With Google Analytics being one of Google’s most useful and widely used products on the internet there is no wonder that its tracking code finds itself embedded in the headers of an increasing number of websites, opening them up to a world of statistics and information.
But with all of this information available how do you avoid the trap of suffering from paralysis by analysis which could could make you sweep this valuable asset under the rug or file it with the ‘should use but looks too complex’ tools you’ve been always meaning to give a proper try. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started, including Google Analytics Training courses and with Google’s latest revamp of the user interface there hasn’t been a better time to find out how numbers can really help your website’s performance.
The new Analytical look
Falling in line with many of their other services such as Gmail and Google Docs, Google are in the process of rolling out their new clean, sleek looking interface complete with an orange horizontal navigation bar to switch between views to their Analytics users. Newcomers are helped to avoid any feelings of being overwhelmed they might have felt on first viewing of the old layout with this new shine, however old users may have to dig around a bit to become reacquainted with many of the features they already know and love.
Google’s shiny new look has actually been available since April 2011, but many people haven’t noticed or have put over switching to avoid relearning a tool they’re comfortable with. Hopefully this article will explain why you should make the switch!
If you haven’t switched over to the new Analytics interface then simply log in to Analytics and click ‘New Version’ which can be found at the top right of your screen alongside your email, Settings, My Account, Help and Sign Out. Then make sure you click ‘Make new version default’ (appears in the same place) to make sure you’re always using the new version!
Google have also recently unveiled Google Analytics Premium, a $150,000 a year deluxe version of Analytics for those with deep pockets!
There are a few instances where menu items on the left navigation bar will require an extra click to be found due to the new minimalist aesthetic and some data such as “Visitors” is now split into subcategories which are found under “location” and “language”.
The new orange bar offers different methods to quickly view your data; with “Home” effectively being your dashboard, “Standard Reporting” being the default Google statistics to browse and “Custom Reporting” giving speedy access to your ready made reports. For those of you who want their data quick and statistics hard these will be the main screens you frequent, especially when you have customised them to show all the key data you want.
What’s the view like?
The “Home” dashboard now allows you to insert widgets on to it, meaning you can set up graphs, charts and tables of your most important data ready for your eyes to feast on. There is a widget set up page (shown below) which really lets you sought and sift through data, ensuring you get to see the really meaningful information you need.
Another new feature is the ability to have multiple dashboard pages, so you can really break down that data and group it effectively.
Visualisation has become an increasingly important part of this update, giving users new and inventive ways in which to look at their website’s performance. If you want to see exactly what’s being clicked on on your site then the “In-Page Analytics” (found under “Content”) is for you; showing you data sets such as ‘clicks’ in neat orange boxes around your content while browsing your own page.
If you want to find out more about what your users are doing on your site then look no further than “Visitors Flow”. This new pictorial form of viewing the routes users take through your site is a valuable resource which will help you tighten your funnel and direct users to the places you need them to go.
By arming you with this information you can see the good, the bad and the ugly of your site; namely what content is drawing the most hits, what is under performing and where you are losing your users.
This form of visualization can also be applied to “Goals” with the new “Goal Flow” so you can view your targets in an all new way. Such a system would be ideal for an E-commerce site that want to track it’s users through its check out procedure, to ensure that it isn’t losing high volumes of users which could hint towards a site or usability issue that needs fixing.
What’s new in Google Analytics
While everything is looking brighter and shinier there have been some new features included which will really help give your site that boost it needs in the social and search world.
One of the main new features is the “Real-Time Reporting”, giving you all the stats on what’s happening on your site right at that very moment. Information from this could easily be used to monitor the success of content distributed on social networks as it is rolled out, allowing you to produce improved content for future distribution. Aside from that, it’s quite fun to watch those stat go up (and hopefully not down) while it’s all happening.
If you want to find out more about where your users are coming from then check out the new “Multi-channel Funnels” system. From here you can see what routes users took to get to you, which is great for monitoring any advertising, paid links, social networks or affiliate schemes you have in place.
Google have also integrated their Webmasters tool directly into the new version of Analytics so you can keep an eye on your sites’ workings all in one place, so you can look for any areas of improvement to aid you in SEO and the all important struggle for higher search engine rankings.
Search engines still rely heavily on site performance in their ranking algorithms, which means Webmaster integration can really help boost your site’s speed, especially with their all new “Site Speed” tester; allowing you to see how long your pages are taking to load so you can help lower your bounce rate by improving your page’s performance.
Old with the old…
Seeing as the old version of Analytics is being phased out in January 2012 you might as well use this time to acquaint yourself with the new format and use it as a springboard to get the most out of what should easily be your best friend in website analysis.
You may also be interested to hear that Google have started hiding some keyword data from Analytics users. This shows up as (not provided) in your keyword results and can account for anything from 2-30% of your keyword data! Find out why Google are hiding keywords.
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