Appetite for online performance benchmarking from marketers has always been strong, as it has been for offline activities. Whilst benchmark data is available from the likes of comScore, Compete, Alexa and a whole host of niche research firms, Google arguably has the richest, deepest data resource in Google Analytics (66% market share in 2010 according to Econsultancy).
Last month Google replaced its benchmarking tool in Google Analytics with the ‘Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter’.
Data providence and sharing
I received the Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter due to enabling anonymous data sharing for my wedding website (thank you for your congratulations in advance!). Google have made no attempt to request confidentiality from recipients, therefore I intend to share the content with you all.
Despite the oft-repeated scare regarding Google and data, the big G is not aggregating every data source at their disposal. The benchmark insights only come from sites that have offered their data for processing. At this stage it’s worth considering whether or not this affects the robustness of the insights generated as a result.
According to Google there are currently “hundreds of thousands” of sites contributing to this pool of data. Whilst we do not know specific sites or their nature, Google has “endeavoured to make all metrics here statistically significant”. With that said, we’ll have to take all insights with a pinch of proverbial salt. From the Site Administrators point of view it’s important to state that no absolute metrics are shared, which means that your total visit, page views or conversion numbers will not be published.
The ‘Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter’ contains three sections:
- Site Metrics
- Traffic Sources
- Operating Systems
The period analysed was November 1, 2010 – February 1, 2011 and comparison is done with data from November 1, 2009 – February 1, 2010. The Google Analytics team provide little in the way of commentary and explanation, leaving the door open for interpretation. Below I have shared the data tables and graphs from the newsletter, which follows with my thoughts/questions.
Thoughts and questions
- Slightly fewer pages viewed per visit
- Does this mean more in-page interaction via Flash/HTML5?
- Overall bounce rate is slightly decreased
- Are marketers getting better at targeting their desired audiences?
- Bounce Rate is 47% overall
- Does that mean that almost half of all visits are unsuccessful?
- Are search engines providing more relevant results?
- PPC has a lower bounce rate than natural search
- Do users appreciate explicit messaging on a SERP?
- Are on-site processes more efficient and as a result leading to shorter visits?
- Is there an inverse relationship between bounce rate and time on site in most countries?
- What would this data look like if we added GDP and internet or broadband penetration for each country?
- Will direct entry be a permanent feature, regardless of search capabilities?
- Is the Vatican receiving help from a higher power in pursuit of conversion?
Requests for future newsletters/benchmarking from Google
- All data split out by country/sector/industry
- A longer time period for analysis
- Definition of GA goal types (i.e.: content, e-commerce)
- Analysis of browser types by country
- Search trends split out by search engine
- Display and affiliate data
- Full data tables for all graphs
- Data provided via Google Docs
- Encourage the churning and sharing of analysis amongst GA users
As you can see on the Google Analytics Forum, feelings about Google’s new benchmark offering are mainly negative, with many requests to re-instate the ‘tool’.
If you’re interested in a copy of the data shared, please get in touch through email. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the statistics offered, as well as how you and your business might use them. What else would be useful in understanding the use of your site, in context of the rest of the world?