The Definitive Guide to Google+ Analytics

Google+ Analytics Guide

Google Analytics has recently launched a new set of reports called Social reports, which can be used to analyze in-site and off-site interactions with a brand on Social Networks. I covered the launch with an in-depth post about all reports available and their meaning.

In this post I will focus on how to use Google Analytics in order to understand Google+ in-site interactions (e.g. +1 button clicks) and off-site interactions (e.g. comments, posts, shares that happened on Google+).

Note 1: Since Google Analytics is developed at a very quick pace, I will be updating this article whenever something new is available. If you believe something is missing please let me know.

Note 2: The onbe.co links shared below should lead you to the specific report I discuss, but you need to be logged in to Google Analytics in the same browser. In addition, please note that not everyone has access to this yet, but soon it will be public.

Setting Up The Stage For Social Reports

Before I start discussing the Social reports, I would like to emphasize that if you do not have goals configured on Google Analytics, you should leave this article and do that right now, otherwise the reports won't be useful (here is a step-by-step guide). If you don't have goals set up, you shouldn't care about the social reports: you will get somewhere anyway (the question is where).

Google+ Social Referral Traffic - Quantity and Quality

According to Google Analytics, the Social Sources report (find it at http://onbe.co/Hb7lnF), the first in the list of Social reports, is described as follows:

The Sources report shows engagement metrics (Pageviews, Avg. Time on Site, Pages/Visit) for traffic from each social network. This report is also enhanced with off-site data for social data hub partner networks. Click on a partner network to see the URLs that were shared on that site, how they were shared (for example, via a "+1" or "reshare" action), and the conversations that took place about your content.

In this report we will see the number of visitors that came through Google+, the number of pageviews that they saw, time on site and number of pages per visit. Nothing surprising.

Google+ Social Source

However, since Google+ is part of the Social Data Hub, we can click through to get more detailed data on what kinds of interaction happened off-site, i.e. on plus.google.com. As you will see, when clicking through to the Google+ row (see screenshot above) we will have two reports on the Social Referral tab: Google+ Shared URL and Google+ Social Network and Action (the tabs can be found above the graph, and the reports below the graph).

1. Google+ Shared URL

The Google+ Shared URL report will show you which URLs were shared in Google+ and what traffic they drove. It will also provide a Data Hub Activities metric, which tells you how many interactions they drove on Google+ including: +1, post, comment and reshare.

Google+ Shared URL

2. Google+ Social Network and Action

If you click on the link to Social Network and Action (see arrow below), you will be able to see all interactions performed on Google Plus, segmented by action type.

Social Network and Action

Google+ Conversations - Activity Stream

Moving over to real interactions with real people. The Activity Streams report (find it at http://onbe.co/Hb7c3v) allows us to see the conversations as they happened inside Google+. The conversations are organized starting from the newest and, as we can see in the screenshot below, we can do the following actions for each conversation:

  1. Page Analytics: leads to more information regarding traffic that was resulted from the post.
  2. View Ripple: leads to the post Ripple, an interactive visualization of the public shares of the post
  3. View Page: leads to the website page that was shared
  4. View Activity: leads to the actual post on Google+

Google+ Activity Stream

Google+ Conversion Rates - Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis

This report uses the same functionality as the Multi-Channel Funnels. It provides both the last touch interaction value (i.e. conversions that happened in a visit attributed to Google+) and also the assissted value (i.e. conversions that happened in a visit following the visit from Google+). Below is a screenshot of how it looks and the explanation given by Google about the metrics in the chart. You can find the report at http://onbe.co/GWyJHr.

Google+ Assisted Value

Assisted Conversions and Assisted Conversion Value: This is the number (and monetary value) of sales and conversions the social network assisted. An assist occurs when someone visits your site, leaves without converting, but returns later to convert during a subsequent visit. The higher these numbers, the more important the assist role of the social network.

Last Interaction Conversions and Last Interaction Conversion Value: This is the number (and monetary value) of last click sales and conversions. When someone visits your site and converts, the visit is considered a last click. The higher these numbers, the more important the social network’s role in driving completion of sales and conversions.

Assisted/Last Interaction Conversions: This ratio summarizes the social network’s overall role. A value close to 0 indicates that the social network functioned primarily in a last click capacity. A value close to 1 indicates that the social network functioned equally in an assist and a last click capacity. The more this value exceeds 1, the more the social network functioned in an assist capacity.

Google+ Social Plugin - Insite Interactions

The Social Plugins report (find it at http://onbe.co/GXYJAN) provides an account of the social actions that happened inside the website and in which pages they occur. +1 buttons spread in the website content will be available in this report automagically (for other social buttons, coding is required.)

Google Analytics Social Plugins Report

Google+ Visitors Flow

This report uses the same functionality used in the flow visualization report released by Google in 2011. Basically, it provides the path through which visitors experienced the website. In this report we will be able to segment just by visits originating from Google+. You can find the report at http://onbe.co/GXYQMN

Google+ Visualization Report

Concluding Thoughts

As seen above, Google Analytics has created a robust tracking and analysis platform for Google+, which puts Google+ in an excellent position when it comes to other Social Networks. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are provide very few data about what happens inside their walls, which makes investments less measurable. If marketers can easily measure how well each social networks perform, more resources might be devoted to them.

According to Phil Mui, Google Analytics group product manager, the "goal with the new reports is to tie social activities and referrals to measurable, meaningful economic value so businesses can more effectively evaluate which social channels are impacting their bottom line, and which tactics will lead to measurable economic value.” This is certainly true for Google+ now.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter For Monthly Updates



Your e-mail will be kept private

Simone Luciani | April 2012

Useful guide... thanks a lot. I've started to use this section of GA and I find it very useful but it could be improved.

Daniel Waisberg | April 2012

Thanks Simone. It would be great if you would add your ideas in here. I am also creating a list of things I would like to see changed in those reports and, who knows, Google might be listening :-)

Marlon | June 2012

Thanks Daniel. This article helped me to understand the social reports report better and specifically the onsite (social plugins) versus the offsite (activities) reports

Christopher burgess | July 2012

Never been on your site before but clicked through from your twitter advert. Would be good if google analytics could intergrate with Facebook further.

Bennet_Marky | August 2012

Hey Daniel, nice blog. I was having doubts about social networking and the way Google+ works. But after referring your blog and doing a detailed research, I started understanding a lot more better about Google. Especially, I came to know how the Google+ scrutinizes the number of visitors who visit.

Casey | November 2012

Hi Daniel,
Do you have any further clarification on what the Google+ Actions mean in the screenshot from "Google+ Social Network and Action"? For example, if I post this blog post on my G+ page and my friend comments on the G+ post, will that be calculated as a Comment in the Social Network and Action analytics section?

Uyen | October 2013

Thanks Daniel, your instruction is clear and useful for me!

Post new comment
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.
Online Behavior © 2012