Google Analytics

  • 26 Nov

    MeasureFest 2015: what did we learn?

    Yesterday was MeasureFest’s inaugural edition from Brighton. Hosted in the city’s Corn Exchange, MeasureFest this time provided three distinct sessions; Attribution, Testing, and Measurement (which could also have been called ‘How to wrangle Google Analytics data into a better, prettier, and more comparative format’).

    All in all, there was something there for everyone, but not everyone was likely to enjoy all of the sessions. Let’s take a look at the agenda for the day…

    Russell McAthy – Attribution You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
    Harriet Checkley – Attribution 2.0
    Lewis Lenssen – Measuring The Marmite Media
    Martijn Scheijbeler – Scaling Your Testing Program for Maximum Impact
    Connor Wilkinson – Creating a testing culture in Asda
    Tim Stewart – Roadmaps & Experiment Design – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
    Neil Barnes – Turbo Charging Your Google Analytics Data
    Adam Englebright – Google Analytics Minus Google Analytics
    Elayne Phillips – Measuring Communications in Downing Street
    Nikki Rae – Segment or Die! – The underused Cliché


    Given the breath of different marketing disciplines covered by the three sessions, it would be silly to try to cover each talk in the detail they require and deserve, so instead I’ve chosen some of the key discussion points of the day on which to ruminate.

    #1 – Testing strategy

    One of the points that stood out most from the talks at MeasureFest yesterday was in the strategy behind A/B and MV testing. There were widely different approaches mentioned across a number of talks and it certainly got me thinking….

    The main discrepancy in the approaches seemed to be in whether a value judgement needs to be placed on any test before it happens, in order to determine what value the result of a test might possibly have.

    On the other side of the coin was the approach of Dutch speaker Martijn Scheijbeler from The Next Web, whose approach seemed a lot more free and objective than those of his corporate red tape restrained fellow speakers. His approach, do everything fast and without any pre-judgement of its result or budgetary impact, was certainly a lot more exciting and the very definition of an agile testing environment.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 11.33.26

    That’s not to say his team aren’t aware of overall KPIs or goals, just that they don’t let red tape restrict them from the potential to find something unexpected.

    The pace and breadth at which Martijn’s team in Amsterdam worked at testing impressed a lot of people in the Measurefest audience…

    Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 11.28.55

    You can find Martijn’s slide deck from his talk (Scaling Your Testing Program for Maximum Impact) below. (Warning: contains coarse language!)

    [slideshare id=55469738&doc=measurefest-151124161336-lva1-app6891]

    #2 – The (potential) impact of Adblocking

    Lewis Lenssen, Rakuten’s Attribution’s Marketing Director was asked about the impact of Adblocking by a member of the audience after his talk. His main points were that many people use ad blockers because the ads they encounter slow down page loading.

    Lewis highlighted that it was up to the advertising networks to find solutions to these issues. He also said the industry needs to be more transparent about the data it collects and how it is used in order to combat the increasing use of ad blockers.

    Interestingly, just this week, news hit that Yahoo had banned US users from accessing their webmail if they had Adblockers installed. Yahoo confirmed the changes, which includes a pop-up box asking users to pause their ad-block software before they could access their inbox.

    Some think this action is rather rich, coming from a company who admitted that adverts on its homepage had been infected with malware for four days last year. For more information on the arguments for and against, check out the video above from Mashable.

    #3 – Simple GA solutions

    Both Neil Barnes from Friday Media Group and Adam Englebright from Measurelab extolled the virtues of Google Sheets and its facilities to hook it up to GA to produce easy, digestible dashboards from standard GA data.

    The emphasis was definitely on making the most of the free data we get from Google Analytics, and creating ways of viewing data from multiple domains side-by-side. There was also an acknowledgement that employing familiar Microsoft graphical elements, such as pie charts, line graphs and colour formatting makes dashboards easier for non-analysts and non-technical stakeholders to view and digest.

    Key point: the power of hooking up Google Sheets and GA should not be overlooked. Scheduling capabilities provide a useful and simple way to get daily/weekly overviews. These are both free, and can be easily shared and accessed.

    Adam Englebright’s slides can be seen here and Neil Barnes slides and templates can be found below.

    [slideshare id=55570438&doc=turbochargingyourgoogleanalyticsdata-151127085159-lva1-app6892]

    So there are the points of discussion which stood out most for me at this year’s MeasureFest. As always, there were some great quality talks from some super experienced and savvy marketers. Let me know what stood out for you from this year’s event. What one thing that you heard would you take away and action this week?


    By Alexandra Johnson CRO Google Analytics
  • 30 Jul

    Organic Traffic Does Not Simply Disappear


    The Curious Case of the Missing Organic Traffic

    In SEO, there are few things worse than waking up to find that your organic traffic has disappeared. First there’s denial, shortly before anger sets in. A few curses later and you begin bargaining before sinking into the depths of a foggy grump. Finally acceptance; it’s gone.

    So, what on earth has happened to it? It’s easy to jump to conclusions when organic traffic goes missing. Some might say it no longer exists. That’s hard to believe; a market doesn’t eat itself over night. Others might think that Google has pulled the rug from underneath them, often true but not always the case.

    So what can be done when you are a few thousand organic visitors light? The answer: ask the right questions. Take a step back from the situation and go through the following sequence of questions:

    Q1 - Your Website

    What has changed on your website?

    The first place to look is inside. You control your website, so you should know what has changed. First you need to work out when organic traffic began to drop. There are two options here:

    • The drop was very sudden (practically overnight/within the space of a few days)
    • The drop began weeks/months ago and has continued on a constant, downward trend

    If the drop was sudden you can be more confident that there was a specific, recent change that occurred to cause the issue. Conversely, if the drop happened over a longer period of time, you have an immediate clue that there is a fundamental change that is causing a downward spiral.

    Now you know how quickly your organic traffic disappeared, you need to work out what has changed on your website to see if this is playing any role. Ask yourself questions such as:

    • Have any pages been added/removed recently?
    • Has a new version of the site/a feature launched recently?
    • Has my content strategy changed?
    • Has anything broken?
    • Has my website been hacked?
    • Are there new links pointing to my site?

    Focus on gaining insight into the three core pillars of your on-site strategy: technical integrity, on-site content, and link profile (which directly influences the integrity of your domain).

    Note down all of the changes on a timeline and then move onto question two…

    Q2 - Google

    What has Google changed recently?

    You’ve already looked at the things you control, so now it is time to review the factors that you cannot control. Chances are, when you look at organic traffic you are mainly looking at traffic from Google. Whether Google is your primary organic traffic source or not, these principles apply just as well to other sources of organic traffic.

    This question is all about understanding what Google has changed in the build up to your drop in organic traffic. There are a number of places you need to look in order to answer this question:

    These are only three sources of search engine news, but most of the time they will have you covered for anything that happens in search. Note down anything significant that has happened around the same time as your organic traffic troubles, put your pen down and move onto question three…

    Q3 - Market

    Has your market changed recently?

    It’s all very well understanding what has changed on your website and what Google has been up to, but it would be incredibly short sighted to ignore what is going on within your market.

    Chances are you already have a good understanding of the market that you operate within, but things change, so take nothing for granted. Begin by updating your keyword research. Searcher’s intent and their use of language can change quite dramatically given time and changing circumstances. By updating the keyword research data you hold you are validating whether your keyword strategy is still suitable for the traffic you are trying to capture.

    You also need to review the trends within your market; are new products and services on offer that make yours less appealing? Question whether related markets are diversifying and beginning to eat up some of your organic traffic. Also review whether there has been any breaking news related to your industry; major/significant news events can often shake up the organic search market, increasing the importance of ‘fresh’ content. Google Trends is a great place to review movement in your market, and setting up Google Alerts can be a good way to monitor changes in the future.

    Q4 - Competitors

    What have your competitors been up to?

    What happens if you conclude that nothing on your website has changed, Google has changed nothing (unlikely, by the way), and your market is as solid as it has ever been?

    Sometimes the absence of change is as significant as its presence. In The Adventure of Silver Blaze, Sherlock Holmes draws the attention of Gregory (the detective) to the “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”:

    Gregory – “The dog did nothing in the night-time”

    Holmes – “That was the curious incident”

    Investigating the disappearance of Silver Blaze, a famous race horse, Holmes fixes his gaze on the fact that the family dog did not bark during the night of the horse’s disappearance. Knowing that dogs are infamous for their ability to make noise when a stranger is present, Holmes was able to confirm that the thief must have been known to the dog for it to stay silent. The absence of something proving to be the most significant clue.

    And so it is with your website. When all else remains the same, often the best place to look is at your competition. You probably have a long list of competitors; go to this list and look into what each of them has been doing recently. Note down new content they have added, look at where new websites/features have been launched and see if they have moved into a new space within your market.

    Also look to see whether anyone new has moved into the market. Look at whether a previously weak competitor has suddenly found momentum. SEMrush is a great tool to use when reviewing competitor changes and can be enough to highlight a change in fortunes for your competitor’s websites.

    Your website, Google and the market may have stood still, but if your competitors have carried on moving forwards chances are you are going to lose out as a result. After all, in a world that is constantly changing, standing still is as good as moving backwards!


    Having carried out your investigations you should have a list that covers:

    • Everything that has (or hasn’t) changed on your website
    • Everything that Google has updated recently
    • How your market is changing
    • What your competitors have been up to

    Now all you need to do is look through all of the facts and come to a conclusion. Focus on the significant facts, line them up in order and then run through the scenario. Like a good detective, keeping to this process will help you uncover everything that matters in your quest to uncover what happened to your missing organic traffic. After all, organic traffic does not simply disappear!

    Credit – Sherlock Holmes icon by James Keuning on The Noun Project.

    By Paul Wood Google Analytics
  • 17 Jun

    Google Search Console: A Beginner's Guide

    This blog post supersedes the original version which was published by Daniel Bianchini in July 2011 under the title ‘Google Webmaster Tools: A Beginner’s guide to Installation’.google-search-console-800x146

    Since Google Webmaster Tools first launched around 10 years ago, its been the first port of call for webmasters diagnosing issues with their website. In 2015 that hasn’t changed. We may have sophisticated  tools for monitoring web projects and software that shows us our data in a million different segments, but Webmaster Tools remains as valuable today as ever.

    Webmaster Tools in 2007

    Webmaster Tools in 2007


    I should mention first and foremost that as of May 2015, it is no longer called Webmaster Tools but in fact, Google Search Console. It’s essentially the same set of tools, just with a different name and a greater focus on making the data within more accessible and open to less tech-savvy people. It follows a couple of minor UI changes and an overhaul of the ‘Search Queries’ tool. Check out Google’s John Mueller reminiscing over Webmaster Tool below…

    John Mueller - Gplus

    So what is Google Search Console?

    It is a free and useful way for webmasters to view their own website the way that Google sees it. It features the following information:

    • How many pages on your site have been indexed
    • Errors encountered while crawling your site
    • The crawl rate of your site
    • Analyse your website’s performance in Google organic search via ‘Search Analytics’
    • Which domains link to your site

    It also allows you to:

    • Submit your xml sitemap(s) to Google and receive feedback on how many contained URLs are indexed and any URL errors found
    • Test URLs against your website’s robots.txt file to ensure they are blocked/allowed
    • See how Google renders (views) your website with the Fetch as Google tool
    • Configure the use of parameters on your website
    • Check the implementation of Hreflang tags, via the International Targeting tool

    Your  input

    Google Search Console allows you  to report the actions you have taken to solve some of the issues you have diagnosed, for example:

    • Submit and update disavow files
    • Reconsideration request
    • Submit and configure new parameters
    • Remove URLs from search results

    Search Console implementation and verification

    Many of us who have been using Webmaster Tools for years probably don’t even remember how we implemented Google Webmaster Tools across our websites. Often we get invited by another owner who has already verified the site previously.

    For new users of Search Console, the options for verifying your site are:

        • Adding a meta tag to your home page (proving that you have access to the source files). To use this method, you must be able to edit the HTML code of your site’s pages
        • Upload an HTML file with the name you specify to your server. To use this method, you must be able to upload new files to your server
        • Verify via your domain name provider. To use this method, you must be able to sign in to your domain name provider (for example, or or hosting provider and add a new DNS record
        • Add the Google Analytics code you use to track your site. To use this option, you must be an administrator on the Google Analytics account, and the tracking code must use the asynchronous snippet (all codes generated these days are but legacy ones may not be – it’s time to upgrade!)
        • Verify via the Google Tag Manager Container Snippet which should be placed after the opening <body> tag of your page

    For many, the easiest option will be verifying via your Google Tag Manager Account or via your website’s Google Analytics code. We recommend  that you use the same account for all Google products and if it’s a business account, create a central account for the entire business.


    Delegating access in Google Search Console

    GWT allows the administrator of the account to provide access to multiple users by adding them to the Verification Details via the “Manage” link as you log in to the tool.

    Once you have clicked the “Manage” link, you will be directed through to the Verification Details page, where you will be allowed to add/edit/delete the users who have access to the data via their own Google account.

    To add a new user, click the “Add an owner” button and enter their email address. This will only work for users who have a registered Google Account, so if they do not currently have one please refer them to step 1.

    If you would like to remove any users who have been previously added then just click the “Unverify” link.


     What is Search Analytics?


    Previously called the ‘Search Queries’ report, Search Analytics is still in beta (as of 16th June 2015) however, its definitely an upgrade in terms of data and segmentation. Whilst this feature still only provides the last 90 days worth of data, you can get quite granular in order to identify impressions and clicks across:

    • Keyword
    • Landing pages
    • Device
    • Country
    • Date range

    For full run through of how to use the data contained within the Search Analytics tools, see Google’s documentation here.

    Finding this data in Google Analytics…

    If you link your Webmaster Console account to your Google Analytics account, you can access this same data in the ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ section within ‘Acquisition’ in Google Analytics (see image below) This is helpful if you like to have all your data in one place, although it should be noted that this still only provides the last 90 days of data.


    So there you have it, our beginner’s guide to Google Search Console. If you have any tips to share or questions on making the most of this excellent, free resource that we haven’t answered here, drop us a comment below.

    By Alexandra Johnson Google Analytics SEO
  • 10 Mar

    The 2015 Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) exam: tips & resources to help you pass

    At White, all members of the delivery team are expected to gain qualifications in Google Analytics, Google AdWords (Advertising Essentials, Advanced Search, and Advanced Display) and Bing Ads.

    Hannah and Bobby became accredited in Google Analytics in January 2015, and have since been carrying out workshops to share their insights with colleagues. They’ve come together to create this blog post to help you get the most out of Google Analytics too.

    Why should you bother with the GA exam?

    To understand why it’s so important to pass the GAIQ, it’s necessary to recognise exactly why you use Google Analytics in the first place, which is to get to know your audience through data collected in the GA platform. In fact, Google sum it up quite nicely in the following sentence:

    “Qualified users will be effective at leveraging Google Analytics within their organisations and at helping others to do the same.”

    Knowing your audience, as well as what it is that they want is vital for any business, and through using Google Analytics, you can begin to learn all about the users and customers that visit your website as well as how they interact with it.

    It’s by gathering and analysisng this data that you can begin to make informed decisions to improve yours or a client’s website.

    By taking, and passing the exam, you not only prove that you can effectively and efficiently use this platform to guide business decisions for yourself and your clients, you also learn a fantastic set of practical skills that will likely help you throughout your career.

    In essence, it’s not about the award, it’s about all the knowledge you gain in the run up to the award.

    Bobby GAIQ

    Secondly, you get a nice certificate, and who doesn’t love that? You can print it off, frame it, hang it in your bedroom, show your parents, take on your next date with you: the limits are endless.

    GAIQ exam facts at a glance

    • The exam is made up of 70 multiple choice questions (including “select all of those that apply” options)
    • You have 90 minutes to complete it, and you must score at least 80% to pass (that’s 56 correct answers)
    • The qualification is valid for 18 months
    • It’s free to take at
    • There are plenty of resources available online that you can study before you take your exam

    GAIQ essentials

    Now you know the benefits of taking the Google Analytics exam, you’ll be needing some more details to get the task of actually doing it ticked off your to-do list.

    It’s a little known fact that the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) is available to take free of charge at; this is because it was chargeable as recently as the end of 2014.

    In our opinion, the passing score of 80 percent now seems slightly less daunting as it’s possible to take a second or third exam attempt without needing to bleed your wallet dry.

    Then again, you are unlikely to want to sit through 70 questions about Google Analytics on more than one occasion in a short amount of time, which is why you’ll probably want to pass your exam in the first 90 minute period you’re allocated.

    But if you don’t make the grade, you’ll have the opportunity to sit the exam again a week later. If you do pass, you can take pleasure in knowing that your exam is valid for another 18 months before you need to do it again.


    Another recent change to the GAIQ exam is the loss of the functionality to pause your test session. You’re going to need to commit to the 90 minute exam when you know you will be free without distractions. Luckily the exam is open book, so you’ll retain the ability to use other browser windows if you want to keep your resources to hand.

    Make time to study

    Taking 90 minutes out for the exam is one thing, but you’ll actually need to dedicate much more time when it comes to studying for it.

    We know that life in the digital marketing industry can be hectic at the best of times, but it really is worth using a spare hour here and there to read some study material or watch a video on the Google Analytics Academy.

    Bobby studying GAIQ

    Consider that you will be broadening your wider understanding of Google Analytics as well as studying for an exam; if you can see how it will benefit your reporting and optimisation efforts you may find a little bit more inspiration to study in the evening or on the weekend.

    The exam content can be broken down into the following areas, so make sure you take time to learn everything that you can:

    • Planning and principles
    • Implementation and data collection
    • Configuration and administration
    • Conversion and attribution
    • Reports, metrics and dimensions

    Key study materials

    During our studying for the GAIQ exam, we both used a wide range of resources to help learn the basics, as well as the more detailed parts of the platform. Below are a number of helpful guides, blogs, and resources that explain some of the most important parts of the tool, as well as a lot general elements you need to be shored up on:

    • You’ll need to know the definitions and examples of dimensions and metrics; luckily there is a page on dimensions and metrics on Analytics help
    • If you have no idea about the analytics data hierarchy of users, sessions and hits, you’d better head over to the Cutroni blog to read their post on the subject
    • When it comes to conversions, you’re going to need to know the difference between micro and macro; something also covered at Analytics help
    • It’s also an excellent place to learn more about attribution modelling including last interaction, first interaction and linear modelling
    • If you only have a limited amount of study time, you could at least use the Blast Analytics Google Analytics Reference Guide
    • Of course it is probably in your best interests to do it properly and watch the videos on the Analytics Academy – these will be a significant time investment for you, but it does give you a chance to listen and watch some of the core, and more in-depth principles of the GA platform explained in a more interactive form. You can also choose to read each of the lessons instead of watching, which depending on what type of learner you are, might be perfect!

    Other resources

    Along with the resources above, we also found these blog posts helpful both before and after taking our GAIQ exams:

    Our personal top tips

    Since we’ve ‘been there, done that’, we figured we might as well provide you with a few of our personal tips for taking the exam. We’ve included a few below, but we welcome any further questions you might have – please get in touch with us through the comments section below.


    • Now that the exam is free to take, it makes sense to use your first attempt as a test run. This will give you the chance to see exactly how questions are presented, and will also show you what you’re able to answer quickly or what you get stuck on. If you pass on your test run, this should be seen as a definite bonus
    • Try and get first-hand experience using Google Analytics before you take the exam. Spend time finding out where to find all key reports, how to filter your data, and experiment with goals and funnels (although it’s best to create a test profile, or at least use a new view!)


    • An obvious one, but make sure you’ve got the basics down. Don’t waste time during the test having to remind yourself as to the difference between dimensions and metrics or the hierarchy of the data, this time could be spent on tougher questions
    • Standard high school teacher tip – “read the question more than once, slowly”. Some questions can be very long winded, although the question may be very simple. Read the question a few times and it will become clear, don’t look up the answer just because it looks complicated!
    • Invest your time – it can be easy to just spend the 90 minutes looking up each question, but the skills you will learn from studying are genuinely super helpful! Yes it may take a month or two to really get ready for the exam, but it’s worth it!

    Photo credit: kennymatic via Compfight cc

    By Hannah Butcher Google Analytics
  • 22 May

    Tips & resources to help you pass the Individual Qualification (IQ) exam

    The Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) is awarded on completion of a 90 minute open book exam. It is used to provide proof that you have a certain level of expertise in Google Analytics – a printable certificate is available to successful entrants.

    The exam:

    • Is made up of 70 multiple choice questions (including “select all of those that apply” options).
    • Is timed – you have 90 minutes to complete it, and you must score at least 80% to pass (that’s 56 correct answers).
    • Can be paused, but you must complete it within 48 hours. The qualification is valid for 18 months.
    • Costs $50, but I managed to track down a Google Analytics Individual Qualification discount code (BrianCliftonBook2010) which knocks 50%, so works out at about £15 – thanks to Brian Clifton, you can check out his book on Advanced Web Metrics
    • Is frequently updated – Analytics is constantly changing, which means that the topics covered in the GA exam are also changing. The exam has seen a string of updates, most recently at the beginning of the year, so it’s important to stay on top of the subtle and not so subtle changes. This can be anything from adjusting the terms used throughout GA (e.g. ‘visits’ are now called ‘sessions’ and ‘unique visitors’ are now ‘users’), to major updates including Google Tag Manager and Universal Analytics.

    I took the exam recently, so I wanted to share some tips and resources that helped me to prepare for (and pass!) the exam.

    Top tips:

    Lock yourself away from distractions

    Whether you’re doing this at work or at home, the best thing to do is find a quiet spot away from any distractions. You can pause the exam if you like, but try not give yourself too much of a break so that you can keep your revision fresh in your memory.

    Pause the exam

    You can do this as often as you like. You only get 90 minutes to answer 70 questions, but pausing it will give you time to think about the questions and dig into your GA account to come up with the right answers – this is also great practice, as you’re more likely to learn from the experience.

    While pausing the exam does cause the question you’re on to disappear, there’s nothing stopping you making a mental note or writing down the question (I guess you could even take a screen-shot, not that we’re condoning this!).

    Keep your resources separate

    Open your resources in a separate window (or browser) to avoid losing track of the exam – you could lose valuable time if you have to keep flicking through tabs to find it.

    Check your answers thoroughly

    This may sound like an obvious one, but make sure you leave some time to run through your answers at the end. It’s easy to misinterpret a question, especially when several of the answers can appear to be almost exactly the same.

    You can mark any questions that you are unsure about as you go, making it easy to go back and give them some more thought at the end. You can also cross off any answers that you want to eliminate, allowing you to focus on the other potential answers.

    Top Resources

    Google Analytics Academy

    I would recommend working through both the Digital Analytics Fundamentals and the Google Analytics Platform Principles courses. They are free and will help bring you up to speed on most topics that are covered in the exam (as well as providing extra resources throughout the lessons) via a set of video walk-throughs from Justin Cutroni, a Digital Analytics Evangelist at Google.

    The fundamentals course is designed for people who have little or no experience with GA, but I would still urge you to flick through the units – you may end up missing the answer to one or more exams questions that are covered here.

    The courses consist of several units (6 for the Fundamentals and 4 for Platform Principles), made up of between 1 and 6 lessons. Each has a short video to talk you through the lessons and a few multiple choice questions that you can answer at the end.

    You can then take a final assessment at the end of each course, with questions that are presented in a similar format to the actual exam, and (in my case) even includes some of the same questions.

    While the videos are easy to digest, I would also recommend taking some notes – if not to use in the exam, then to help you process and grasp the concepts covered.

    Useful blog post

    I would also recommend reading through the following blog post – in his post, JATIN SHARMA references some other useful posts which are also worth a read.

    How to Pass the Google Analytics IQ Exam in Two Days: Zero to Hero

    Once you’ve passed…

    You can print your certificate as proof, but also create a link to share with others (great for your LinkedIn account) that provides details of the certificates that have been awarded, along with dates of when exams were taken and when the qualifications expire.

    For details on how to set a link to your individual qualification, check out the ‘Google Analytics Proof of’ article. To see what this will look like, here’s a link to my qualification details.

    Good luck – If you’ve covered everything then you have nothing to worry about – you’re ready to head over to and ace this exam!

    Please share your experiences and let me know if you have any other tips or useful resources that helped you to pass.

    By Sam Gooch Google Analytics
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