Why and How to Utilize Google Analytics Content Grouping

When you invest in something, you hope to see a return on that investment, right? Content marketing is certainly no different.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 81% of B2B content marketers think their business’ content marketing efforts are very or extremely successful. However, we all know how tricky it is to quantify content performance.

Now I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of attribution models in this post, but I would like to focus on one data analysis method marketers don’t employ as much as they should. One of the best ways to measure and understand your content’s performance is with the Google Analytics content grouping feature.

Here’s a quick intro before we dig in so you can get a feel for this powerful analysis tool:

Determining Your Google Analytics Content Grouping Strategy

Google Analytics provides a tool for measuring content performance among content with similar characteristics, allowing you to evaluate metrics for like groups. You can establish multiple groupings to analyze performance from different angles.

There is no right way to group content. It’s up to you to determine what groupings will provide insights into whether your content strategy is a success. A few typical options include grouping by:

  • Website characteristics
  • Content categories
  • Authors
  • Content types

I recommend you put some thought into which groupings make the most sense for your organization.

It helps to understand what questions you want the reports to answer and then look at how to categorize your content to get the answers using Google Analytics content grouping.

Grouping Content by Website Components

If you want to track performance for different website components, you might want to create groupings based on defined elements. A typical group setup for your website would be to use individual web pages, such as the homepage, blog, newsroom, and contact us pages.

However, you might also include landing pages, product pages, and about us pages. Examining how pages perform against one another informs your team about what aspects of your website attract visitors and where you might need to adjust your content or strategy.

Your website likely contains individual pages that then break down into multiple other categories. If you want to track visitors to your “Services” page compared to your “Blog” page, you will use website component groupings.

However, if you want to see how content performs for each service you offer, Google Analytics content groupings by content category is a better option.

Grouping Content by Content Categories

Chances are, your blog posts, social media posts, and videos fall within a few broad categories or topical themes. In our case, since we offer a comprehensive content marketing platform, the following content categories make up the lion’s share of what we cover in our content marketing channels:

  • Content Strategy
  • Content Planning
  • Content Automation
  • Content Management
  • Content Analytics

All of DivvyHQ’s features fall broadly under one of these categories, so we target all our posts to focus on various aspects of these themes. For instance, this post is about how to use Google Analytics content grouping to measure content performance.

Another post might be about how to use the content analytics tool within our platform to dig down into your target customer’s demographics, likes, pain points, and other metrics that help you define and find your “tribe.” Both would fall within the content group of Content Analytics.

Determine Your Categories

Now that you’ve seen how we set up our groups, you can determine if content categories are a suitable option for you. Your categories will depend on your business and industry.

For instance, if you provide guitar lessons, your categories might be classical, rock, flamenco, jazz, and Latin. If you’re a tax software company, yours might be business, non-profit, personal, estate, and trust.

Google Analytics allows you to track the performance of each of these content groups, comparing them with each other to see which content topics perform best regarding key engagement metrics.

Now, before you start digging into this feature, sit down with your team to see what general themes arise in your content. The number of categories you have will determine whether you stop here or develop subgroups.

Develop Subgroups

The Google Analytics category grouping feature allows you to create five broad categories to compare. You can create an unlimited number of subgroups within each of these groups.

If you have more than five broad categories, see if you can combine some of them under a common theme. That theme becomes your primary group, with multiple subgroups under it.

For instance, a guitar studio may find it helpful to create two groupings like this:

  1. Genres: Includes subgroups such as “metal,” “classical,” “folk rock,” etc.
  2. Skill Level: Includes subgroups such as “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “advanced.”

The tax software company could, for example, group its content like this:

  1. Personal: Includes subgroups such as “estate planning,” “tax filing,” and “investments.”
  2. Industry Verticals: Includes subgroups such as “healthcare,” “manufacturing,” and “construction.”
  3. Company Size: Includes subgroups such as “SMBs,” “Startups,” and “Enterprise.”

Doing analysis across different subgroups then makes things interesting. If I were a tax software marketer, it would be helpful to know which content is getting the most traffic, my tax filing articles focused on startups, or my tax filing articles written for the corporate accounting staff at an enterprise company.

Not only can this type of analysis yield which posts perform better, but it can also help you see which audiences are responding better to your content. For instance, the data might tell you that the audience that converts best for your business tax blog posts is the small business and startup segment.

Armed with this knowledge, you can channel a higher portion of your content planning efforts into this more lucrative customer segment.

Grouping Content by Authors

If you have a team of five or fewer content creators, you might want to compare how your team members’ content performs in your key metrics. Creating a Google Analytics content grouping for authorship allows you to identify areas of strength and needed improvement in the work of each of your team members.

Using authorship to track performance can also give you insights into which areas of expertise each of your team members are strongest in. That way, as you fill in assignments in your content calendar, you can assign posts to your team members according to their areas of strength.

Divvy Analytics - Top Authors report

Screenshot: Divvy Analytics Top Authors Report

Additionally, you can identify subject matter areas that underperform across your entire team. If, for instance, none of the writers and video producers on your team produce high-performing content in a highly technical subgroup, you can pair each content producer with a subject matter expert who can provide the technical expertise readers look for in content of that type.

Grouping Content by Content Types

Another way to use Google Analytics’ content grouping feature is to compare various types of content, such as infographics, images, white papers, e-books, videos, blog posts, videos, or whatever content you regularly publish. Grouping by type allows you to see which types of content produce the most engagement, conversions, and ROI.

This type of content grouping allows you to see how to blend some of your higher-performing content types with ones that underperform. For instance, if images generally perform better than time-consuming written posts, try adding images to those blog posts to see if they convert better.

You can use subgroups to identify which content types perform best within each category. For example, let’s say that your video content outperforms all the rest of your content. Without using the subgroup feature, you wouldn’t know that your how-to videos are killing it, while your corny ad videos — not so much. With analysis of subgroups, you’ll know for sure.

Setting Up Content Groups in GA4

After you identify which groups and subgroups you want to analyze, it’s time to get up and running in Google Analytics 4. Unfortunately, GA4’s content grouping setup is a bit more complicated than in previous versions (at least at the time of this article’s writing). You don’t actually do the configuration in GA4. You’ll only view the final performance reports in GA.

You will use Google Tag Manager to configure your content groups. The first step is to set up a new variable that will define your groupings. A RegEx Table is typically what is used here as regex (or regular expressions) gives you the ability to identify specific URLs on your website that should be included in the group. Quick tip here… ChatGPT is great for creating regular expressions. Just tell it you want it to write a regex pattern and list the URLs you want it to include!

Here’s a step-by-step of the process:

  1. In Google Tag Manager’s menu column on the left, open the Variables tab
  2. Select User-Defined Variable > New
  3. Select Variable Configuration > RegEx Table
  4. Change the variable name to Content Group
  5. Fill in the Input Variable box with {{Page URL}
  6. Complete the RegEx Table by inputting your regex patterns (the URLs for the pages you want to measure) and the subgroup name as the output.

Here’s an example of one of our content groups, which identifies the major areas of the DivvyHQ website.

DivvyHQ's content groups - regex example

The second step is to add the variable to the GA4 configuration tag:

  1. In GTM, open the Tags tab from the menu on the left.
  2. Select GA4 Configuration Tag to edit your tag.
  3. Open Fields to Set and select Add Row.
  4. Under Field Name, enter Content_Group.
  5. Under Value Field, enter {{Content Group}}.
  6. Save and publish your changes.

If you want to create more Google Analytics content groupings, you can name them Content Group 2, Content Group 3, and so on, then follow the same procedures.

Reporting and Analyzing Content Groups

When it’s time to generate reports to analyze, head back into GA4. The platform provides two ways to retrieve data for content groups. First, navigate to Reports > Engagement > Pages and screens and select Content Group from the dropdown menu.

However, you will likely need to customize an Exploration report to generate a report with helpful content performance data. You can either create a new exploration report for your content group or add the dimension to an existing report.

To add the Content Group dimension, open your Exploration and click the “+” sign next to the Dimension heading. Select Content Group, and then click on Import. You can now include your grouping in your Exploration report.

Managing Your Content for Google Analytics Content Grouping

Now that you can measure how various aspects of your content strategy perform, you’ll need an easy way to manage your assets and streamline your content operations. That’s where we come in.

Divvy’s platform provides the tools to organize and store your assets using your Google Analytics content grouping tags. Our platform also provides a central hub for planning, creating, publishing, and automating the content production process. Request a demo to find out how we eliminate content chaos.

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