Google has today announced that it is extending its highly successful analytics product to track two new types of traffic on your website - events and site search.
Many websites - including ours - deploy their own search engines, particularly websites with products or massive amounts of content. Given clients have taken the time to tell the website what they're looking for - by searching for it - searches contain some of the most valuable information to web marketers and website managers.
Google Analytics now allows you to track site searches, including the keywords the user searched on, so you can make better use of your search engine. You can view top keywords in your GA reports, view comparisons between those people who conducted a search on your site vs those who didn't - such as whether they spent more time on the site, or were more likely to complete a goal or undertake a transaction - and many more things.
The benefits of being able to access this data are significant. As they say, if you're don't measure something, you really can't hope to intelligently improve it, and very few sites would be taking the time to separately assess search data and effectiveness, much less the impact of search on revenue. Now Google Analytics (GA) has removed any excuse people had - a very welcome inclusion into this outstanding free product.
While some people might think of events as something you'd RSVP to, in tech speak, events are more likely to be actions that a user performs on your website. For example, an event could occur when a user hits pause on an online video site like YouTube, or more commonly chooses to open a message in a webmail program using a technology called AJAX. AJAX is a scripting technology that allows information to be exchanged with the server without the need to reload the page when each server request is sent - no reload means no page "hit" in traffic parlance. In our case, when a user chooses to sign up to our newsletter or request product information using the options in the top right of our pages, the request is executed using AJAX as an "event".
In short, events are elements of user interaction with a web page that don't involve reloading that web page. With more and more sites offering rich media interactivity - in other words, things you can play with inside the page - events have become more and more important to webmasters.
To illustrate just how important they've become, consider a website that uses video to give a tour of its products. Lets say the video has 6 chapters, and runs for 15 minutes in total. Currently, page based traffic analysis doesn't provide a way to know whether someone came to the page, watched the intro, and left, or whether they sat through all 6 chapters, or potentially watched some sections twice. Obviously, from a marketing perspective, someone who watched the whole video is more valuable than someone who didn't, and knowing, for example, that everyone stopped watching the video half way through the 3rd section would suggest there is a problem with your video in that specific position - it might be too long, or perhaps the content wasn't relevant.
With support for events, Google Analytics allows webmasters to more accurately assess the behavior of users in their website. While it has been possible for some time to "fake" a page view to track when someone signed up or performed a certain action via AJAX, this model means more accurate site stats for everyone.
Site Search and Events are both important additions to the GA product line, which, with a price of free, make it incredibly good value in the analytics space. As one of the few accredited Google Analytics consultants worldwide, Internetrix is well placed to help you take advantage of these new features so you can convert more of your visitors into customers. Contact us to find out more.