Founder's blog

Huge metric that Google Analytics will never show

Dec 22 2014 :: by Alex

Google Analytics is a fine product. It's nice, free, easy-to-install and ready-to-use right out of the box, while at the same time offering advanced configuration options and data-mining opportunities to those who want it.

But Google Analytics comes with one huge downside

It does not report pages with zero visits

If a page has zero traffic it's clearly a sign of a problem. It could be Google not sending organic traffic to the page. Or the internal navigation being broken. Or the page is even being penalized by a search engine, say, for accidental duplicate content issues. Or... a dozen other reasons.

Whatever it is, it's a sign that something is wrong. And you WANT to know when something is wrong.

No apps will provide this data

Unfortunately, no analytics solution on the market will help you solve this problem.

  • Google Analytics, KissMetrics, MixPanel (or any other JavaScript-based 3rd-party analytics app) do not report pages with zero traffic.
  • Webserver logs do not report 0-visits pages as well

What do we do to solve this?

Techsavvy solution: hack your way around

I'm sure technical (co)founders have already closed this tab and switched to their Ruby/PHP/Python/ASP.NET/whatever IDE to write a workaround for their website. An obvious solution would be adjusting or extending your site's CMS so it has some sort of a "view count" column in the database next to every piece of content. So you can run a SELECT PageID WHERE ViewCount=0 later. Remember to reset this column to 0 every once in a while to track the performance over time.

Non-technical solution: crawler + spreadsheets

To find pages with zero traffic you first need a complete list of your site's pages. Google's "site:" operator can be inaccurate, "Webmaster tools" report a limited set of pages, XML sitemap may not list the entire site.. So what do you do?

Crawl

  • Create a list of all your pages: use MS SEO Toolkit (free) or Screaming Frog (paid) to crawl your website and create a list of pages
  • Export pages from Google Analytics: Go to "Behavior - Site Content - All Pages" (or "Landing pages"), then click "Export - CSV". This will give you a list of pages with at least one visit.
  • Import both lists to Google spreadsheets and find the zero traffic pages. One way would be to paste the two lists one above the other and "group by" the URL. Just make sure the URLs are in the same format (clear out the domain name if needed)

'Huge metric that Google Analytics will never show' was written by Alex by Alex. CEO, founder


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