If you have ever used Google Analytics, you will notice that it tracks how users behave on your site – from which pages they click, which products they purchase, which terms they search, to which browsers they use. It is all done by way of setting/getting different cookies on your customer’s computers, and using those to track them.
Here are some frequently used scenarios and how Google Analytics deals with them.
How is a user session determined?
A visitor session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity on your website, or when the browser exits. Google Analytics is able to determine the start of a new session by the absence of either session cookie. Cookie : __utmb, __utmc
Each unique browser that visits a page on your site is provided with a unique ID via the __utma cookie. In this way, subsequent visits to your website via the same browser are recorded as belonging to the same (unique) visitor. Cookie : ___utma
How are traffic and referral sources tracked?
When visitors reach your site via a search engine result, a direct link, or an ad that links to your page, Google Analytics stores the type of referral information in a cookie. Cookie : __utmz
How can you track custom information using cookies supplied by Google Analytics?
You can define your own segments for reporting on your particular data. When you use the _setVar() method in your tracking code to define a custom user segment, Google Analytics uses this cookie to track and report on that information. Cookie : __utmv
How can perform A/B tests using cookies?
You can use Google Analytics with Google Website Optimizer (GWO), which is a tool that helps determine the most effective design for your site. Cookie : __utmx
Guide to Google Analytics Cookies:
|Cookie Function||Cookie Name||Expirtion|
|30 minutes from set/update|
|Identifying Unique Visitors||__utma||2 years from set/update|
|Tracking Traffic Sources & Navigation||__utmz||6 months from set/update|
|Custom Tracking||__utmv||2 years from set/update|
|Website Optimizer||__utmx||2 years from set/update|
Next week I will be going over how you can set custom variables on your site to track certain events/behaviors that are happening on your website back to Google Analytics.