Guide to Yandex: Yandex Metrica, the web analytics tool with an edge
Chapter two: How and why to use Yandex Metrica to monitor traffic and the effectiveness of your website.
In this second post on our Guide to Yandex series, we will talk about Yandex Metrica, the web analytics tool offered by Yandex. Although it can be defined as an alternative to Google Analytics, there are some differences, most importantly the fact that Yandex Metrica provides additional monitoring possibilities that should be really interesting not just to those who want to promote their website in Russia, but to anyone.
Let's start with a little theory.
What is Yandex Metrica?
Launched on April 24, 2009, Metrica is a free online tool provided by Yandex that has been designed to track, analyze and, above all, evaluate visits and user behavior on websites. As mentioned in our previous post, Yandex is available in Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and English.
I emphasize the aspect of evaluation because, in my opinion, in addition to Yandex’s more intuitive interface compared to that of Google Analytics, it also provides more tools for evaluating the effectiveness of a website and the quality of visits received. Let's look at them in detail.
Yandex Metrica’s Dashboard
In the picture above, you can see the Yandex Metrica dashboard, the "home page" that offers a complete overview of your website’s metrics. Once you have created an account and entered the code on your website, the dashboard will show you the following standard information for a given period of time (which can be selected from the bar at the top):
- Total number of visitors;
- New users on the website;
- Statistics on the quality of visits: time spent on the website, bounce rate, number of pages visited;
- Traffic sources;
- Devices used by users;
- Average age of visitors.
Although you can customize your Google Analytics home page, Yandex’s dashboard is much more flexible and allows you not only to select and insert widgets (the boxes where the monitoring data are shown) from a large library of predefined widgets but also to create your own with very detailed information.
Below is an example:
The four widgets in this picture show the data on pages viewed by users that has been segmented into four categories: visitors on the Italian version of the website (ours, in this case) from advertisements and direct searches and visitors on the English version of our website from the same two sources.
This is just one example of how you can customize Yandex Metrica’s dashboard. The possibilities for segmentation of users and visits are endless, and the information displayed can be even more detailed depending on your needs. The percentages in green and red indicate respectively growth and contraction compared to the previous day.
All widgets can be moved at will within the page. They can contain data and pie or line charts and, if configured correctly, are powerful tools to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of a website or, for example, an advertising campaign.
Yandex Metrica analyzes the performance of your website
Design, calls to action, text—everything on a website is designed and created in such a way as to push the visitor to take a specific action: purchase a product, contact, register for something, etc. But is there a way to verify the effectiveness of your hard work on design and copywriting? Of course there is: Yandex Metrica’s maps and Webvisor (session replay).
There are four maps on Yandex: the click map, scroll map, link map and form analysis. Let's take a closer look.
1) Link Map
This is a heat map that displays "warm" colors for links your users click more often and "cold" colors for links they click less often. Yandex Metrica stores this data for a period of one year.
2) Click map
This is also a heat map. It is very useful for finding out if the calls to action and buttons on the website work as they should and if they have to be changed or modified. It also helps you decide if you need to insert new buttons, links or sections where visitors would expect to find them. The click map saves data for a period of one year too.
3) Scroll Map
Also a heat map, this one uses warm colors to indicate the most-viewed areas of the website and areas where users stop for relatively long periods; cold colors indicate areas where visitors don’t stop or don’t read the content. The scroll map can further give important insight into the effectiveness of your website, where to place the most important content and, for example, if there is any content that does not appeal to users. Unlike the link and click maps, the scroll map saves data for a period of just two weeks.
4) Form Analysis
This tool allows you to check the functionality of contact forms and the compilation of various fields. Graphically, it represents conversion funnels and reports data on the number of visitors, interactions with the module and, finally, sent messages. This tool also saves data for a period of two weeks.
Yandex Metrica’s Webvisor (Session Replay)
Probably my favorite Yandex Metrica tool, Webvisor records and replays user sessions on your website. To see the recording of a visit, just click on the "play" button.
Next to the "play" button, data are shown regarding the source (in the picture, the ruble symbol indicates paid advertising), country of origin, operating system and browser used. The time when the visitor arrived on the website, the degree of the visitor’s engagement (the minimum being denoted by a red ball and the maximum being denoted by 4 green balls) and the duration of the visit in minutes are highlighted. The "2" in the picture refers to the number of pages viewed by the user, and the "1" is the number of visits to the website by this user.
Of course, the columns of the table can be modified and changed according to your needs. The two icons in the lower right corner (the funnel and the i) provide even more detailed information about the visit.
So can Yandex Metrica replace Google Analytics?
Ideally, yes. In practice, however, I have found that while Yandex Metrica works very well for users who have entered via Yandex, it has some problems recording the process that brings a user to your website from Google Search. So, if your goal is to analyze a website with an international (or not strictly Russian) audience, my advice is to use both.
How to use Yandex Metrica
If your website was created on WordPress, you can use the plugin found here.
Here are the steps necessary to start using Yandex Metrica:
1) Create a Yandex account
To access Yandex Metrica services, you need a Yandex account. If you do not already have one, read how to create one in the first chapter of our Guide to Yandex.
2) Access Yandex Metrica
Once you became a Yandex user, you can access Yandex Metrica here . After having clicked on "Go," enter your Yandex account username and password and then click "Sign in."
3) Create a tracking code (counter)
Welcome to Yandex Metrica!
To use it, you have to create a tracking code (just like with Google Analytics) to be placed on your website or on those of your customers.
Once you have logged in to Yandex Metrica, you will see a basically blank page. In the upper left corner, click the yellow "Add counter" button. This page will open:
Voila! The counter is ready and you will see it on the main page:
Next to the counter name is a yellow or red circle. If the tracking code is installed correctly on the website, the color will change to green (it usually takes some time, up to a few days).
4) Set the tracking code
There are many options that can be changed within the Yandex Metrica code settings. If you go to the counter page (by clicking on its name), you will get redirected to the main page of the counter where, in the future, you will find summarized data on users’ visits to the website.
In the dark gray column on the left, select "Settings" (indicated with a “1” in the picture), and then select "Counter code" (indicated with a “2” in the picture) from the horizontal menu. This list will open:
Here it is important to activate the functions you are interested in, such as Webvisor and the maps, by selecting the first box on the list. In this way, the code can record and show the behavior of your users.
Click on the "Save" button (which will become yellow) and scroll down the page.
Your counter is ready!
5) Install the counter into the HTML code of the website you want to monitor
Scroll down the page, select the code in the box and then copy and insert it onto your website without modifying it.
NOTE! Unlike that of Google Analytics, the Yandex Metrica code must be placed onto ALL the pages of your website you want to monitor. Those without a counter will be displayed in the navigation as black areas.
Let me know below or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org