Recap of the Latest Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools Enhancements

How can we keep up? Alongside Google+ and the new content creator experiment (see this SERP), Google also happened to announce a slew of new features for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Yesterday was one of those days that downloading information via a Matrix head pluggy thing would really make things easier.

Matrix SEO
That picture of Matt Cutts just made this all too easy

Well, we don’t have Matrix head pluggy things yet, so let this post be your guide. Let’s break down some of the new stuff.

+1 data in Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics

First, the easy no-implementation cool thing. Now, all of your +1 data is passed into GA and GWT in a couple of cool ways. In Google Webmaster Tools, we can now see what impact the +1’s have had on CTR from the SERPs in the search impact report. In Google’s announcement post, they use an example site with a good amount of data (and a favorable impact). In nearly every account we have access to, this report is rather sparse despite some pretty well +1’d sites.

Search Impact Report with very little data
This isn’t exactly useful yet (ever?)

In the activity report, we’re given a look at +1 counts that have occurred on-site or on “other sites”. Google defines “other sites” as +1s from search results or ads, which is curious. Perhaps Google+ shares count as “other sites”? Hard to know at this point. Regardless, if you’ve had +1 on your site and have actually seen some engagement, this report ends up looking a lot more interesting:

Google Webmaster Tools Activity Report
This data is for the same site, which allows us to conclude (at this point) that you’ll need a lot more than 2,000 +1s to influence CTR (see previous report).

Lastly, the audience report displays demographic and geographic information about those that +1 your site.

geographic data from the GWT audience report

demographic data from the GWT audience report

Google showing this data to site owners certainly means that they’ll be (or have been) collecting and analyzing it themselves in the aggregate. Imagine John Doe creates a Google account and provides his A/S/L. Without any prior data on this user, John, the 25 year old male from Seattle, might be provided a completely different set of search results than Jane Doe, the 60 year old female from Oklahoma.

Tracking Social Interactions in Google Analytics

There were a slew of good posts recently on how to track social interactions such as tweets, +1s, Likes, etc., within Google Analytics. Yoast wrote a good post here. Essentially, we were tracking these interactions as events. It was a nice solution, but with the announcement yesterday, this is a better option.

First, your site’s +1 interactions should already be being passing into Google Analytics.

Google Analytics' social engagement report
For this site, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools’ data was actually extremely similar.

It is important to note that, in many ways, the +1 data in Google Webmaster Tools is more useful than that in Analytics because you’ll also be given +1 interactions from “other sites”.

Tracking Tweets, Likes, Unlikes, Shares, and More in Google Analytics

Lastly, and perhaps most substantially, Google also detailed how to track Facebook likes, unlikes, and shares, and Twitter tweets within your Google Analytics account. Fortunately, the announcement declares, “You can enable tracking for other social plugins in just a few simple steps.” (link goes to official documentation). We’ll let’s just see about that...

In the official documentation, the code snippet required to send a social action to GA is really quite similar to the snippet for event tracking. However, implementation is really a bit harder than just following a few simple steps. Essentially, some helper JavaScript has to be written to listen for the click, and then send the _trackSocial beacon to Google. If you’re a JS pro, give it a go by following the instructions in the official doc, take a look at the sample code offered, or view the live demo setup by Google.

If you are NOT a JavaScript pro, fear not. Google offers two interesting bits of information in the official documentation that hints at this process being made a bit easier in the future:

Many sites add social buttons by using content management plug-ins. If you are the author of such plugins, we highly recommend you integrate Google Analytics Social tracking to automatically track these interactions. Similarly, if you are a developer at a Social Network, you can also make it much easier for users to track your social network interactions in Google Analytics by integrating with our tracking feature.

For WordPress folks, it’s only a matter of time before a simple plugin integrates this functionality. Keep your eyes open. I’m sure this will be a short wait.

Also interesting is Google’s call to developers at the social networks to integrate the ability to send the _trackSocial call to GA. Will they heed the call? Once again, keep an eye out! You can imagine, perhaps, that Twitter might add a ga-account parameter along with its data-url, data-count, etc., properties.

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Who needs a matrix pluggy thing!

Oh, and I’m just gonna leave this here:

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1 Comment

  1. Mike,

    Thanks for the recap.

    Adding Facebook and Twitter tracking is a real pain. Even though the Help info is provided we're definitely need a step-by-step tutorial not just the code description. I'm a Google Analytics Certified however all my attempts to get this thing up and running resulted in code issues.

    Not to mention that the entire WP community needs a simple solution. And why it's still not there?

    Best,

    Alex

    reply >

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