It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s been happening in this industry. Yesterday’s news is old news, and what you read 15 minutes ago on your Twitter feed is already below the fold – and you know what they say: “Out of sight, out of mind!”
But, in case you missed anything, here are the top news items that have happened in our space since mid-September.
– New My Client Center features announced, including email notifications and custom alerts!
– Coming into its own, the Keyword Tool is finally out of Beta, providing advertisers with flexible options and easy search refinements.
– New metrics are always fun for people like me, which is why it was way cool that Google introduced Estimated Top Impressions within the Bid Simulator tool.
– The Google Analytics API is a powerful application that is allowing developers to create amazing tools. Just in the last few weeks, the Google Analytics team has recorded a new episode of Web Analytics TV with the dynamic duo of Avinash Kaushik and Nick Mihailovski, focusing on the GA API. There is also a new Google Analytics + Bazaarvoice integration, as well as an updated Python Library.
– If you ever wondered about Google Analytics up time or the current status of Google Analytics, wonder no more! A new status dashboard has been launched to provide you with updates as to how the GA system is running. Notice the overwhelming amount of green check marks across the board?
– Bit.ly and WebTrends announced an integration with Bit.ly’s Pro Enterprise service, which should add a nice value to WebTrend’s growing social media measurement capabilities. Did you know that bit.ly decodes 4.7 billion (with a “B”) URLs per month? Wow!
– eMetrics – THE web analytics conference – is happening this week (in fact, happening right now as you read this). Follow their updates on Twitter at #emetrics, or visit their website for all of the latest information. There are a lot of great speakers lined up this year, and they always have a lot of great things to say, so do follow #emetrics on Twitter to get the inside scoop of what’s happening for those of you who can’t be there live.
Happy Holidays everyone! While some of us have been taking time off, the fine folks at Google Analytics have been working hard at improving the technical side of their web analytics solution. It’s very important for the continued growth of Google Analytics that new tracking codes and functions be released from time to time. Today, I’d like to cover some of the more recent technical releases, including a new tracking code and some updates to the Google Analytics API.
On the first day of December 2009, Google Analytics introduced an alternate way of tracking your website’s pages with its new asynchronous tracking code (nicknamed “async”). The async tracking code takes advantage of a faster loading time and improved browser execution to provide better, more reliable, higher accuracy data. Async still uses the ga.js file, but it is far less dependent upon how the browser loads ga.js, making for a better user-experience for the web visitor.
The way that it works is that the async tracking code is placed toward the bottom of the <head> section of each web page of a website. Then, similar to the ga.js tracking code, the web property ID is specificed (your “UA” number) and then the call to _trackPageview is made, which sends data back to Google Analytics servers. Here’s what the base async tracking code looks like:
The _gaq object that you see at the beginning of the script is what makes the asynchronous tracking possible with Google Analytics. It’s like a queue, collecting each object until the browser is ready to execute them (vs. the standard tracking code which waits for the browser to begin collecting data).
However, with the async tracking code, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Instead of using multiple calls to _gaq.push, you can push all of your commands at once, if you prefer:
_gaq.push( ['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X'], ['_trackPageview'] );
The next time you log-in to your Google Analytics account, and you’re looking for your tracking code by clicking on the “Check Status” link, you may see a new wizard:
This Google Analytics Tracking Code Wizard is designed to make your life a bit easier by asking you a series of questions on the left of the tracking code. Depending upon your answers, your Google Analytics Tracking Code will be modified accordingly, which should reduce the amount of time digging through Google’s technical documents online. This wizard is also available when you create a new profile or Google Analytics account.
Obviously, you should always consult with a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (like us) before doing any technical implementation on your site.
If you’re really into the Google Analytics Tracking Code, you can subscribe to the Google Analytics Changelog, where you can receive updates as they happen to the Google Analytics Tracking Code. Some of the newest updates have been the deprecation of _setVar, the added controls for cookie expiration times, and new organic search engines added to ga.js. Check out the changelog and subscribe to it today!
The Google Analytics API Client Python Library was just updated a couple of weeks ago, allowing developers to write programs and applications in the languages that they know and love.
This update coincides with the new API features that were launched three weeks ago. The new Google Analytics API features include support for Advanced Segmentation, Goal 5-20 configuration data, and new support for Custom Variables. If you’re a developer and haven’t used the API in a few weeks, log-in today and check out how powerful the GA API has now become!
How about something a little less technical? Google Analytics has released several new features in 2009. Most recently, the Google Analytics team released Annotations, which are notes that you can insert directly into any trending graph in Google Analytics. This allows marketers, website owners, and IT departments to keep track of all important events and bring “tribal data” from your company right into Google Analytics! Log-in to your account today and begin to import and share your knowledge across your organization!
We hope that you have a happy new year and enjoy all of these new technical Google Analytics updates in 2010!
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!