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by Anna Lewis on 5th July 2011
This blog post and video will take you through different methods that you can use to monitor interaction with your brand through Google Analytics – a topic suggested to us by Lauren Hall-Stigerts at SEOMoz. It’s very important to monitor your brand online, a topic that Sam has explained in this blog post and reviewed brand monitoring tools in her video.
So whether you’ve seen these or not, I’m going to show you how to find useful data for your brand interaction using a tool you are likely to already have for your website; Google Analytics.
Let’s start somewhere simple – the keyword report. This is one of the most frequently used areas of Google Analytics by SEOs as it shows all the different keywords that bring traffic to your site via search engines. To see brand related keywords you can put your brand name in the Filter box and you can choose whether to see organic or PPC keywords, or both.
When you have a more complicated brand name you might need to use Regular Expressions to capture all the different variations and spellings of your brand name. This can get a bit much for the Filter box alone, and the keyword report won’t show you everything you want to know, so this takes us nicely along to using brand keywords in Advanced Segments.
Advanced Segments – Brand Keywords
Check out my post on setting up Advanced Segments and use the following example to help you combine variations of brand keywords. Some brands can require a lot of options to ensure you can gather all the related terms due to spelling variations, typos, the use of generic words in the name or by being known by more than one name. All variations should be set as ‘or’ and I would also recommend adding an ‘and’ to specify which medium you want to track, i.e. organic or cpc.
Here’s a simple example, using both and/or options to capture organic Koozai keywords:
For a client of ours called Big Orange Software it is not as simple as just using one word in the Advanced Segment, as we have found that many people forget the word big or choose not to use spaces between the words. To ensure all core variations are grouped within the Advanced Segment we use the following instructions:
So now that you’ve got all your brand keywords in one segment, what might you do with this? Well, everything! And you would also benefit from making the same advanced segment but changing everything to exclusions so that you can see the opposite set of data and then compare brand vs non brand visits.
Additionally, once you’ve got to grips with Advanced Segments and set up one for the exact spelling of your brand name and another to gather all variations, then you will be able to compare interactions between those more educated about your brand to those who are a little unsure of your brand.
With keywords it’s nice and easy to see if they are brand related, however with referring sites you cannot easy tell how many of these are related to your brand and how many are related to other things such as products, job vacancies, offers or other areas of your business and services. Brand related referring sites could include traffic from directory and business listings, review sites, social media and others but how do you break this down?
I would recommend working out what is significant for your brand and then categorising the referring sites accordingly – however this could take a while and there are tools out there that can monitor this all for you. Instead, what I’d recommend is categorising your referring sites yourself where you can – this can be done by using Google’s URL Builder, which opens up a whole new level of brand campaign tracking.
Tracking All Online Campaigns
When you have brand mentions across the web it’s good to categorise the traffic statistics to make it easy for you to analyse. We recommend using the URL Builder from Google to ensure that all external links are tracked how you want, for example:
Eg. 1. Facebook Ads:
Campaign: Job Ad F1
Eg. 2. Banner Advert on Another Site:
Campaign: Advert E1
Labelling them in this way enables you to track everything you do and easily split test ads and interaction with the site, giving you more control and understanding of your brand’s self promotion online. Everything else under referring sites may be able to be classed as user generated links.
Traditional Advertising with a Modern Twist – QR Codes
In addition to tracking online campaigns with the URL builder you can also use this tool to add tracking code to your QR codes. QR codes are little barcodes that can be read by smart phones with auto focus and once clicked take you to the URL specified with that code. This means that you can track which media your QR visits come from and even which ad within that. I’ve created one here that if scanned will take you to the main Koozai blog page using the campaign tracking that I’ve specified:
I love QR codes for the fact that they bring together traditional advertising and modern technologies on the internet, but then I’m a self confessed web geek with a degree in Advertising, so I would say that!
So now that you have analysed how your traffic got to your site, what do you do about where it went?
On Site Brand Activity
On your site you are likely to have both product or services pages and also pages relating to your brand. Think about how good it would be to know which type of visitor looks at the pages relating to your brand and how users interact with this content compared to the other areas of the site. To analyse this you need to use the Content reports and pull out data based on the area of the site. There are a few ways to do this; manually, by using profiles with Filters or by using Custom Variables. Unfortunately you cannot use Advanced Segments on this occasion as they segment using session data so will always include other pages visited too.
Manually Tracking On Site Activity per Section
Take a look in the Content Drilldown report and use the filter to show only pages within certain sections, for example /blog/ or /about-us/. This then shows you the statistics within the chosen section. Pull this in to Excel for each area and you too can have a pretty graph to compare Pageviews for different sections of the site:
Data from here:
Combined with other sections, creates this:
Using Custom Variables to Track Brand Pages
The simple way to track each section of a site in the long term is to use Custom Variables and label the brand pages of your site to enable them to easily be segmented. To do this you would need to add a line of code to the pages you wish to label, above the standard pagetracker line, for example:
This would then give you all the data for your brand pages in the Custom Variable slot 1 and you can use the same code but change the word ‘Brand’ on other pages of the site to identify these. It’s an easy way to group pages together and fully analyse them, and not too hard to implement.
Creating a Separate Profile for Your Brand
In addition to the methods above, if you want lots of data all about your brand I would recommend creating a new profile, choosing which data is going to be best for you and setting up a filter to include this data only. You might want to consider having a filter for only traffic to pages in the /brand/ folder:
Multiple Brand Domains
If you want to fully monitor a brand you will want to make sure any other brand domains and sub domains are also tracked correctly. Cross domain tracking can be essential to use if visitors navigate across more than one top level domain as the cookie information is stored per domain. If your brand has more than one top level domain name and visitors need to be tracked across both you will need to use the same UA number on both sites and add a few lines of code to every page and to all links between the sites. Google explain how to do this, here.
So now that we know how visitors are getting to your site and what they might be doing on the site, you might want to do something with this data. Here are some of the best ways to use your data in Google Analytics:
If you are tracking a large brand, chances are there are people involved who want to know certain statistics but aren’t interested in a lot of it, there may also be requests for specific information from people who don’t need to access Google Analytics. For these reasons, and many others, Custom Reports are essential. You can choose which metrics and dimensions to compare together and include in the columns and then – the magic comes in – apply Advanced Segments to this data so that you can break it down by brand keyword visits and non brand keyword visits.
Reports that you might want to create include:
Top brand landing pages | interaction metrics (bounce, exit, new, goals etc)
Keywords | Conversions
Mediums | Unique Visitors | New Visits | Conversion – segment by visitors who viewed brand pages and compare to visitors not looking at brand pages.
Custom Email Alerts
To save time when monitoring your brand and to ensure you’re on top of things if anything happens, I would recommend setting up email alerts from Google Analytics so that you get an email should anything unusual happen. Custom Alerts can track almost everything – keywords, referring sites, pageviews, conversions to name just a few more commonly used ones. The best news about Custom Alerts in GAv5 (the new version) is that you can also apply Advanced Segments! This means you can set up an alert to email you when visits from brand keywords increase by 50% from one day to the next – this would tell you that interest for your brand has gone up and you can then work out why. It’s also useful for finding out when things go wrong in Google Analytics.
Here’s what you might want to set it up as:
Another lovely way to show your data is to create a custom dashboard using the API and your own branding. This adds a personal touch to your data and means you get exactly what you want, how you want it. It’s also great fun and very satisfying to build this yourself and see how useful it is and how much time can be saved through using it, but that’s for another day…
Is your brand tracked in Google Anlaytics? It is now!
So there you have it, lots of different ways that you could use Google Analytics to monitor your brand. Make sure you have a read of the Koozai blog on Thursday 7th July too, as Sam will be posting about Protecting Your Brand Online. Leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on the topic, we’re always happy to hear from you.