Value-Added SEO: Measuring User Engagement with Google Analytics

What do you do after the inital phase of an SEO campaign? Now that the site “has been SEO’d” in the client’s mind, how do you continue to add value to their campaign? By becoming a valuable partner, that’s how! Using the following method to measure user engagement with Google Analytics you can ensure that you’ll continue to provide value to your customers even after they have #1 rankings for all 10,000 of their favorite keywords :)

Before implementing this (admittedly large scale, somewhat wonky, and tricky) Analytics solution, make sure to:

1. Meet with all project stakeholders to determine their goals. These are: Executives, Marketing, IT, Business Intelligence, other marketing partners, etc.- basically anyone that has a vested interest in tracking User engagement and better understanding the different segments of their business, and how those segments drive value.

2. Determine the goals of the website. The client might not even know! Determine key customer segments and success metrics, key performance indicators (KPI) and any micro-goals.

3. Determine “success of implementation” indicators. Agree on what a completed project looks like before you start, that way both sides have a frame of reference and no one feels like their time is being abused.

4. Determine reporting and analysis needs for each role, based on their goals. Do they need custom dashboards, custom reports, or depth of segmentation reports? Make sure to educate clients on the important metrics and expost them to new, relevant ones. Try to identtify all visitor channels for campaign tracking; and meet with IT teams and/or developers to predict and quash technical hurdles.

5. Analyze site architecture and make sure to address potential technical issues such as  in-page elements like forms, Flash, etc.- also analyze engagement elements, useful data and traditional features- break down the website into all of its functions and unique success indicators.

What user engagement metrics can be measured through Google Analytics tagging?

  • page info like categories and tags
  • clicks on internal links
  • clicks on outbound links
  • clicks on download links
  • clicks on mailto: links
  • clicks on key buttons
  • member vs. non-member status of visitors
  • logged-in status of visitors
  • user- provided demographic info
  • marketing campaigns- source, medium, campaign, term, ad copy, and any “intentional” medium
  • clicks on social shares
  • content rating
  • comments
  • watching video
  • interacting with Flash pieces
  • conversions- forms, funnels and transactions

Be sure you map the different measurement needs to the appropriate features and site elements! Map each element from the needs analysis to the specific site element that corresponds to that goal. Map each site element to the specific Analytics feature used to collect the metric. Craft the code snippet for each site element.

Set up the accounts, profiles, goals, filters, and access to meet the clients’ organizational needs- set up the whole account structure including profiles, goals, funnels, filters, access, site search, AdSense and AdWords- also, prepare custom reports if you anticipate them being needed.

Create an implementation guide for an IT team/webmaster, include the actual code snippets along with common issues and troubleshooting tools. Follow up with an audit and a QA guide for incomplete implementation.

Some of the Available GA tags include:

  • Standard Tracking Code- brings in a ton of data with no required customization
  • Virtual Page Views: forces GA to register a pageview even though it naturally wouldn’t. (increases pageview count). Acts as if a new web page is being called; sort of made obsolete by event tracking goals- used for defining dynamic pages as if they are their own pages.
  • Event Tracking- in-page actions will not inflate page views. Video players, games, Ajax tabs, social sharing, etc. Good naming convention enables good analysis. These are most effective for great for interactive pieces and e-commerce options such as choosing a color, choosing a style, etc. Get granular…but not too granular.
  • Custom Variables such as logged in status, demographics, are they are returning converter, page category, site section. Slot, label, value and scope- once again, good naming leads to good data.
  • Social Plugin Tracker- +1’s are tracked automatically but Facebook and Twitter require more customization.

Potential problems:

  • self-referrers
  • missing or incomplete or improperly formatted tags
  • subdomains
  • multiple domains
  • custom variable slots can potentially override each other
An extensive Analytics implementation like this isn’t something to take lightly,and it isn’t always 100% necessary. However, when used properly, you can really show your client a lot of value.

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