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Tracking Google Product Search, Part 2

The following question arrived in our inbox recently:

“Thank you for a very good post on filtering traffic for tracking Google Products. However, this will not apply for #1-3 listings showing up on the 1st page of Google right? (and those usually account for most of the traffic)

To get around this I tagged my Google Product URLs as per Google Analytics URL Tagging Tool but found that all of my rankings instantly dropped significantly.

Do you have any other ideas on how to track Google Product traffic in Analytics?”

The post he referred to is Tracking Google Product Search Traffic. In that post, Jonathan gave two methods to track traffic from Google Product search:

  1. Campaign Tagging
  2. Advanced Filter

(***Using filters as a form of tracking is no longer a feasible way of measuring search traffic. Google changed the beginning of the URLs so they are the same on both regular search results and within Google Product Search, so a filter no longer works to bring you actionable data. However, campaign tagging is still an effective means of gathering data.)

The second method is the easiest to implement, but only shows you traffic that comes directly from the Google Product search pages. If you have products that are blended into the main Google results page (universal or blended results) this won’t help. Why? Because the filter looks for visits coming from www.google.com/products…. and changes the source to reflect that it’s a visit from Google Products. When a person clicks on your product listing in the main Google results, the referrer is just www.google.com and the filter does not apply, so the visit appears as google/organic.

The Solution

Apply both #1 and #2. By adding campaign tracking parameters to the URLs in your Google Base/Merchant feed, you will be able to track if they are clicking on your listing whether it’s coming from the main Google results or from the Google Product search results. And by also applying the advanced filter, you’ll be able to segment which set of results the visits come from.

But that still leaves the nagging problem of the mysterious dropped rankings that the emailer alluded to:

“To get around this I tagged my Google Product URLs as per Google Analytics URL Tagging Tool but found that all of my rankings instantly dropped significantly”

Oddly enough, something very similar happens when you use this method to track your Google Local Business Listings. Here’s the solution we’ve found to work for the local listings, which should have the same effect for product listings as well:

  1. For the product URL, submit a vanity URL, like www.greenwidgets.com/category/product/google-products
  2. Have the vanity URL 301 redirect to the product page with campaign tracking parameters, set off with the hash tag (#) instead of the question mark (?) (why use the hash tag?) For example: www.greenwidgets.com/category/product/#utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=product123
  3. Make sure you include pageTracker._ setAllowAnchor(true); in your Google Analytics code (here’s how)

I’ve tested this method for the local business listings and deem it safe, but have only been able to test it in a very limited fashion for Google Product listings. So before you go off and change thousands or product URLs and set up countless redirects, be sure to test it yourself on a smaller scale to be sure it works for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Jim Gianoglio

About Jim Gianoglio

Jim Gianoglio is a Senior Digital Analyst at LunaMetrics. He works with implementation and analysis of Google Analytics, and spearheads the LunaMetrics Google Analytics seminars across the country. Want to see him in action? He'll be leading some of our upcomingGoogle Analytics trainings. Before succumbing to the siren song of analytics, he led the SEO campaigns of Fortune 500 companies in the insurance, retail and CPG industries. Things you didn’t know about Jim: he has biked from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, photographs weddings, and roasts his own coffee beans.

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2010/04/29/tracking-google-product-search-2/

4 Responses to “Tracking Google Product Search, Part 2”

Please can you tell me whether the visits that are filtered of into the new segment (is that what it’s called?) for Google Products are also removed from the source google (organic) or are they still included? If so does that mean that:
All traffic sources sent a total of 97,497 visits
is inaccurate because it is summing Google Products with google (organic) where some of the data is duplicated?
Any help greatfully welcomed
Matt

Jim Gianoglio Jim says:

Matthew -

By using the campaign tracking parameters in the example above, we set the source to google-product (utm_source=google-product) and the medium to organic (utm_medium=organic). This effectively takes that visit out of the “source=google” bucket and places it in the “source=google-product” bucket.

So to answer your question, it will only get counted once. When you’re in the All Traffic Sources report, you’ll see these visits in addition to the other Source/Medium combinations. For instance, along with “google / organic” and “google / cpc” and “bing / organic” you’ll also see “google-places / organic” visits.

Clear as mud, eh?

Hopefully that explains it, if not just keep asking and I’ll do my best to answer your questions!

will says:

Hello thanks for that great stuff works really nice!
Is there a way with filters to get the keywords searched on nextag, the always show in analytics (not set) see nextag how wired their URLs look like, I gave up on being able to ever track it, but after seeing this post I thought you may help me find a solution to this one too.

Thanks!

Thanks for the reply Jim. That does help a bit but really I was asking the question in context of using the advanced filter (From related post) rather than adding tags to the URLs.
Thanks again