In this article I’m going to talk about some Google Analytics Changes and a new feature. If you don’t use Google Analytics to measure the sources and frequency of visitors to your website then feel free to skip this article. If you do use Google Analytics then there have been a few recent changes that will probably interest you.
One of the most valuable pieces of information that you can get from Analytics is to see what search terms people are using to come to your site. I check these daily for new trends and ideas. A few days ago I noticed that one of my top search terms was (not provided). I’ve you’ve been watching your numbers I’m sure you’ve noticed the same thing. The cause of this change is Google’s recent push towards security.
A few days ago, Google changed the default method of providing search results for those who are logged into Google accounts from HTTP to HTTPS. In practical terms this means anyone who is logged into Gmail or Google+ will have their searches done using HTTPS, and you won’t be able to see what terms brought them to your site. Right now around 7% of searches come from people who are logged into Google. For now, this development is only an inconvenience, but as more and more people start to use Google plus that number will start to rise.
More Google Analytics changes : real time analytics beta
About a week ago I asked Google to give me access to the Real-time analytics beta. It….is…..AWESOME.
To be completely honest it’s more cool then useful but I still can’t wait to use it the next time we launch a promo on Twitter or Facebook. Right now our real-time screen is showing that we have 6 visitors on the site (4 from the US). I can see what pages they are viewing and that one came from Facebook and one from twitter. There is a moving timeline in the upper right hand corner which makes it feel like it’s a program from Mission Impossible.
Here is a screenshot I took this morning.
One thing I’ve always wished Google Analytics had was the ability to see activity within the last 30 or 60 minutes to measure the effect that a certain action online had. This is now possible with real time analytics, and I can’t wait to test it.
In order to use real-time analytics I had utilize one of the Google Analytics changes that I had been avoiding, the new user interface. I don’t think it’s “worse” than the old interface, I just need to get used to it. The one thing I really love about the new version though is the data on social action. I can now see how many people gave me a +1 with Google, or used any of our other share buttons to share our content on Twitter, Facebook etc. This is a huge addition in my opinion and makes the switch worthwhile.
I think the trickiest part of trying to encourage our readers to share our content via social media is where to draw the line between making it easy and apparent, and making it obnoxious. I think most sites are at one end of the spectrum or another. A lot of sites ignore social media sharing all together and some sites seem to do everything but grab your screen and shake it until you tweet the article to your friends. I’m hoping these new features will give me a chance to monitor any tweaks I try to implement in that area.
There was also a recent tweak to Google’s algorithm to favor more recent data in some results, but I haven’t had a chance to study that enough yet to the point where I feel comfortable discussing it. If you have any thoughts or questions about these Google Analytics changes or any others feel free to post them here.