You know that really exciting Christmas present you got that you tinkered with a few days, grew bored with in short order, and sold for a couple dollars at your next garage sale? That’s kind of what Site Overlay was for Google Analytics. It sounded like it would be a visual data Nirvana experience but ended up, many times, being an exercise in frustration and confusion.
Well, Google Analytics has taken another whack at offering contextual data visualization with In-Page Analytics, and I gotta tell ya — from what I’ve seen of it, it’s pretty sleek.
If you haven’t heard about it, read Google’s announcement on its blog that describes its features in depth. Or watch this five-minute video that gives a sweeping overview.
The Lay of the Land
If you can’t be bothered with reading/viewing instruction manuals and want to jump right in, you can find the new beta feature under Content.
The site associated with the GA profile you have open at the time will open in the main window, and you can navigate through the site to analyze specific pages. One thing to watch for is if you’re viewing this on a smaller monitor, it can be frustrating to try to click navigation elements and links because you’re peppered with data-rich popups any time you drag your mouse over a link. If this happens to you, I found that closing the left or top pane by clicking the little arrows or toggling to full screen mode affords the interface a little more elbowroom.
Left Panel Metrics
You’ll also notice from the screenshot above that in the left panel there are three categories of data the tool provides you with: Content Detail, Inbound Sources, and Outbound Sources. The content detail includes everything you would get in a typical content report — metrics like pageviews, unique views, time on page, etc. It also provides some high-altitude demographic and technical metrics, such as language, screen resolution, operating system, etc. The metrics that lull me to sleep at night but are there just in case you care.
What I like is just due south you can see Inbound Sources and Outbound Destinations. This is the equivalent of clicking on the Navigation Summary link on any content page in Google Analytics. But it enables you to quickly see how most of your visitors got to that page and where they went afterwards. This feature could prove to be especially useful on landing pages where you’re trying to corral your traffic toward a particular conversion. You can see right there if you’re catching enough fish with that net. And if you’re not, it’s time to break out the Website Optimizer and start testing.
Expanding Data Bubbles
One nice upgrade with In-Page Analytics is if there is more than one link on a page that points to the same page, it has a dotted line around the bubble. Just like with Site Overlay, Google Analytics doesn’t distinguish between different links with the same destination. So you can see that the home link gets 11% of clicks from the BlueGlass blog, but you don’t know if they’re clicking on the logo, the Home button in the navbar, or a link on the page. But the only link to the Services page is in the navbar, so that bubble has a solid line.
Of course, when you hover over the bubbles you get some top-level data about clicks and goals.
Okay, this is where this feature starts to really show its brawn. You can segment your data on the fly by applying advanced segments to the page. If you haven’t used advanced segments in Google Analytics, you are missing out on the ninja analysis opportunities. As Google’s Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik says, “Analyzing data in aggregate is a crime against humanity.” So true.
But if segmenting sounds scary to you, Google’s Conversion University’s five-minute video on how to set up and apply advanced segments could be just the thing to get you going. At the risk of sounding like a Geico commercial, five minutes of training could save you a lot of coinage in lost opportunities.
Look what we see here. Typically blogs are riddled with very high bounce rates — many times 60% on up. (A bounce is a visit consisting of one page.) Makes sense. Visitors come in, read the blog post they came in for and take off. But we see here that visitors coming from organic search and social media are much more likely to stick around and explore.
So then the next logical question is where do they go? What fancies their attention?
That’s where the Outbound Destinations inline report comes in handy. We can see exactly where they go from here. And although that data isn’t segmented (wouldn’t that be cool?), it’s still useful to identify the shiniest objects on your site that attract the most attention in an ADD world.
In-Page Analytics offers you several different filtering options. Going across the page, the first drop-down gives you a plethora of options to choose from, depending on how you have your Google Analytics profile configured. This particular client has goal and ecommerce tracking in place, so you can choose from options specific to goal and revenue reporting.
You can use also thresholds for whatever you choose from the first drop-down. For example, you can opt to filter out any links that garner fewer than 2% of clicks on the page, if you have a page with a lot of links and you’re trying to identify the big dogs on the page.
You can, once again, filter by segment in the from drop-down menu. But you have to first have those segments selected in the Advanced Segments menu.
Or you can create a custom filter by clicking Add Filter. A Filter by menu will appear, where you can choose from a number of dimensions.
Once you choose the dimension you want to filter by, you can set Condiition and Value, and create your filter.
Remember: It’s in Beta
Which means means it has its share of bugs. I stumbled across most of them with the filtering options. It’s a bit of a crap shoot — with goal and revenue reporting in particular. There’s also very little documentation and no button to report bugs. I also find it highly ironic that it’s the least stable in Chrome. And I only had one extension enabled. I found working in Firefox much more dependable, but I’ve seen that as an issue with Google Analytics in Chrome overall.
That said, I think Google is really onto something with offering a data visualization solution that’s infinitely more usable than its predecessor and teeming with actionable insights.
Have you played with In-Page Analytics yet? If so, let us know what you like, don’t like, or wish it could do — your laundry excepted. ;) Join the conversation by following us on Twitter (@blueglassinc). And let me know your thoughts as well, if you are so inclined (@AnnieCushing).