Posted May 8, 2007 1:00 pm by with 54 comments

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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.