Content Grouping with Google Analytics

By Dave Valko on June 23, 2016

Content Grouping with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is great at providing information about your website and the behavior of your website’s visitors. What Google Analytics can’t do for you is make sense of all the data the it provides. Recently, a client of ours asked us to help them make more sense of the data they have been provided by Google Analytics. They wanted to know what product categories on their site interested visitors the most.

 

Page Data Isn’t Much Help

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You might be thinking, getting product category information should be easy. Fire up GA go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and you’ve got the data you need. The Site Content option is good for finding information about specific URL’s on your website, but in the case of a product category where there are many pages within a category, you’d need to export the Site Content Report and post process the data in Excel or Sheets. Not very easy when you want to report monthly on the data.

To accomplish the goal of providing information on what product categories visitors are most interested in, we set up Content Grouping in Google Analytics for each of the product categories on the website. Using Content Grouping allows us to quickly report the data without the need to post process rows and rows of data in a spreadsheet.


 

Setting up Content Grouping


To setup the Content Grouping on the website property, we selected Admin and under the View Column, chose Content Grouping.

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Once we created a new content grouping, we had 3 choices in how to setup the content grouping:

 

Group by Tracking Code


This would be my preferred method of tracking content groups. Simply add a snippet of code to the page that includes the group name (product category in our case), and presto - the page is now tagged as a part of that group.

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Unfortunately, this method requires assistance from development to modify the page template in the CMS (Kentico in our case), and add a Content Group field to pages. Something to keep in mind for the future, but for the time being, our client has the development team on other priorities so we move on to our next option.



Group Using Extraction


As the name implies, Group Using Extraction allows you to generate group names based on the extraction the data from existing dimensions of data on your page. Using a regular expression, we could parse the dimension and get the name of a group. 

For example, if page titles were set up with a structure of: “Company Name | Product Category”

We could specify a group name in the Page Title and provide a regular expression that extracts the group name.

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In our case the page titles for the site are not set up in a fashion that we could utilize the extraction method. We could use the Page dimension to extract, however we wouldn’t have clean human readable categories so we move on to our final grouping option.
 


Group Using Rule Definitions


This option is very similar to Extraction, however in this case we get to define our own group name and define our own rules on how a page ends up in the grouping. In our case, we wanted the page URI to contain the path to the category pages. As long as a page has the underlying URI, it will be contained in the grouping.

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Now We Wait


Once the grouping is setup, we wait. Unfortunately, Content Grouping starts the day you set it up. Google Analytics will not provide past content grouping data. For our client, we waited a month to get some baseline data.


Our Grouped Data


Once data is gathered, we can view it in Standard Google Analytics or Custom Reports & Dashboards.  All the data about content groups are hit level dimensions, IE the data includes “Pageviews, Unique Views, Avg. Time on Page, Entrances, Bounce Rate, etc.

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It should be noted, the category (not set) is a grouping of all pages that are not included in any of the rules we setup. In this case, it does not include pages like the home page, about the company, 404 pages, contact, news, blogs, etc.

With our initial group data, we have established a baseline for product categories (content groups) on the site. As our client updates their online marketing and content strategy, we have a reference point to compare and see if their new efforts in a product category make an impact.
 

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About the author

Dave’s got a strong background in film production and it has transferred well to web and software development. Like with any good production, Dave believes in strong planning up front which means clients get a well thought out plan before a single line of code gets written. After a day of sketching up wireframes, creating flowcharts, or writing proposals, you can usually find Dave snapping photos, hanging out with his wife, or happily getting destroyed by his boys in Halo.

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