Search engine optimization can save you thousands of dollars a year on your electric bike, according to a new study.
In a series of experiments, researchers at UC Berkeley found that when an online service called Google Analytics identified areas of the web that were performing poorly, it would direct visitors to the right site to learn about what was being done to improve the site.
This is where things start to get a little tricky, however.
“People are very used to using Google as a tool to help them with their daily tasks, but the results can be pretty misleading,” said lead researcher Justin Lefevre.
When a Google Analytics query is triggered for the location of a bike, the company would identify a particular part of the site that was performing poorly.
For example, the website would tell visitors that a part of their bike had a defective brake cable.
But if Google Analytics tracked where the bicycle’s brake cable was located, it could tell users that the cable had a repair center in China, not a repair shop in the US.
“When you see a part on the website, you assume it’s there,” said Lefvre.
The problem with that assumption is that a lot of people don’t know where they’re actually located.
Google Analytics could have also sent a link to the site’s homepage, instead of directing visitors to its own site, which would have resulted in more accurate results.
The researchers found that if Google tracked the location and maintenance of each bicycle component individually, the site would deliver more accurate information.
However, when the company tracked the components of a larger group, such as a single bike or a single part, it delivered misleading information.
For example, when a cyclist took off their helmet to replace a broken chain, the page would report that the chain had been replaced at a local bicycle shop.
But in reality, a bicycle shop had installed a chain replacement machine and the shop owner had told the bike’s mechanic to send the bike back to China for repair.
“That’s a real big difference, because it’s almost always the bike that’s in the shop that’s getting the wrong parts,” said study co-author Christopher Smith.
“It’s not a surprise that we see the kinds of misleading information when it comes to bicycle maintenance,” he added.
Despite the apparent problems with Google Analytics, Lefvire said the data was useful because it allowed the researchers to understand how well the site could provide accurate information when presented with a complex set of requests.
In addition to being able to see where your bicycle is on a map, Google Analytics also allows the site to analyze which parts of your site are performing well and which aren’t.
That allows the website to create a dashboard where you can see how much you’re spending per user per month.
And when it’s all said and done, Google is able to tell you exactly where your users are spending their time.
The research has just been published in the journal, Applied Psychology.