In some ways, this summer (and early fall) have been a time of tremendous transition for Google.  The core product, the search engine, has undergone a few changes.  The company launched Google Plus.  They’ve even redesigned the layout of Gmail & the Google calendar, just to name a few.  And now comes one of the most exciting rounds of changes. At least, it is the most exciting if you care about understanding how site visitors use your site.  And if you don’t, you definitely need to talk with us about your Web analytics strategy.  Here’s a quick preview of the changes:

  1. Real Time Data.  As a long-time user of both Google Analytics and Webtrends, I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of Web sites and data sets.  Google Analytics is easily a powerful competitor in the world of Web analytics.  However, I’ve long believed that there was a major element missing from GA’s suite of offerings: real-time data.  GA has long analyzed and provided data on a 24-hour delay.  For most sites, that is fine.  If you’re running a media Web site or an e-commerce Web site, however, it is really helpful to have real-time (or near real-time) data available so you can make adjustments right away.  Well, Google has listened to those concerns and has finally decided to release real-time data as part of Google Analytics.  For now, it is only available in the Beta version of the new Google Analytics, but the change is scheduled to be rolled out this week to all users.
  2.  New interface.  Speaking of that Beta version of the new Google Analytics, Google has announced that they are ready to make that roll-out official.  Since releasing the Beta version earlier this year, Google has listened to feedback and made a few further adjustments.  You can read about the new interface on the Google Analytics blog.
  3. Incorporating Webmaster Tools Data Into Google Analytics.  Google Webmaster Tools has long been a powerful tool to help site operators understand some of the SEO complexities and technical operations of their sites.  The biggest issue digital marketers have had with the tool is that, because it is separated from Google Analytics (and the powerful data it contains), you have to work a lot harder to get the data you need to make decisions on how to improve your site.  Well, the wait is over.  Yesterday, Google announced that they are combining some elements of Webmaster Tools into Google Analytics.
  4. Google Analytics Premium.  For many larger site operators, Google Analytics simply wasn’t an option because it couldn’t do some of the advanced activities that they needed.  Keep in mind, we’re talking about sites that are HUGE and their needs are fairly advanced.  Google has announced the release of Google Analytics Premium to meet these needs.  I’m glad to see that they are making a deeper commitment to the product.
The bottom line: these changes are a good indicator that Google is strongly committed to keeping Google Analytics as a powerful tool that will help digital marketers get the most from their Web sites.  And ultimately, that’s good for business.
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