Google Analytics Developments and Issues

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This page covers Google Analytics changes and developments and it presented in reverse chronological order (latest news on top!).

Google Analytics Accounts are Being Updated

Nov 21, 2011 

Please note – this blog post serves to vent my frustration mostly. It is a rant.

If you have been using Google Analytics for a few years then you will be well aware that a major change is happening. I am so far finding this new version a royal PITA. Although the old version had its problems, it was easy to set up a dashboard that displayed useful information that I could work with.

I just posted a question to the Google Analytics help forum and am now waiting patiently for an answer. I have been playing with the new version, trying to find some useful documents on how to set it up, and mostly failed so far. This is my question to Google, copied from the forum (I see no reason to re-write my own words):

I am really struggling with this new version. I used to be able to get all the information I needed from my dashboard but now cannot get it to show half the info I use to work from.

E.g., on my old version’s Dashboard I see Keywords with a % of visits for each, Top Landing Pages with a % of visits for each, search engines with a % of visits for each and content overview and referring sites with a % of visits for each.

The % of visits really is something that I work with as it shows changes to the site much better than just showing total visitors. But in the new version Overiew page (default start page) is all but useless to me, so I have to click dashboard. Doing this seems to reset the date range, so I have to change this again, then when I get there all I see is total Pageviews for Pages. for Landing Pages a figure that is Entrances/Pageviews (what is this?), Sources has % Exit (who cares?) then Landing Pages has Bounces. I have looked through the settings and tried different options but cannot get % to show. This is the data I need and the data I have been using for years.

Please help! I am sure there is a way to get this info, and ideally to display on the homepage, without having to keep changing the date range on every page reload too (which is become EX|EXTREMELY frustrating).

Overall, so far not impressed!

Oh, and sometimes the data in the new version is just wrong. Even with the date range set, some fields / boxes show different data. e.g. Pages, Sources. is showing the correct values for Nov 20, 2011, but Landing Page is showing something else, I guess a month worth of data.

And if anyone can let me know what the point of real-time reporting is, please let me know.

That is that really.

Oh, and remember the last big Google Analytics Update, the one I was so positive about, well, that feature seems to be gone now too.

At the moment I can still click “Old Version” and get the information that I need. What really annoys me is this assumption that everyone works in the same way and that everyone should be happy with the new format. Why couldn’t Google update the platform and provide the option to change the format of EVERYTHING instead of make the changes default.

And really, real-time analytics? I guess for sites with huge amounts of traffic, a massive social media presence and a department dedicated to staring at analytics screens all day long, it can be useful. But for the rest of us, it is interesting for about 30 seconds, and then you realise that you have to do some work. Staring at real-time analytics is not exactly the most productive use of my time. In fact, writing this blog is not either.

Google Analytics Keywords showing (not provided)

Oct 19, 2011

screen shot of google ssl search pageIf you use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your website you may have noticed that a new popular keyword is “(not provided)”. Don’t worry, you have not accidentally optimised your site for “not provided“, it is the new Google secure search being rolled out as the default form of search for logged in users.

So what is Google secure search? And why? Well, since the China incident Google have really got serious about security. They are making their systems more and more secure for users and clients alike all the time. This latest change simply means that if you are logged in to your Google account, from now on (it is still being rolled out apparently) when you search Google you will be directed to https://www.google.com. This is a secure domain, which means that your private data is less prone to theft.

SSL (short for secure sockets layer) ensure that all data is encrypted from “end-to-end”, one end being your computer and the other end being Google. This means that your searches cannot be intercepted by third parties, making your data more private. You probably would not want other people knowing what you are searching for some of the time, this system protects that. Such spies could simply be webmasters, advertising partners and other people who gather data on you to then use to target you later.

Google explain the whole thing much better than me here; SSL Search: www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=173733

Confusing for Webmasters!

If you are a webmaster who monitors search referrals this may become a bit annoying as in time more and more searches will be recorded as “(not provided)”. It could make optimising a site harder and also mean that if you lose ranking for a set of keywords you may not notice straight away – or at all!

At the moment there appears to be no known way to work around this – and that is probably the whole idea. If a webmaster could find a way to extract that information from a reader / searcher then that would mean data has been passed over that should not have been.

No doubt in the next few weeks as this is rolled out to more users there will be a lot of people moaning on the webmaster forums. Something else to complain about!

What is Google Analytics Intelligence?

Nov 15, 2009

Google Analytics has a new tool in Beta called Intelligence. It allows users to set up alerts.

It is hoped that Analytics Intelligence will act as a personal assistant who will report on important changes to user interaction with your website. It will report any major changes, such as an increase in traffic from a particular country or town, a change in keyword referrals or if people are spending longer reading pages.

“it can find key information for you and your professional analysts — so that your team can focus on making strategic decisions, instead of sifting through an endless sea of data.” – Google.com

It is a great way to learn about important changes on your site without having to compare hundreds of metrics every day. Besides, even if you do monitor various metrics, the one important one that is rocking your site may go unnoticed.

You can learn moore on Google’s dedicated Analytics blog: analytics.blogspot.com.

Google Analytics Dashboard Update

Nov 4, 2008

Google have finally updated the Analytics dashboard. Until now, on logging in to a Google Analytics account, all the domains were listed, but with no reported information shown. Now, for each domain, you can quickly see the number of visits, average time on site, bounce rate, completed goals and % Change (hits). Also, it is possible to specify either a daily view, weekly or monthly. The % change is a great addition, as growth trends can quickly be identified.

There are still several short comings and minor annoyances with the Google Analytics software, but this is a sign that they are making an effort to improve on the product.

 

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