Saturday, March 12, 2011

Understanding Traffic Sources to Your Etsy Shop in Google Analytics

The Issue

Being in web marketing as a career, I use Google Analytics daily and really view it as an invaluable tool for being successful on the web. So when I discovered I could add Google Analytics to my Etsy shop, I was ecstatic. And although the directions per Etsy were not as clear as they should be, especially for non-web marketers, I was able to make it through and get Analytics running. But as data came in, I was perplexed.

Why, as a new site that no one really knows of yet, was I getting so much direct traffic? And why was Etsy, which should be my primary source of traffic, not listed as a referrer? And why were sites that do not link to me being listed as a referrer? Hmmm...



Some Definitions

Before I go any deeper, here's some definitions of traffic types:

Direct: Traffic to your website from people that type your URL into the address bar in their web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) and go directly to your site.

Sources of Direct Traffic

Referral: Traffic to your site from other sites like Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Search Engine: Traffic to your site from a search result page. This can be from the big ones like Google, Yahoo, or Bing or the smaller ones.

Sources of Search Engine Traffic

The Answer

So, back to the matter at hand. Why so much direct traffic, why no Etsy traffic, and why so much erroneous referral traffic?

Here's the answer: The way Etsy has Google Analytics setup is with Etsy.com as the main domain. This means that to Google Analytics, Etsy.com and StudioEleven11.Etsy.com are the same site. Therefore, when someone types in Etsy.com in the address bar, peruses Etsy.com, and then visits my shop, the traffic source will be listed as 'Direct' despite the fact that they typed in 'Etsy.com' and not my shop's URL.

This also explains why sites that do not link to my shop are shown as referral traffic. These sites link to Etsy, which in turn contains my shop. So when someone comes from this site to Etsy, looks around, and then visits me, they are listed as a referral to StudioEleven11 despite the fact that they are actually a referral to Etsy.com.

Correctly Understanding the Data

This integration is faulty for a number of reasons:
  1. You will never know how many people are going directly to your shop vs. Etsy and then being sent to your shop. This makes it hard to gauge brand (shop) recognition, awareness, and growth.
  2. It's impossible to distinguish between sites that send you traffic directly and sites that send traffic to Etsy and then find you by accident. For marketing partnerships and link building, this makes it hard to identify and target sites that send YOU qualified traffic and like YOUR items specifically.
  3. You will never know which keywords your site actually ranks for in the search engines. (This also explains why some weird keywords may be listed in your keyword reports.) If someone does a search for 'red shoes', clicks on an Etsy search result, visits the shop, and then visits you, Google Analytics will list the keyword 'red shoes' as giving you traffic when clearly it did not.
In a correct integration, your shop's web address and Etsy.com would be seen as separate. This gives you the ability to know for sure who types in your web address and comes TO YOU and who puts a link in their blog and sends traffic TO YOU. The current Etsy Google Analytics integration muddies the water so that you have no idea who comes directly TO YOU and who comes to you from within Etsy.

I suppose the setup they have now is the best offering everything considered, but this issue needs to be explained somewhere to everyone. I believe there was a one line mention that 'Direct' traffic was from Etsy.com as well, but further explanation needs to be done to explain this to non-web marketers.

This issue makes Google Analytics a hit counter, at best. Use it to gauge visits and your most visited pages (products) but for the most part, disregard the 'Traffic Sources' data.

Hope this helps!


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9 comments:

  1. No Conversion tracking. That would be most helpful. Need own site for that.

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  2. Agreed. There are pro's and con's of Etsy. This is a HUGE con. Too bad they don't less us customize our own GA code. We could easily solve a lot of their problems!

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  3. I was totally baffled by those crazy referrals a while ago. I'd contacted Nichole at littlebrownpen.blogspot, because it looked like my etsy shop had a referral from there, when I hadn't; and thankfully she told me about the confusion in google analytics. I was at the stage of suspecting some kind of bot, (because I don't really know anything about them and they seem scary), so I was quite happy it was just a glitch resulting form the vagueness of the tracking code placement.

    A hit's a hit, I suppose. Still, it would be nice if analytics and etsy worked better together.

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  4. Thanks for this will follow you. Cheers for sharing.

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  5. Thanks so much for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you, so glad I found your article on Handmadeology this morning and your link here too!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks, very helpful article. I was wondering why strange keywords were showing up that have nothing to do with my shop's content.

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  8. Thanks for the tips!
    If you're interested in any rustic, shabby chic antiques, please check out my etsy stores:
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/pennyfarthingvintage

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/upscaleyardsale

    ReplyDelete

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