ABCs of Web Analytics

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Something that’s puzzled long-time Google Analytics users is why Google Analytics moved and renamed so much stuff in the tool. The reason is ultimately to help all of us get insights slightly faster. One of the most glaring changes is the renaming of all of the sections to ABC – Acquisition, Behavior, Conversion.


The changes to the application present two important perspective shifts that Google is trying to encourage us, as marketers (many of whom do not have a strong data analysis background) to think differently about some of the data that we stare at most frequently.

First, there is a logical progression in this framework. Acquisition answers the question of, where did my audiences come from? Behavior answers the question of, what did my audience find engaging? Conversion answers the question of, did I generate meaningful results?

Measuring each section tells you where your website is most deficient. Are you not attracting enough new audiences? You probably need to consider some new tactics if that’s the case, like public relations or advertising. Are you losing the audiences as quickly as you gain them? If so, you have a behavior problem, an engagement problem, and the Behavior section will tell you what to tune up. Are you converting? Conversions will tell you what contributed to those conversions and what you should do less or more of.

One other aspect of these changes to Google Analytics is a little more subtle but even more important. Google Analytics is trending away from what to who. The new segments manager is all about the who, the people who are visiting your website.


The ABC funnel is about who. All of the new interactive flow charts tells you about the people and not the individual hits, clicks, or pages on your site. This is an important focus change, because marketers have typically been fixated on very short term metrics. By changing metrics focus, Google is subtly encouraging us to change our marketing focus.

This is reflected as well in their ever-changing perspective on SEO. If you focus on the who, if you focus on the personas and segments in your audience rather than the granular “what” details of keywords, page titles, and individual links, then you’ll do better in their current algorithms which reward expertise on topics, social popularity, and authority. While you will face a longer, tougher battle to get going, to gain search momentum, once you have it, it should in theory be harder to lose.

Practice your ABCs as Google Analytics defines them, and you’ll start to work on the marketing metrics that matter.

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