25 Web Analytics Questions from Quora.com…Answered!


I have been an avid reader of and contributor to Quora.com. It is one of the fasest growing Q&A website (similar to Yahoo Answers) and I highly encourage you to share your expertise at Quora and participate in the social conversation.

In this blog posts, I have listed the 25 questions that I have answered on Quora in detail. The blog post covers a variety of topics regarding web analytics, web analytics tools, metrics, Google analytics and social media measurement.

Q1. Social Media: Is there a good tool for measuring competitor engagement (mentions and retweets) on Twitter?

My answer : There are many tools to measure Twitter mentions and engagement in market. It depends on what your budget is. Tools such as Radian 6 can cost 10K per month and can provide really deep dive analytics on social sphere across various web properties including Twitter. Other cost effective tools are actively, Twitalyzer.com, followerwonk(no SEOMoz) to name a few.

Q2. Web Analytics: Reverse demographic to site look up?

My answer : The best free tool is the Google double click ad planner. It gives you much more than the visits and tells you the types of ads you can run on the sites.

Q3. Web Analytics: Is there any standard method to select the threshold level for alerts in Google Analytics? Hey all, is there a good tool to look up sites by the demographic that searches for them? I.e. Instead of seeing data on the people that visit X site, can you see which sites are popular with X people?

My answer : The standard method that I use is control limits using standard deviation and mean calculation. This remove the discrepancy normally caused by using averages. This methods allows you to rule out the unwanted increase or decrease in the metrics. Calculating the upper and lower control limit (UCL & LCL) using Excel will allow you to establish a trend benchmark for your key metrics. Using this data, you can focus on when to take action about the data.

I wrote a blog posts discussing control limit and thought it might be helpful to you https://www.keywebmetrics.com/2010/09/top-5-power-user-excel-tips-tricks-for-web-analytics-productivity/

Q4. Web Analytics: What is the best analytics platform for an ad network’s clients?

My answer : There are many and each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The top ones are double click, media mind, Zedo and openX.

Q5. Google Analytics: How can I see clicks of subpages and banners in Google analytics?

My answer : Banner has to be tagged with Utm campaign codes to capture the clicks and to be reported in to Google Anaytics.

Google provides a free campaign code builder app available here –


Q6. Alexa: What are the top 100,000 most visited websites?

My answer : Here is a list for the top 1000 websites.


Q7. Web Analytics: What is the best approach for measuring the effectiveness of left and top navigation?

My answer : To effectively measure the nav you should capture the nav link clicks into evars or sprop. This will allow you to segment the traffic and Pathing data and compare nav vs non nav traffic to measure the performance of the nav. You can also setup micro conversion goals to measure specific nav actions that lead to macro conversions.

The primary goal of the nav is to engage visitors with your website, reduce bounce rate and improve conversion (macro or micro).

Q8. Web Analytics: How is cloud computing related to web analytics?

My answer : Web analytics apps can be hosted on the cloud as a Saas app. Infact, most web analytics applications are already hosted on some type of cloud environment for scalability, performance and elasticity.

Hope this helps.


Q9. Web Analytics: What are the best tools to analyse regional traffic of websites?

My answer : Is this your website or a third party site? If its your site then you can use any web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, click tracks, kissmetrics. These tools give you traffic details by continent, country and cities.

google analytics visits by region


Q10. Web Analytics: Why Kissmetrics is going to launch myanalyticsapp? What is merits?

My answer : This looks to me as a lead generation tool to sell other business services to the customers. It is significantly easy to generate leads and attract customers using Googles brand name instead of kissmetrics.

Q11. Analytics: How well do in-page analytics and heat-mapping tools work with responsive designs?

My answer : Almost all top web analytics tools can detect the device and browser version so irrespective of the design/CSS the web analytcis tools will report a tablet or mobile visit in seperate reports. You should also be able to segment the heat map data by device if the device segmentation feature is available.

I have used GA on many responsive sites and it works well.

Q12. What is the difference between Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics?

There are several key differences in both tools (assuming you are talking about Google Analytics free version).

Adobe acquired Omniture two years ago and has used it to build its marketing cloud platform. Google Analytics came into fruition as a SaaS application version of its Urchin analytics acquisition.

Adobe Marketing cloud is now a full suite of digital analytics tool set that includes web analytics, social analytics, explore segmentation, test and target, search marketing management and on premise analytical tool.

Google is still playing catchup but has made some great improvements in the UI and reporting options. Not to forget it is on of the easiest and most user friendly analytical tool on the planet.

Adobe offers full attribution and data export capabilities while GA only has partial export and limited attribution (sampled data).

Another important piece that is missing in GA is customer support which is now offered in the GA premium version.

I recently wrote a blog post compared IBM Coremetrics and GA free/premium version. The difference between these two tools are similar to the differences between Adobe and GA free/premium.


Q13. Tracking and Analytics: If a URL is too long can it affect reporting within Webtrends or other reporting or analytic tools?

My answer : URL length should not hinder web analytics tracking as long as the users web browser accepts the cookies. Interestingly, there are limitations on the browser end to handle the URLs length. Some browsers cannot process URLs longer than 2048 characters so in this case the web page may not load atall.

Another important point is web analytics tools may truncate a portion of the URL while displaying it in the reports depending on the display limits.

Q14. Web Analytics: What web analytics matter to news organisations?

My answer : Some of the key metrics/reports for a new website are unique visitors growth, most visited pages (most engaging content), traffic sources, social media influence and mobile traffic. As a news org I would generally expect spike in traffic when the news is on air. Web analytics can allow the org to identify the most engaging content so you can find more related news. Website can also serve as a loyalty tool to keep users asking for more. Some news channel provide value ad services on their website such as local movie / theatre / event schedules, traffic tips, coupons, videos and lot more. Your web site can serve as a great marketing tool and your web analytics as your marketing performance measurement tool.

Q14. Do sponsored posts on sites with 600K+ unique visitors bring results? Are there any sites that you suggest?

My answer : Not sure if I fully understood your question. Are you referring to media buys on third party high traffic sites? Media buys works well in influencing direct and search traffic. Google has done studies that shows display media improves paid search traffic by more than 30%. The only way to measure the true impact of media buy is to integrate your adserver ( double click or similar) to your web analytics tool and measure the impression attribution performance.

Q15. Heat Maps: What information needs to be added to the privacy policy of a website that uses heat maps for web analytics?

My answer : Almost all Heatmap tools uses cookies and JavaScript. Privacy laws that are applicable for web analytics are also applicable for heatmapping tools because the data is collected anonymously without tying it to a particular users personal data.

European laws are more stringent when it comes to web data collection and requires a clearly visible disclosure and opt out options on the landing (first page).

Additionally, third party cookies are at a higher risk so it is highly recommend to use tools that uses first party cookies.

Q16. Web Analytics: What tool can I use to find out what people do NOT find on search engines?

My answer : Adwords finds keyword based on search volume which may or may not be based on the hits. It should be your best bet to get data you need as long as you drill down to the queries and find the long tails. This process could take hours but is well worth the effort.

Another option is if you directly work with Google search team they can help you run advanced queries to get deeper intelligence on keywords and pull data that is generally not available through any of the public tools. The only caveat is you will have to spend millions to get this data.

Q17. Google Analytics: How can we use Google analytics social hub?

My answer : GA social data hub allows Google Analytics users to view social media data within GA for participating networks. The primary use is to correlate social data with web traffic and conversions. Social integration makes it easier to connect social actitivies and campaign to web traffic to truly understand the influence of social.

Q18. Web Analytics: People signed into a Google account show (not verified) as their search term in Google Analytics. Is this a Google restriction? Or a Google Analytics restriction?

My answer : You are right. Google is encrypting organic search data for all users who are logged into any Google account or they use secure search https://google.com. Currently, on average 25% of all organic search terms are blocked and with this rate by 2020 all organic search terms will be blocked unless this feature is removed or replaced. You can also track the trends on www.notprovidedcount.com.

Unfortunately you cannot see this data on any other Analytical tool because this is not an analytics related issue but a Google search issue.

Your best bet is to use Google paid search because Google is not blocking the keywords for paid search. What this means is they want you to pay to get the keyword data.

Q19. Visitors: Which is the best way to count unique visitors for every web page?

My answer : The easiest way to count unique visitor to a page is by using the standard cookie method. The only issue to keep in mind with the cookie method is the unique visitor is only useful if you keep it consistent across the time frame i.e daily/weekly/monthly.

Sum of daily unique visitor will be different than the weekly total and this will be different than the monthly total just because of the calculation used.

I wrote a blog post on this issue

IP method is more accurate but then you will have to do manual crunching of data or user filters to a greater extent.

I would personally use cookies and keep the period consistent.

Q20. Web Analytics: “Most companies don’t use the full potential of their Web Analytics tools.” What do you think?

My answer : Web analytics in itself is much more than mapping web data. It is an industry and tapping into each segment of this requires time, resources and budget.

Here is how I would categorize web analytics users –

1. Basic – Most businesses use and think of Google Analytics the end of web analytics. Mainly, because it is free and popular. Users in this segment are dipping their toe into web data and are getting familiar with basic reports such as unique visitors, time on site, keywords and traffic distribution. Some users also map the conversion data with the web data when available. Average user experience is 1-2 year.

2. Intermediate – The users in this segment have already passed the initial test and have more to advanced segmentation and analysis. Users are thinking more broadly about the attribution of online and offline channels and the ROI distribution of each channel. Integration projects and trying to integrate web analytics other data set/tools becomes a high priority. Savvy users are connecting AB testing data with web results to improve campaign performance. Speaking at a conference once a year is a hobby.Typical analytical experience will range from 3 to 5 years.

3. Advanced – Users in this category as pretty close to being a data scientist. They are subject matter experts in the field of web analytics. They work pretty closely with the Data Warehouse (DW) and Business Intelligence (BI) teams building advanced attribution and analytical models. Most users are blogger and some are principal consultants in large analytics companies. Big data projects such as CRM integrations, lifecycle analysis, and activity based budgeting are now a reality. Users in this segment will have 5-10+ years of experience.

Based on these segments, each company and user will have a different level of analytics tool utilization.

Q22. What are the best free web analytics services?

My answer : Google Analytics is completely free for upto 10 millions hits per month. Google has recently made significant changes to its UI and reporting system and launched enterprise version of their analytics platform. It is pretty close to becoming a powerful analytical platform.

Q23. Can anyone explain why there is a disparity in Paid Search Clicks vs. Visits in Google Analytics and other analytic platforms?

My answer : Here is a quick overview of web metrics hierarchical structure –

Impressions – Impression metrics is at the highest level and it captures each instance of ad loads on the website. Impressions are highest in volume.

Clicks – Clicks are generated from multiple impressions and for a display ads the CTR typically ranges anywhere from 1-2%. For paid search, the CTR can vary significantly depending on the ad relevancy.

Visits – Visit is another counter metric and the counter is executed when a user visits a website, and either shuts off the browser window or is inactive for 30 minutes. Visit metric cookie duration is limited to the user activity on the website in a given session.
Multiple clicks can result in one visit because of the criteria mentioned above.

Unique visitor – Unique visitor cookie is a lifetime cookie. Unique visitor can provide better insights on the website traffic but the biggest issue with the unique visitor metric is it changes with the time period i.e. summation of 30 daily unique visitor number will not equate monthly unique visitors because of the calculation method.

funnel metrics


Q24. Yahoo! Web Analytics: What are the best books/publishings on web analytics?

My answer : Some of the most popular books on the subject of web analytics are

Web Analytics: An hour a day
Web Anaytics 2.0
Advanced Web Metrics

You can find all of these on Amazon

Q25. Google Analytics: How do you put webmaster tools tracking in your analytics?

You can integrate Google web master tools with Google Analytics by using the following steps.

1. Login to your Google web master tools and click “manage site” for the website you would like to integrate with GA.

2. Under “Managed site” click Google Analytics property”

ScreenHunter 08 Apr. 10 22


3. On the “Enable Webmaster Tools data in Google Analytics” page select the radio button for domain you would like to integrate and then click save.

google analytics google webmaster tools integration

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