This is the first in a series of posts highlighting possible customizations in Google Analytics& how the resultant dataset can be used to run a successful internet marketing campaign
Amongst the copious options of metrics & dimensions that Google Analytics provides us with, Visitor Type is a vital dimension that provides insights about the type of visitors that land on a website. Visitor Type can further be paired with a metric like Medium or City to understand which Medium or City is outperforming the rest.
Visitors can be classified as
• New Visitors, who are visiting the website for the first time
• Returning Visitors, who have already visited the website in the past.
New Visitors are important to a website as they are indication of the amount of fresh traffic that the website receives; whereas Returning Visitors indicate that the site has engaging content and users choose to come back to the site. Also, a consistent month –on –month increase in New Visitors indicates that the site is continuously ranking for a lot more keywords (both regular and long-tail) which suggest that the campaign is performing well.
New& Returning Visitors are tracked using the _utma cookie. The first time a visitor visits a site, Google Analytics records this visitor as New. It does so by checking if the _utma cookie has been set by the requesting browser for the concerned website. If the cookie exists, the visitor is classified as a Returning Visitor else New.
For a business owner, if the Visitor Type is immaterial and he does not want to segregate data based on the type of visitor and wishes to treat every visitor as New, this can be done by modifying the Google Analytics Tracking code. Modification requires setting the Time out limit of the “Visitor Cookie” to 0.
Changes to be made to the Google Analytics Code:
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(‘UA-XXXXX-X’);
Visitor Cookie Timeout:
By default, the visitor cookie is set to expire in 2 years, but its longevity can be reduced by specifying (value in seconds) how long the cookie should remain active after the session expires. Set it to “Zero” to ensure that the cookie is deleted, the minute the browser is closed.
By modifying the code, one can convert all the Returning Visitors on their site to New Visitors.
Once the GA code is modified, visitor segregation will not be possible. This customization directly affects the way data is recorded by Google Analytics. Implement it only when your data requirements are certain.
Are you a GA enthusiast? Have you customized the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) to track something specific or you need some help with Google Analytics. Leave a comment and we will get back to you.