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First Look – Google Analytics Launches New Interface and Reporting



Since Google acquired Urchin’s popular web analytics technology in 2005, re-branding as Google Analytics, the service has become a popular choice among marketers looking to understand their web site’s traffic. While Google Analytics has had a few minor new features added since then, its success has come mostly from the fact that it’s absolutely free! It’s hard to gripe about the lack of certain features, when you don’t pay a penny for Google Analytics’ already extensive reporting.

Well, as of right now, you can have your cake, and eat it too – for free!

Recognizing web analytics’ move from niche market to the mainstream, Google will today use the EMetrics Summit in San Francisco to announce the deployment of many new features including a new design, customized reports, email reporting and a “plain language” approach to labeling. All while keeping the product free of charge!

Google Analytics’ Brett Crosby tells us, “This new version of Google Analytics is designed to help get the right data to the right people at the right time so they can make the right decisions.”

New Look Interface

One of the most impressive changes is with the dashboard and reporting options. With the new version, Google Analytics has improved the way it displays data and has added score cards and clearer data summaries. “We’ve completely redesigned the interface to make it more powerful for the experts and also instantly intuitive to new users,” says Crosby.

Why is Google beefing-up a service that generates no direct revenue? The answer lies in Google’s expansion of AdWords and its move into other types of advertising, such as online display ads. While Google’s not making any additional revenue from Google Analytics, it’s hoping that clearer reporting and a more intuitive interface will increase the confidence of web marketers, in turn increasing the amount they spend on their internet marketing campaigns. If you understand which ad campaigns work, and which areas of your web site are the most productive, you’re more likely to increase your advertising budget. It’s that black-hole of data, that Google hopes will be filled by the bright shining light of Google Analytics.

“At Google, we’re focused on building powerful tools to help advertisers measure the effectiveness of their marketing dollars and optimize their business,” said Paul Muret, Engineering Director, Google in a statement.  “The new version of Google Analytics will give advertisers and site owners greater insight into their customers’ needs, thereby increasing advertiser ROI while also improving the e-commerce experience of consumers.”

Lots of New Features

So, what exactly will Google Analytics users find waiting for them in the new version?

  • Email reports and improved clarity of graphs allow users to explore and discover new insights.
  • Customizable dashboards ensure the right data gets to the right people at the right time.
  • Plain language descriptions of the data allow users to take action to improve their web site.

I’ve said before, and still maintain that, Google Analytics is the perfect tool for 90% of all web site owners. Sure, some bigger web sites might appreciate a completely customized solution that comes with a price tag, but for the majority of online businesses, Google Analytics will provide just about every piece of data you could wish for. I’m an unashamed fan of Google Analytics and recommend every web site owner set up a free account before they start any marketing, otherwise your campaign is akin to flying a plane without any instruments or control tower – “yeah, our destination is somewhere in that general direction.” With the new features, and more intuitive reporting, the deal just became even better – can you get better than free???

New users to GA will get immediate access to the new platform. Existing users will transition during the coming weeks and will have access to the old interface for 30 days. Don’t fret about your historical reports, that all comes with you to the new interface.

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  • http://www.markbarrera.com Mark Barrera

    I am a big fan of Analytics and can’t wait to get the new interface. Google is really doing it right with this one and I love the fact that it is free.

    I wonder how much longer MSFT sits on the sidelines before they launch their new Gatineau analytics service? Its going to be hard to beat the free offering from Google.

  • http://www.brianchappell.com Brian Chappell

    Not sure how that goal funnel used to look but it looks a lot like webtrends ondemand.

  • http://www.distilled.co.uk/reputation/ Will Critchlow

    Oooh. Shiny. Can’t wait…

  • http://thearticlewriter.com/blog/category/seo-tools/ Matt Keegan

    I look forward to the changes, especially the new interface. Now, maybe I won’t fall asleep while checking my stats — very colorful and lively!

  • http://www.roirevolution.com/blog Michael Harrison

    The interface is great. Google put Jeff Veen and the Measure Map guys to work with the GA team, apparently (the similarities between the two are pretty obvious). We’ve been using it for over two months now, and I wouldn’t go back to the old one if you paid me.

  • http://www.xuru.com Jeremy Luebke

    Now if they could just get it to work with a Yahoo Store. Since the store cart is on a different domain, GA won’t attribute conversions to the right source.

    They also need to make it so that users can create custom tags such as ?cmp=soure. There are times when ?urm_source=source is not an option.

    If they would just do those two things, GA qould be golden.

  • http://www.roirevolution.com/blog Michael Harrison

    Actually, Jeremy, GA does both of these things.

    For Yahoo! Stores, check out the Monitus GA Connector at http://tools.monitus.net/content/blogcategory/23/57

    As far as custom tags, check out this help file on the help center:
    http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=27248&topic=7158

  • http://www.myreviews.biz Varadinum

    Look nice! I`m waiting for…

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  • http://baron.vc baron

    I wonder what happened to that vaporware app called Measure Map. Maybe they got some of their ideas incorporated. Can’t wait to check it out myself.

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  • http://www.u-g-h.com Owen

    Oh .. looks nice. Google Analytics is a pretty amazing tool and I always set it up for every website I create, whether it’s for myself or for 3rd parties

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  • http://maxt.dk/ Max Thrane

    Great news! I have about 30 sites where I use GA and this new update is just in time!

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  • http://www.iih.dk Steen Rasmussen -iih.dk

    Sure looks good. Also provides hope that some of the existing issues with Analytics will be resolved.

    Currently we offer courses in Analytics and an improved interface will be a benefit to many people.

  • http://www.prezzatech.com Brian

    Yeah it’s OK… I just got it today. For me like anything brand new it’s a little awkward at first… the one thing I noticed (a negative) is that they tend to throw a lot of flashy positives in your face while the old defaults showed all of the gory data in all views. Several of the reports highlight traffic versus conversions and well, you just have to know what you are looking to measure I guess and people should be all set.

    Looking forward to uncracking this new interface a bit more. I like the geographic drill down capabilities so far.

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  • http://www.ezlinksingapore.com Rahul

    Nice. Looking forward to the new interface.

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  • http://www.kushcash.com KushCash

    We use it at http://www.kushcash.com and love it – it’s a great tool!

  • http://www.friedrichsoftware.com Leslie Friedrich

    My Google Analytics Consultant clients love the Report Finder and the traveling/timeline/trending features. The Geodata and Maps are still my personal favorites, I’m waiting for the traffic from Pensacola to justify opening a branch office there. We’re gonna keep going with Google Analytics.

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  • http://blog.wonsys.net Michele

    Seems interesting. I was moving everything to Reinvigorate, mainly because of no delay and more down-to-earth reporting (it’s a very cool product). Let’s see if this new interface will keep me using Analytics.

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  • http://www.xuru.com Jeremy Luebke

    @Michael Harrison

    The monitus is a third party paid tool that is very inaccurate according to many accounts. If I’m gonna pay, I’m just going to pay for IndexTools.com which does most anything Omniture does has has actual support.

    Thanks for the heads up on the tag editing.

  • http://www.seattleinnovativedesign.com/services-Search-Engine-Optimization.aspx Seattle Innovative Design

    I have used Google analytics for some time for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes. The new look is a welcome addition to a great piece of free software.

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  • http://www.feedmashr.com feedmashr.com

    Tufte will be proud (re: sparklines)

  • http://www.mikroproje.com dnn

    New look is better i think, when i was using Adwords first, Google Analytics has a green layout (theme), but as a free user it has a white layout. Lets see what happenes with new features.

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  • http://www.sayu.co.uk/sem-blog.html Tracey

    It’s great – really simplifies the vast amounts of statistical data. I’m sure it will help webmasters understand the meaning of the detailed data made available and help users improve problem areas of their website. As with everything new though – i’ll look forward to unravelling the new interface like Brian says above.

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  • http://searchenginetigers.com Simon Heseltine

    It’s nice that they’re still working on, and pushing out new features to another of their free products. I’m looking forward to the switch on my sites so I can play with it :)

  • http://www.webmaster-money.org Webmaster Money

    They always surprise with something new. Is there something wht is not at AdWords? What could be the next feature?

  • http://bushidoblog.com.ar Dario

    I just got the new version of Google Analytics today. Very nice! I hope I can learn to squeeze every bit of info I can out of it.

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  • postingit

    not sure why people are going so easy on what is a horrible product.. if you have actually had to use it you know that on top of a million and one issues it is simple not user friendly…

    here are just a few of the issues i have found..

    1. Buggy in Firefox
    2. Graphics are too large and text is equally as obnoxious
    3. Data that used to be viewable on the front page are now 3-5 levels deep
    ex. New maps – I used to be able to look at the executive summary and see where people came from and numbers right there. Now I have to do region/country/city before I can see anything – this is huge esp when monitoring activity of 500k visitors
    4. no network location cross-reference data
    — includes kw (no data)
    5. Cannot see all goal data at the same time
    6. Cannot compare visits, pageviews and conversions at the same time
    7. Not organized well – things do not follow a logical progression
    8. Items are difficult to locate
    9. No real navigational elements
    10.Can only view 100 items at a time instead of 500 not bad on small sites, but on a large site where we get 1/2 a million visitors a month it is severely restrictive
    11. cannot sort data a all.. if it gives you back the lowest ranked kw there is now way to switch to the largest.. so with 55k kw’s i have no way to access data.. that is simple.. etc etc etc…
    and this is just from the first 15 mins of using it.
    I will go back to the old til they force the new, but I think they made a horrible mistake – along the lines of IE 7 – it is a lousy product! Only people who use analytics for cursory data will be ok with this – if you are a heavy user for a corporate or high trafficked site these changes are going to severely limit your business model. I think it is time to reconsider our options.

  • http://www.cyclechaos.com/blog/ Motorcycle Guy

    I hate how it doesn’t show you a graph of what is happening during the day.

  • Yollyay

    The new interface looks better at first glance but it’s much less convenient to use.

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  • JR

    I’m glad to hear others complain about the new interface as I’ve pretty much quit using it. The old interface was much better. One of the most important tools was the Site Overlay which no longer works with my site. It takes three times as many clicks to get to the info I used to get in one click. I won’t make a list as postingit covered a lot of the issues above.
    Google has finally surpassed Microsoft in it’s total disdain and contempt for it’s client-base.

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