As many have already witnessed, Google Analytics has updated their interface to create a more user-friendly environment. One of the biggest changes is the new dashboard, which can now be customized to show a number of preferred reports at sign-on. Reports and graphs may be dragged and dropped to create a personalized home page within the interface, assisting in making the most pertinent information available at a glance.
The new interface has become easier to navigate as well by allowing use of the back button and adding links to related sections from within each report. Moving around within the interface is very natural feeling now, and less clicks are required to jump from report to report. Some newer features include automatically e-mailed reports and better designed graphs of analytics information.
New Internet advertisers can now easily take advantage of this quality analytics software thanks to simplified terminology and easy to find descriptions available in the new interface. This new platform also helps us to share information with our own clients more easily and with less training. Google Analytics is currently one of the most robust analytics programs on the Internet. With increased competition for keywords and positioning, quality programs like this have become an imperative step in the creation of a successful PPC program.
A few days ago, my co-worker Jennifer showed me something in Google Analytics that I found very interesting.
When performing a Date-Range Comparison on any number of reports, be very aware of exactly where you put each date or date-range. Google Analytics uses two dates for a Date-Range Comparison: a “First Date” and a “Second Date”. The images below show that I’ve selected February 2007 as my First Date, and March 2007 as my Second Date:
Most people, like myself, would think of using the First Date Calendar for the earliest date (as in the Date Range that happened first), and the Second Date Calendar for the latest date (as in the Date Range that happened last). However, look at what happens when you do just that:
Do you see that? It lists the First Date (February) below the Second Date (March). This is “backwards”, simply because we are all programmed to read things from top to bottom. It’s also not what we are looking for — the month of March had more Visits and Pageviews per Vist than February, so how was there a -26.17% and -9.70% Change, respectively?
So, if we’re trying to look at a comparison between February and March, to see how March did in comparison to February, you would have to make the First Date your most recent date (March), and your Second Date your oldest date (February). When you do that, your report will then look like this:
Now, that’s better! There was a +35.44% increase in Visits, and a +10.74% increase in Pageviews per Visit from February to March.
So, when you want to compare two Date-Ranges, make sure you use your most recent date as your First Date, and your oldest date as your Second Date.
Google is endlessly ambitious. Right from the start, they sought to revolutionize the way searchers found results. From there, they went on to revolutionize the way advertising works, reversing the trend from “push” advertising (when sellers promote their products/services obtrusively) to “pull” (when buyers seek out sellers on their own terms).
Now, they’ve taken it a step further. Just a couple of weeks ago, Google announced the open beta form of their new Website Optimizer tool. In the same vein as analytics, this tool is offered free to Adwords users with the intention of assisting in the process of overall campaign optimization.
So what does it do? In short, it eliminates the guesswork in page design by allowing users to test multiple variations of a page to see which one performs the best. When a searcher lands on your site, the website optimizer tool will track their activity. Versions of your page that perform well (resulting in sales or leads) will begin to stand out in contrast with those that don’t, allowing you to optimize your site more completely and effectively. Essentially, this tool allows for a more reasonable, systematic approach — you get to optimize your site by selecting pages that objectively outperform other versions, rather than settling on what your gut tells you is most effective.
Why is this revolutionary? In a sense, it’s not. Google is not the first to think of providing a website optimization tool. In fact, several companies have been providing multivariable testing services since as early as 2001. However, Google is the first to offer this type of service for free and on such a large scale. Their hope is that millions of Adwords users will begin fine-tuning the look, feel and content of their sites, building them around “what works best” rather than “what feels best.” Google believes that if their tool is used correctly – and on a large enough scale – then over time the overall user experience of the Internet will improve. Sounds like a win-win scenario.