Google Analytics Audit – Conversions, Goals & Ecommerce

This is part 2 of my Google Analytics Audit. The first part focused on the code and settings in Analytics. I thought the topic area of conversions and conversion metrics should have it’s own in-depth review so I got in touch with a couple of experts to help give us some helpful perspectives on the topic. So let’s get started!

Events: Things Worthy Of Awareness

Nuclear bomb being dropped? Important event.

Yea. That was important.

Don’t overuse events – they have limits and also can wrongly be used to track  things which are already tracked in Analytics. However, Events should be used to track specific actions that are part of campaigns or can otherwise help identify valuable conversions.

Leveraging Ecommerce Data

Mike Arnesen of Swellpath has some great insights on how to leverage this data that’s sometimes left “on the table.”:

In auditing your analytics, it’s important to look beyond the basics. Ensuring correct implementation of the core analytics tracking code, turning on demographics data, and setting up event tagging/firing are all great essentials, but what other opportunities are there for your site? If you haven’t taken a good deep look into Google’s Enhanced Ecommerce features, you’re really missing out. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because this incredible feature set isn’t exclusively for Ecommerce sites; it can be applied to virtually any type of business (but that’s a whole post unto itself).

What Enhanced Ecom gives you is better insight into the customer journey towards that ultimate conversion event, the purchase. You can even identify specific segments of customers based off of where they dropped out of the funnel. Similar to paid campaigns, you can also track product impressions on category pages and tout/carousel/CTA impressions on your homepage and see CTR inside of GA for your own site. That data can then allow you to optimize your virtual merchandising!

Other great features of Enhanced Ecommerce include being able to track affiliate codes more effectively, see your own coupon code data in your GA reports (see how coupon codes influence revenue generation), and drill down into product attribution.You can even track how many times specific products were added to or removed from you Cart.

Overall, Enhanced Ecommerce is a huge opportunity to level up your analytics and get some serious insights about your customers and their journey.

Having A Goal In Mind

Vintage Mugshot

I had a goal of using this vintage mugshot in my next blog post, success!

It’s surprising just how often I have opened up analytics on a clients site and found no goals. The ultimate sin. If you’re investing any time and effort into building a digital presense, then you should definite have your fingers on the pulse of your website.

  • Take a soul searching afternoon or hold a meeting to determine what conversions look like for your business and then match that to the data you can get from your website. Most often conversions are actual sales or leads that turn into sales. If you’re driving PPC traffic to something, then you definitely should have a goal configured.
  • Beware of forms that don’t send users to the next page, you will have to configure an event for the form submission and set that as a goal vs. the usual process of making a destination URL the linchpin of the goal. The other option would be to change that form type and have it send that traffic to a trackable destination page!
  • If at all possible, add in a goal value so you can use the “Page value” metric.

Connecting Goals To Conversions

Michael Mcdougald the internet Marketing Director of  Commercial Door & Frame Distributors has a lot of imput on not just looking at goals but thinking strategically about Conversions:

With each conversion, it’s important to know where it came from, what they did within the process and what the value of that conversion is to your organization. Then this information should guide strategic changes to increase the conversion rate. Here are two key areas to improve your analytics.

Funnel Tracking
Many conversions don’t happen immediately, but instead require multiple steps, leaving room for a user to start, but not finish a conversion path. By tracking each step as a sequence, a webmaster can gain insight as to where a user stops engaging the website, and try experimenting fix this.

For example, a purchase may happen over several pages from cart, to shipping, to the credit card page. A survey will have a page for each question. Each of these steps is a potential fall off point for a user to leave before finishing. What if you knew that 50% of users left the survey after being asked their household income? Maybe you could then reword the question or add an option to leave it blank.

Conversion Value & Lifetime Value

One of the mistakes most marketers make when comparing their conversion rate to their PPC or marketing costs is simply looking at their “cost per lead.”  While it’s helpful to know this metric, it can sometimes lead to making bad business decisions if you first don’t understand what a customer is worth to your organization. While in some instances a customer may only buy once, many companies will often gain repeat business from the same customer. If at all possible, it is best to compare your cost/conversion against the lifetime value of a customer. By assuming a conversion is a one time event, you might find yourself missing opportunities to gain more loyal higher value customers. Especially when a customer “lifetime” can be anywhere from several months, to as long as 30yrs.

Let’s compare two scenarios:

1. Single Lead Customer View

Assuming one in four leads yields a single customer making one $100 purchase yielding a $40 profit, but costs $15 for each lead, one might assume a loss of $20 per sale.

2. Lifetime Value Customer View

Assuming again that one in four leads yields a single customer making an initial $100 purchase yielding a $40 profit, but costs $15 for per lead, the cost for the initial customer was $60. But in this case the customer repeated that purchase each month for a year. That customer then brought a $420 profit.

By considering the lifetime value of a customer, marketers can then work to create new long term customers and not simply drive one time sales. Happy repeat customers are not only more likely to make larger and more frequent purchases, they are also good for the business reputation often leading to valuable referrals.

Since calculating the lifetime value can be tricky, here’s a great link from KissMetrics explaining how to do it using starbucks as a case study:

Here’s how to set up both a funnel and assign a conversion value. Under the admin panel, go to the “goals” section. There you’ll find the ability to turn on goal “value” and also turn on “funnels.”
This value should be carful considered based on the conversion type. In our example the potential value of each lead would be 1/4 the lifetime value, or $105. Next set up the funnel by clearly naming each step for reference later and add the url for each step in the process. Use names like “Credit Card Page” or “Household Income” rather than “Step 2” or other potentially confusing labels.

After the conversions have been tracked over a few days, take a look at “funnels” in the conversions tab and you will be able to see step by step where customers are falling off.

Hopefully this second piece of the audit will help you get the most out of Google Analytics. What other areas of analytics do you struggle with managing? Let me know in the comments!

How to Format Your ‘Now Provided’ Report – Part 1 [VIDEO]


Many of you have tried out of new Now Provided report. If you haven’t the Now Provided report pulls together AuthorityLabs ranking data, Google Analytics data, and a few other data points to show you how many pages are receiving organic traffic and a list of the keywords that those pages rank for.

Now the million dollar question. After setting up the Now Provided report, how do I analyze this awesome data? I’m glad you asked! I made a dashboard that looks at the top landing pages and with four different types of conditional formatting, depicts the data in an easily readable way.

If you need to quickly format your data I also made a template with the formatting in there.

Step 1 – Export

Go into your AuthorityLabs account and export the Now Provided report with the icon in the top right corner.


Your CSV should look like this. I turned it into a raw data tab and saved it off as an excel workbook.


Step 2 – Count Your Results

I counted how many keyword results of the landing pages. Then I grabbed the top five to analyze. Make sure to copy over each of these top 5 tables into new sheets. We’ll need to use them later.


I grabbed the 100 keyword results for the home page and plopped that into it’s own sheet.

Step 3 – No Baggage

I got rid of the metrics from landing pages like users, sessions, and bounce rate. We’ll be analyzing those metrics in the next tutorial. For now, the metrics I’m focusing on are specific for the keywords. To do this quickly, click on the Column B and drag the selection over to Column E, hit the delete key or right-click and select Delete.


 Step 4 – Format as a Table

I selected all the data, but all you have to do is click inside the data set and then go up to Home > Format as Table. I also turned off the gridlines, I know, shocking. :) View > Gridlines.


Step 5 – Start the Pretty Parade

Under Home > Conditional Formatting > Icon Sets > Stars. I also put them in Reverse Order for the position rankings.


Step 6 – Two Cells Run into a Bar

Select all of the columns that you want data bars for and then go into Home > Conditional Formatting > Data Bars. To change the color of the Data Bars go to More Rules and change the color and even add a gradient.


Step 7 – 80% Percent of Pretty Data is Formatting

I changed the formatting at H and I. I changed the formatting from general to percentage.


Go ahead and change the CPC value to a monetary one.


Step 8 – Can’t Take the Heat

Another great conditional formatting option is the Color Scales. 


I changed the Lowest Value to a green and the Highest Value to a red. To do this go to Manage Rules > Color Scales > Minimum: Green | Maximum: Red.


Step 9 – Raising the Bar

The last formatting option was for the Search Volume metric. It’s under Icon Sets too and it’s one of my favorites for an overview snapshot.


 Step 10 – Copying the Formatting Over

Now that we’ve finished the formatting for the Homepage table, let’s share the love. To do this, navigate to one of the other top 5 landing pages. I put mine into different sheets to formatted them more easily. Then format the data set as a table.


Step 11 – Spread the Colors

Next, grab the first line of the formatted table and paste it onto the first line of your unformatted data series. When you paste the values a small drop down menu will appear with Paste Special options. Select the one that is Paste > Formatting only.


 Step 12 – Complete the Rainbow, Taste the Rainbow

After that, select the small green + sign located at the bottom right of the first row and drag down to copy the row. Now, select the same option to Fill Formatting Only.


Step 13 – Spread the Cheer

Make sure to copy this formatting process over to the other top 5 landing pages.


Step 14 – Consolidate Your Winnings

After collecting 5 sheets of formatted tables, I put them all into one sheet and labeled it Dashboard. That way you can scroll easily and see how each of the keywords would benefit your site in specific ways.


Step 15 – Viola!

Grab a cocktail, sit back, and enjoy the rainbow of pretty data you just created. :)




Google Analytics Audit – Deployment and Settings

It has always surprised me that the most freely available and useful tool that Google provides to website owners, Google Analytics, is so often incorrectly deployed on my client’s sites. Here’s a quick DIY Analytics Audit that you can run through for new client sites or your own small business website to make sure you’re getting the most out of this free resource from the Big G.

Correct Code Deployment

Go to your site, right click and view the source. (If you’re using Safari then go to Settings and enable Developer tools to get this option). Do a search for UA to find the segment of code where your Google analytics has been deployed.

  • Are there multiple copies of the same UA code? Then there’s a possibility of getting duplicate traffic.
  • Are there multiple different UA codes? Then you’re sending traffic to multiple profiles. This may have happened if  a 3rd party set this up Analytics before.
  • Are you in control of the profile? Again if you had a 3rd party set this up, then a UA with a higher # on it indicates a number of other profiles are on it and it may belong under another agency. You should check the User section of your analytics and make sure you’re the primary administrator.
  • Does your entire site have Google Analytics code? You can check for GA code across your site with this tool, a custom setup in Screaming Frog, or in Raven Tools Site Auditor.

Legacy vs. Universal

You can track subdomains with universal Google Analytics code
Next look at the code and see if it’s using analytics.js or ga.js. If the code is using ga.js then it’s an older implementation and you should consider updating to Universal analytics. You can get some cross sub-domain tracking abilities as well as other features. However, it’s not something you do without a gameplan. Kane Jamison of Content Harmony explains:

“So, this guide is a pretty clear rundown of the caveats I have for UA migration – if you have a vanilla account you’ll be ok, but if you have tons of custom tracking, you need a gameplan. For me the clues would be lots of event tracking, or any ecommerce setup, or other custom elements other than the basics like URL-matching goals.

Once you see any of those custom elements, there needs to be a migration gameplan in place. It’s still worth doing and you’ll have to do the UA upgrade eventually anyways, but you can’t just press the button and expect it to function the same.
On a sidenote, if you’ve planned everything well, this is also a good time to switch to Tag Manager. Rather than rebuilding tons of custom event firing tags and hard coding them into the page templates, you can set up id tags and other elements that can get tracked by GTM. It adds a layer of complexity for sure, but if you have an experienced analytics person doing the migration then they’ll probably want to do this as well for the convenience it offers.”

Demographics Data – Who Are These Visitors?

Who wants to see sailor moon pictures

Ever wondered who wanted to visit your Geocities website shrine for Sailor Moon? Well Google gives you some access to those demographic details.

  • Add a simple line of code to your deployment to get access to this data. (For Universal analytics the code is: ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’);
  • If you’re using Yoast’s WordPress Analytics, then click on the Advanced tab, and check the box demographics.

Enhanced Link Attribution: Who Clicked Which Link

If you have a link to the same destination multiple times on your page then you might be confused when using Inpage analysis in Google Analytics to understand your visitor’s behavior because it will use the same % of traffic for each instance. You can fix this with Enhanced Link Attribution.

  • ga(‘require’, ‘linkid’, ‘linkid.js’);  <– Add that to your analytics code
  • If you’re using Yoast, then click the Advanced tab and add it to the Custom code section. (Dear Yoast, please add this as a checkbox feature. Also, if anyone knows if there’s a problem with this method please let me know so I can update this section)

Filter Out The Crap Traffic

Coffee grounds in a pile of coffee filters

Filter out the useless and let through the tasty goodness.

If your client is habitually visiting their site, clicking every single page then that will quickly skew your traffic stats if you do not have filters in place.

Bot Filtering in Google analytics
  • Check the box to exclude hits from spiders and bots
  • Get IPs from the client (Tell them to Google “What is my IP“)
  • Add your own IP and anyone else who might visit the site who you work with professionally.

Site Search – Who Looked For What?

Did You Set Up Site Search

Hey, wouldn’t it be useful to know if people were looking for that blog post you wrote about DIY Site Audits? Well, you’re not going to know unless you set up this awesome feature. You can then use your own visitors to determine what content would be worthwhile for you to create.

Integration is Great…ion

Awesome Mix Vol 7

Hard to make a mix tape if you only have one album. Get all the data you can!

You can connect your Google Analytics to Adwords, Webmaster Tools and some 3rd party tools. I STRONGLY recommend you take advantage. You get extra layers of data like treemaps and search queries which you can connect to your conversion data.

Presenting Your Audit Findings

Often when you’re doing an audit you can just flip these switches and toggles and get these things fixed right away. Other times there’s a client to convince, an administrator to convince or developer to task. Here’s a handy template for presenting your analytics audit findings.

I’ll be creating a follow-up post on Google analytics to review Events, Goals and Conversions if you were wondering why I didn’t include them here. Let me know if there are any other “must check” sections of Analytics in the comments!

Site Audit: Indexing Tips & Tricks with Screaming Frog [VIDEO]

Knowing how to do a site audit is an extremely useful tool for any marketer. But if you’re like me, intimidation can creep in big time while starting these audits. I’m here to help with that! I pulled several key points from Annielytics’ Site Audit Checklist and from Jeremy Rivera’s Simple DIY Site Audit post. Thank you for the inspiration, guys!

I also use Screaming Frog to crawl the sites and sitemaps. If you haven’t downloaded Screaming Frog… do ett. If you don’t know how to use it, there’s a tutorial for that.

Now, let’s dive in! You can get the full tutorial here:

If you don’t have 10 mins to watch me talk, no problem. Here’s the step by step walk-through:

Audit Magic

Like I said above, this site audit checklist is a dreamboat. Annie Cushing gave it to the marketing industry as a gift and there are about 10 viewers on it at any given time. Craziness.


Yo’ Checklist

I grabbed a few check list items to walk-through and take the intimidation out of them. I compared a few different sites: Modcloth, Adored Vintage, and (#theoneandonly) Screaming Frog. And I color coded them … duh.

  • Is there a robots.txt?
  • Is there a sitemap?
  • Are there errors in their robots.txt file?
  • Are their sitemaps clean?

Want to follow along? Download this audit checklist.


Now that we got that all set up. Let’s get down to business.

Step 1 – Check for Robots.txt

Go to the domain homepage and type in /robots.txt. Not sure what a robots.txt file is?

“A robots.txt file is a text file that stops web crawler software, such as Googlebot, from crawling certain pages of your site. The file is essentially a list of commands, such Allow and Disallow, that tell web crawlers which URLs they can or cannot retrieve. So, if a URL is disallowed in your robots.txt, that URL and its contents won’t appear in Google Search results.” (Google Support)

The first site I looked at was Adored Vintage. They had robots.txt, but most of it was copied and pasted from a generator. “If you use this as a sample file then you should remove all comments …” This does cause problems later.





Step 2 – Check for Errors in Your Robots.txt

There are a bunch of guidelines for how to set up the robots.txt file correctly. Now to learn all the rules and implement them… jk. Luckily, there’s a tool for that. I ran this analysis for Modcloth and they had a few mistakes, like using an asterisk, that caused serval errors in their Robots.txt.


Now that you’ve cleaned up your Robots.txt,  let’s move onto your sitemap.

Step 4 – Find your Sitemap

Unlike the Robots.txt file, you can’t just type in Sometimes it’s located under different folders. So a quick find for the sitemap is to search in Google, inurl:sitemap.xml. Here is the one I downloaded from Modcloth.


Your sitemap may (and should) be listed in the robots.txt. Modcloth does a wonderful job with this. They list specific links to there sitemaps, and the first one is the main sitemap.


Do you need a sitemap? Check out a sitemap generator like this one.

Step 5 – Sitemaps in ScreamingFrog

Many times companies will put up a sitemap and not update for months, or even years. Check your sitemap to make sure you’re not linking to any 404 (broken) pages.

To do this, save off your sitemap.xml file.

Then, change the Mode > List this will change ScreamingFrog from an online scraper to a file scraper. Cool, right?


Select file > File type> .xml


Modcloth has a a 404 page in there main sitemap. That’s telling Google to check out a broken page, that’s definitely bad for business.


Those are some quick tips to make sure your Robots.txt and Sitemaps are in tip-top=shape. I went over a few other tips in my tutorial video. All tips that can be found in Annielytics’ Site Audit Checklist.

Thanks for tuning in! Now go forth and data!

Michelle Stinson Ross on Twitter Cards: The Basics Everyone Should Know

MichelleFor some folks Twitter Cards are as confusing as can be, so we thought we would reach out to Michelle Stinson Ross, Social Marketing Manager at, and get some clarity. Check out the Q&A below.

Also, Michelle will be speaking at SMX Social in the “Up Close With Twitter Cards“, November 20th at 2:00pm. If you are attending be sure to check out her session and be sure to get some great ideas from her.

What are Twitter Cards, how are they used and why should businesses care?

Basically, the short answer is, Twitter cards are a multimedia value added tweet. They can be used to build email lists, drive web traffic, or facilitate app downloads. Brands and businesses need to care because the cards aid with the heavy lifting of click through.

Do businesses need a professional developer to set up Twitter Cards?

There are two different routes you can take with Twitter cards. One of them does require a little help from your webmaster to add the proper mark-ups to your web site. Before you get too deep into this option be sure to read up on the information Twitter has for developers. If you have a site that is very photo and multi-media rich, this is an option you need to seriously consider.

However, there is a DIY option within the Twitter Ads environment that doesn’t require any coding to use. These cards are great if you want to make your tweets stand out with a visual and not lose clicks to people simply expanding a photo that you shared with a tweet.

Can you explain the different kinds of cards and tell us which are your favorites?

Let’s focus on the DIY Twitter cards. Even though you have to go into the Twitter Ads platform to set these up, you don’t have to run an ad to use them.

There are 4 DIY card types currently available. I say currently, because when I first started using them, there were only 2 card types. I fully expect Twitter to continue to roll out new tools to encourage brands to use the Ad platform.  The current card types are a Lead Generation card, a Website card, and two versions of the App card, a basic App card and an Image App card.

The cards serve the functions that their names imply.

1). The Lead Gen card is set you to help you collect email sign-ups via a user’s Twitter account. It’s an easy one-click sign-up for the user and is very mobile friendly.

2). The Website card allows to you add an image, call to action button, and a fully tagged URL to your tweets. If a user clicks or taps anywhere on that tweet they will be directed to the URL embedded in the card. HELLO increased CTR.

3). The two app cards facilitate the download of apps directly to users phones.

Right now I’m all about the Website cards. My main directive is to drive traffic via social to our website and I LOVE this card for mixing up our tweet types and the improved CTR.

I also like the capabilities of the Lead Gen card. I personally haven’t used it much because when they first launched this card, it had to submit the emails collected directly to the CRM. Our proprietary CRM didn’t interface well with the system.

In reviewing this card for this interview, the new about page mentions that the list can be stored to a brand’s Twitter Ad account and downloaded at will. THIS is a far better option for my system, and I will circle back around very soon to start using this option.

Can you give us your top 5 Twitter Card Tips?

Most of these tips are specific to the Website cards, but here it goes:

1). ALWAYS used tagged URLS for your twitter cards so that the traffic they drive can be properly attributed to your efforts.

2). Get very familiar with the image size requirements for the cards. The website card must be at least 800 pixels wide and 400 high. So you will have to create compelling landscaped images for these cards.

3). Depending on the way your campaigns are set up you can edit and keep cards up to date with fresh images, copy, and links without having to create new cards over and over.

4). I highly recommend using a card when you’re paying to promote a tweet. The website cards in particular only charge when the user clicks through. If you promoted a standard photo tweet, you could be charged for clicking a link or clicking to expand the image.

5). Test, test, and test again. As I mentioned, when first rolled out the Lead Gen card was not a good fit for us. The updates are worth giving this one a shot now.

How can one measure the effectiveness of Twitter Card use?

All of the basic engagement metrics can be found in Twitter analytics both per tweet and per card. You can track CTR, favorites, RTs, and overall reach. As I said before, it’s also important to tag the URLs you’re sharing via these cards so that you can track what happens when the user clicks through and Twitter stops measuring.

True effective use of the cards will be determined by the goals you set before you launched into the use of them.

What are some creative uses of Twitter Cards that you have seen?

The really great creative cards are the more complicated developer level cards that require a little code on page to pull off. These cards pull in text and beautiful full-sized images from a blog post or serve as a media player for video and audio elements embedded on linked pages.

The advantage to theses cards is that no matter who links to that page, Twitter will pull in the multimedia elements. The engagement and amplification factors for these cards are well worth the effort to mark-up your best web pages.

What do you recommend people don’t do with Twitter Cards?

Right now, my best tip is don’t over use them. Just because you don’t have to pay to use this option doesn’t mean every tweet should be a card. Use them as an element of your overall Twitter content mix.

Do you have some resources that you recommend for those wanting to learn about Twitter Cards? 

Twitter has provided top-notch resources in both the Twitter for Business pages and the Developers pages. If your business has been assigned a Twitter Ads rep, they are excellent about walking you through EVERYTHING you need to know about any of the DIY cards. They may not update you on changes as they roll out, but will provide any answers to questions that will arise as you notice something changed.

Most of the articles I’ve read in industry type publications outside of Twitter’s own content, tend to just provide an overview and don’t delve into the depth of how to use them.

A Big Thanks to Michelle For Her Time

Michelle is a very busy lady and we really appreciate her taking the time to answer questions for us. If you have any questions or want to reach out to Michelle you can find her on Twitter @SocialMicheller.