UK HE Libraries Using Google Analytics

How many UK Higher Education Library websites are running Google Analytics, and how many of them are actually using them to report anything other than sitewide pageviews and visitor numbers?

A couple of years ago, I ran a series of posts on Library Analytics where I started to explore some of the ways in which Google Analytics (as it was then) could be used to help us start to understand how a library website was being used by its different sorts of visitors.

Two years on, and I’ve started looking again at Googalytics in the Library, and will hopefully get round to publishing a few posts at least about what I’ve learned about using as it currently stands for making sense of Library website usage, and for what we may be able to report back to course teams about library website activity of users referred from course pages on the OU VLE.

One thing I thought I’d like to try to do is come up with custom reports, segments and goal recipes that might be transferable, or useful to other HE Library websites, as well as identify “best practice” approaches that are used by other HE libraries running Google Analytics… But which libraries are running Google Analytics?

Using a list of HE Library websites grabbed from a November, 2009 dump of a scrape of the Sconul website (by @ostephens, I think?), I ran a quick python script to sniff library websites for evidence of Google Analytics tracking codes (results).

Total number of websites checked 181
Number with Google Analytics code detected 110 Percentage: 0.60773480663
Number without Google Analytics code detected 67 Percentage: 0.370165745856
Number of pages failed to load 4 Percentage: 0.0220994475138

So, it seems like a fair few folk are running Google Analytics… but I wonder: what are they reporting, what segments and custom reports do they find most useful, what goals have they defined (and do they carry a meaningful “financial” conversion value? If so, defined how?), are they in any sense “actionable” (that is, have they been used to prompt interventions to increase traffic, influence on-site behaviour, feed in to website design changes, feed in to subscription or book acquisition policies, improve links with course academics, update reading lists, contribute to VLE content or structure, schedule and staff online help services, influence opening hours etc. etc.)

If you are working in an HE library, running Google Analytics, and can provide even fragmentary answers to any of the above questions, please reply in a comment below, or feel free to email me (in confidence, if required) at:

PS I’m even going to start looking to the literature, too… So for example, this is next on my reading list: Turner, S. J. (2010). Website Statistics 2.0: Using Google Analytics to Measure Library Website Effectiveness. Technical Services Quarterly, 27(3), 261-278. doi:10.1080/07317131003765910

PPS I thought I’d follow the single citation to that paper too, but it seems I can’t unless I pay for it…

This is interesting, methinks. Not only is the content of the paper kept behind a paywall, but so is its incoming link context…

“Look at me, Look at me” – Rewriting Google Analytics Tracking Codes

A couple of quick post hoc thoughts to add to Google/Feedburner Link Pollution:

1) there’s an infoskills issue here based on an understanding of what proxied links are, what is superfluous in a URI (Google tracking attributes etc);

2) there’s fun to be had… so for example, @ajcann recently posted on how students are Leicester are getting into the bookmarked resource thing and independently “doing some excellent work on delicious, creating module resources”: Where’s the social?.

Here’s the original link as polluted by Feedburner (I clicked through to the page from Google Reader):

Normally, I would have stripped the tracking cod from the link I made above to Alan’s post. Instead, I used this:

(The campaign element is the category I used for this post, the content is the shortcode for the post.)

Don’t ya just love it: tracking code spam :-)

So I’m thinking – maybe I need a WordPress plugin that will preemptively clean all external links of Google tracking codes and then add my own ‘custom’ tracking stuff on instead (under the assumption that the linked to site is running Google Analytics. If it isn’t, then the annotations are just an unsightly irrelevance, or noise in the URI…