In March 2011 Google released its new and improved version of Google Analytics. Yet, I find while talking with store owners, many are still not aware of some of the important new features it offers, with additional features added on a regular basis. Below are some of the features available at the moment, and if you are not already using the new version, you can start by logging into your Google Analytics account and following these steps:
- Click the "New Version" link at the top right of the page.
- Click "Make this version my default."
Real Time Tracking
Google Analytics does a super job of providing users with data on a site's past activity. In fact, until recently, that was the only type of activity it would report. The result often meant companies who wanted real time data would need to purchase a separate tracking tool that would enable them to see in real time what was occurring on their site.
Google realized this need and made a push to offer something better. Real Time Tracking, currently in BETA, is Google's initial answer to the need for real time statistical data. Being in BETA, there are limited metrics, mainly revolving around traffic sources and pages. As Google moves forward, one might expect the metric availability to expand in an effort to compete with some of the current real time tracking systems already on the market.
As though the real time tracking metrics currently available in Google Analytics are limited, you can use it for tracking the impact of social media. For example, post a tweet or share a link and watch the immediate impact it has in traffic flow. You might also choose to use it to test a tracking code you have setup for a specific ad campaign before you launch it. In the past, you would have to run the test and then wait up to 24 hours to find out if the information you expected to gather was present in Analytics. Even though the information available on real time tracking is currently limited, it can be useful under the right circumstances. As for what the future holds for real time tracking in Google Analytics, only time will tell, but it is off to a good start.
If you have planned properly, then you designed your site with certain paths you want visitors to take to reach the end goal. Even with a planned path it is not always the path your visitors choose to follow, and those that choose your path do not always end up at the planned point. That is why understanding the true path they take, along with the areas they abandon, is vital to the success of your website. Knowing what is occurring and comparing that with what you planned helps you adjust to develop a system that works to funnel as many visitors as possible toward your end goal.
Flow Visualization in Google Analytics does a nice job of helping you understand these paths. One example is in analysis of the checkout process. For a long time now, Google has enabled users to setup Goals and Funnels for tracking the effectiveness of that process. When applied to the checkout, this enabled a user to measure the effectiveness of that process including abandoned carts.
The Funnel Visualization that was traditionally depicted worked, yet it was difficult, if not impossible, to see where those who abandoned ended up along the path. Where did they go? What did they do after they got there? The Goal Flow portion of the Flow Visualization tool seeks to answer these questions. Goal Flow visualization lets you click any path between two points and then provides you with a detailed analysis, showing the movement of visitors from point to point along the entire funnel.
Search Engine Optimization Report
If you have a Webmaster Tools account you can now link it to your Google Analytics account and share some of the data between the two. You will be able to generate new reports about searches on Google that have returned your site URL. You will find these new reports under the Traffic Sources section. More specifically, you can get reports in the following areas:
- Search keywords users typed to reach your site.
- Number of impressions of your website's URLs in search results pages.
- The number of clicks on your website's URLs from search results pages.
- The ratio of clicks to impressions for your website's URLs.
- The average position of your website's URLs in search listings.
- The pages visitors landed on when clicking on search results listing your site.
- Geographical summaries on impressions, clicks, and CTR broken down by country.
This information is not going to be the primary source of SEO monitoring you should use, but it can be useful for a high level and quick reference into what your site is doing in the Google listings, and it is worth a mention as one of the new options available.
Link Multiple AdWords Accounts
This is one change that comes in very handy and is long overdue. In the past you could only link one AdWords account to a single Google Analytics account. With the recent updates to the new interface of Google Analytics, it is now possible to link multiple AdWords accounts to one Google Analytics account.
The ability to link only one account previously made it more difficult to use auto-tagging and the AdWords reports inside Google Analytics. This also meant that, in the past, you would need to maintain multiple Analytics accounts for each site if you planned on sending traffic to them from the same AdWords account. The new change lets you easily merge AdWords data across multiple Analytics profiles with just a few steps.
Here is how to link multiple AdWords accounts to one Analytics account:
- Login to your AdWords account (not your Analytics account) and make sure you are doing so as the Administrator of the account.
- Click the Reporting and Tools tab, then click Google Analytics. You must have already linked your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account for you to be able to access this section.
- Click the little icon that looks like a gear on the right hand side of the page.
- Click "All Accounts" at the top left of the page.
- Choose the account that you want to link the AdWords account to.
- Click the Data Sources tab.
- Click the AdWords tab.
- Click Link Accounts button.
The account(s) you choose will now be linked to your Analytics account. Google has listened to its user base and continues to impress with additional functionality updates to its array of products. If you have been hesitant on switching I recommend you consider it if for nothing else, the better reporting options you will receive.
Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion marketing expert and author of a leading Ecommerce blog at www.TheEcommerceExpert.com. He coaches store owners using his online coaching system, EcommerceAmplifier.com, teaching how to increase website sales using his proven six step process. Contact Eric at 1-866-602-2673.
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