Content Grouping is an often overlooked feature of Google Analytics. It’s one that, on the face of it, doesn’t look particularly exciting but if used correctly it can be a really useful addition to your analysis. Content Grouping gives analysts more control over their data than ever before.
What is content grouping?
Content Grouping is essentially a way to segment your data by the types of pages that users visit on your site. As the name suggests it gives you a way to group your content in a variety of ways.
A simple example would be to group all of your blog posts separately to the rest of your site. If you have an ecommerce site you might want to group your pages into categories. If you sell clothing online you might want to group pages into men’s/women’s/children’s clothing or by type of clothing with trousers/jumpers/t-shirts/accessories as your grouping.
This gives you a great way to show the differences of user behaviour between each type of content. You can now see at a glance whether jumpers have a higher bounce rate than trousers! You can also get an average page value for each content group showing you which types of content are the most valuable to you.
How is it set up?
Setting up content groups is fairly straight-forward but deciding which groups to set up will require more time and thought. To set up a content group just go to the admin section of GA and you should see a link for Content Grouping under the profile section.
From here you’ll be able to create a new Content Grouping or edit an existing one. After naming your new Content Grouping you have three ways in which to set the parameters.
Group by tracking code – This sets up a different tracking code for each type of content. You get the new code from here and then apply it to all of your relevant pages. This means there can be a fair bit of manual work but that you can have highly customised groups.
Group using extraction – Here you can set up your content groups based on regular expressions. This means you have a lot of control over how to group your pages. The other advantage here is that you can set regular expressions based on page names or by page title, giving you a lot of flexibility.
Group using rule definitions – This is the simplest method of the three, and will probably work well in the majority of cases. This is the option for those of you who want to set up simple groupings, or just can’t get your head around regular expressions. Here you set up groups using a rule based system. A basic is example is to set a rule up where pages that contain the word ‘blog’ are grouped into a category.
One problem with Content Grouping is that it doesn’t work retrospectively, so you’ll only see data from when your content group has been set up. This means you won’t be able to group any of your historical data in this way and also that you need to think carefully before setting up your groupings as you don’t want to keep having to change them and starting again from scratch each time.
Where can I see the results?
The results of these groupings can be seen in content reports that offer “Content Grouping” as a primary dimension. This includes all of the reports under the Behaviour > Site Content section.
You can click on a content group to drill down into that group and see the individual pages.
You can also use these Content Groups in your custom reports giving you even more data flexibility.
How should I use them?
This is the key question when it comes to Content Reports. Setting up and reading the reports is fairly simple but the key step, as with most data analysis, is ensuring that they are set up to give you data that is relevant to you. For this you really need to start thinking about what you want to learn about your content before setting anything up. Your setup should be unique for each website as all sites are different. Here are a couple of examples of content groups that I’ve set up in the past.
A client of mine runs safaris to various destinations across Africa. One type of content grouping that has been set up for them splits their content by page type across the 14 different destination countries that they cover. This helps us to see whether people looking to travel to Kenya were spending more time on the site than people who were considering a safari in Zambia. This could be particularly useful if we are experimenting with different types of content for different destinations.
Another client is a recruitment agent with an active jobs board. Here I grouped the content by types of jobs to see whether, for example, accountancy jobs have a higher bounce rate than IT jobs. This means we can get a good idea of how different types of users engage with the content and make changes to each section accordingly.
There are lots of different ways to group your content and you can have multiple groupings for single websites. So, for example, with the safari client, rather than grouping by destination I might also want to group by type of content, e.g. blog pages, map pages, trip reports etc.
Content Grouping is completely customisable so it enables you to set up groups that match your own individual requirements and objectives. Spend some time thinking about what you want to get from your reports before setting up your groupings.
As with all advanced GA features it takes a bit of time to work out the best uses for Content Grouping. It offers a very effective way to make your data a lot more manageable.