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28th May 2021
How To Use Content Groups & improve Your Google Analytics Reporting
Google Analytics provides us with so much data and the ability to view statistics at a very granular level. This is useful for reviewing individual page performance, however, as painter Bob Ross says:
“Take a Step Back & Look”
“It’s hard to see things when you’re too close. Take a step back and look.”: Bob Ross
The same is true for data, where often in order to get valuable marketing insights, you need to look at the bigger picture. But on large sites, how can we look at the bigger picture without being completely overwhelmed by the volume of data? You may find the answer lies in Content Groups.
Content Groups in Google Analytics are a way to collect webpages into clusters based on how you view and categorise your site.
An example of content groups is grouping blog pages about a similar topic, or grouping product pages with the same product category. Google Analytics allows us to create up to 5 content groupings, and then within each grouping you can create unlimited content groups.
Let’s stick with the Bob Ross theme and consider an e-commerce site selling painting supplies. We might choose our content groupings to reflect the types of painting supplies we offer:
Within each of the content groupings, we can then set up multiple content groups:
So for example, all our watercolour brushes product pages will be part of the ‘Watercolour brushes’ content group, in the ‘Watercolour’ content grouping.
For e-commerce sites, it makes sense to use content groups and groupings to split pages based on product categories and subcategories. However, content groups are also useful for publishing sites and informational sites. Other ways to group pages could be based on where they sit in the navigation, URL patterns, page templates, blog topic, blog author. The great thing about content groups is that they can be set up in a structure that reflects how you think about your site.
Once you have identified the best way to categorise your pages, and tested these groups, you can set up the content groups either by adding a tracking code to the pages, or by extraction or rule definitions in the Admin section of Google Analytics. When the groups have been created, they can take up to 24 hours to start showing in the reports, and will only be applied to data going forwards, and not retrospectively.
Now that you’ve grouped your pages and set them up in Analytics, it is time to discover how to use content groups to add more context and make your reporting easier. There are several ways to use content groups and we will cover a few popular examples below:
1. As Primary & Secondary Dimensions
In various reports in Google Analytics, you can select your content groups as primary or secondary dimensions. Many reports in the behaviour section allow you to use your content group including the All Pages report, Landing Pages report and Events Pages report.
In the reports which show tables, such as the All Pages report, you have the option at the top of the table to change Content Grouping from ‘None’ to one of your main content groupings. This will make it the Primary Dimension.
Once you have selected this, the table will show any content groups within your grouping and show statistics associated with each group. You can then click on any group to see specific pages within the group.
Similarly, the content grouping can be used as secondary dimensions in other Google Analytics reports, such as in the Channels report under Acquisition.
2. In the Navigation Summary
Another place where content groupings really help to make better use of your data is in the Navigation Summary (second tab on the All Pages report under Behaviour). This report shows you how users move through the site, which types of pages were viewed before and after your selected content group (as chosen at the top where I have selected the Acrylic content grouping and Acrylic Brushes group). The (not set) group is a collection of pages not included in any of the content groups.
3. In Custom Segments & Custom Reports
If you are creating advanced custom segments, you can choose a content group in the first dropdown (marked in blue below). This allows you to segment your data (across all reports) based on if a session included a page in your content group. Similarly, you can add your content group to custom reports.
As you can see, content groups are useful for evaluating and comparing performance, traffic, conversions, and value of defined categories on your site. This all leads to rich information to make better decisions about your website and it’s content. And as Bob Ross says….