pageTracker Page Names Showing as 404 Errors in Google Webmaster Tools

Is Google crawling the custom page names used in _trackPageview?

I noticed something a little alarming this morning when checking my client’s website stats in Google’s Webmaster Tools.
gwt screenshot of site errors

Ok, so I’ve got some links that don’t resolve on my site…big deal.

Not so fast! THESE links are outbound links, which I’m tracking using Google’s handy pageTracker._trackPageview script for their Analytics program. They’re not SUPPOSED to be crawling the custom made up name I’ve assigned the links…or so I thought.

Of course it’s possible something got modified, so I immediately check the source code of the site to make sure everything is still golden –

pageTracker code

btw, the end quote ARE there, you just can't see them because of the way it's highlighted.

Yep, everything looks right – so what’s going on? Is Google crawling these custom page names? Is this just a weird glitch? According to google, the implementation seems correct.

I should note that these errors just started appearing in November – google analytics is still showing the data, so the code’s not broken. Even still, I’d rather avoid the 404 errors.

The mystery deepens.

I did some quick searches to see if I’m the only one experiencing this issue, and it doesn’t look like it. I’d love to know if anyone else is experiencing this happening, and how you’ve resolved it – if you have. Let me know! Thanks!

Google Analytics Intelligence Feature Insights

google analytics intelligence dashboard menu

Google Analytics new intelligence feature is heaven sent.

The new intelligence option within your analytics account allows you to create non-destructive custom filters which are then immediately applied to both current andhistorical data.

This speeds up the analysis time immeasurably, as you no longer have to fumble through exporting data into separate spreadsheets and workbooks, refresh pivot tables, etc. to find the answers you’re looking for.

 

 

Google offers up some template starter alerts, which are fine if you only want to know if something horrible is happening, but creating a custom alert is so easy there really isn’t any excuse for not doing it.

You can only filter on 2 fields –

one dimension field:

dimension alert

dimension alert choices

and one metric field.

metrics

google alert metrics

but it does give you some pretty great info, for example:

google analytics custom report

google analytics intelligence report information

This comes in very handy if you’re running multiple campaigns across several different marketing channels, or you want to monitor changes in revenue from day to day from different visitor segments – there really is a lot you can do with this once you dig in.

And while this type of information is very nice, the frosting on top is this handy bar graph –

google analytics importance bar chart

This 'importance' bar graph helps you make sense of it all.

It’s too early for me to say how relevant this actually is, but the idea is solid. Get immediate insight into the data that matters. And you’re not limited to only daily alert views either, you can also choose weekly or monthly views – probably the better choice for analysis for most small to mid size companies running minor ad campaigns.

Gotta give some love to Google on this one.

The Death of Rank Checking Software. Courtesy of Google.

unknown_serpAhhh, remember the days when you could fire up the ol’ rank checker and whip out your clients SERP (search engine result position) for their high priority keywords?

Well, be prepared – those days are apparently numbered, according to a recent post on SearchEngineLand from contributor Matt McGee.

Though still in the experimental phase, Google has been working on an ajax-based search results system which, if widely implemented, could cause quite a headache for SEO professionals who use automated rank checking tools. 

But that’s not the only software that might be affected. Web Analytics data uses a similar technique to find out what referring keywords sent a visitor to your site – if that stops working correctly, people are going to be lighting some torches and heading towards Google’s HQ. 

The post included a quote from a google spokesperson, who said:

“We’re continually testing new interfaces and features to enhance the user experience. We are currently experimenting with a javascript enhanced result page because we believe that it may ultimately provide a faster experience for our users. At this time only a small percentage of users will see this experiment. It is not our intention to disrupt referrer tracking, and we are continuing to iterate on this project.”

I’ve never had a problem with slow results on Google, so I’m not really sure what they mean by “faster experience” – and I’m not sure that this is the way I want to find out.  We’ll keep you posted of any updates regarding this search test. If you want some more info on this story, check out the original post at Smackdown.

Google Analytics on steroids. Finally!

Google finally released Analytics on Google code.

For those of us that like to dig around and make things work the way we want, this is great news. One issue that we’ve run into is trying to track the user activity over multiple domains – for example, you have a e-commerce site with loads of products.

You can track all that activity, no problem. But when they go to checkout, they are redirected to a separate domain to process their payment, and all user activity from then on is lost. Enter _linkByPost()

From Google Code:
    _linkByPost(formObject, useHash)
    This method works in conjunction with the _setDomainName() and _setAllowLinker() methods to enable cross-domain user tracking. The _linkByPost() method passes the cookies from the referring form to another site in a string appended to the action value of the form (HTTP POST). This method is typically used when tracking user behavior from one site to a 3rd-party shopping cart site, but can also be used to send cookie data to other domains in pop-ups or in iFrames.

                    This is hot.

                    Other cool tidbits we’ll be experimenting with include:

                    _setVar() : assign custom variables for users based on site behavior, such as changing preferences to their account after login, etc…

                    _trackEvent() : this ones great. Ever wonder what the user is doing while watching a video or interacting with some app on your site? Now you can assign event tracking calls to Analytics, like whether they hit play, rewound hit play again, etc…

                    _trackTrans(): define SKU numbers, item descriptions and categories, price, quantity, etc. for your payment transactions and get Analytics to report it back to you in a way that’s easily understood.

                    From Google Code:

                      Sends both the transaction and item data to the Google Analytics server. This method should be called after _trackPageview(), and used in conjunction with the _addItem() and addTrans() methods. It should be called after items and transaction elements have been set up.

                     

                    Final Thoughts:

                    I know this is a little “geeky” for some, but the best way to improve conversions is to be able to test everything. Now we can. Thanks Google.