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How to increase reported traffic by 20% overnight (for free)

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 24 Aug, 2009
Essential Essential topic

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

The research looks at two main types of tags: first the <iframe> type tags used for campaign tracking by tools such as Doubleclick DART and the Javascript 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
For the Javascript tags such as that used by GA:
Moving the Google Analytics tag from the bottom to the top of the page increased the reported traffic by 20%.

If you have insert Google Analytics tags, you will know that the standard advice is to position at the bottom of the page so that they don't interfere with the user experience, but they have to be installed at the top of the page for E-commerce tracking and tracking across multiple domains to enable other Javascript functions to be called on the page.

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

3. Consider positioning Javascript tracking at the top of the page if a postive affect occurs since this will give more accurate reporting of traffic, but potentially with some loss of some impulsive users - a classic "catch 22".

4. Delete unused/unecessary tracking tags.

5. Consider unified tagging systems such as Tagman which can improve performance and accuracy.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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