Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics platform for website owners today. There are certainly others to choose from, such as the three open source tools Danny wrote about, the free analytics tools Rich wrote about, or the eight live analytics tools that Dave covered. Regardless, no other analytics tool has seen the adoption rate that Google Analytics has.
As Yaara recently described in a news update, Google has released a new and improved Google Analytics platform with a whole slew of brand new features. In this article, I’m going to dive more deeply into some of those new features.
New Features Of Google Analytics
At first, you’ll notice only very minor differences with the layout of the left navigation menu. For the most part, the overall traffic numbers and display looks the same as usual. To discover the differences, you need to start exploring the left menu by expanding each of the items. What you’ll notice is that not only are the choices simpler and more straightforward, there are also more choices available.
By expanding the Visitors area, you’ll notice a few interesting choices like demographics, behavior, and technology. I really like the behavior area, where you can get a closer look at visitor behaviors like new vs. returning visitors, how often visitors return and how much visitors engage with the site.
Clicking on “Frequency & Recency“, you’ll see a graphical layout of how many times your visitors have visited your page and how frequently.
Under “Engagement“, you can see another graphical layout of pageviews versus visit duration. This can show you some interesting things about how your visitors behave. For example, it might show that while a large majority of your visitors come to the site for a short visit, your return visitors (higher pageviews) actually come back and hang out quite a bit longer.
Under Visitor Technology, you can get a very detailed graphical breakdown of all of the browsers or networks that your visitors are using to visit your website. This lets you optimize your site for the best display in the browser family that the majority of your visitors use.
Click on Social Action under your Visitors section, and you’ll get a breakdown of how many people have been taking advantage of social network interactions on your website through services like Google +. As you can see, I’ve only just added Google + functionality to my own website, so activity has just started. If you’ve been using Google + on your site for a while, you’ll have a lot more information in your Google Analytics account for Social activity.
Under Visitors, there’s also a Mobile Devices area where you can see a breakdown of what mobile devices your visitors use to visit your site, and what percentage of your visitors come from mobile devices. Obviously, if you have a very big number here, you’re going to want to make sure that your site is well optimized for mobile browsers, or that you offer a mobile-optimized version of your site.
One of the coolest new features can be found under Visitors, when you click on “Visitors Flow“. This display shows you an impressive graphical view of the traffic flow through your site. You can select starting traffic points from what geographic region visitors are from, the source of traffic, the browser visitors use and much more.
What’s amazing about this feature is that you can see how different types of people navigate through your site – you can see what topics and what pages matter more to people from different countries, people that come from Google search vs. Facebook, or people that are running Chrome vs. Firefox. You can pick up some fascinating patterns about your readership from this flowchart.
You can check out how well your search engine optimization is working by clicking on Traffic Sources, Search Engine Optimization, and then “Queries“.
Here, you can see exactly what search terms are drawing in the most traffic to your site. If you’ve done your SEO optimizing well, then you should see those targeted search terms showing up here. You’ll see how many impressions your site is getting from the search engine listings, which can be pretty impressive (pun intended) in many cases.
Other really cool areas of Analytics includes “Site Speed” under Content, where you can see the page load time for the bulk of your visitors.
You want to see most of your load falling under 0 to 6 seconds. If you’re seeing higher percentages with longer page loads, consider upgrading your web hosting.
The absolute coolest area of Analytics, in my opinion, is “In-Page Analytics” under “Content“. This will show you a display of your webpage with click-through rates placed on top of your webpage.
If you change the display to color-coded bubbles, you can see where the highest click-through rates are by looking for the red percentages. This can really help you see what types of content your visitors are most interested in, and what areas of your page do the best job getting your visitors to click and explore the site further.
The new Google Analytics does an excellent job giving you much more information about the behavior and the characteristics of your readership. This can serve to help you lay out your site and produce content that is more valuable and interesting for your visitors.
If you’re an existing Analytics user, check out the new features that are available in the new version. If you haven’t ever used Analytics, now may be an excellent time to try it out. Give it a roll and let us know what you think about the new improvements in the comments section below.
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