Google Analytics bounce rate can be misleading.

Hello everyone,


I just recently found this resource, and wanted to introduce myself to the community with a bit of information I found personally useful as I began to track the stats of my new web serial via google analytics.


The big point I would like to make is this... if a viewer views 1 page on your site, whether they come in and bounce out, or come into the latest page to read up your new chapter, google analytics will show that user as a bounce, with a visit time of 00:00.


Why?


Google uses cookies to track visitor movements across your site, grabbing information when a page first loads. They have no tools to update user information when they leave a page, rather, to get click flow and page visited times, Google compares the data from one page vs another. Google knows you left page a to go to page b, and you were on page a for 5 minutes because when page b loads, they can compare the time that page a loaded versus the time page b loaded (and they can look at the difference as the time you spent on page a). If you never make it to page c, Google has nothing to compare page b against, and will report a time on that page b as 00:00.


Hope this helps those worried about bounce understand their traffic flow a bit better.


Ah, you use Google Analytics? How handy have you found it? Has it helped you change marketing tactics? What's your general experience with it?


The main reason I like google analytics is because its free, easy to implement, and easy to use. Good bang for your buck you could say. I have found it great for watching traffic for some commercial websites I administrate, where converting users to a sale page (and the tracking of their movement to that point) is key. In that respect, I found it great in locating weak and strong pages.


For marketing, it is easy to synchronize with adwords, and can help you track conversions.


For a web novel, the only thing I feel I am missing with google analytics is an improved UI to hone in on individual user visits (page order viewed and how long, did they use rss etc) and have more accurate reporting on bounce (such as in my post above). Also their data is only updated once per day.


To this end I am actually developing my own analytics program that would update user info as they are leaving a webpage, would give me live stats that I could watch as the day goes on, and allow me to zero in on individual users to determine whether they are likely a reader or not to get a better reader count.


I'm regretting it slightly, because it shows how few readers I actually have!


Still, at least it's honest!


@ambiguousFoo Re the "live stats" - have you tried sitemeter.com? It's free and there's also an option to upgrade.


I've used the free version for years and I am happy with the information it gives me.


Mind you, I am pretty easy to please! :)


@Miladysa thank you for the reference, I'll check them out!


"Also their data is only updated once per day."


A common misconception. Their stats are updates almost in real time, usually around one or two hours behind. To see the current day's results you merely have to select it on the calender.


@Dary I cannot even select the current calendar day on the main dashboard or anywhere else I can find. Is there a specific option or place in the account to enable/view hourly reporting?


Odd. I've always been able to select the current calender day. Hourly displays are limited to just a few areas, such as Visitors > Visitor Trending > Visits, and you can only observe them one day at a time (more than one and they average the figures out - which itself is useful if you want to locate high-traffic hours)


ambiguousfoo: What I do, is click on the arrow next to where it lists the dates it's showing. It's in the right corner above the first graph. If you click on the arrow, you'll see the calender start and end dates. Then you can select the current day.


So far as I know Analytics looks exactly the same for everyone, so it should be there...


@Jim, @Dary


How about that... maybe its an EST thing, but I just went back and it is allowing me to pick the current day. (it was grayed out earlier).


Thank you very much for the help!


So when you first put in the token, how long does it take for it to get information back?


@Mcahogarth


Dary covered this question

Their stats are updated almost in real time, usually around one or two hours behind.

`

That's not what Mcahogarth asked. The right answer to that question is: within 48 hours.


Been doing some heavy web application programming lately, and I've been using Analytics for almost everything. So, yeah - 48 hours for a new token is just about right.


Personally, though, I track Novelr's stats with Reinvigorate. It's a lot easier to use, and just as powerful, and with Wordpress integration I can see who's online at any point in time (all you have to do is leave a comment, and then I can see your name on my dashboard). Been using it for three years now, and I must say that the name plugin's really good for community interaction.


@Eli thanks for the link, just signed up for the beta.


Eli, thanks for the info... that was exactly what I wanted to know. I wasn't sure I'd installed the tracking token right (despite checking my page source), so I wanted to find out if it there was a period I should wait before consulting the help desk.


It took about half a day for me, but it's populating now. Interesting stuff, that. I'm hoping to use it to track the success of the Project Wonderful campaigns I'm trying now.


Thank you for the recs on Analysing plugins.


On perhaps an unrelated note, but slightly related given that it is about dodgy tracking results: Wordpress has been telling me that I keep getting readers referred from the Disorders and Anxieties website. Very interesting since I can't find any links to me on the site, and has nothing to do with my story...


Has anyone else experienced this?


It's probably something along the lines of one of your readers regularly visiting the Disorders and Anxieties website before visiting yours. If you can, you might check if it's from the same city each time.


At any rate, that's my best guess.


No useful comment, just that I find that funny..maybe your story is very calming?


(not to make fun of ppl who have anxieties and disorders, just the randomness of this juxtaposition....)


@intergal Do you use adwords(or some other marketing tool that may put a link on their website)? If so, perhaps this is traffic from an ad? Or if they have forums perhaps it might have been mentioned. Or maybe they have some whois tool on the page and google somehow captured a dynamically generated page with your info. I have had the last happen to me... found out thats what it was going on using Yahoo site explorer.


http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/


Either way you can use that tool to see inlinks to your site. You can look for links to your site from that website and view the page that link is supposedly on.

If a user was using a bookmark to travel to your site after viewing the other website, I do not believe that would show the other site as a referer. This would have to be a link of some kind. (could be wrong but I dont think so)