21st June, 2023 - Webinar replay

Everything you need to know about the changes to Google Analytics

Phil Bray  00:03

Good morning, everybody. I hope everyone is well on this sunny Wednesday morning and you’re all ready for an hour talking about everything you need to know about the changes to Google Analytics. So just scrolling down some of the people that we’ve got on, I notice we’ve got two fireflies note-takers joining us. So, a couple of Advisers, Planners using AI to record this call; I’d love to see the notes afterwards. So if anybody’s using that, I would genuinely love to see the notes afterwards and see what it’s got to say and what it makes of this call, if you’d be prepared to share that sort of stuff. Unfortunately, I don’t know who it is, but anyway, if you’d do it, that’d be great. So, everything you need to know about the changes to Google Analytics, a fun-filled hour of data and stats. But before we start, Dan, do you want to do the normal housekeeping?

Dan Campbell  01:03

Yeah, sure thing. So I’m done. I’m the Head of Branding and Design here at The Yardstick Agency. As always, I’ll be doing my best to keep us on track and on time, which might be slightly tricky today because we’ve got a very technical subject that we’ll be covering – the big changes to Google Analytics. You’ll no doubt have some questions along the way, which is good because my job today is going to be fielding those questions to Phil as we go. So please, don’t be shy, make me do some work today, and ask lots of questions. As usual, there are two ways you can do that, you can use the chat function or the Q&A box at the bottom there. I’ll be monitoring both and reading them out at natural breaks, and of course, there’ll be a period at the end where we can sweep any final ones up. Now, with such a technical subject, The urge is going to be there to furiously take notes. To those that aren’t using an AI bot to record notes on the call, you may be there with a paper and pen, but don’t worry, we’re going to be recording this session. Later on today, you’ll have an email in your inbox with a recording of the session, all of the follow-up resources, and anything that we mention will be in that. So you can watch it back to your heart’s content, so don’t worry if you miss something the first time. We have our very own Abi Robinson to thank for that. She is going to be including all of that information there in one place for you. So please shout up if you have anything to add that Abi can include, so it’s all there in one place for everybody on this call. Without further ado, I suppose it’s over to Phil to open up that bonnet, tell us A) exactly what we’re looking at, and B) exactly how it’s all going to change.

Phil Bray  02:50

Okay, I put a poll up, which the majority of people answered on their way into the webinar. But if you haven’t, if you just pop in there. There are nine of you that haven’t, so if you haven’t answered the poll, please pop in there and leave your answer, and we’ll look at the results in a second. So, what are we going to be talking about today? Well, Google Analytics. We’re going to just touch on the background and history of analytics for those of you who like that sort of thing. Then we’re going to talk about the differences that we are going to see from the end of June to your analytics dashboard, and that is because Google is moving from Universal Analytics, also known as GA3 to GA4. And we’re going to look at some of the changes. We’re going to be looking at the changes to the dashboard, why they’re doing it, and where to find key points of information. So as the webinar goes on, we’ll talk about the key high-level metrics that should be tracked on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis in your business and where to find them on the new dashboard. So this is going to be a really practical session. We will get the recording out to you today, as Dan said, and we’ll get it up on the website as well. Because this, I hope, is a recording that you guys are going to want to go back to because this is really practical stuff to help you find the information that you knew where it was on the old dashboard on the new dashboard. Then we’re going to finish by talking about a potential partner platform for Google Analytics and some Yardstick news. As Dan said, please do ask questions. You might have to forgive us today because we are still learning the GA4 dashboard; it’s significantly more detailed than GA3. So if there are questions that you want answered today that we don’t immediately know the answer to, we’ll happily take that away and then answer back either in the follow-up email, an email individually to you, we might record a little loom video, or get on a call with you. But we never want people to leave our webinars without their questions being answered. It just might be the case today that there’s a little delay in answering the questions if it’s something that’s really quite technical. As again, Dan says, do give your feedback and do share your experiences by putting it in the chat and the Q&A as well. But I thought we’d start by revealing the poll results. So we asked, “How often do you check your Google Analytics data?” So 5% of people said they check it daily, every day. 11%, 1 in 10, said weekly. 28% said monthly. Another 28% said less frequently than monthly. And another 28%, quirks of data, said they never check their Google Analytics. Nobody answered what is Google Analytics. So really delighted that people have got some basic level of what Google Analytics is. and delighted that, what have we got there? (counting) 44%, so close to half, are checking Google Analytics on a pretty regular basis. So, what are we going to talk about? Let’s move on. Let’s get into the meetings. So what is Google Analytics? Well, Google Analytics is essentially a free tool – that’s the first thing to say, it’s free, there’s no cost to Google Analytics – to help you understand how your website is performing. It tracks a number of different things. It tracks website traffic, which is interesting at a high level, but actually, it has got so much more data than that, that is more interesting and more actionable. It tracks demographics. So, for example, it would show you, as we’ll see in a bit, the proportion of your traffic that comes from the UK. Most importantly, it tracks visitor behaviour. It tracks how people interact with your website. It tracks what they’re doing, what they’re not doing, and helps you understand the journey they’re taking and how they’re interacting with your site. It also helps you understand engagement on marketing campaigns. So let’s say, for example, you were running a Facebook lead magnet campaign or you boosted a Facebook post, it would show you the results of that activity on the page on Google. So, it would show you how people how many people are clicking the campaign and what they’re doing when they get to your website. So it helps you understand engagement levels and marketing campaigns. And also, it helps you to identify areas for improvement. So a pretty typical thing that we’ll do at Yardstick is we will review a Financial Planner’s website, and we will look at the 10 most popular pages and look at how people are engaging with that, look at the time they spend on the page, the bounce rate, the engagement, etc. and therefore it helps you to identify areas where it can potentially be improved. In terms of history, Google Analytics started way back in 2005, 13 years ago. In 2006 they added mobile tracking so they could track the amount of traffic that somebody or a website will get from mobile devices. In 2008 they added social media tracking so you can see what traffic you’re getting from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram later, TikTok; if anybody uses TikTok on this call, it tracks that. The current dashboard launched in 2012. That means we’ve been using, and everybody on this call has been using the current dashboard for 11 years or so. That has led to a feeling of comfort when you log into your Google Analytics dashboard, the GA3 dashboard, and you feel in a comfortable place. You’ve logged in before; it hasn’t changed massively over the years. There have been one or two changes, for example, in 2012/2013, Google took away the ability to be able to understand the keywords that people were typing into Google when they found your website, but broadly speaking, the dashboard has stayed the same for the past 10/11 years. So this is a big change. Then in 2020, Google Analytics 4 was launched. So it was actually launched quite a long time ago, and a lot of people have been in a bit of denial about the fact that they’ve got to move over from GA3 to GA4. Earlier in 2023, Google announced that Universal Analytics (GA3) would stop processing data on the 1st of July, and everybody would need to upgrade to GA4. Now, this is probably a good moment to say that if you are a Yardstick client, and Yardstick runs your website and hosts your website, we will be migrating you from GA3 to GA4. So you don’t need to do anything; we’ll be doing that for you. Josh, our Head of Digital, might be losing a few hair follicles along the way, but he is on the case, and he is doing that for you. So that’s a quick potted history of Google Analytics. Dan, I’ve seen something come up in the chat. Is there anything we need to deal with?

Dan Campbell  11:20

Yeah, so Wazim asks a very good question. Phil, how do you upgrade to GA4?

Phil Bray  11:27

How do you do it? So what we’ll do is, generally speaking, the short answer is, I don’t know. Because that’s what we pay other people to do here with jobs doing that. But there’s a variety of videos out there, we’ll look a video up and pop it into the follow-up email that comes out. We’ve not put that in this webinar Wazim, because the vast majority of people that I think are on here who run a website will probably have a developer or an agency that built it or that works on that site. If you don’t, then we can absolutely do that work for you if you want us to Wazim. Dan, is there a couple of other things coming in?

Dan Campbell  12:13

Yeah. Isabel asks, should we change it manually? Or let it do it automatically?

Phil Bray  12:19

Good question. I was chatting to Josh about that this morning. Personally, I would do it manually. That way, you know, It’s definitely done.

Dan Campbell  12:30

Perfect, let’s move forward.

Phil Bray  12:32

Okay. So the next question is, why is this changing? So, a couple of reasons. There is a movement to a cookieless world. okay, cookieless doesn’t get past the spell checker, by the way, but I think that’s how you spell cookieless world, and I hope you appreciate the picture on the right-hand side. So a movement towards a cookieless world. And that’s really been driven by changes in legislation, including GDPR in the EU. Other things have driven this change, for example, AI development. The pace of AI development is significant and is gathering pace compared to 2012. So AI plays a part, and also just the need and the desire from marketers for greater information. Because as we’ll see in a minute, the new Google Analytics, GA4, has actually got more data in it. It’s really configurable if you know how to configure it. And if there’s enough demand, we might even do another webinar after this, maybe a drop-in session where people can come and ask questions about GA4, and we’ll try and answer them live on the screen. So that, if there’s enough demand, we would be happy to do it. But that’s really why GA4 is changing. We’ve got legislative changes, we’ve got advances in technology, and we’ve got demand from marketers. I suppose the next obvious question is why Google Analytics is important. and very simply, and we say this a lot, your website is your shop window. It’s where potential clients decide whether you are the right Adviser or Planner for them. So I’m out on a Friday night, and I tell this story a lot, but I am approaching my 60th birthday, and I ask a couple of friends. “Who should I go and take advice from?” One of the friends says, “You’ve got to go to Andrew at Berry & Oak. I’ve been dealing with him for years; Andrew’s great, and I would absolutely encourage you to go and work with Andrew.” The other one says, “No, go and see my guy. Go and see Ian at Watson Financial Planning.” So I’ve got two names there. I’ve got Andrew at Berry & Oak, and I’ve got Ian at Watson Financial Planning. I carry on with my evening, wake up the next morning, dust off the hangover. Now in times gone by, before Google, I would have simply picked the phone up on a Monday morning to Ian or Andrew. Whoever answered first, I’d have probably booked a meeting. So there wasn’t much thought behind it. Now, though, sat between me becoming aware of Andrew and Ian, and taking action, is Google. So as I say, once I’ve dusted off that hangover, I’m not as young as I used to be, it might last me till lunchtime. I’m going to search for Ian and Andrew online. What I see on that search dictates whether I pick up the phone or send an email enquiry form to Andrew or Ian. I first meet them on the Google search results page, then I really get to know them on their website. That means your website’s your shop window. It’s where potential clients decide whether they are going to get in touch with you or not. You have no ability to reply. If somebody is on your website, and they look at a page that doesn’t engage with them, and they bounce off somewhere else, then there’s no way of you getting that granular data. Phil Bray has bounced off that page or didn’t engage with that page. What we need to rely on is tools such as Google Analytics and something called HotJar, which we’ll talk about later. So that’s why Google Analytics is so important. You can’t get feedback on an individual basis, generally, so Google Analytics tells you how people are interacting with your shop window. It gives us evidence upon which we can base decisions. So those are the reasons why Google Analytics is so important: The website’s your shop window, it’s where people make decisions about whether to work with you or not, and it provides you evidence on which you can base changes to your website. So I hope that helps put into context why Google Analytics is so important and why those of you who are logging in and checking it daily, weekly, or monthly, are doing the right thing. Dan, I’ve seen a few things come up on the chat, anything we need to deal with?

Dan Campbell  17:51

No, just for everyone else’s benefit, Abi has put a link in that supports Wazim’s question about actually changing to GA4, so anybody that needs that, just give that a click, and that will point you in the right direction. We’ve got one in from Guy, who says, “I get regular emails telling me our website is a design, but not scoring well for keywords on Google, AOL, Bing, Yahoo, etc. So the question is, are these other search engines also changing their analytics?”

Phil Bray  18:21

I could do a whole webinar on this Guy. By the way, Guy, I hope you’re feeling okay after yesterday’s cricket result. I’m still in mourning, still in denial. So, a couple of things there. So Google Analytics, whilst it’s a Google tool, will pick up traffic from all sources. If someone searches on Bing, Yahoo, or some of these other minor search engines because Google gets 90% of all search traffic, that will still register in your Google Analytics dashboard, Guy. The traffic doesn’t just have to come from Google to register in your Google Analytics dashboard. So that’s the first half of that question. The second half of that question is about the emails you get from people essentially trying to sell you SEO search engine optimisation. And for a whole variety of reasons, which I will happily explain, search engine optimisation is not generally the best way of developing new enquiries into a financial planning business. It is one way, absolutely, but it is a long way down the list of things that Financial Advisers and Planners should be doing to generate new enquiries unless you work in a very tight niche: financial advice for dentists, SID property purchase, that sort of stuff. Or you are looking for lower-end clients, clients with a lower AUM, below about 250, about 250,000 of AUM. Pay Per Click advertising is very difficult to make work above that, SEO is very difficult to make work above that. So, I hope that answers the question, Guy. If there’s any follow-up, just put a little note in there. Dan, are we got to move on?

Dan Campbell  20:18

Yeah, let’s move on.

Phil Bray  20:22

Right. Okay, let’s start by looking at some of the key differences between GA3 and GA4. Now, the first thing we need to think about here is that the method of tracking is different. As we move into a cookieless world, Google will still be using cookies, but it will be using AI etc., to track visitors. So that’s the first thing. and that does mean, as I will show you in a second, that there is a bit of difference between the results we see in GA3 and the results we see in GA4. You have got a very different dashboard, as well. and data is found in different places. So, for the majority of the remainder of this webinar, we’re going to talk about the data points that you should be tracking and where you can now find them in GA4. But it is worth just looking at the differences between GA3 and GA4, just the fact that you’re getting slightly different results. So all the screenshots you’re going to see are from the Yardstick website. This is the GA3 dashboard. Everybody will be used to seeing this, you’ll feel comfortable on this, and this date ranges from the 7th of June to the 19th of July. You can see here on the bottom left-hand corner we had 1730 sessions. A session is a visit to the website. So if Dan went onto our website three times, he would count as one user and three sessions. So sessions are total visits in that time period to the website. When we look at the GA4 dashboard, we see that actually, the number of sessions is higher. It has recorded 1812 sessions. So it is slightly higher, maybe 5% higher, something of that nature. But there is a difference, so if you are accustomed to taking data out of Google Analytics and recording it in a KPI dashboard, and we do this with a lot of Yardstick clients, and we know a lot of other Advisers and Planners have taken our free KPI dashboard, and we’ll put a link to that in the follow-up, you might see a difference when you start taking data out of GA3 and GA4 into your dashboard, you might see a bit of a difference in the first month or two. So that’s the first thing to notice. In terms of the rest of this webinar, we’re going to talk about the key high-level metrics that we should be looking at. The dashboard itself is quite noisy. When you first go and look at GA4, and it’ll be interesting to get people’s feedback on this call, anybody who has looked at the GA4 dashboard, if you found it as noisy as we did, there’s a lot going on, and it looks very unfamiliar. I don’t think, at an immediate level, it’s as intuitive or as easy to use. But there’s probably a bit of familiarity around that with the old dashboard. We’ve been using it for 11 years, and nobody likes change. So it is noisier, it’s not as intuitive, it’s not as easy to use, but frankly, we have no choice. If you have logged into your Google Analytics, your GA3 recently, you’ve got that big countdown of doom telling you that you’ve got to move over by the end of the month, so we have no choice. On the positive side though, the dashboards and the reports. Once you dive in, they’re more customisable, there’s some really good stuff in there, and there are a couple of new metrics that are really useful and really worth tracking. So what Google is focusing on is engagement. In the old GA3, bounce rates used to be a key metric that people focused on; everyone wanted that bounce rate as low as possible. But actually, it was a pretty false metric, and it was pretty useless as a way of measuring engagement. and there were all sorts of reasons for that, which I’m happy to unpack and talk about if anybody wants me to talk about why bounce rate was a poor metric. What GA4 does is, it focuses on engagement. and one way of looking at this is GA3 was, glass is half empty, GA4, glass is half full. So it is looking at engagement, and it measures engagement by the number of pages people are looking at and time on the site. So if someone looks at more than one page, two pages or more, or spends more than 10 seconds on the site, Google counts that as an engaged visit, and that’s a really positive change for me. The other thing it will do is if somebody is on your website, but keeps the browser open, the tab open, but goes off and does something else for 10, 15, 20 minutes, Google shuts the clock down on your website. So the data is more accurate, so there’s a lot of that stuff going on. We’re likely to see a few changes to the tracking as well, which will point to that. Dan, we’ll do a question. I’ve just seen something come up. Do we need to deal with that now? Or shall we just crack on?

Dan Campbell  26:44

Let’s deal with it now. So John asks a great question “What impact does a higher number of positive Google reviews have on your SEO? And can you monitor this on analytics?”

Phil Bray  26:56

Great question. So again, there are two parts to that. Let’s deal with the first part, which is Google reviews linking to SEO. There is a correlation between positive Google reviews, the number of Google reviews, the quality, and what I would call local SEO. So local SEO would be someone typing in “Financial Adviser, Nottingham”, for example, “Financial Adviser, Henley on Thames”, “Financial Adviser, Penzance”, whatever it is. If you think about the search results page, you would have the adverts at the top, and below the adverts at the top, you’ve got Google Places. It’s been called different things over the years, Google Places, Google Pack, Google Maps, and you generally see a preview of two or three firms. Someone can then click on it. and it just opens up a list of other local firms. About 40% of people who are searching for a local service will click something from that box. There is definitely a link, John, between your position in Google Places/Pack/Map, whatever you want to call it, and the number and quality of reviews. It is not a straight line, so Google doesn’t rank them, but there is definitely a link. So I would say that there is a strong causal link between your local SEO and your Google reviews. I’ll go a little bit down this rabbit hole, but not too far, I’ve actually got a lot left to cover. SEO is not a once-and-done job; you don’t SEO a website and forget about it. SEO is a regular, consistent commitment to really two things. Unique content going onto your website and link building. Here at Yardstick, up until maybe 18 months ago, we were adding one piece of long-form content to our website a week. About 1000 words I would generally write it. About 18 months ago, we started getting other team members to, so for example, Abi wrote a blog yesterday, Seven things you should be doing on a daily basis on LinkedIn. That will go up, I think, tomorrow. Is that tomorrow, Abi?

Abi Robinson  29:42

It’s going up today.

Phil Bray  29:44

It’s going up today. Since we started doing that since we started getting the team to add content, we now have three times as much content going on and the amount of traffic Google is sending to our website has doubled. It wasn’t from a low base. It’s gone from 1000 a month to 2000 a month, something like that. We’ve done no link-building, so therefore, you can see what the cause is. SEO is a long-term commitment to link-building and writing content. To answer your question directly, John, in summary, yes, there is a link, but on local search. Cor, that was a long-winded answer to a short question. Sorry, John. Dan, back to you.

Dan Campbell  30:30

Right in the spirit of keeping us on track and on time, which I promised everybody I do at the start, let’s carry on. But we’ve got two great questions, one from Celeste and one from Peter, that we will sweep up towards the end. So we’re not going to miss those, we’ll come back to those.

Phil Bray  30:45

okay, so for the next few minutes, we’re going to talk about the key high-level metrics you should be monitoring on your Google Analytics. Now, one of the things I would absolutely encourage you to do is. These high-level metrics are important, and they are your starting point when you’re reviewing the performance of your website, but they shouldn’t simply be taken out of analytics, added to a spreadsheet and forgotten about. You need to delve deeper if you see trends, if you see changes. Then, once every three months, just spend an hour on Google Analytics. You will find things that can be changed, can be fixed, can be improved upon. The date range on Google Analytics still lives in the GA4 dashboard in the top right-hand corner of the dashboard, so that’s still in the same familiar place. and you still have a few choices. There are some fixed/default time periods, you can customise them to look at given time periods that are important to you, and you can also compare periods. So you can look at the last 30 days, compare that with the previous 30 days to that, you can look at the last 30 days and look at the last 30 days last year as well. That comparing periods is really quite useful. So, when you are looking at your analytics, the date range is in the top right-hand corner. So, the first thing we should be looking at is the number of unique users. This is a high-level number to understand how many individuals have been on your website in a given period of time. This shows that Yardstick has had 655 users in the seven days that I did this. This can be found, as we’ve got on the slide and in the title of the slide, in your reports snapshot. The report snapshot is the first thing you see when you log into GA4 and click reports, which is this little icon top left with the graphs going up. It won’t be in blue when you first log in. It’s only in blue when you’re actually on the page. So when you want to find out how many unique users you’ve had on your website, you go into report snapshot, and it will just be there waiting for you. It can also show you a bit of other data about the number of new users you’ve had, engagement time, etc., and as you can start to see, the dashboard looks very different. So that’s where you would find the number of unique users. Number of sessions. So as we said before, sessions is the total number of visits in the month, and unique users is the total number of visitors. Sessions is the total number of visits, and you would want to see this rise over a period of time. There is a broad correlation, not a direct line, but there is a broad correlation between website traffic and lead levels in a business. And you do want to see traffic to your website rise, and you do want to see generally the number of leads coming in rise. So, if we want to see the total number of sessions, sessions being the total number of visits, then you need to go into acquisition, and as you see on the left-hand side, there are some main tabs. You’ve got acquisition, you’ve got engagement, and you don’t need to worry about monetization for most of the sites on this call. You’ve got user attributes, and you’ve got tech. So if you’re here and you want to find out the number of sessions, you go into acquisition and traffic acquisition. There’s a column there that says total sessions, 960, and you can see where those sessions are coming from. Yardsticks, the most popular traffic source, is organic search 90% of that will come through Google. Dan, I saw a question from Celeste about sessions. Shall we do that one now?

Dan Campbell  35:26

Yeah, I mean, Abi has answered it in the comments, so it’s up to you. Do you want me to read it out?

Phil Bray  35:31

Go on, read it out, let’s have a look at it.

Dan Campbell  35:33

okay, let me just scroll up. So Celeste asked, “Does a session only count if the visitor is on the site for a certain amount of time/ looks at X number of pages?”

Phil Bray  35:46

Abi’s response “A session initiates when a user either opens your app in the foreground or views a page or screen.” Yeah, so absolutely agree with Abi’s answer, and just taking that a little bit further, an engaged session, and remember, Google GA4 does still talk about bounce rate actually, you can still get bounce rate if you really want it. But for me, it’s a metric with less utility than engage. An engaged session is somebody who spends more than 10 seconds on the site or who looks at two or more pages. and we can see here you’ve got engaged sessions to the right of the sessions. So, that’s where we find sessions, and that’s why it’s important. But we need to drill a bit deeper because if all these visitors and all these sessions are coming from a box in some far distant Russian republic, who’s spamming your websites, probably the guy with offers of SEO, that’s not very much use, is it? You want people coming to your website who are geographically located in an appropriate country. So, we can find that out by going to user attributes and then overview. What you’ve got is a nice little heat map, and you have another box, as we’ve shown there in yellow, which shows where people are coming from. Now, in our case, the majority of the traffic is from the UK; I’m fine with it coming from the US as well because we’d like to do more work over there. On the right-hand side, you can also see where people are located. Again, that’s quite useful as well, especially if you are targeting enquiries and people from a tight geographical area. The purpose of looking at which countries people are coming from is to put your user numbers and session numbers into a bit of context. Because if you see a steep rise in a month in the number of users or sessions, it needs investigating. It might be because of something that you’ve done really well. It might be because of a campaign that you’ve run. It might be because you’ve got an email out about something really topical, a budget, that sort of stuff, and these are useful people hitting your website. It might be because some bot has decided to come onto your website and start looking at it. So, we need to put the user numbers and sessions into a bit of context, and one of the best ways of doing that is by checking where these people are geographically located. Where you get that is by going to users on the left-hand side and then overview. Dan, am I okay to carry on, or have you got any questions that are relevant at this point?

Dan Campbell  39:05

Let’s sweep them up as we go. So, we’ve got a question in from Peter, who asks, “There are some training courses specifically about Google Analytics. I think Google do it themselves. Are these worth doing? Or do we not really need to go into that level of detail with the system?”

Phil Bray  39:19

Without seeing the training courses, it’s quite difficult to say, Peter, whether they’re worth doing or not. You probably need to do it and then ask yourself that question back whether it was worth doing or not. But for me, whether it’s provided by us, or a few other sources, there’s a lot of really good stuff out on the internet about Google Analytics. So I’d be doing Google searches, I’d be looking at YouTube, and there’s some really good stuff out there. Only then would I probably part with some cash, Peter. So I guess my answer is if I put myself into it, it’s probably not worth it right now unless you can’t find the answer that you want from all the free content that’s out there right now. What else have we got, Dan?

Dan Campbell  40:11

Let’s carry on.

Phil Bray  40:13

No problem. So, the number of new visitors. We can categorise all visitors to your website as new or returning. New means they’ve not been there before, returning means they’ve been there before, and they’re coming back. One of the things that we want to try and do as marketers is encourage people to come back to a website. That’s because people who return to your website are more engaged, they will look at more pages, and they will spend more time on the site on their second and subsequent visit. We’ve written in the past about how to get people back to your website, and it would make a good webinar in the future. What we want to understand is the difference between the total number of users and the number of new users because we want to encourage people to come back. Now every firm will have a slightly different ratio, and every firm will have a slightly different measure of what looks good. But we do need to understand the number of users and the proportion that are new users that have not been there before. You find this information, again, by just going into the reports snapshot. It’s the first thing you see when you log in to your GA4. So that’s why that’s important, and that’s where we find it. Next, traffic sources. Why is this important? It’s really important to understand what is driving traffic to your website, and that’s because you want to understand cause and effect. You’re doing something over here, SEO, social campaigns, email, newsletters etc. and over here, the effect it’s having on the traffic to your website. So, this is how you find that information. You go to traffic sources under the acquisition tab, and as you can see here, it builds up. So you’ve got a little table. Organic search is number one for us, unassigned – Google can’t work it out is number six, and organic shopping is number seven. So that information is useful, but then you can start looking at engagement rates. So, for example, our engagement rate over this really short time period on organic search was 57.91%, over on the second right column. But our engagement rate from referrals from other websites was actually lower. So what I could then do, is expand that data period out, so looking at the last six months, check whether the trend continues and go and dig a bit deeper. Look at those referrals, look at the pages they’re looking at and look at whether there’s something that I can change to improve the engagement rate. There might be things we can do, and there might be things we can’t do, but it’s a good example of where we can use the data and rather than just saying, “Yeah, that’s interesting”, we can actually do something with it. You can also do something with it when it comes to looking at the list of pages. So within Google Analytics, under engagement and pages and screens, you can look at the most popular pages over a given period of time. You get these columns on the right-hand side, engage sessions, engagement rate, etc., and you can start looking for pages that are performing less well than others. You can go and visit those pages, potentially in conjunction with something called a Hotjar, which we’ll talk about in a bit, to accumulate evidence and then make changes to try and improve those pages. This a really good example of where we are taking evidence-led decisions and the importance of Google Analytics. Next, engagement. We were talking about this before, Google’s moving away from bounce rate to a more glass-is-half-full approach and looking at something called engagement. It gives you two metrics for engagement. To get this, you surprisingly go to engagement and overview on the left-hand side. Remember, we’ve got four key options, acquisition engagement, user attributes and tech. For engagement rate, you go to engagement and overview. and you’ve got two metrics here. The first, for me, is 1:10 seconds, that’s the average engagement time per visitor. So for an individual visitor, it’s accumulating someone’s visits during the selected time period. The box on the right-hand side, 48 seconds, is the average engagement time per session. Clearly, you want the engagement rates to be as high as possible. But again, this is another good example of where it’s important to drill down. Go and look at the engagement rate by visitor source and engagement rate by the page that they’re looking at. Because you may find that certain pages have lower engagement times than you would hope or expect, and we need to do something about that, you may be surprised at the length of engagement that some people give to a certain page or a certain blog and when it comes to blogs, engagement time is important. One of the things we look at Yardstick when we’re looking at our website and with our clients is what pages people are visiting and how long they are spending on them, especially when it comes to blogs and writing content. We might see on a blog that we write at Yardstick for the website has an average engagement time of six minutes; people can read maybe 1000 words in 6 minutes on a screen, and that gives us an indication that people are engaging with that topic, therefore, we’ll want more about that. If we see an engagement time of 1 minute and the blog is the same length, we know that people aren’t engaging with that. That might be the way the blog is written, it might be the way it’s formatted, it might be the subject, but we know fewer people are engaged with it, and therefore we can start making evidence-based decisions. So that’s where you find out engagement time. Right, user acquisition. How are people finding your website? We’ve already touched on this a bit. You go to the left-hand side acquisition, then user acquisition. That bit is fairly intuitive, despite what I said earlier, and then you can start looking at things like engagement rate, etc. So, how are people finding your website? You go to acquisition and then user acquisition. Again, that’s all about cause and effect. What are we doing? And is it having the desired effect? Are people coming to our website because of our actions? Pages and screens this is really important. This shows us a wealth of information about how people are interacting with specific pages on your website. So this is a relatively short time period. We did this for about seven days on the Yardstick site to demonstrate this point. To find the pages that people are visiting, go to engagement and pages and screens, it’s not difficult. What you get is a list of 10, this slide is cutting it off at nine, but you can change it so you can show pretty much every single page on the website. Number one is likely to be your homepage. We can tell it is because we’ve got the little forward slash which shows it is your website’s homepage, and again, interesting information, but It’s only really useful when we do something with it. So for example, page number eight, Dan and his merry branding team need a new junior graphic designer to join. We can see that that has popped in at the eighth most popular page, people are spending an average of 02:16 seconds reading it. Bear in mind, some people will spend maybe one or two seconds to find they’re on the wrong page and dip out, which means that those people who are engaging will spend significantly more time on it. That’s useful, it shows us that people are engaging with that page and people are coming to look at it. So, use this information to make evidence-based decisions about pages on your website. Those are the key metrics that we would be measuring on the site. We have these in our KPI dashboard and we’ll put a link to the KPI dashboard in the follow-up email. But it’s incredibly important, whilst you are measuring these 9 or 10 different metrics, that we do more than just popping them into a spreadsheet and never going back to them. We need to use that data to plot trends, and when we spot a trend, we need to then take a deeper dive into analytics to try and fix it, if it’s a negative trend, and try and compound it, if it’s a positive trend. The other thing I would suggest you do strongly is spend an hour, an hour and a half every couple of months, every three months, just taking a bit of a tour, wandering around Google Analytics, partly to get used to the new dashboard. Partly because when you do it, you genuinely find things and opportunities and that’s useful. So those are, and you’ll get this in the recording, the key metrics that we should be measuring in GA3 and of course, GA4, and we now have the ability in GA4 to be measuring engagement rather than just bounce rates. There is a partner platform that you should consider for GA4, Remember GA4 is free. A partner platform to consider, and it’s worth me mentioning now that we have no commercial relationship with Hotjar whatsoever, you’re not going to see any affiliate links where we make a commission or anything like that. But Hotjar is very useful. There’s a bunch of functionality on Hotjar, but for me, the two most useful pieces of functionality are recordings and heat maps. Let’s just talk about those in a little more detail. So recordings record a proportion of your visitor’s journey on your website. From the moment they entered to the moment they left. It’s the individual journey, and it follows their cursor, their mouse around the screen, and you are looking at it in the same timeframe that they have looked at it. So if they spent 03:21 seconds, you get a video of that person on your website for 03:21 seconds, you can speed it up so that you don’t have to spend all 03:21 seconds doing it, you can play it at a quicker speed. But it is fascinating to watch somebody’s journey on your website. Now clearly, you don’t know whether that was Mrs Smith from London or Mr Jones from Edinburgh, you don’t know the person’s identity. But you do get to see what they’re doing on your website, where they are scrolling around, and it is fascinating to watch. Heat maps basically lay those videos on top of each other and show a heat map of where people are clicking. They’re incredibly useful to show where people are clicking in your navigation, where people are clicking on calls to action and where they’re going on your site. So for example, let’s say you put Hotjar on a website where in the top navigation, you have something called testimonials. Now we know that testimonial pages are pointless, only 1% – 2% of a website’s visitors click on a testimonials page, they are largely pointless. So your heat map would confirm that, you might have amber or red on some points, and nothing on the testimonials. So the recordings are great, and they are then overlaid into heat maps. There is a free version of Hotjar and there’s a paid-for version, not the cheapest thing in the world, but you can toggle it on and off, it’s something like $50, $60, $70 a month. The free version gets you some decent data as well. If you’re a Yardstick client and you want to add Hotjar to the website, we can organise that for you. Hotjar for me is complimentary to Google. Google accumulates a lot of data and tabulates it for you, and Hotjar shows that recordings and heat maps, work really well together. Hotjar is something we’re gonna be talking to more and more clients about at Yardstick over the coming months. So, a partner platform for you to consider. So, what have we covered? We have covered the history of Google Analytics, we have covered why it’s important, we have covered why your website is your shop window, we have covered some of the key metrics you should be measuring within Google Analytics and where to find them in GA4, compared to GA3, and then there’s another platform there for you to consider. We’re going to do questions, but just before we get to the questions, a bit of Yardstick, news. What have we got coming up for you next month? The next webinar is at 10 am, on Thursday, 19th July, 10 practical ways to use your Google and VouchedFor reviews to improve your marketing. I’ve got a bit of a theory that advice and planning firms are collecting Google and VouchedFor reviews, and then don’t necessarily know what to do with them to maximise their potential. That’s what we’re going to talk about, it’s going to be really practical, really quick fire, lots of things you can go away and do in your business to improve the way you use Google and VouchedFor reviews in your marketing. Abi is going to put a link to that in the chat. I can’t go without telling you about our latest E-Zine that we’ve added to the Yardstick shop: The essential homeowner’s guide to Mortgages and the property market. It’s incredibly topical, at the moment with everything that’s going on. I’m a bit worried about my two-year fixed rate, that’s coming to an end in December, worried about the effects that might have. Dan’s applying for a mortgage right now, you’re moving house, Dan. So it’s just really topical on a lot of people’s minds and it’s in the press a lot at the moment, I saw Martin Lewis talking about this a couple of days ago. So the essential homeowner’s guide to mortgages and the property market is on the Yardstick shop £250 to Yardstick clients and £350 to non-Yardstick clients. So, I can’t work that percentage out, but that’s a pretty significant discount for Yardstick clients. The E-zine is gorgeous, we will brand it up with your branding, your logo, your colour palette, and your contact details, and even though I do say it myself, Dan and his team have done a fantastic job. Lastly, if you’re new to Yardstick, a lot of familiar faces today, but if you’re new, go look at our website, go and boost our Google Analytics data by going to look at our website, connect with me on LinkedIn, if you’ve got questions, email me as well. So talking of questions Dan, what have we got?

Dan Campbell  57:41

Right. Very quickly, just on that E-Zine, Rachel, one of the very talented designers in my team, she’s the one that puts that together, and I was reviewing it a couple of weeks ago, and I had to stop myself from reading it; because I was enjoying it that much, and actually start looking at the typography, the formatting, etc. So, it’s a good one this quarter, isn’t it? Right, so, not that many questions left, actually. Abi woke up this morning and thought, you know what, I’m going to give Dan a very easy webinar and answer a lot of the questions in the chat. So thank you for that. In terms of what is left, we’ve got a question from Wazim. Earlier Wazim had asked if they needed a Google account for analytics, which of course, Abi had said yes to, and Wazim just needed a bit of steer as to how to link their website to analytics. How do the two speak to each other Phil?

Phil Bray  58:34

With a tracking code. There is a bit of code that you get from your Google Analytics account that you can give to your website developer, and they can pop into your websites, WordPress, etc, they can pop that in. So it’s done through a tracking code, you get the tracking code from your Google Analytics account, give the code to the developer and they can add it in.

Dan Campbell  58:57

Brilliant, and then a question from Karen, who says, “Our site is built in Wix, and has its own analytics dashboard/ reporting linked to Google Analytics. Do you think it’s still worth going into GA separately? Or do you know if they’re broadly similar in terms of the info they give?”

Phil Bray  59:14

I don’t know if they’re broadly similar. We don’t use Wix and my working knowledge of Wix is incredibly limited. What I would do, is I would set up a Google Analytics account, get it to start tracking, and then just compare the data that you get through Wix and Google Analytics, and see which one you prefer. The scope of the data, the dashboard interactions and that sort of stuff. Just see which you prefer, but I would be adding GA4 in there as well.

Dan Campbell  59:48

Fantastic question from Thomas, who has a question about Hotjar. “So it sounds like Hotjar records, a lot of user interactions on the website does that affect the performance of the website? Maybe on older devices, for example, also, would we need extra permission from the visitor to record that level of engagement?”

Phil Bray  1:00:07

No, it doesn’t affect the performance of it. and no, you don’t need permission. At the moment it works on cookies. Now, clearly, some people will not accept the cookies when your website loads, so it wouldn’t record their engagement. But you get enough recordings to make it worthwhile and to build meaningful heat maps. But no, it doesn’t affect the performance of the website. There are a lot of things that do affect the performance of a website, putting big images on there, or videos, all that sort of stuff. But adding Hotjar doesn’t affect performance.

Dan Campbell  1:00:45

Perfect. And now, Robert asks a question that looking at the attendees list, other people may have. So Robert says, “To clarify, as you look after our website, can I ignore all these emails I’m getting from Google about analytics?”

Phil Bray  1:01:01

Yes Rob, we’ll be moving you from GA3 into GA4 before the deadline.

Dan Campbell  1:01:07

Brill, and then Isabelle asks a fantastic question. They’re all coming in at the end aren’t they, these are brill questions. “If you save GA3 data, do you know if we can upload that data to GA4, so it’s all in one place?”

Phil Bray  1:01:21

So your GA3 data will still be available for a period of time afterwards, what you’ll see is a flatline on GA3, for example, on tracking visitor numbers, etc. After 1st July. So you’ll see that flatline in GA3, but the historical data will still be available for a period of time. Your GA4 data will start tracking from the date that you have moved over, so there may be a bit of time where you need to join the data together mentally. So if you started tracking GA4 on the 20th of June, and you were looking at your overall numbers for June, you’d need to take a bit of data from GA3 and a bit of data from GA4.

Dan Campbell  1:02:20

Thanks. So talking about our next webinar. Chris asks, “19th of July is Wednesday, right?” yes, Chris, it is Wednesday. Most of our webinars tend to fall on a Wednesday. So yeah, absolutely that. And then Wazim has got one more question. So Wazim, now knows how to link Google Analytics to their website, but how do they link Hotjar to their website Phil?

Phil Bray  1:02:46

Similar thing. You got me worried then by the way Dan about the date for the next webinar that I got it wrong.

Dan Campbell  1:02:51

I did have to get my calendar up before I answered because, you know.

Phil Bray  1:02:54

Thanks for confirming. So similar sort of drill Wazim, you go and set up a Hotjar account, whether you do the free version or the paid version, and again, you get a bit of tracking code and you get your developer to add the tracking code to your website. Wazim if you want to reach out to us, if you don’t have a developer, we can do it for you. It’s a really simple task.

Dan Campbell  1:03:19

Okay, so Celeste asks a question that I’m going to cover in one of my next team blogs actually. So I’ll give you the short-form answer Celeste now, and you can read the long-form answer later. But Celeste asks, “What’s the difference between the E-Zine and a PDF guide?” A PDF guide is very much a long article, so think of one subject, it’s usually around the 3000-word mark. It covers one subject in quite a lot of detail. Whereas the E-Zines are more topical and theme based. So it will have multiple articles within that theme that flow more like a magazine. So the guide will be a single-page PDF that you scroll through and read. Whereas the E-Zines are very much an online magazine that have more visual features, Q&A’s, more infographics. So they’re more in “designed” than the guides But stay tuned, Celeste because I think my team blog date is in about four weeks. So I’ll send you the link via email so you can read that. Okay, so a couple of questions coming in. So, just to confirm, if people aren’t clients of ours, we can still help them migrate their site to GA4 right Phil? Isabel asks.

Phil Bray  1:04:38

We can. Absolutely.

Dan Campbell  1:04:43

John says back to the SEO, does it matter how the long-form content is added to the site?

Phil Bray  1:04:51

Does it matter how the long-form content is added to the site?

Dan Campbell  1:04:57

Perhaps you mean how often or how frequently?

Phil Bray  1:05:00

John, do you want to just clarify that Dan’s got a question about his mic, so maybe Dan wants to answer that question? and then John can add a bit of clarity on that.

Dan Campbell  1:05:10

Okay, so just working down the list, Mark says, “If we’d like to discuss you taking over our website, who is the best to contact?”

Phil Bray  1:05:18

Send me an email if that’s okay. Phil@theyardstickagency.co.uk and either myself or Louis Jones, who is our Client Engagement Manager will reach out.

Dan Campbell  1:05:30

Brill and then okay, yeah, I see Hugh’s question. “Dan, your sound is fantastic, what’s your mic setup?” So I spend most of the day on Zoom Hugh, and I thought, you know what, let’s get a present for the other people. It’s not a present for me, because I can’t hear myself, let’s get a present for you because you can hear me. So It’s a Shure MV7 microphone. So It’s just a little USB mic that sits on an arm on my desk and I sort of point it at my face and talk, and it sounds nice. So yeah, that’s the setup I’ve got, nothing more complex than that. and It’s just a USB into the Mac. It’s nothing too complex. Okay, and then John follows up. “So for example, via a link to social media or content added directly on the site within the HTML.”

Phil Bray  1:06:19

Thanks, John, I understand now. So from an SEO perspective, Google likes long-form, unique content. Long Form, is generally 800 to 1000 words minimum, but you get Google bonus points for content that is 2000 – 2500 words long. It should be added to your website as a page, which might be a static web page. It might be a blog page or something along those lines. But it is long form, and it’s unique to you. Syndicated content while there are very significant benefits to it, SEO is not one of them. So unique, long form.

Dan Campbell  1:07:23

Brilliant, okay. I believe that’s all of my questions.

Phil Bray  1:07:29

Are we good?

Dan Campbell  1:07:31

I think we are. Yeah.

Phil Bray  1:07:33

Right, thank you, everybody. Thank you for your great questions, and your engagement, I really enjoyed today. Bit of a tricky topic, GA3 to GA4. I’m glad It’s been useful. Thanks, Robert. Thanks, Joanne. Thank you, really appreciate the feedback. Next month: 10 really good ideas to use your Google and VouchedFor reviews to improve your marketing. In the meantime, enjoy the summer. See you next month. Cheers everybody. Bye bye.

Dan Campbell  1:08:04

Thanks, guys. Bye

Hear from our clients

Working with some great businesses.

Ian Else

Founder & Financial Planner, 4 Financial Planning

"The brand, logo and website has hit the brief perfectly and I couldn’t be happier! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.”

Read More

Heather Hopkins

Managing Director, NextWealth

"They were a delight to work with – super responsive to our requests and also brought lots of good ideas to the table."

Read More

Rob Gill

Managing Director, Altura Mortgage Finance

"Best of all, their results driven approach is both refreshing and helping us achieve real goals. Thank you Yardstick!”

Read More

Tom Orchard

Director and Financial Planner, Annetts & Orchard

"I’m a big Yardstick fan now and look forward to working with them on future projects."

Read More

Alasdair Walker

Managing Director, Handford Aitkenhead & Walker

"We have felt like collaborators, rather than customers, and feel like Phil and his team has a vested interest in our marketing success that far exceeds his fee.”

Read More


Financial Planner, IQ Financial

We were lucky to be referred to Yardstick last year. We are delighted we hired them. They have specialist knowledge designed specially to help Financial Planning businesses like ours.

Read More


Head of Marketing, Ellis Bates Financial Advisers

Phil's style is informed, humorous and collaborative. The content is punchy, relevant, a go-to guide on how to create more recommendations and prompts action with no exceptions. Great workshop.

Read More


Financial Planner and Founder, Delaunay Wealth

I am absolutely delighted with all the work the Yardstick team has done for us and am very excited about how this will drive our new business/client acquisition in future. I would highly recommend them to any financial planning firm that takes their business seriously.

Read More


Director and Financial Planner, Insight Wealth

Great to work with a good professional outfit that had provided us direction and clear thinking in marketing our business effectively to obtain quality new clients.

Read More


Director & Financial Planner, Citygate Financial Planning

A thorough and excellent service. Phil and his team know exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it. We very much look forward to working together more in the future.

Read More

Get in touch

Request a callback

Whatever your marketing challenges, we're here to help. Simply complete this form and we'll be in touch.