Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Google Analytics Now Showing Site Overlay

Google Analytics Now Showing Site Overlay

Site Overlay is one of the most popular aspects of some high scale (and cost) analytic platforms. Site overlay allows one to view their site within the analytics program. The analytics program then overlays certain statistics on the website, so you can view exactly how certain pages and links are preforming.

The most common use of site overlay is to make quick decisions on how the home page is preforming. Do you have a product on the home page that isn’t converting well? Site overlay will let you know that, and then you can make some quick adjustments to hte image, or replace the valuable real estate with a higher preforming link or image.

To access Google Analytics Site Overlay, log into your analytics account. Naviage to analytics, and you should see the navigation screen below:

Click on ‘-Site Overlay’ and you’ll be presented with your website.

Some items to note about the Analytics Frame:

  • If you are using a frame busting script, Site Overlay will not work as your site should reload the Google Analytics page onto your website.
  • If you are using a frame busting script and it doesn’t break out of the Site Overlay frame – find another script.

Some things to note about my Conversion Tracking:

  • G3 = Goal 3 in the user defined analytics.
  • G3 = Someone who has filled out the form for my Free AdWords Keyword Book
  • I’ve set the form at a dollar rate of $10 (For free items, round numbers are useful to examine dollars and percentages)

In the Site Overlay screen, there are blue and green bars.

  • The blue bar represents total number of clicks on any particular link.
  • The green bar represents the quality of that click (as it pertains to average score)

Average Score is a new metric for Google Analytics and is defined as:

Many Google Analytics reports include the Average Score metric. Average Score is a way of determining which pages on your site are most valuable. Pages with the highest scores are those which lead to a large proportion of high-value conversions.

Average score for a page is calculated as follows:

(Total Value of Conversions Subsequent to Page Visit) / (Total Number of Page Visits)


One can click on multiple bars and leave them open for number comparisons:

If this were an ecommerce site, there are some interesting observations we could make based upon the numbers presented.

The first screen shot is the main link from the homepage that goes directly to the eBook page:

What we can learn from these statistics:

  • Not many people form the homepage click on this link. Only 3.71%, or 21 people during this time frame, clicked on the link.
  • Of those who did click on the link, 38.1% of them filled out the form and became a conversion.

If this were an eCommerce site, this is the assumptions that I’d be starting from:

  • The conversion rate is excellent, meaning the destination page from that link does not have to be modified.
  • The click percentage is relativly low. Since this link has a high conversion rate, it would be time to think about how to increase that link’s click through rate.
    • This could take the form of a different from page copy.
    • It could mean adding an image to the page (images capture the eye and often lead to higher CTRs).
  • The other thing to note, is if the page has such a high conversion rate – is the page accessible from other pages on the website? Adding a navigational item to the download could aid in more total conversions.

The next screenshot is those who clicked on the home page link.

Please note, this is a screenshot of the homepage, so this is the number of people who clicked on the homepage link from the homepage.

It’s no surprise that the conversion rate and average score on this link is fairly low. If someone was already looking at the homepage and didn’t click the more direct product link, then odds are, reloading the same page is not going to do much for their user experience.

However, the fact that 15.37% of people clicked the homepage link from the homepage probably means they didn’t realize where they were in the first place. This is obviously an issue, and in an ecommerce site should be addressed. Possible ways to address this could include:

  • Removing the homepage link completely if one is one the homepage.
  • Adding a bread crumb navigation so visitors understand exactly where in the website they are browsing.
  • Adding more attractive options on the homepage so that visitors don’t feel they need to view the homepage to find what they’re looking for.

The next link leads to the ‘about section’:

The actions on this link surprised me, therefore I included it in the screenshot:

The about page doesn’t have a direct link to the download. One has to navigate away from that page into the projects page, homepage, or blog entry about the eBook for one to arrive at the download page. While the total number of clicks is pretty low on this link, the fact that those who follow that path through the site convert at a stunning 36% could mean a few things:

  • The about page does its job of convincing someone they are getting information from an expert in the field (This is not a bragging statement, its what I’d tell a 3rd party if I was doing usability and conversion consulting for them).
  • It would be worth testing adding a link on the about page (within the context of the page, so a short bullet point about the eBook) to see if that further increased conversion rates.
  • With a click percentage of less than 2%, not many people are looking that deep into the website’s author. So, while spending a little time on the page could be useful, since its not a major traffic stream, it would not be worth spending several hours working on that page compared to the benefits that would be reaped by other suggestions.


The one metric that is missing is the average page views after a particular link is clicked (There are some technical issues with that however, as average page view by navigation should have a filter of all, from initial page view, from current page view, etc – and puts additional strain on the database).

Overall, the use of Site Overlay can give one an excellent insight into how visitors are engaged with various pages. With the web, and the amount of statistics we can bury ourselves in – its important to know when something should be used.

If you have a 100k page site, a tool like this is very useful for the top level pages and special promotion pages. Using a tool like this is wonderful for taking a sampling of interior pages and how visitors are interacting with your website. However, on a site of that size, one should be looking at overall averages as well for various product pages in determining designs and wording that help with conversions.

In a small site, this tool is wonderful as you can start to customize every page by conversion rates and visitor activity. However, overall averag
es are still useful in seeing your site from a holistic standpoint and not just page by page.

Please note: When I talk about overall averages – they are only so useful. Very good averages start to occur when you filter results. An example of filtering would be looking only at averages from people who came from AdWords, or YSM, or a particular banner ad. Each form of traffic has its own characteristics, and you should embrace those differences, not average them into your overall statistics.

Google Analytics Site Overlay is a great tool. It also has a difficult price to beat: Free. Google continues to make its mark throughout the web by offering very powerful tools at this price point. Offering an analytics program for free that has the ability for one to understand their AdWords conversions and ROI is inherently dangerous. If AdWords doesn’t produce the ROI, conversions, etc that advertisers want, then they could start spending less.

On the flip side, if analytics proves to advertisers how well their advertising dollars are succeeding on Google, it helps them increase their budget and offer more profit for all.

I have a feeling (based on many conversations with Google individuals) that the real answer is they completely believe in their product. Its this belief in the quality of both their traffic and their product that they want to see advertisers succeed, and they are offering the tools to assist them in making these beliefs a reality.

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