Google® Analytics benchmarking is a process by which several aspects of a site are compared with other sites of similar size or category. Statistics considered include page views, number of visits, bounce rate, and visit length. New visits and the number of pages viewed per visit are also compared. The information is gathered from site owners who have agreed to let Google® collect, anonymize, and then aggregate their web statistics with those of other participating sites.
The basis of comparison that will be used for a site that participates in Google® Analytics benchmarking depends upon the preference of the user. One method is to compare the site with those that have a similar level of traffic. This has historically been the default for the reports. Another is to compare sites which fall into the same broad categories, such as travel, food, and parenting. This option can be clarified from the user’s account settings page.
A typical Google® Analytics benchmarking report will show data for the current and previous period. It will also provide a column which shows the changes, if any, for each category from period to period. The report also shows site metrics broken down by geographical area and traffic source.
While Google® Analytics benchmarking can be a useful tool, it also has a limited scope. This is partly because the data is provided by a limited number of websites. The information may also be deceptive depending upon the number of sites in a particular category. A classification with hundreds of sites available for comparison will generally be more useful than one that only has results from dozens. Thus the value of the system will typically depend on whether more or fewer users are participating.
In order to participate in Google® Analytics benchmarking, the user must opt in to the program by giving permission to have anonymized, or rendered anonymous, data shared. Google® provides multiple possibilities for data sharing, including allowing access to information for the purposes of developing new products in addition to the benchmarking option. A user can opt in to the program from either the data sharing or benchmark pages in account settings.
The Google® Analytics benchmarking report was originally available via the Analytics page on the company’s site. This was changed when the company determined that it was not a commonly used feature. Google® removed it from the site and began sending the information in a quarterly report instead.