When reviewing the Google Analytics over-time graph and screening website traffic spikes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, the lines and graphs will not explain to you why the traffic is moving in either direction. For example, today you might have had 6,000 site views, but tomorrow you might receive over 10,000 site views. Tomorrow will be the day that your new marketing goes into effect and an email blast will be sent out driving traffic to your new monthly promotion. This is a perfect example of where Annotations would be used.
Any user with access to your Google Analytics profile can leave notes right on the
over-time graph. Instead of looking at a raw set of data and numbers an Annotation will give you a better sense of why your traffic increased or decreased.
These notes can be as simple or as detailed as you make them. Annotations can become your sticky notes for all information pertaining to your marketing endeavors or website issues. To create an Annotation, you can either click on the day you want to annotate or click on the down arrow on the bottom of the over-time graph and click on on the right side of the tool bar.
For instance, your web server might have gone down for six hours; it would be to your benefit to make an Annotation to that fact. Otherwise you would see a downward traffic spike and not know the root cause.
Beyond marking traffic spikes, Annotations can be used to mark changes to your website design or layout, mark the start and end of any campaign or notes or change of keywords.
Earlier today at the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago, Mr. Phil Mui, Google Analytics Senior Product Manager, announced several new features for Google Analytics that build on last month’s big feature release. This included the new Intelligence section, Custom Alerts, and Multiple Custom Variables.
Today’s announcement included the introduction to Annotations, the news that custom variables are now segmentable and available in Custom Reports, and the release of a new Analytics Setup Wizard. Let’s review each feature!
Annotations are the first of its kind in Google Analytics, as they allow you to insert data into a Google Analytics trending graph. By using annotations, you can make notes and keep track of dips and spikes in traffic, right on your trending graphs. This should hopefully cut down the amount of time needed to track information down between departments of your organization, and it should also help capture the “tribal” intelligence that floats around your company:
Annotations are available in every trending graph in all reports. You also have the option to either make them private, so only you can see them, or make them public, so that any user with access to the profile can view them. Finally, you can favorite your most important annotations by clicking on the famous yellow-star, like you can in just about every Google product.
No more hunting down your webmaster / IT director / marketing manager for an explanation of why traffic sky-rocketed, when marketing emails got sent out, or how long the server crash lasted. No more looking at bulky spreadsheets filled with launch dates and release notes. Now, with annotations, you can keep a logbook of everything important that happens in your organization!
2. Custom Variables now Segmentable, Available in Custom Reports
Multiple Custom Variables, which allow you to collect unique site usage data for your most important buckets of website traffic and visitors, can now be segmented using an Advanced Segment. Previously, the only way to view these metrics was to crack open the new Visitors >> Custom Segments report. Now, you can perform deep-dive analysis like you can with virtually every other metric or dimension!
3. Analytics Setup Wizard
The next time you create a profile in Google Analytics, you’ll notice a new tracking code setup wizard that will guide you along the way. Depending on your needs (tracking sub-domains, multiple top-level domains, integrating Google AdSense or even tracking PHP or dynamic content pages), you’ll be able to configure your tracking code appropriately so that you or your web team can track everything as accurately as possible!
BONUS: New Version of the Google Analytics API
How about a tease? Later this week, Google Analytics will be making a separate announcement for some exciting new features to the Google Analytics API, including support for Advanced Segments and support for the new metrics and dimensions that have been made available to Google Analytics in recent months!
Look for all of these exciting new features to be available in your Google Analytics accounts soon!