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In: Software Development

Google Analytics is a great tool to monitor how many people visit your site, which pages are viewed the most, what keywords are bringing users to your site, etc. But what about discovering how your site is doing in comparison to your competitors? By setting up Benchmarking, you will have access to this kind of information.

Benchmarking allows you to compare your website's analytics reports to other Google Analytics users within your industry. The Benchmarking report is found in the visits section of the navigation menu. By default your stats are compared to all other websites of similar size. You can, however, click 'Open Category List' to choose the most appropriate category for your organization.

How does Benchmarking work?

To see Benchmarks data, you must allow your websites stats to be included in the data for others. When a website agreements to share their data, Google auto-categories sites into industry verticals based on the content and groups by size. Size is based on the number of visits, sites of similar sizes are grouped together under small, medium, or large categories. This information becomes anonymous and is averaged during the aggregation process before being put into a category. Each category contains a minimum of 100 accounts so there is enough to be statistically relevant. The Benchmarking feature allows you to only compare to similar sized websites.

Providing context to your Google Analytics

The Benchmarking service provides valuable context to the metrics you see in your Google Analytics account. Those within your industry are competing for online space and attention, and your site will always be compared to others even outside of your competitors. Benchmarking gives insight into how well others are doing, and may be the starting point for research into how you could be doing better.

With this feature you can track your site's Visits, PageViews, Pages per visit, Bounce Rate, Average Time on Site, and New Visits in comparison to data from other websites in your space.

Avoid over analyzing the stats

These comparisons do need to be taken with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that you can not determine which competitors / non-competitors the information is coming from. Benchmarks provide interesting information, but they should not be the basis for critical analysis. As there are many contributing factors to traffic and conversions, the comparisons have the potential to be misleading.

How to enable Benchmarking

This feature is enabled from the "Edit Account and Data Sharing Settings page." Your Google Analytics account administrator must opt ​​to share the account data (in an anonymous and aggregated manner). Detailed instructions can be found under the GA Help section.

Google Analytics' Benchmarking feature can provide interesting information on your site as well as others within your industry. But remember, the goal is to see improvements in your own analytics. It's neat and insightful to look at comparisons, but your ultimate goal should be to increase traffic to your website. The best Benchmark is your own performance over time. If your volume and conversions are consistently improving over time, that's the ultimate success. Enable the service, check it out, and get an overview of where you stand next to other websites of relative size.