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In Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a web site, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness. This course covers the out-of-the-box functionality, from account creation to reporting fundamentals, and explains how to glean insights from the vast array of data available.
Earlier I said that the All Traffic Sources report was my go-to report, but this brand-new report might just take the crown as my absolute favorite. We've had dozens of discussions over the years with Google engineers about how pathing reports that show the click stream progression of a user are generally useless. The problem is you have 10,000 visitors in your analysis and 9,800 different paths. But this report is different. And while there's still a lot of development going on to evolve this report further, the earlier indication is that they've knocked it out of the park. As analysts, we often say we want to understand how different groups are interacting with our site differently: where they go, what they do, where they drop off, how they come in.
We're interested in questions like how do our new users use this site compared to our returners? How do users in China use the site compared to those in US? How about people who hear about us via the social media channels versus good old-fashioned organic search? So many questions and lots of reports available, but many are indirect and unintuitive. But now we have a report that combines the content navigation, entrance and exit reports, and funnels all in one and at the same time leverages all our campaign data and custom segmentation. This is Visitor Flow Visualization, and I am big fan. Let's take a look.
Come here to the Audience or Visitors tab and click Visitors Flow. Initially the report opens by demonstrating the relative number of visitors from each country. We can see the trends and how they navigate from one page to the next. We can, of course, select which dimension we want to see here. We can group by things like source, medium, keywords, et cetera, all the dimensions that are available to us. We don't have to choose Country, although that's an interesting one to start with. Here, the pages of your site are represented by these boxes that are known as nodes. Visitors and the paths and trends that they take through the site are represented by these individual lines.
So as we look at this, these individual nodes over here represent the different countries, and the paths that they connect to represent the landing pages. These are the first pages on the site that those individual visitors came to. From there, we can see how many visitors moved on from their landing pages to another page on the site and which page, and we can also see how many left the site and dropped off after visiting a particular page. The number of visitors that left the web site after reviewing that page are represented by this red bar on the side of each node. This is a visual representation of the percentage of visitors that abandon the site and didn't move on further.
Above the red bar, for the visitors that didn't drop off, we can see on these lines where they moved on to. We can click on any of these lines to highlight traffic through those individual paths. As we click on any of these individual lines, it shows the previous visitors and where they came from, who went through that particular path. I'll show a couple of examples here as I highlight different lines. If we click on one of the nodes in this first line over here, the countries, we can highlight the traffic through that particular country and follow that traffic through the site. So in this case, I am looking at where all the traffic in the US goes, but maybe I want to come down here and look at India and highlight traffic through this particular country and see where do people in India come on my site, where do they go, how do they progress, how do they drop off? I can do the same for Australia or any other site through it.
To unhighlight that particular one, I can click again and click Clear Highlighting and we'll go back to the original screen. If we have a particular interest in a node, we can click the second option up here to view only this segment. At that point, it's going to clear away all the other ones and just show us a segment that we're currently interested in. To go back, I simply come up here to the breadcrumbs and click on the original Visitor Flow and I'm right back where I started. Another good tip is that on any individual page node here, when I click on here, I can select the group details. From here, we see a table with different metrics about the pages that are included there.
We can also see things like Top pages, Traffic breakdown, and even things like Outgoing traffic of where they went next. This view was great if we are trying to understand marketing things like where did things from a particular source come from, or things about a visitor like what particular people that came from a country did when they came through here, such as United Kingdom, or India versus the US. But what if we are looking at this from a content point of view, and we want to examine an individual piece of content? In that case, we can scroll over here, click on an individual page node. We can click Explore traffic through here. This is kind of an amazing view that's going to show us a report that will make this particular page the center of our analysis world, focusing only on the traffic through this particular page.
On the left-hand side, we can see all the pages that led up to that page, with the green here being people who entered the site via that page. What I like about this report is it's interactive. I can click on the +Step here to go back even further, and I can understand where people came from prior to that page and prior to that page all the way back. As we see the progression through here into the page that we're interested in, I can do the same thing over on the right where we'll see people went after. In this case, I can see the number of people who dropped off, but I can also come over here and click through each step and see where they went page after page after that.
I can of course continue to highlight traffic through individual pages and see the progressions through each one. As we examine this, there are a few other things we should keep in mind. One is over here I can change the way this looks if there are too many lines through here by clicking on the plus button and allow us to see each of these paths more clearly by elongating the space in between each individual node. I can click the Home button at any time to come back to my primary node, and I can change the number of steps here by clicking the x to reduce that step there and get back to our original one here. One of the most powerful features is somewhat hidden.
Let's say that you are looking through this list and you're looking at this particular blog post here, and you think to yourself that you're interested in not just the traffic that came through this blog post, but all the different blog posts here. What we want to do is click this little gear up here on the top and we've got these Match Type option. So one of the things we can say is begins with, and clear this out so it's not this particular blog post, but anything that starts with /blog. What it's going to do is allow us to analyze the traffic through our content as if everything through this /blog was one individual page. Here we can see all the traffic that flowed through the blog, where it came in, how much of it dropped off, and where it went after that.
If I click here on Group details, I can see all the different pages that actually are grouped under this particular one, so everything that starts with /blog here, all the individual visits, percentage of traffic drop-off rates, and individual metrics that I need to see here. Or I can come back here to my Flow Visualization and see how traffic flowed through that particular set of content on the site. This is incredibly powerful as we are trying to understand how people are using groups of content rather than just individual pages. The data in these reports can be used by your entire web team: marketers and advertisers to designers to conversion optimizers. They represent the best kind of reports, easy and intuitive, yet powerful, and it's easy to dig deeper.
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