The Big G is making major enhancements to Google Analytics, starting with the dashboard. Let’s take a detailed look at what’s new.
If it’s been a while since you last logged into Google Analytics (first of all, shame on you), get ready to be met with some welcome improvements.
Google has been promising “Improvements are coming to the Google Analytics UI” for a few weeks now. Starting with the Home screen, they are beginning to deliver.
For the most part, the enhancements are in the form of sleek new graphs which simplify visualization of your traffic data. They are clean and interactive. You can adjust date range, see popovers, and on some graphs, switch between metrics with ease. Each section also provides a link to “dig deeper” into that particular data set.
The result is a much quicker presentation of data, which should make it easier to digest. All of these charts presented together also makes it easier to see how it all fits together – allowing marketers and site owners to make better decisions about their site content and strategy.
The Big Numbers
The first thing you’ll see is a new graph for Users / Sessions / Bounce Rate & Session Duration. These are the broadest KPIs of site traffic, a barometer of your site’s popularity and use.
All the important stuff is here. Users within a date range, percentage change, and granular change over time. Clicking on each metric switches to a timeline graph of that metric. There is also a footer link to Audience Overview.
Time-Based User Data
The next section is probably my favorite, and is broken down into two powerful interactive graphs: Users right now & Users by time of day.
Users Right Now
This awesome little graph is packed with info, down to the minute. What’s best, it animates in real-time. Hovering over one of the bars reviews how many users were active at that precise minute.
Users by time of day
As you can see in the screenshot below, this data is presented as a grid of rectangles, each representing an hour of a particular day of the week. This gives you a sense of peak traffic points, as well as weak ones you may wish to target. As with the real time graph, hovering over a rectangle reveals the hard numbers for that segment.
Acquisition is one of the most important areas within Google Analytics, and here, its wisdom is put front and center. Now you can quickly see which channels are bringing the most traffic, and a hover reveals a breakdown. As with the first graph, clicking a metric switches to a different graph.
Users by Location
This block displays the familiar world map with color-coded countries highlighted according to traffic percentage. It’s perhaps the least interesting section, as it offers nothing we didn’t already have on the dashboard.
This is a great block because it makes the case for mobile-optimization. If you want to know which way the wind is blowing, here’s your airport windsock. In the screen below, you can see mobile traffic is twice that of desktop. Your mileage may vary.
Active User Trends
This section is interesting, as it shows overall traffic trends. Though the default view is 30 days, this might be more useful over a wider range of time, say 3-6 months.
The next graph measures user retention during a span of time, which can be adjusted via a dropdown at the bottom of the block. Here you can catch a glimpse of your returning user levels and see how they drop off (or hopefully, don’t). This data is tied to the Cohort Analysis Report, which can be accessed from a link in the block footer.
This block is good for a content overview, but doesn’t have much use beyond that. It doesn’t indicate if these are landing pages, exit pages or anything other than raw pageviews. It’s also unclear if these are unique or total pageviews without clicking on a more detailed report.
As undisputed overlord of search, at least Google is benevolent (for the most part). It knows website owners and marketers must bow to its decrees, and its definition of what makes for “good web”. They also collect untold mountains of data every attosecond. So, it’s nice they at least provide tools to give us feedback on how well our sites play within their regime.
At the same time, by putting these metrics upfront, Google provides hints to newbies as to what they should be measuring, and in what priority. Marketers will no doubt debate this hierarchy until Web 7.0 renders the argument moot, but for now, we must give thanks for the morsels which fall from the Goog’s gracious table.