It’s already been a year and a half since Google last gave their free web analytics software Google Analytics a major overhaul. Now, version 5 has finally been made available to everyone. As Google Analytics is the web analytics solution most website owners and search marketers alike use – after all, it is hosted, completely free and can easily be integrated with AdWords – we would like to take you through the most important changes that come along with this new, shiny model and tell you how the new interface looks and feels like.
The layout of Analytics has actually gone through some pretty drastic changes. Quick links can now bring you straight from your account overview page to content or goal reports of each of your individual account profiles. You will now find a navigation bar including a “Home” button, a “My Site” tab containing your usual reports and the intelligence functionalities (which have been separated from each other), and the “Custom Reports” section on top of your reporting interface. The Custom Reports have been spiced up with a flat table view that I think will turn out to be really practical if you want to look at combined metrics like campaign/landing page or keyword/ad position. You can also add filters to your custom reports so that you won’t have to apply advanced segments to reports you would like to be broken down further anymore. The administration settings for each profile can now be accessed directly from the reporting interface by clicking the gear-wheel button in the top right corner.
With regards to your dashboard – you can now create multiple dashboards, which is a definite improvement, and to top that off even select different chart and display types for data you want to see. You now have much more flexibility here. However, all this data can still only be presented for one particular date range. It would be much better if you could customize time ranges for each individual report. You might not want to see your geo report broken down by hour of day, but your goal conversion rate. And how awesome would it be to combine various profiles in one dashboard?
Some reports that hadn’t been used a lot have been stripped out. “Traffic Sources” have become “Incoming Sources”. Motion charts are now available right in the reports. Maybe someone might actually start using them? Some reports include funky visualizations now – you can, for instance, generate term clouds of your data. “Goals” and “E-Commerce” are now combined under “Conversions”, which makes a lot of sense. And, hooray, you will now be able to set events as goals. Previously, only URLs and interaction metrics (time on site and pages viewed) were available to be specified as goals. “AdWords” gets a more prominent spot within the “Traffic Sources” reports.
Generally, it has become easier to segment data. You also don’t have to have “All Visits” preselected if you want to look at one particular traffic source only when using your advanced segments anymore. So the UI is all new and pretty, looking more corporate, and the colours are more settled. A few additions will make working with your Analytics data easier and help you find out what you need to know faster. All buttons and navigation options look smaller and cleaner – plenty of space for future additions and reports. One big minus though – exporting reports into PDF format is no longer possible.
All in all, a step forward, even though there are more cosmetic than actual content changes. You can dive down into the depths of your data much easier now, which is great. The UI and UX designers have certainly done their job, and a lot of customer feedback has been taken seriously. Many little changes and additions will make Google Analytics more fun again. On the other hand, when it comes to reporting and customizing your dashboard, Google Analytics, despite of certain improvements, is still a little bit.
There are a couple of Google webinars for ad agencies coming up that help you get to grips with the new Analytics version. Highly recommended!