January 27, 2010

Google Analytics: $index Explained


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

You signed up for Google Analytics and even took the time to create goals. But now that you’ve got your reports, you’re not sure what to make of them. What is the $index, how is it calculated and what does it mean to you and your business?

No matter what type of small business you have, Google Analytics offers an invaluable insight into your Web site’s performance. One of the most overlooked and yet most important data sets is the $index.

$Index is the average value of a page that a user visited before landing on a goal page and/or completing a transaction. Here’s how Google assigns that value.

In the analytics settings, you created goals. Goals are the actions you want your Web site visitors to accomplish during a session. Goals aren’t always monetary transactions. They include lead generation, mailing list sign-ups, requests for contact info and downloading additional information about your business.

$Index is calculated by taking the ecommerce revenue and/or goal value and dividing it by the number of unique pageviews for a given page.

Every time user does something on your Web site, he creates a session. Each unique session is used to calculate the $index for each page visited. As an example, let’s assume a visitor followed this click path before landing on your goal page. You’ve assigned the goal page a $10 value.

  • Page 1
  • Page 2
  • Page 3
  • Goal Page

In that example the $index values are:

  • Page 1 = $10
  • Page 2 = $10
  • Page 3 = $10

Each page led the user to the goal page. Remember, the $index is calculated by taking the goal value and dividing it by the number of unique pageviews. In this example that’s $10/1 for each page.

Depending on your funnel, it’s possible not every user will view all three pages before reaching the goal. If a page has a $index of $0, then that page has not been viewed in a session that led to a conversion.

Now, let’s add another unique session to the calculation.

The second user viewed just pages 2 and 3 before reaching the goal. The new $index would read:

  • Page 1 = $5 ($10 / 2 unique pageviews)
  • Page 2 = $10 ($10x2 = $20/2 unique pageviews)
  • Page 3 = $10 ($10x2 = $20/2 unique pageviews)

This is where the $index provides invaluable information about your Web site.

Analyzing the click paths and the relative value for each page of your Web site gives you insight into the structure of your site. With the $index, you can see which pages are leading to conversions (either goals or transactions) and which are just getting in the way. If you’re funnel is leaking, the $index can help you find out where. A more streamlined conversion process translates into more revenue for you and your business.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as Chief Operating Officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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