Smart Goals In Google Analytics

I was excited to find out Google has announced and started rolling out  smart goals last week. This new feature is a valuable tool for many small to medium sized businesses who don’t have a way of tracking conversions on their website.

Smart goals are a type of goal within Google Analytics. So what’s so smart about these goals? For some websites you may not have a thank you page or any sort of goal that you can set. This is where smart goals are valuable. Smart goals use machine learning in order to pull data from other websites to determine which visits to your site would likely convert. By pulling data from those thousands of websites (which by the way are anonymous at this time) Google is able to determine what behavior on the site correlates with users converting. An example of this might be a user spending over 10 minutes on your site while also navigating to 4 or more pages.

Another aspect of this new feature which makes it incredibly compelling is the fact that it is relatively easy to set up by setting it up within Google Analytics (please note smart goals are only eligible in your account if you have your Adwords account linked to Analytics). There is no need to add a piece of code to your site, a task that might hinder many small businesses from being able to track conversions in the first place.

One you have smart goals set up you can then pull the data into Adwords and optimize for smart goals as your conversions.

In my opinion, smart goals are a win for Google in two respects. First, by being able to show some form of conversions Google gives many of those small and medium business advertisers a chance to see the return on their ad spend (potentially for the very first time).

Second, indirectly Google is further aiding businesses in improving their user experience on the site. Even if a small business owner doesn’t change a single thing on their website if they know that their existing landing pages convert better on 5 specific keywords out of the 100 keywords they have in their campaigns, that advertiser is likely to focus future spend on those 5 terms. This in turn drives the most targeted traffic to their site, which at the end of the day is what Google wants for users clicking on ads.

It’s also good to see such a valuable feature ,aimed at benefiting mainly small business owners, roll out not long after the not so local-friendly Google+ update around Thanksgiving.

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Competitor Research In Adwords

Want to know how you stack up against your competition when it comes to Adwords? There’s actually a handy report easily accessibly in Adwords that will tell you JUST that.

Here’s how you get to it:

Select the “Details” dropdown menu on the all campaigns dashboard view after logging into your Adwords account and select all under “Auction Insights.”

auction insights

Once in the Auction Insights Report there are some pretty interesting insights. First, you’ll see who Adwords considers your competitors based on the keywords you are bidding on. In this example (screenshot below), the competitor sites are blurred out, but in your account you’ll have actual URLs of competitors. You may find you have some competitors you weren’t even aware of who are running on the very same keywords as you.

There are some terms in the report that are familiar to you if you’ve been running ads already such as “average position” this is the average position of your ads. However, the rest of these columns may be new to you, so I have written out explanations below:

auction insights

Impression share: shows you how often you are showing up for your keywords. The higher this is the better you’re doing at this. (We’re getting close to 94% of the impression share in the above example which is great!)

Overlap rate: the percentage of times that your ads show WITH your competitor’s ads.

Position above rate: this is the percentage of times that a competitor is ranking above you.  Perhaps you have a competitor who is ranking above you a good amount of time. In this screenshot below I have one competitor who is ranking above me over 70% of the time. Crazy right? Don’t freak out just yet. Take a look at the overlap rate, we only overlap on terms under 9% of the time. So while looking at this report, focus on your main competitors and don’t get caught up in trying to out bid every competitor on every term.

Photo 4

Top of page rate: another interesting metric calculates the percentage of times you or your compeitior’s ads are showing up in the top three ads on a page.

Outranking share: this one is a bit of formula which I’ve written out below,

Number of times your ad ranked higher in an auction than a competitor (plus) the number of times your ads showed when your competitor’s did not (divided by) total number of ad auctions you participated in.

The auction insights report is incredibly simple but a great resource to use to see how you stack up against the competition.