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Next up in the series of most useful Google Analytics reports is the Map Overlay report.

The Map Overlay report is found under the Visitors tab. Simply put, this report allows you to see (visually on a map) where your visitors are located and how visitors from different locations behave.

Note: Google Analytics captures the visitors IP address, which is a piece of Personally Identifiable information (PII), just long enough to use to for a geo-IP look up. After GA has thrown out the IP address it still knows where each IP was located, and can plot a visitors location on the map.

The Map Overlay report defaults to a world view displaying Visits as the metric. The darker the color the greater the value of the metric being mapped. You can change the metric being displayed on the map to from Visits to Pages/Visit, avg. Time on Site, % New Visits, Bounce Rate, Goal Conversion Rate, Revenue… You can also drill down to see more detailed information within specific regions, either by clicking on the map or selecting a different Detail Level. By looking at information presented in this manner you can identify new areas in which to test/launch campaigns, measure how geo-targeted campaigns are performing, and see how different products are selling in different regions.

As with most reports, one of the best things you can do is to analyze is to segment them. Google Analytics’ new Advanced Segments feature makes this a really easy task to accomplish. You can quickly choose from default segments such as New Visitors, Returning Visitors, Paid Traffic, Non-paid Traffic, or create your own custom segments. Some custom segments that I have found helpful with the Map Overlay are Campaigns such as email or display ads and segments that represent individual products (only the top sellers).

If you haven’t used this report before then try this plan out for starters: create a geo-targeted Adwords campaign with a unique and geo-targeted landing page. Run the campaign and then compare the results of this campaign to other areas, and then to segment of visitors from the area who didn’t view the target campaign/landing page. If you see a higher conversion rate and increased revenues then you can probable make the argument to roll out more geo-targeted campaigns.