How to Use Google Analytics Content Grouping: 4 Business Examples

Content Grouping is a useful feature that let’s you group your website or app content together and view aggregate metrics for each group. This is particularly useful if you have a lot of content to analyze. Rolling up your content, based on your specific business structure, is very helpful when creating dashboards and other custom reports.

In this post I’ll talk about how to actually use the data and walk through some examples for various business types.

If you have not set up content groupings, please check out my post on how to set up Google Analytics content groupings.

Standard GA Reports

Your content groupings are available in Google Analytics behavior reports. Navigate to the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report. Notice at the top of the data table there is a selector for the primary dimension. This drop down list all of the content groupings that you added to Google Analytics.

Use the selector to choose a specific content grouping in your Google Analytics Content reports.

Use the selector to choose a specific content grouping in your Google Analytics Content reports.

This selector also exists in the navigation flow, so rather than viewing how users move from page to page, you can view how users move between the different types of content on your site.

You can also use your content groupings in the Navigation Summary report.

You can also use your content groupings in the Navigation Summary report.

Very handy for understanding the behavior of users!

It also exists in many other content reports, like the Landing Pages report and the Site Speed Page Timings report.

But who uses the standard reports these days? :) Analysis driven organisations use Custom Reports and Dashboards. Let’s look at how you can use content groupings in both features.

Custom Reports & Dashboards with Content Groupings

When you create a content grouping, Google Analytics will create a dimension for each content grouping.

Remember, a content grouping contains a number of groups, and each group can contain a number of pages or screens.

Each content grouping contains multiple content groups. A content group contains multiple pieces of content.

Each content grouping contains multiple content groups. A content group contains multiple pieces of content.

This means that the values for the content grouping dimension will be all of the content groups that you created within that grouping.

You can create up to five content groupings in Google Analytics, therefore you could have five new dimensions, one for each content grouping.

Use the content grouping dimensions just like you would any other dimension. Here’s a simple custom report that shows some a potential content grouping for a blog.

You can use your content groupings in a Google Analytics custom report.

You can use your content groupings in a Google Analytics custom report.

Then, when you look at the report, you’ll see something like this:

When you add a content grouping to a Google Analytics custom report, the data will be aggregated based on content group.

When you add a content grouping to a Google Analytics custom report, the data will be aggregated based on content group.

Note: I added this custom report to the Google Analytics solutions gallery. You can add it directly to your account here.

You can also use the content grouping dimension in your dashboards. Here is a very simple example using the page value metric and the content grouping dimension.

You can also use the Content Grouping dimension in a Google Analytics Custom Dashboard.

You can also use the Content Grouping dimension in a Google Analytics Custom Dashboard.

That’s really all there is to using content grouping in Google Analytics custom reports and custom dashboards. No go and give it a try!

One other note – the content grouping dimensions are hit level dimensions. This means that you can only use them with hit level metrics, like pageview, time on page, etc. You can not use them with session level metrics, like conversion rate, or revenue per visit.

Content Grouping Strategies

To really take advantage of content groupings you need to plan your content grouping carefully. You need to understand how your organization wants to analyze this data. So let’s look at a how different types of businesses might use content grouping.

Ecommerce: Patagonia.com

Patagonia sells outdoor equipment for men, women and children. They’re known for their ethos that you should travel “fast and light” when in the outdoors – take only what you need. They’re also known for their environmental advocacy. They incorporate both of these messages into their marketing stories.

Effectively breaking down the content structure could help each department at Patagonia better understand their marketing initiatives and site optimization efforts.

So how might we create a content grouping strategy based on their business?

Google Analytics Content Grouping can be used to organize the content on an ecommerce website.

Google Analytics Content Grouping can be used to organize the content on an ecommerce website.

Product pages: I would start by grouping all product pages together. It’s really important to understand what percentage of your users are making it to product pages. If people don’t look at product pages then they usually can’t buy something. And I’d take it one step further – group product pages by product line. I’d also be sure to differentiate category pages from the generic product pages.

You can mimic your product architecture with your content groupings.

You can mimic your product architecture with your content groupings.

Special selling tools: One cool feature that the Patagonia site has is the ‘kit builder’. This is a tool that let’s a customer build the best clothing combination for different conditions or activities. This is another section that could really use it’s own content group.

Special shopping tools can be categorized in their own group.

Special shopping tools can be categorized in their own group.

Checkout pages: Next I’d group all checkout pages together. These are all the pages in your checkout process. The percentage of people that see checkout pages might be very small, but I like to put these pages in their own group. They’re not product related, and they’re not marketing related. So they need their own group.

Account management pages: Many ecommerce sites let customers manage account settings, check the status of their order, manage returns, etc. I would lump all of these pages together in an Account Management group.

Marketing pages: Now we get into a large chunk of the content – marketing pages. Patagonia has a lot of information about their brand, and initiatives. Rather than lump all of this together as just Marketing pages, I would actually break all of this up into groups based on the different initiatives.

In the case of Patagonia I would use all of these different groups that you can see in the navigation.

Use a Google Analytics Content Grouping to categories marketing pages.

Use a Google Analytics Content Grouping to categories marketing pages.

Support pages: Business is all about relationships – and that’s represented by different types of support content. We can create a support group that containing any materials related to support. Again, you can create sub-groups for different types of support content (product support, order support, etc.)

Error pages: I like to group all error pages into a single group, then I can drill into the group and view the specific errors. This group can contain all different kinds of errors, depending on your personal preference. It could be technical errors, like 404 or 502 errors. Or it could be more functional errors, like when a user adds an incorrect credit card number during their purchase.

Software as a Service: Mailchimp.com

Mailchimp is a popular service that helps businesses manage their email marketing initiatives. Like all SaaS sites it’s primarily divided into two sections: a marketing section and an application section. The content grouping will mimic this general structure of content.

Product marketing pages: If people are going to sign up for the Mailchimp service then they need to know about the features! Product marketing page are pages dedicated to product information, this includes information about price, features, etc.

For a SaaS site, create groups for different kinds of marketing content.

For a SaaS site, create groups for different kinds of marketing content.

In addition to specific product information, there’s also a lot of thought leadership material to help drive marketing.

Marketing content pages: These pages are non-product marketing pages that help you demonstrate your thought leadership. It may be blog pages, or other content. In our example of mailchimp.com, there might be multiple groups. For example, they have a blog, but they also have a ton of research about email marketing. I would put this material in a marketing content group. Or even better, in the Reports group!

I would create a Google Analytics content group for the research reports on the MailChimp site.

I would create a Google Analytics content group for the research reports on the MailChimp site.

Application pages: The other side to a SaaS site is the actual application. This is the section of the site where you log in and actually use the product. Like the marketing pages, there can be many different types of application pages. Let’s go back to our example of Mailchimp.com. I would break down the content based on product features.

Perhaps we could use the application navigation as a template for the content structure.

You can create different groups for each part of the online application.

You can create different groups for each part of the online application.

Account management pages: Here’s another example of grouping different parts of the application together. We could easily group together the pages that control account management. And you can see from the image above that there are sections of the app dedicated to other functionality – all should be grouped accordingly.

Error pages: Like other types of sites it’s a good idea to group all error pages together. See the ecommerce section above for more details. These groups can be both website errors or application errors – like a login error page.

Gaming Application: Clash of Clans

We all use our mobile devices for incredibly important things, like waging medieval warfare on other clans! HA! Anyone out there like Clash of the Clans?

You can categorize app content using Google Analytics Content Groupings.

You can categorize app content using Google Analytics Content Groupings.

In reality, gaming apps are very similar to other business models – like publishing and commerce. Some games generate revenue from in-game ads while others up-sell users on features, like new levels. Some do both. We can group games content together just like we do ecommerce.

Game level screens: Most of the content for a game is probably level based. We can replicate this base structure in Google Analytics. If you’re a fan of Clash of the Clans then you there are other parts to the game in addition to levels. There are attack screens, chat windows, etc. All of these screens can be added to groups to roll-up the data.

Ecommerce screens: These screens are used to sell the user on pay features. In the case of Clash of Clans you can buy more gems, which can then be used to purchase other items, like more armies!

I would put all ecommerce app screens into a separate content group.

I would put all ecommerce app screens into a separate content group.

Configuration screens: Most apps have a configuration section. This is where the user can change everything from the language, to colors, etc.

Error screens: Last but not least we have error screens. Again, these can be technical app errors or functional errors, like login issues.

For Publishers: MarketingLand.com

Let’s face it, content grouping was made for the publishing industry! They’re the ones that have to organize thousands of pages of content. I don’t want to dwell on publishing too much, but let’s take a look at MarketingLand.com, a popular destination for anyone working in the digital marketing world.

I’ve actually written about how to customize google analytics for publishing sites in the posts Custom Variables for Publishers and how to measure how far users scroll down a page. I think both of those techniques still apply.

But now, if you’re a publisher, you can also use content groupings to organize the data about your content. This provides one more way to roll up data for analysis.

Content Category: Almost all publishers group content by category – and now this can be done with the content grouping feature.

Publishers can create content groups based on the organization of their content.

Publishers can create content groups based on the organization of their content.

Some publishing sites organize content in other ways, like by author or publication date. I would suggest creating content groups for topic categorization, and custom dimensions for any secondary organization (author, date, etc.)

Account pages: Some publishers, like the New York Times, offer a premium membership service. This is not the case with MarketingLand.com. But, if it did have a member’s section, you could group all of those pages together.

Error pages: Do I need to go over this again :)

I hope this post provides some inspiration for how you might use Content Grouping for your business. Ultimately how you organize your content groupings will be based on your organization. There is no right or wrong – just use a structure that is useful.

Questions or comment? Leave a note below – and happy grouping!

Be Sociable, Share!

    Like this post? Sign up to get posts delivered to your inbox.

    Comments

    1. says

      Brilliant post again Justin.

      So I have just created myself a couple of custom reports and a couple of fine widgets on the dashboard as you’ve outlined above. I already have clients who are structured internally by product groups who each in turn have their own marketing team so these reports are proving to be very handy and useful.

      I have one question, would you recommend filtering out (not set)? Why would you want to include it? The only reason I can think of is to see what proportion of visits are entering the site out of your grouping.

      • says

        @Pritesh: Great question about (not set). I don’t think you should include (not set) as it might cause some confusion. HOWEVER, I think it’s important to monitor (not set) to insure the quality of your content groups. If something appears that should be in a group then you can adjust your implementation. Thanks for the question.

    2. Sameer says

      Awesome Post! I On similar lines that you shared, I made content grouping for home appliance and electronics store. I made two groups – 1. Main Category and 2. Sub category. This helped to plan various campaigns and banners for the website. Really helpful!! Thanks a ton!!

    3. says

      Helpful post – I”m working on creating content groups right now. When you create an extraction rule for a content group, does it retroactively group the content? I would think that it does, but need to know for sure.

      Thanks!

      • says

        @Jessica: No, when you create a content grouping it does not apply the grouping to your historical data. It only applies the grouping from the date you implemented the grouping. It would take a lot of processing to apply everyone’s groupings to all their historical data. I hope that answers your question.

    4. Chris says

      Really helpful article, I appreciate your going into specific business examples. For your ecomm example, are you suggesting making one Grouping containing all of those groups? Or would each of your listed Groups be individual Groupings categories (ie a “Products” Grouping with each product type as a group)?

      Thanks!

    5. says

      Thanks for this extremely detailed post. The examples of grouping you have given are really useful. I tend to not want to have too many groupings, but reading this has made me realise how important it is to understand analytics in so much more detail.

    6. says

      I hate to be “that guy”, but could you run this through a spell checker before pushing it live? One or two typo’s is understandable but after awhile it detracts from an otherwise great post.

    Trackbacks

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>