I have noticed various posts and comments about how you can’t do content grouping in Google Analytics, that you need to use SiteCatalyst or a similar paid tool in order to do this. These comments surprise me as one of my first actions with a new client using Google Analytics is to set up content groupings. So I thought I would write a post detailing what I do and how easy it is.
But I did a quick bit of research before I started and I found that Allaedin Ezzedin of E-Nor had got there first a couple of years ago with this excellent post on content grouping in GA, written for exactly the same reasons. The first comment is even from the guru Avinash commenting on how you can group functional pages for ecommerce websites.
Reading this post has made me question when I started grouping pages in Google Analytics, whether it was based on my general approach to web analytics and techniques used with other web analytics tools (SiteStat, SiteCatalyst and HBX) or whether it came from this very blog post – I honestly can’t remember. But explaining what I do may still help some people.
When working on the set-up of Google Analytics for a new client, I am getting into the habit of setting up three or more profiles. Not for different traffic sources or the reasons people seem to usually create multiple profiles but instead for different levels of content grouping. So you might end up with these profiles:
- Level 1 – Page Types only so likely less than 20 page names in use. A Navigation Summary report for an ecommerce website using this profile could easily see if visitors access the Product Details pages by landing on them or via Product List pages, Search Results pages, etc.
- Level 2 – Pages would follow the naming convention of /<directory>/<sub-directory> allowing for an additional level of detail. So article pages on a content website would be grouped by the category and then by topic.
- Level 3 – Would contain complete page names following a sound and logical page naming convention. Pages would have been renamed where necessary and this would be the primary profile used in everyday analysis.
- Level 4 – This profile would still have irrelevant URL parameters stripped out but pages would not be renamed. It would be used for auditing data similar to a profile that does not have internal traffic filtered out.
If you have a good hierarchical page naming convention in place using a format like /<directory>/<sub-directory>/<page name>, the filters are very easy to set up to create these profiles. For a Level 1 profile, all you would need is this filter.
So really, as Allaedin said, there is no reason why you can’t do content grouping in Google Analytics and there are plenty of benefits to be gained from doing so. GA may not designed for content grouping like SiteCatalyst and other tools but on the plus side, the customisation is possible without any code changes required.
Please add a comment if you have any questions regarding this technique or suggestions for how it could be used.