Logan Ray

Case Study: Medical School Uses Google’s Async Code to Provide Accurate and Flexible Tracking

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Updating Website to Asynchronous Tracking Code from Traditional Tracking Code Follows Best Practices, Improves Site Performance, and Allows for Greater Flexibility in Code Installation.

Challenge: Client was re-launching website in a new format which offered
an opportunity to update the site’s existing traditional Google Analytics
snippet to the asynchronous tracking snippet. In addition to staying on
the cutting edge with Google’s best practices, this was done to improve
site speed and also produce more accurate results. This would also provide
Beacon some added flexibility in where the snippet could be placed and
still perform at optimal levels.

  • Client Facts:
  • For Profit Medical & Veterinary
    School
  • Valued at $115M in 2008
  • Faculty size greater than 200
  • 2000+ Student body hails from 24
    countries six continents
  • Goals:
  • Update website with Asynchronous
    tracking code for GA for optimal
    flexibility of code
  • Improve site performance in both
    speed and accuracy with installation
  • Installation Notes:
  • Tracking code moved into header
    file for consistency and easier
    maintenance
  • Virtual Pageviews and Events were
    updated in order to track users who
    accomplished a predetermined step
    or goal completion
  • Results:
  • Client’s tracking script adhered to
    Google’s best practices and works at
    the optimum load time and accuracy
    levels available through GA

 

Business Solution: Previously the Google Analytics tracking code for the
client’s website was located before the closing <body> tag towards the end
of the page. This was considered an ideal location for this JavaScript snippet
because it gave the page an opportunity to load prior to firing. However, due
to the structure of the client’s website, this involved the code being included
in a number of template files in order to be consistently rendered across
every page. Any update to the code required changes to all of these files
which increased the potential for errors.

Google’s updates to the asynchronous tracking code offered a greater
flexibility than the traditional snippet. When the client re-launched its
site to a new Drupal format, this provided a great opportunity to upgrade
to the new code which could be placed in a universal header file and still
function with a greater accuracy than the previous version. From this point
forward, any changes made to the code could be made just once and would
be applied site-wide.

Changes to the actual code involved adjusting to the new format. The
traditional code used the pageTracker function for its tracking
operations. The new async. code is built around the gaq.push function.
Once these changes were made to the primary tracking snippet, the final
task was to go through the site’s pages and ensure than any virtual
pageviews or event tracking were updated to the new codes as well. These
represent instances where specialized tracking code snippets are inserted
at the point of action to display specific events in Google Analytics. Any
instance where this was previously tracked under the traditional snippet
was replaced. Beacon was able to conduct a global find and replace to work
more efficiently to minimize client hours used.

Results: The adjustments to the asynchronous snippet were made without
issue. The client also appreciated that the upgraded tracking code would
lead to quicker load times and better accuracy for their Google Analytics
data. The new site invested heavily in a number of flash elements, so load
time for all installed scripts was critical to ensure a high quality user
experience. In terms of accuracy, the client services students hailing from
all over the world. Having the most accurate data on segments from each
region helps to determine marketing strategy and financing for various
countries around the world.