors have used to come to your site. These can be varied depending upon the cell phone company or wifi network that a mobile device is using. This shows the number of visits per detected service provider. 
    • Mobile Input Selector - this gives the ways in which a visitor may have accessed your site through the defined means of the mobile device. For example, the mobile input selector may be the click wheel or the touchscreen, which are both inherent qualities of the iPhone or they may be undefined and so list the selector (not set). 
    • Operating System - this gives the device on which the browser was used by the visitor (ex: iPhone, iPad, Blackberry). This is a more generalized explanation of the device than the one given in the mobile device info and shows the number of visitors that have come to your site using each listed operating system. 
    • Other - goes to a search function from which more dimensions can be chosen; the default "Other" primary dimension is Screen Resolution, which may be useful to see if your visitors are using a mobile viewing mode or a standard viewing mode to visit the site. 
  • This menu has the secondary dimensions which are the same as those used in the Explorer tab of the Overview which are listed above. Also, there is an option for a Sort Type which includes Default, Absolute Change, and Weighted. However, the Absolute Change and Weighted selections are not accessible to me at this time so I cannot provide an explanation of how they may differentiate from the Default Sort Type.
  • The Mobile Overlay tab provides a geographical map showing the number of visits on mobile devices located in specified regions or countries by shading those places with different variations of green with darker colors showing more visits and lighter colors showing less visits. The primary dimensions included in this tab are Country/Territory, City, Continent and Sub Continent Region. These metrics are fairly intuitive except for the Sub Continent Region which is simply the Continent listed with the directional region (northern, southern, eastern, western). The Map Overlay can be further specified in the same way as the Explorer, by Site Usage, Ecommerce, and AdSense. 


7. Visitors Flow --> NEW FEATURE

This is an entirely new feature of Google Analytics and thus warrants a more detailed explanation of its options. Since this interface is setup differently than the others I will explain how it works by describing the navigation and selection buttons used when interacting with the Visitors Flow. 

Select a Segment - located at the top of the Visitors Flow interface. This button prompts a search function as well as a drop-down menu including Default Segments which expands to show these selections: All Visits, New Visits, Returning Visitors, Paid Search Traffic, Non-paid Search Traffic, Search Traffic, Direct Traffic, Referral Traffic, Visits with Conversions, Visits with Transactions, Mobile Traffic, and Non-bounce Visits. The only previously undefined segment from this list that may be confusing is Non-bounce Visits that defines only visits in which visitors did not bounce, or leave the site from the landing-page.

Top Navigation Visitors Flow

Depth of Connections - located at the top of the interface next to the Select a Segment drop-down menu. A "connection" is created between two pages under two consecutive Flow Lists. Moving the mark from left to right increases the level of detail shown in each connection. The flow shows various metrics, each with its own title and list of top selections (ex: Country/Territory, Mobile, Language, etc.) that visitors are coming from, to be designated in this tutorial as the "Flow List". 

Navigation Buttons - to navigate the Visitors Flow, there are navigation tools on the far

Side Navigation Visitors Flow
right which show a Home Icon (which brings you back to the left-most stage), left/right keys to move around the interface, and a zoom function. You can use the hand cursor, which appears when hovering over the Visitors Flow interface, to click and drag as a means of navigation from left to right in the flow lists and stages. Hovering over any of the items in a flow list shows a pop-up which details the number of visits, the number of through visits (meaning visitors remained on the site after viewing this page), and the number of dropped visits (meaning visitors exited from the site after viewing this page). 

Flow List and Flow Stage - these are self-created terms that I will be using to explain the interface. The flow list is the list of indexed pages that is displayed below the bold title. The flow stage is the bold title at the top of each flow list which shows the level of interaction or depth of the visits. The flow stages are (in order from left to right) User-Defined, Starting Pages, 1st Interaction, 2nd Interaction, … , nth Interaction. Since the left-most flow stage is the most complex, I will now explain each of the possible selections written with the category heading followed by a list of the category selections. Any confusing or previously undiscussed metrics will be explained if necessary, otherwise the category selections list will be left as is. 

Visitors Flow 2
  • User-Defined Flow Stage Category Selections
    • Visitors - City, Language, Mobile, Region, Country/Territory, Sub Continent Region, User Defined Value, Custom Variable (Key 1), Custom Variable (Key 2), Custom Variable (Key 3), Custom Variable (Key 5), Custom Variable (Value 1), Custom Variable (Value 2), Custom Variable (Value 3), Custom Variable (Value 4), Custom Variable (Value 5)
    • Traffic Sources - Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword, Ad Content, Ad Slot, Source/Medium, Source, Social Source, Medium, Traffic Type; these metrics will be further explained in Part III, which will detail the primary menu Traffic Sources but in the meantime I will provide short summaries of each:
      • Campaign - these are defined by the campaigns set up and run within Analytics. The set up requires that Campaign Tracking is added to the GATC (Google Analytics Tracking Code). The GATC Campaign Tracking Methods can be found here (http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/gaJS/gaJSApiCampaignTracking.html), at the Google Analytics Help Center. 
      • Ad Group - this is used in conjunction with Google Adwords through a Data Export API Data Feed, the means through which Google Analytics retrieves data from the corresponding combination of (primary) Dimensions, Metrics, and Calculated Metrics. The ad group the name of the AdWords ad group to be tracked with analytics. This is among the dimensions written in the form ga:addimension, with the ga:ad script appearing at the beginning of every string (ex: the ad group dimension is written as ga:adGroup).
      • Keyword - this dimension lists the keywords used in search queries that brought visitors to your site.  
      • Ad Content - works with the GATC for Campaign Tracking and is among various Tracking Methods listed which are code snippets that define where data is retrieved from. The code for this dimension is _setCampContentKey(newCampContentKey). Corresponding to AdWords this is the campaign content key used to retrieve the ad content (description) of your advertising campaign from your campaign URLs. 
      • Ad Slot - works the same way as the Ad Group which is explained above. The code for this dimension is ga:adSlot and it defines the location of the advertisement on the hosting page (Top, RHS, or not set). Top indicates that the ad is located at in the list of ads that shows up in purple above the organic search results; and RHS, or Right Hand Search, indicates that the ad is located in the ads listed to the far right of the organic search results. 
      • Source/Medium - the number of visits from a given source per each medium through which that source was accessed (ex: the number of visitors that used a search engine on their mobile device).
      • Source - the number of visits from each type of general traffic source (search engine, referral, or direct) and the specific domain name of each traffic source 
      • Social Source - see explanation of social source in the explanation of the secondary menu, Social.
      • Medium - the technical means by which visitors accessed your site (mobile, laptop, etc.). 
      • Traffic Type - the number of visits from each type of traffic; the types of traffic are defined as organic or paid, and further specified by the keywords, AdWords Campaign, Keyword Position, etc. 
    • Content - Event Category, Event Action, Event Label; these metrics will be further detailed in Part IV of the tutorial which discusses the primary menu for Content. In the meantime no further explanation is necessary except that events are created and defined by the user when running Campaigns in Analytics/AdWords. 
    • Systems - Browser, Browser Version, Operating System, Operating System Version, Flash Version, Java Support, Screen Colors, Screen Resolution, Service Provider, Domain; these were previously discussed in the Mobile and Technology secondary menu explanations.

Continuing in the exploration of the Visitors Flow secondary menu, the Flow

Add Step Visitors Flow
Lists moving from right to left show the stages which include Starting Pages, 1st Interaction, 2nd Interaction, and 3rd Interaction as well as the number of Visits and Drop Offs (number of visitors leaving the site from a given stage) for each. There is also an option to add steps (4th Interaction, 5th Interaction, etc.) until all visitors have "dropped off."


This concludes Part I of my tutorial for Google Analytics. Here is a link to Part II.

Visitors Flow 2(73603)
Credit: https://www.google.com/analytics/web/#report/


Dec 8, 2011 3:32pm
Great information! This will help me figure out Google Analytics, thanks!
Dec 12, 2011 1:28am
Thanks for writing this. Hopefully it will help me find my feet.
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