Cool Custom Report: Google Organic Rank dimension
Applies to: Software
You probably know that Google announced the following last month: when somebody clicks on an organic search result item on a Google search results page, the referrer string for the landing page will now contain the rank of that original result item as it appeared on the Google results page, to that visitor. So — if theyclick on a #6 position item, the referrer field of the landing page will contain a parameter “cd=6″ in addition to the normal “q=<search+term>” and other Google info. Google’s plan is to have this organic rank URL parameter happening in all of its search results, eventually. Right now, it’s fairly rare. But here at The Outsider we’re on top of it anyway.
If you want to turn that “cd=<rank>” string into a custom dimension, this post tells you how.
With this dimension, you can make a custom report on keywords where each keyword has a list below it of ranks (1…2…3…), showing the number of visits that came from a listing at that rank. The “list below it” is, in WebTrends-speak, called a secondary custom report dimension. The list of keywords would be of course the primary custom report dimension for the report.
It’s pretty easy and actually uses the techniques we described in a recent post about using a subpart of a URL. (In fact, it was our playing around with the new Google referrer field that led to that other post in the first place.) In that post, we talked about using a subpart of a URL. In this post, we’re going to use part of the referrer field.
There are two parts to this.
First, you have to enable the display of referring page query parameters. This is a simple hack to a config file (if you use the WebTrends software). The hack is described in this post: http://www.webtrendsoutsider.com/2010/the-referring-pages-report-getting-the-parameters-to-show-up/
Second, you have to create the dimension. Set it up as follows:
1. Create it and give it a name
2. On the next screen, base it on “Referring Page (initial in visit)”. Using this basis will turn it into a visit-based dimension. That’s how the WebTrends built-in search phrase dimension works too. If you want, you can instead base it on “Referring Page (any in visit)” and it will be a hit-based dimension that will act in a different way. See our post on visit versus hit dimensions for a little more information.
3. Click on the Advanced button to open the subpart dialog.
4. Activate the Regular Expression button and type in this regular expression:
(what this does is … locates “cd=” then extracts any immediately-following numeral(s), and stops extracting when it hits something that is not a numeral.)
That’s it. Now it’s up to you to make a new custom report with “Search Phrase” as the primary dimension and this as the secondary dimension. We suggest NOT checking the box that says “Exclude activity without dimension data” for this new dimension, because it helps to see how incredibly sparse these new referrers are. We also suggest that you filter out PPC traffic and that you filter-in the google.com referrers.
- As said above, Google hasn’t rolled this out completely. You may not see results at first. Some people estimate this is appearing in 10% of search results links on Google. My experience is that it’s less than that.
- Google’s initial writeup of this hardly mentioned the rank parameter, but here’s the link. http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/04/upcoming-change-to-googlecom-search.html
- Google is doing this only for organic listings, not PPC. If you use PPC ads, it would be a good idea to remove PPC traffic from this report. We talked about identifying PPC traffic in another post with a bit more in yet another post on PPC reporting.
- We’d love it if you’d bother WebTrends with a feature request about adding the ability to base custom measures on the referrer. At the very least, they will find out if it’s easy or hard for them to do, should they decide to do it. We suspect they are already looking into it – give them encouragement.