avinash kaushik knows analytics. he's got a big crush on a new google analytics feature called weighted sort. if you like people to come see what you're writing, you ought to read it - I know I am!
We have a very long tail of data in web analytics. Tens of thousands of rows of keywords in the Search Report (even for this small blog!). Hundreds and hundreds of referring urls and campaigns and page names and so on and so forth.
Yet because we are humans we tend to look at just the top ten or twenty rows to try and find insights. The problem? The top ten of anything rarely changes (except in rare circumstances like a sale or on a pure content – think news – site).
Hence I have persistently evangelized the need for true Analysis Ninjas to move beyond the top ten rows of data to find insights.
How? Advanced table filters, tag clouds and keyword trees are a good start.
But we need more.
One more problem though.
As if massive data we have is not enough of a problem, we also rely on Averages, Percentages, Ratios and Compound/Calculated Metrics in a profoundly sub optimal way, as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than for illumination.
Take a percentage, for example Bounce Rates. The top ten won't change.
Hmmm. what to do. what to do?
You know what I'll try to find the keywords with the highest bounce rates and fix them! After all I don't want to have all those visitors say: "I came. I puked. I left!"
Ok analytics tool: Sort descending!
See all those single visits? Would improving these bounce rates have a huge impact?
Ok maybe I should learn from keywords with low bounce rates so I can perhaps take the lessons from my awesomness and apply it to others. Tool: Sort ascending!
Arrrrrh! Again! Useless.
What could I possibly improve by focusing on these keywords with so few visits? Nothing.
So to recap:
- We tend to only understand the top ten rows of data, because that's what is easily visible.
- Gold exists beyond the top tend rows.
- Using percentages, averages sub optimally makes it impossible to find the Gold!
Yet gold I must find if I want to improve the outcomes for my web business (for profit or, as in the above example, non-profit).
The Google Analytics team has built a innovative and mathematically intelligent new feature called Weighted Sort to precisely solve this problem.
Now when you sort the data off a percentage or a ratio, like in the above case, you'll see this on top of the table.
When you press this unassuming checkbox something magical happens. Google Analytics brings back for me the rows of data I should analyze further to have the highest possible impact on my business.
It looks like this. . .
Notice that the Visits for these keywords are sorted in an "odd" manner, as are the bounce rates.
That is the magic.