Search giant Yandex, the equivalent of Google in Russia, has taken the world by storm in recent years with a free web analytics platform that is probably one of Google Analytics’ most serious competitors around. Yandex Metrica is the Russian equivalent of Google Analytics, and although it still lacks some of its American counterpart’s essential features, there are some areas of digital analytics where the former U.S.S.R manages to outperform good old Uncle Sam.
Free heat maps
One nifty feature of Yandex Metrica is heat maps. Google have failed to implement proper heat maps for as long as their analytics platform has been around, and that’s one thing Yandex does brilliantly. So that means if you’ve been spending money over heat maps tools such as Crazy Egg, you might want to consider installing Yandex Metrica which offers it for free. Much like Crazy Egg, Yandex Metrica offers both click maps and scroll maps so you may determine your visitor’s propensity to scroll all the way down while visiting your website. Also, Yandex Metrica’s heat maps can be segmented as much as you want, which means you can break down user’s click behavior by device, see how your returning users behave on the website as opposed to new users, etc…
Accurate Bounce Rate and Time on Site metrics
Contrary to what a lot of people think, Google Analytics doesn’t measure the average time a user spent on your site. It merely measures the time difference between a session’s last page view and the same session’s first page view, and that time gap between page views is what GA reports under the Time on Site metrics. So what about all those users who only visited one page of your website, yet found the page so interesting that they spent a significant amount of time on it? Zip. Google Analytics will tell you these users are all bounces who spent an average of zero seconds on your site.
Yandex Metrica uses counters instead of measuring page view time differences in order to determine a user’s average time on site, thus resulting in more accurate metrics. Bounce rate is established according to a threshold of 15 seconds, meaning that only users who spent less than 15 seconds on your site are counted as bounces. This is particularly important when measuring a landing page’s effectiveness, since landing pages are typically designed to “trap” users and get them to convert before they get a chance to browse other pages of your website.
As a result, Google Analytics will usually give you high bounce rates for your landing pages, while the same landing page will display much lower bounce rates in Yandex Metrica (I’ve seen landing pages with bounce rate differences of up to 200% between Yandex Metrica and GA !).
The same happens with blog articles, since users typically only access one page of your blog through search engines, and do not continue browsing through your blog after reading the article they were looking for (which doesn’t mean they didn’t read the whole article twice and found it very interesting!). Again, Google Analytics will give you high bounce rates and low average time on site for your blog, while Yandex Metrica will tell you the exact opposite.
Google Analytics metrics
Yandex Metrica metrics for the same website and time frame
Full referrer’s URLs
Have you ever wondered where exactly your referral traffic is coming from? Google Analytics does a pretty good job at telling you your referral’s domain names, but the same can’t be said about exact referrers URLs. While it’s easy to isolate the traffic that comes from a specific source such as “domain.com”, fetching individual referring URLs such as “domain.com/URL-such-and-such” can be quite tedious in Google Analytics. Annie Cushing wrote a post on Search Engine Land to explain how full referring URLs can be extracted from GA with a few Excel workarounds and tricks, however that method isn’t very efficient if you need a quick way to access a full list of referring URLs on a daily basis without much effort.
Here again, Yandex Metrica outsmarts Google Analytics by providing a full list of referral URLs as a basic dimension of the platform accessible from the main menu.
These are three examples of things that Yandex Metrica does better than Google Analytics. Let me get this straight: this doesn’t mean in any way that Yandex Metrica is a better web analytics tool than GA. Quite the opposite, Google Analytics offers a lot of features that Yandex haven’t included in their analytics platform yet. Flow charts, conversion attribution models, event measurement and A/B experiments would only be a few of the things GA offers and Yandex Metrica doesn’t. My recommendation is clearly to have both platforms installed, so that they may complete each other (and also back each other up in case one of the two should malfunction and stop recording data at any given time).