Tom Pellereau (Pic: PA)

Ok so I’ve not blogged in a while. Yeah? Sue me. I’ve been incredibly busy Freelancing; designing, managing, analysing, hacking, tweaking and filling up sketch books with as many notes as designs.  And even taking into account Holidays, I’ve only been unproductive for about 2 days a month. So far. There’s my ‘geek’ data for you.

Geekiness is an inherent part of the modern digital creative, my new self-employed status has meant that to stay competitive, I’ve taken a much greater intrest in data. Web data. The user experience and what the facts say for my clients’ work. As part of this the data, my Google Account is set up to give anonymous secure data about a few of the sites I manage.  In return, Google send an email called the Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter. But what is it for?

It’s an analysis of real data harvested from the globe’s websites – one of the key reasons why, when data is kept secure, sharing can benefit us all. I LOVE this shit – some of it confuses the hell out of me, but the rest fascinates me in the same way that Science does – it’s got so much to tell us about who we are, and our lives.

This is pretty fresh data – so feel free to tell your own story of what it says once you’ve digested it, and link me to it so I can see what you think too. Without all the so-called Geeks at Google and similar organisations, this data would be lost in a field. But Like Tom Pellereau from the BBC’s The Apprentice – let’s hear it for the ‘geeky’ types in this world, the studiers, the thinkers, the ‘nerds’…

Introduction:

This data is an experiment to surface more useful or interesting data to Analytics users. Data contained here comes from all websites which have opted-in anonymous data sharing with Google Analytics. Only those website administrators which have enabled this anonymous data sharing will receive this “benchmarking” newsletter.

You may be wondering, how many websites are in this ‘anonymous data sharing’ pool? Currently, hundreds of thousands, and Google have endeavoured to make all of the metrics here statistically significant.

The date range of comparison for this newsletter is from 1 November, 2010 to 1 February, 2011. Comparison is done with data from 1 November, 2009 to 1 February, 2010. Absolute metrics such as total number of visits, pageviews or conversions for all opted-in websites are not reported.

To simplify the prose, the phrase ‘websites’ will represent ‘websites which have opted into anonymous data sharing with Google Analytics’ for the rest of this newsletter. 

1. Site Metrics

Compared to a year ago, websites have seen reduced pages / visit, average time on site as well as bounce rate.

1/11/09 – 1/2/10 1/11/10 – 1/2/11 Difference
Pages/Visit 4.9 4.5 -0.4
Bounce Rate 48.2% 47.0% -1.2%
Avg. Time on Site 5:49 5:23 -0:26

1.1 Breakdown by Geography

Google’s anonymous database has aggregated geographic breakdown at the country level. Here are a few representative countries and their respective aggregate metrics. The first number in each cell represents the metric for the date range 1/11/10-1/2/11. The parenthesised number is the Year over Year delta compared to a year ago.

Country Pages / Visit Bounce Rate Avg. Time on Site
United States 4.7 (-0.1) 42.5% (-6.1%) 6:06 (-0:10)
United Kingdom 4.9 (-0.3) 41.5% (+0.2%) 5:38 (-0.27)
France 4.4 (-0.4) 49.7% (+1.4%) 4:40 (-0:08)
Brazil 4.1 (-0.1) 47.8% (-2.9%) 5:20 (+0:03)
China 4.1 (-0.1) 58.2% (+1.0%) 3:46 (+0:37)
Japan 3.9 (-0.1) 48.6% (-9.0%) 3:47 (-2:59)

For bounce rate, the distribution by country is plotted below:

The distribution above is annotated with some countries — which seem to indicate a story of leisure and stage of economic development. For a related metric: average time one site, the distribution by country is plotted below:

The type of countries annotated in the average time on site graph above seem to be in reverse order as those in the bounce rate distribution.

1.2 Breakdown by Traffic Sources

Traffic sources below are identified by how the “source” and “medium” parameters are received by the Google Analytics collecting servers. Here is an article describing what these designations refer to.

Traffic Sources Pages / Visit Bounce Rate Avg. Time on Site
Direct 4.0 (-0.5) 47.2% (-4.0%) 5:21 (-0:07)
Referral 5.0 (+0.1) 43.1% (-1.1%) 6:36 (-1:48)
Organic Search 4.9 (-0.1) 47.9% (-1.1%) 4:43 (+0:06)
CPC Search 5.6 (+0.0) 41.4 (-1.7%) 3:57(+0:07)

1.4 Conversion Rate Distribution

Many marketers’ favourite metric is conversion rate. Here is the worldwide distribution of Google Analytics “goal conversion rate” by country.

Would anyone have guessed that states which are known for conversions are also high for their citizens’ goal conversion rate? Note that for some states with small population, the statistical significance of the conversion metric comes into doubt.

2. Traffic Sources

Traffic sources below are identified by how the “source” and “medium” parameters are received by the Google Analytics collecting servers. Here is an article describing what these designations refer to.

% Visits from Sources 1/11/09 – 1/2/10 1/11/10 – 1/2/11 Difference
Direct 36.5% 36.8% +0.3%
Referral 21.0% 19.4% -1.6%
Search Engines 27.0% 28.0% +1.0%
Other 15.5% 15.8% +0.3%

3. Operating Systems

Browsers and Operation Systems (OS) are identified by the “referrer” string sent by users’ browsers.

% Visits from OS 1/11/09 – 1/2/10 1/11/10 – 1/2/11 Difference
Windows 89.9% 84.8% -5.1%
Macintosh 4.5% 5.2% +0.7%
Linux 0.6% 0.7% +0.1%
Other 5% 9.3% +4.3%
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