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Content Overview Analysis in Google Analytics

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 08:06

S3 - Search, Social and Syndication

It’s been a while since we played with some analytics and when looking at some reporting it seemed to me this simple approach might be useful to pass along for looking at traffic data trends. While we’re going to compare some simple data types, it can be adapted in many ways. For this exercise we’ll create an easy way to analyze content and the traffic being driven to it (search, social and syndication)

We’re going to, once again, be working with some custom segments and so I’d be sure to brush up if need be with; Google Analytics Custom Segments for SEO


Creating the Advanced Segments

We’re going to create 2 new segments for this one… pretty easy really. The new segments will be;

  • Social Traffic; All – which will measure the social traffic coming to a given piece of content.
  • Email and Reader – which will capture the traffic coming from syndication sources

We can then use those, along with the standard ‘Search Engines’ segment and do some content analysis that can help for creating future content (and distribution) programs. We could also cross-reference the data with ranking and link profile data to see which types of content are most effective…


Google Analytics Custom Segments




But let’s get started by setting things up…. First off we need to create the custom segment. If you look in the left hand side panel you can find the link.

Custom Segments Panel



Then click the ‘Create New Segment’ link…

Create new segment


The Social Traffic segment

The first step along the journey is to create a segment with our social media elements. We’re essentially looking to isolate them from the rest of the data.

One thing I have also done is create separate segments, which is an extension of this concept. We will be sticking to having ALL the social media in this segment. If you want to get more granular later, you can repeat the process and break them down into;

  • Social Networking (including Twitter?)
  • Social Media (news sites like Digg, Mixx, Tip’d)
  • Social Book marking (Delicious, StumbleUpon etc..)
  • Social Multimedia (Flickr, YouTube etc…)

I’ve created many different segments to have varied, granular data an to create different reports. For this post we’re simply going to put all the social aspects together… (use your imagination from here). Anyway, we've made it to the 'New Segment' screen...


Once we're there, we want to select 'Dimensions > Source' and set the condition to 'Contains'. We can then add the domain we're after, in this case,

Setting up segment dimensions


Now it is simply a matter of populating the rest of the segment by repeating the process. I'd keep another analytics window open so that you can look at your referrers for common social sites that are sending traffic (or use a list like this Social Media Big List). In mine I literally have dozens as this filter can be used across multiple accounts (with different social media traffic profiles.)

Add more social media sites


Get the idea? I'm sure ye do as all the Trail riders are a bright bunch... Now that we've filled it with all the social sites, we can test the segment, or simply save it (named mine; 'Social All') and move along to the next step...


Syndication; Email and Reader

Now for what we’re doing it is limited to email and reader referrers… but that can be expanded. For example the WebProNews network syndicates the Trail from time to time, I might also include them in this section. Also depending on your definitions, you may want to put sites such as ‘bloglines’ or ‘blogcatalog’ in this section (I like them in the social category personally).

The main thing is we want to segment out the syndication channels… The first thing you will need to do is create the filter to get Full Urls from the User Defined channel. The best tutorial for that is here; get the Hack for Obtaining full URL – (it takes some time to propagate)


That filter produces these reports;

Full URLs in Google Analytics

You MUST have this filter to make this work :0)


Moving along…And so once more we’re creating a ‘New Segment’ and then ‘Visitors > User Defined’ and add that to our segment.. Next we will look through the User Defined values (in a new window) and look for obvious RSS and Email urls and capture them for the report… (also look in FeedBurner)

Syndication and email segments

Once you have all of those URLs plugged in then save the segment ( I use ‘Syndication – Email Reader’).


You could also segment out things like forums or specific URL structures of any kind really. You just need to be inventive and create them to suit your tracking/analysis needs. We're simply using 'Social' as an example for now...


What to do with it…

Well the first thing is to actually look at top content and see what types of ratio:s they have for clues as to what makes it effective. For that go back to your reports, ‘Content > Top Content’ and then we want to go to the Advanced Segments drop down at the top and select our two new segments and the predefined ‘Search Traffic’ one.


Selecting the advanced segments



This should now produce a report that looks like this;

Final reports

Final report


The goal is to better understand the traffic and user types that are reaching the site. There really are many ways to mine this data and start looking for areas of interest that can be actionable, or cause for further digging. I tend to think of them as a 'barometer' metric that I keep on the dashboard. Also handy for brinstorming link bait ideas ;0)


But depending on the situation....


Some questions might include;

  • What are the engagement profiles for each sector? (time on page, bounce rates, depth)
  • Which has a higher conversion rate? (primary)
  • Which drives more secondary conversions?
  • What types of content engages each?
  • How do temporal affects degrade?

Other considerations –

  • Links – we can cross reference the link profiles of a given page to see what relations there are to link acquisition patterns.
  • Rankings – also cross reference with rankings to establish what effects there are long term on content (and what are the referrers rates).
  • Content planning – this type of report can also add in planning the next round of content (based on what has worked in the past)
  • Temporal data - you can look at the rate of social media rise and fall in the mix and adapt PR efforts
  • Weaknesses - seek out weaknesses in the marketing mix and modify programs (and enablers)
  • Benchmarks - obviously we can get many benchmarks which can monitored at a glance...


Oh the fun that can be had! There's so much more one can do...


Get Creative

And that's really just the start of it. After playing around for a while you will start to be able to create more refined segments to dig into ever more granular data. As was mentioned, you can create them to actually segment the various types of social sites and have added syndication filters as well. Considering how tied search optimization is with social media these days (and content syndication) this is one content analytics report that is easy to put together but contiains a fair amount of insight.


It can't be stressed enough that this is simply to convey the idea and help you play around with Advanced Segments some more. You should consider the data you feel is actionable for your own uses and then get creative with segments to achive the desired report. We'll look to continue down this trail again real soon and work with some custom reporting for SEO programs in the near future...


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Further reading - past posts on SEO and Google Aalytics

Playing with advanced segments and custom reporting
Keyword analysis with Advanced segments and custom reporting
Content engagement analysis with Advanced Segments
Dojo Library of Analytics Videos
Analytics tips for all occasions


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