Exporting more rows of data in Google Analytics

Thanks to Engine Ready for their post on how to export more rows of data than is seemingly allowed using Google Analytics.

I now have approx 5,000 search terms to analyze rather than what I thought was a previous maximum of 500.

Note, that you may need to play around with this, trying different export formats and values within the query string and the number rows won’t show with the analytics dashboard (they’ll only show when you open the exported file).

Alphagov – doing things differently

What a breath of fresh air the Alphagov project is. The project launched a prototype concept website for Government earlier in the week.

This is a web project doing things differently in Government, although on the project’s own blog they say they “… are not the first to tread this path” [in Government], they’re certainly one of the most high profile.

Aside from the agile approach, which has often been suggested as poorly suited to Government, what I love about this project is the openness. The frequent tweeting, ‘huddle-ing’ and sharing of details about the project, even before the site went live. It is a project not shrouded in mystery that seems not to be scared to take criticism and comment. They have fully adopted the concept of ‘open’ not just through using open source technology but also through their open engagement and collaboration with the public.

I love the ongoing conversations taking place on the project’s Get Satisfaction community, not only are the project team responding to comments and problems but the users themselves are finding solutions through dialog with each other.

Obviously, this approach makes logical sense, it is the public whom this website is supposed to serve, this is the ultimate model of a user-centered approach.

There is no doubt a long way to go with the project, but the initial stages have been very positive.

Analysing search terms in Google analytics

Google analytics provides a useful method for analysing the effectiveness of your website’s search through its capture of the search terms used and their accompanying data.

Approx 15% of visits to our intranet involve search, with 10,000+ searches run on average a month. It is therefore important that the search results are working for users.

I carry out a monthly exercise to identify searches which aren’t performing as well as expected. By improving the keywords, structure, titling and language of any relevant content I try to improve the search results. A month later I come back to see if the changes have had the desired impact and to repeat the exercise.

Using the search terms tab within the site search section of the content report within Google analytics I identify the search terms with a high results pageviews per search (see the circled column within the image below). My thinking is that it is bad for a user to have to click to more than one results page for a search (I have always been taught that the majority of users won’t even look beyond the first results page).

Google analytics screenshot of the top 10 search terms used

Using the results pageviews/search column (circled) can assist in identifying terms which users are having trouble searching for

I tend to look for search terms with a value above 1.55 (the site average), giving greatest attention to the terms with the highest values (I have seen terms with values as high as 4.00). Alarms bells should ring if your site average is around the 2.00 mark. Terms with high values in comparison to those search terms with a similar frequency catch my attention more than infrequently used terms with a high value.

The impact of any changes take time to have a visible impact and our intranet searches seem fairly fluid, 50-60% of the top 10 terms used change monthly, meaning this is a valuable exercise to revisit monthly.

I also restrict the number of modifications to 10-15 terms each month, we have 6,000+ unique terms used each mothh, if I can get the most common used terms performing well the less common (but similar) terms should hopefully improve similarly.

There is a caveat to this work, you are working with one main assumption: that you know what content users are looking for when they search using a particular term. Revisiting the changes you have made after a month is important to ensure that the changes you have made have had the desired impact, suggesting your assumptions about the content being looked for were correct.

Government direct communication and the role of COI

Just had an initial read of, Permanent Secretary for Government Communication, Matt Tee’s review of Government direct communication and the role of COI.

A strategic theme based approach is something I’ve seen pushed at Departmental level before, where multi-faceted themes feel less obvious. It makes sense to also do this at the Government level.

It will be interesting to see what value for money and strengthened buying power can achieve.

Downloads (from Cabinet Office website).