I've used the sensationalist headline to highlight the importance of tagging on the accuracy of tracking visitor volume and user experience, since this is potentially overlooked by many site owners. If the title was just about tagging methodology maybe you wouldn't be reading this!
This post summarises the implications of tagging method on
1. Monitoring and improving site page download speed (latency).
2. Selecting the correct position in a page to embed campaign tracking and web analytics tags.
The 20% figure for improvement in pageviews is based on new research on page download speeds (latency)
by tagging solutions provider Tagman which compared tagging locations for two sites. The research found that moving the Google Analytics tag from the standard position at the bottom of the page to the less common position at the top of the page would increase page views by 20% since fewer people would bale out/bounce because of slow loading pages.
The page download speed research reviewed the impact on page loading from two sites, Askaprice.com, a lead generation site asking users to suggest a price they would pay for a car, and hecklerspray.com, a US celebrity news and gossip website.
There is an interview with Paul Cook of Tagman on Econsultancy which I recommend for more insights
1. Monitoring and improving page download speed (latency)
I highlighted the importance of download speed back in 2006 in a post on the 4 second rule of customer engagement. The new research suggests that in 2009 we should use a "1 second rule of engagement":
10% of traffic is lost for every second it takes for a page to load
So the implication, it that's worth thinking carefully about improving your page download speed which starts with benchmarking your current performance.
Tools for monitoring page download speed
There are many established enterprise performance systems like Keynote and Gomez. But there are many lower cost monitoring tools.
If you're not monitoing already then try Mon.itor.us - a tool you can easily setup to do a simple test against your competitors. I have set this up for this blog and it really shows the danger of including to many plugins on WordPress (and shared hosting!).
Some tools such as AlertSite and Chartbeat (from which the screengrab above is taken) now have Google Analytics integration so that a wider range of pages/journeys can be tested. Chartbeat also has some very interesting social media monitoring tools.
Please share your recommendations.
2. Selecting the correct position in a page to embed tracking tags
For <iframe> containers the research found:
The most popular way to deploy conversion tags (via an iFrame container positioned at the bottom of the page body (as used by the major container tag solutions)) is actually the worst for accurately reporting traffic, introducing a 15"€60% discrepancy
Moving the Google Analytics tag from the bottom to the top of the page increased the reported traffic by 20%.
It's worth reading the recommendations from the Econsultancy interview which I summarise as:
1. Test the number and position of tracking tags on page load rates, bounce and conversion rates
2. Position <iframe> tracking at the top of the page
4. Delete unused/unecessary tracking tags.
5. Consider unified tagging systems such as Tagman which can improve performance and accuracy.