Google Analytics – Hours & Days Report

Here is a free Google Analytics report showing visits, pageview, bounce rate, and visitor type metrics in a couple of ways you don’t often see them:

  • By ‘Hour of Day’
  • By ‘Day of Week’

There are 2 versions of the report, one for ‘all sites’, and one for ‘ecommerce’ sites:

Background & Description

Here’s an example from the report. Below, you see I’ve sorted it by ‘visits’ descending, and this tells me that Hour 21. (9pm) was the most popular within the period I was looking at. (eg, I could be looking at a period of a month, and it would add up all of the visits within each ‘9pm’ hour to come to the total ‘134,108’):


These are useful for everyone, but especially for content sites or anyone interested in ‘content marketing‘.

The 4 tabs in the report cover:

  1. Hour of Day – when do you get most visits/pageviews. If you set the timespan on this over (say) a couple of months, this helps you figure out when you’re most visited. Experiment with post times, try and fill in the ‘quiet’ gaps, etc, and see how you can improve based on the data.
  2. Day of Week – very similar to the first tab, but for day of week.
  3. Day + Hour Combined. If you sort this descending by number of visits, it tells you very quickly which ‘hour of the week’ your site is most visited.
  4. ‘Linear’ Date + Hour. This shows you, over any period, which were the most popular periods on the site. (in other words, rather than saying ‘9pm was the most popular over the entire period’, it would say ‘9pm on 7th january was the most popular single hourly period’).

You can apply the Google Analytics Report to any account/profile by clicking this link: . If you have an ecommerce site, this version contains revenue/transaction/conversion metrics:

Mobile Device Orientation

Which way do people hold their phones/tablets when browsing websites? Here’re the results of a little experiment in ‘Mobile Device Orientation’. There are only about 1,500 visits here, but interesting nonetheless:


This shows info ‘on load’ of pages, but it is broadly similar on this site when factoring in people who rotate the device after the page loaded.

I’m about to roll this out for a couple of large sites, but thought I would share the stats before I do so. If you’d like any more info drop me a note!

Marketing an Ecommerce Site on a £10k Budget

Here are lots of good, useful, interesting answers to the hypothetical question: “How would you market an ecommerce site on a £10k per year budget?”.

£10k Marketing Budget Challenge

What would you do if you had a fixed £10k budget to market an ecommerce site for the next year?

Storified by dan barker· Wed, Feb 27 2013 14:58:33

Twitter #Ecommerce Q: What would you do if you had a fixed budget of £10k to market an ecommerce site for the next year?dan barker
@danbarker 1) Hire a part-time writer that understands the brand and social. 2) Produce and distribute shitloads of quality content.Chris Lake
@danbarker what @lakey said plus a good customer based post-order email strategy and ways to maximise UGCAlex Moss
@danbarker Need to show ROI to gain next contract. Your decisions become crucial – what provides more return – PPC, SEO or CRO?Future State Digital
@dergal @danbarker I’d probably do the same. You’ve only got a year to build the business, just don’t spunk it all in the first 2 weeks.Matty Curry
@danbarker produce lots of words and pictures relevant to market & put them online w/value add for subscribers.Ruben Lightfoot
@danbarker Depending on an agreeable CPA, it’d be PPC. Then again, I am biased :-)Shaun Causer
@danbarker develop an email mkt strategy that coincides with your social media and web content strategy.Matthew Adams
@danbarker Hire a freelance/part time copywriter and generate as much quality and meaningful content as possibleMike Upton
@danbarker Got to capture the status quo first. To be honest, 10k on improving stock control could "make money" for the clientFuture State Digital
@danbarker conversion optimisation 1st, then some retargeting and look-alike modeling campaigns. Not sure if 10k will take you very far thouKarine Nascimento
@danbarker save it all and go large in December :)Rob Barham
@danbarker for the next year, eh? I like the PPC method, so long as it was tailored + reinvestable. Content might take too long to pay back.Charlie Southwell
Interesting in the response to that ‘£10k marketing budget’ question – Lots of people define ‘conversion optimisation’ as marketing. You?dan barker
@danbarker I agree. I do it, and ‘marketing’ is in my job title. There ya go!Michel Hendriks
@danbarker Normally comes from same budget "pot" but of course you need traffic before you can testRob Barham
@danbarker conversion optimisation assumes there’s already traffic.Ruben Lightfoot
@SEMantiks @danbarker my view is that as we know nothing about this "ecom site" we’re marketing, building on-page value is key.Ruben Lightfoot
@SEMantiks @danbarker but if the site is good and tells a good story, CPA PPC is a good way to ensure good ROI.Ruben Lightfoot
@rubenlightfoot @SEMantiks @danbarker indeedy, as long as you have a good product and decent site, your priority should be volumeMatty Curry
@mattycurry @rubenlightfoot @danbarker I’d agree Matty, like Dan said, where does UX and conversion optimisation end and marketing start.Shaun Causer
@danbarker optimisation part of marketing. So are surveys, usability + other market research, I think. Original q more about promotion.Tim Leighton-Boyce
“@timlb: @danbarker optimisation part of marketing. Usability I would qn!!Mark Pinkerton
@timlb @danbarker Dan – nice topic. Im not sure it does fall under Marketing.. I’m getting some ideas for a blog post… 🙂 Great convo!Daniel (WebAnalyst)
@SEMantiks @mattycurry @danbarker Broadly, UX & CRO = changing what you already have. Marketing = Adding something new.Ruben Lightfoot
@danbarker Content, content, content, social and email. In that order.Dan Goodfellow
@danbarker Test and develop conversion funnel, build an audience through blog and email, then SEO and landing pages.9.9k. £100 for beerDaniel Truman
@danbarker Point 2 – blogging, wordpress, tweeting and linking without spamming and using these keywords can still help with traffic drive!Eddie Stopford
Thoughts? RT @danbarker: What would you do if you had a fixed budget of £10k to market an ecommerce site for the next year?Chris Lake
@lakey @danbarker Pray your sales target isn’t >£1m!Andy Harding
@lakey @danbarker Get another job.Manley
@lakey @danbarker spend it on wine then panic.Alexander Velky
@AlexanderVelky @danbarker Most realistic answer yet.Chris Lake
@danbarker outreach to influential people to promote the product/ brand. Maybe a nice gift basket of product.Mike Robertson
@danbarker depends on the sector. If it was seasonal and I’d get another 10k next year, I’d probably blow the lot on in season ppc.Joshua Geake
Nice! @dergal put together his thoughts on "what to do with a fixed £10k marketing budget": #thedigitalsdan barker

Can Algorithms Break the Law?

Here’s a breakdown of how 2 of the most prominent search algorithms on the web appear to be presenting information that it would be illegal for you or I to communicate.

  1. The first is the Twitter search algorithm, tweaked recently in a way which (inadvertently) increases the likelihood of people finding out ‘illegal’ information.
  2. The second is a Google algorithm, and 2 user interface changes which (again inadvertently) very much increase the chance of ‘illegal’ information being communicated.


The Background – a Very Sad Story

In the entire history of the British legal system, there are apparently only four prisoners who have been given new identities. One of them was a boy (now a man) who used to be called Jon Venables. When he was a child, Jon Venables & another boy (Robert Thompson) killed a very, very young boy (James Bulger). If you live in the UK, you will almost certainly know this.

Because of their crime, Jon Venables & Robert Thompson are very likely to be in extreme danger if the general public can identify them. Therefore, they were given new identities, and those identities were protected.

Since Jon Venables was given a new identity, nobody is allowed to know his new name: It is illegal to publish anything claiming to identify him, or even to ‘purport to identify’ anyone as him whether it is him or not.


Photos of Jon Venables were apparently published on Twitter recently. This hit the front pages of most newspapers in the UK (including, above, The Guardian).

The Twitter Search Algorithm Change

Until recently, Twitter’s search algorithm only returned very recent tweets. A few weeks ago, that was altered to also include much, much older tweets. That coincided with the 20 year anniversary of Jon Venables’ crime. As a result, lots of very old tweets and photos claiming to ‘out’ Jon Venables identity suddenly became visible far more easily, at a time when many were searching for his name. Many of these photos were retweeted; some new ones were posted, some were taken from Twitter and posted on other websites, and many users posted names that they claimed were Jon Venables’ new identity.

That hit the front page of most UK newspapers (though none made the link with Twitter’s algorithm update), and – of course – an investigation was carried out.

Twitter Search Last Week: Jon Venables

Here’s what happened if you searched Twitter for ‘Jon Venables’ a week ago:


You can see there, Twitter has pulled a ‘Top news’ box covering the investigation. It has automatically pulled a ‘Top’ tweet that was Retweeted 49 times, claiming to out Jon Venables’ new identity & urging readers to spread it.

There are 2 big red blocks there too where I’ve obscured 2 important items:

Item 1: Top Photos

On the left (item 1) I’ve obscured 2 photos showing an adult man, roughly the age Jon Venables would be now. Those were posted by users, but the algorithm picked them out as ‘top photos’.

Item 2: A man’s name

Across the top (item 2) I’ve obscured a man’s name, flagged as being a ‘Related search’ for ‘Jon Venables’. Again, as with the photos, this was posted by Twitter users, but Twitter’s algorithm picked it out & highlighted it as being a related search.

Clean Up?

Since this all came out, the UK Attorney General has announced that there will be ‘contempt’ proceedings launched against people who posted images ‘purporting’ to be Jon Venables.

Twitter has obviously made a substantial effort to clean up the photos too.

Twitter Search Now: Jon Venables

Today, if you search for ‘Jon Venables’ on Twitter, the photos on the left (which previously showed an adult man) have gone. BUT, the ‘Related’ search term, showing a man’s name, is still in place:


If you click through on the man’s name in the obscured ‘Related Search’ up there, it leads you through to this:


Twitter Summary

In the first instance, Twitter’s algorithm automatically highlighted photos & details of an adult man whenever users searched for ‘Jon Venables’. Twitter users themselves posted the content, but the algorithm crowdsourced from that to highlight particular photos, and a particular name.

Twitter have obviously gone to some lengths to clean things up here. BUT, on searching for ‘jon venables’, the algorithm still leaves a fairly prominent trail toward a man’s name, and toward tweets linking to photos of an adult man.

And Google?

The Google story is much, much shorter. It involves 2 relatively recent additions to Google’s user interface:

  1. The ‘knowledge graph box’ – an area on the right of search results that is intended to reveal ‘Facts’ related to searches.
  2. Google’s updated Image Search results, which used to show images in the context of a web page, but now simply show the image on a black background on Google itself.

Here’s what happens when you search for ‘Jon Venables’ on Google today:


I’ve obscured an area on the right there (within the ‘knowledge graph’ box), where there are 2 photos (within a single image) of an adult man.

And when you click on that obscured area, it leads us to this quite scary screen:


A few weeks ago, clicking the image from search results would have taken you to the website in question (faded in the background), showing clearly that it was a website other than Google publishing it. Today, doing so keeps you on Google’s own property (note the ‘’ URL). It simply shows a black background, 2 photos of a man, and the name ‘Jon Venables’, the old name of a person it is illegal to identify.

10 Google Analytics Site Speed Tips

Google Analytics has a set of ‘speed’ reports, found under the the ‘Content’ left-hand navigation item. Here are 10 very quick “Google Analytics Site Speed” tips, collected together for ease of reading:

  1. All of the load speed data in Google Analytics is taken from users’ browsers themselves, so is fairly accurate.
  2. The browser stores all this speed data; Google Analytics then pulls that data at the point the code fires.
  3. Some browsers don’t support page load speed recording (notably Safari) so be very careful on ‘mobile’ speed.
  4. It’s tempting to pay attention to the top level “Avg. Page Load Time (sec)” metric that Google Analytics gives you. Slightly more useful than that: The ‘Distribution‘ report is tucked away behind a tab in the ‘Page Timings’ report. The distribution report is very useful, as you can see ‘% of pages loaded in less than X seconds’.
  5. ‘DOM Timings’ reports were added long after the main speed reports. They’re found in a similar area to the ‘distribution’ report, and are useful as they show how long it takes for your pages to become usable. (giving you ‘Avg. Document Interactive Time (sec)’ and ‘Avg. Document Content Loaded Time (sec)’ for each page).
  6. A big caveat: Google Analytics only tracks ‘page load speed’ for between 1-5% of pageviews as standard. You can fix that (see point 8).
  7. Because the sample size is so low, remember that ‘average’ page load speed is therefore affected if the speed of a page has only been recorded a few times.
  8. To improve the sample rate issue, you can add some extra code to your Google Analytics implementation. This essentially tells Google Analytics ‘try and collect page load speed data for 100% of page views’. Based on the earlier caveat that not all browsers support it, and the caveat that Google cap the total number of sessions they will record this for, you will never see a 100% sample rate, but if you are below that cap, this will increase it significantly. I have known sites achieve site speed data for 30% or more of pageviews, vs the default 1%. The code required to do this is as follows:
    • For older versions of Google Analytics (these will appear in your code as ‘ga.js’ or ‘dc.js’): _gaq.push([‘_setSiteSpeedSampleRate’, 100]); // this should go above the ‘trackpageview’ line in your Google Analytics code to improve accuracy
    • For newer versions of Google Analytics (these will appear in your code as ‘analytics.js’): ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXX-Y’, {‘siteSpeedSampleRate’: 100});
  9. If you’re looking for a good KPI on site speed, ‘% of pages loaded in less than 3 secs’ is a safe bet. (and ‘less than 7 seconds’ as a secondary).
  10. You may want to isolate that KPI further: ‘UK Only: % pages loaded in under 3 secs’ split by new vs return, for example.

I’ve done quite a bit of work with ‘Google Analytics Page Speed’ reports & have found them really useful, but with plenty of hidden caveats in the data. Feel free to ask any questions if I can help, & do share this with others if you think it would be useful.

Acid Attacks & Online Crime Research

There’s a story in the news at the moment about a woman (Naomi Oni) who was attacked with acid on the way home from work, almost lost her sight as a result, and had her skin badly burned.

The Follow-up Story: “Was it self-inflicted????”

A series of follow-up stories ask “Did she actually do this to herself???“. Here are a couple of headlines from The Independent & The Daily Mail:


Headline from the Independent


Headline from the Daily Mail

The Two Facts Behind These Headlines

Each of these headlines is based on 2 facts (the second is key):

  1. The police have taken her laptop as part of the investigation
  2. Naomi Oni had previously searched Google for terms related to ‘acid attacks’, having seen a documentary on a woman called Katie Piper, who was herself attacked with acid.

The detail of exactly which terms she searched for is not included in any of the articles; only that she had searched & visited resulting pages related to acid attacks, and related to Katie Piper.

A Missing Fact: People Search For This Stuff Whenever it Hits Headlines

I don’t know the details of Naomi Oni’s case (the key detail would most likely be the actual terms she searched for), but it’s worth pointing out that whenever an unusual crime is featured on TV/in newspapers, people search for the crime itself in droves online.

Here are a couple of trend graphs to bear that out. Each of these graphs shows the period within which Naomi Oni’s story hit the headlines, and when she herself was featured on TV. As you can see from both graphs, there is a massive spike of interest in searches online when the story hit the headlines, with a minor bump in January, and a much bigger bump when it was featured more widely nationally.

Google Trends Data for ‘Acid Attack’:



Note the bumps in Jan/Feb. The first as the story is picked up, the second as it is featured in greater detail after she gives an interview.

Wikipedia Page View data for the ‘Acid Throwing’ page:


Again here, a small bump on the wikipedia ‘acid throwing’ page as the story is first covered, and an enormous spike that coincides exactly with the broadcast of an interview with her, covered by the BBC News.


  • This woman may or may not have inflicted this on herself, but the detail in the articles (the fact that she had searched for acid attacks online having seen a documentary) is just not enough to draw any sort of conclusion at all – it is a very common behaviour.
  • The fact that she searched for ‘acid attack’ having seen a documentary on Katie Piper is not unusual in the slightest.
  • The knock-on effect of this woman’s story is that tens of thousands of other people have now searched for ‘Acid Attacks’ & ‘Acid Throwing’ onliine.
  • Every newspaper mention of ‘acid attacks’, or any unusual crime, essentially acts as an ad for the phenomenon, leading people to further research it online.

The Next Big Challenge for Responsive Design

Here’s a graph showing interest in the phrase ‘Responsive Design’ over the last couple of years:


(the big dip toward the end is christmas – everyone forgot about responsive design for christmas it seems)

Responsive design is (as you probably know) where you design a website/pages in such a way that the content displays differently on different devices. Usually that means navigation/content is organised differently  on phone vs desktop/laptop (and sometimes differently on tablets, and at other screen sizes).

One of the largest problems for this tactic over the last 6 months has been that – whereas screen resolution (the number of pixels displayed) on smartphones used to be roughly the same across all phones – this now varies wildly. For example:

  • Old iPhone screens were 320 pixels wide by 480 pixels high (320×480).
  • The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a screen resolution of 720×1280 pixels.

In other words, only taking into account those 2 phones, if you’re designing a ‘mobile site’, you’re actually designing for 2 very, very different displays: One that displays 153,600 pixels, and one that displays 921,600 pixels (ie. 6 times as many pixels).

As a result, there are many sites that were designed when 320×480 resolution phones were the norm, which now look very odd when viewed on newer phones.

The New Problem: Laptop screen resolutions are about to become radically different

The new problem is very similar to the phone pixel problem, but across laptops. For the last few years, the majority of laptop sales have been among laptops with roughly similar screen resolutions., give or take 10-20%.

Over the next 6 months however, laptop manufacturers are focussing on much, much higher screen resolutions. Here’s one example to illustrate this:

  • A current 11″ Macbook Air has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. (ie roughly the same as a Galaxy S3)
  • The Google Chromebook Pixel has a resolution of 2560×1700 pixels. (ie. roughly twice as wide as the macbook air screens, and a massive eight times the width of an old iPhone)

Here are 2 mockups showing what a website will look like on a Macbook Air, and how it will look on the Google Chromebook Pixel.

Keep in mind the 2 devices have roughly similar physical dimensions. In other words, the screen you are looking at will be the same size, but the content displayed on it will look radically different:

What You’ll See on a Google Chromebook Pixel:


What You See on a Macbook Air:

econ6In other words, both laptops are (very roughly speaking) a similar size, but the content displayed on them will look utterly, radically different in scale.

 The Compound Problem

If you add this new problem to the existing ‘phone resolution’ problem, it means that to simply design your site to look ok on ‘all phones’ and ‘all laptops’, you have to consider a massive range of resolutions, including:

  • Old iPhone: 320×480 pixels.
  • Samsung Galaxy S3: 720×1280 pixels.
  • Current 11″ Macbook Air: 1366×768 pixels.
  • Google Chromebook Pixel: 2560×1700 pixels.

Add in tablets to this, and more forthcoming Apple Retina products, and it becomes very messy firstly to design across all of this, and perhaps more importantly to optimise for conversions/user experience.

Google Plus UI Tweaks

They’ve just changed (quite significantly) the way the ‘+1’ & ‘share’ buttons on Google+ posts look. I thought it would be worth going back and looking at how things looked when it first launched vs how it looks now.

Below are 2 screengrabs of exactly the same Google+ post, 18 months apart. The first image shows how it looked at the time it was posted. The second image shows how it looks after 18 months of subtle, incremental UI tweaks.

Interesting to compare the 2, pick out the differences, and think about why they’ve made the changes.



Google Analytics Overview Charts – UI Change

Here’s another small tweak to the Google Analytics user interface.

The charts in ‘Overview’ reports used to be pinned to the left, even if you were using a very, very wide screen. Now, they concertina out depending on the width of your screen. (not shown in the screengrab below, they also now label these with any segments you have applied)