Over the past year, the team at Google has rolled out a variety of new features and improvements to the Google Analytics package. These changes have made this free tool even more robust when it comes to making data-driven decisions about your website. Here is a list of the four new features that we recommend every website use in order to increase its visibility and improve the experience to its visitors.
Prior to the release of the Content Experiments feature, performing tests to optimize landing pages or content on your site required the use of Google Website Optimizer (GWO) or other third party tools.
Now that GWO has been integrated into Google Analytics and renamed Content Experiments, you can test page variations and have all of your analytics data included in the reporting and results. Setting up a test is as simple as creating up to five different pages and establishing a conversion metric. When paired with advanced segments and profile filters, you can easily slice the data to see how the page performed with each of your visitors. Although the tool is limited to just testing a few elements on each page, the overall ease of use allows any website to use Content Experiments to optimize the conversion funnel.
In-Page Analytics has recently undergone an overhaul which has greatly increased the usefulness of this feature. With a simple addition to the standard Google Analytics code, this heat-map can now differentiate between links that send users to the same place (the link to your home page in the header vs. the link to the home page in your footer) and one link that sends users to multiple places (a search box, for example).
In addition, the tool can display which element on the page led to the most clicks, transactions, or revenue, allowing you to judge quickly which parts of your page work and which should be removed. Coupled with the content experiments, this tool allows you to answer the question as to why one page is performing better than another by seeing which new element is really attracting the visitor’s focus.
Google Analytics has made a conscious effort to allow websites to measure and track their reach throughout the various social networks, which are becoming increasingly important for brand recognition and improving rankings in search results on the various search engines.
This section of reports lets you see which social network is sending you the most traffic, which page they are being sent, how well each social network contributes to your conversion funnel, and which pages are leading to social actions such as Facebook likes or Google +1s.
If you have any spare real estate on your computer monitor, definitely have the real-time reports open throughout the day. This feature allows you to see so much information about the visitors that are currently on your site. You can see where the traffic came from, what pages they are on, what keywords drove them to your site, and the approximate location of the visitor.
This report may not provide the level of detail found in the standard reporting, but being able to see your visitors in real-time is a great way to see how visitors find your site and what they are actively viewing. This feature is quickly becoming my go-to report.