New Google Analytics Interface: Simpler Than Ever
By Vanessa Salvia, 4/10/07
Google Analytics is a free and very powerful analytics tool for website
owners that generates highly detailed reports about a website’s
visitors and ecommerce transactions. It is this detail that can be
intimidating to visitors who log on to Google Analytics with
the idea of “checking it out.” The plethora of charts and graphs can
quickly become overwhelming without a little background information.
We’ve sifted through Google Analytic’s help pages and found some of the
most important and useful features so you don’t have to. In this
article we discuss getting started with a Google Analytics account and
look at three important reports that can be invaluable for site owners:
“Traffic Sources Overview,” “Revenue & Transactions,” and
“Referring Sources.” We’ll also take a look at creating funnels and
goals to help determine when visitors leave your site and when they
reach a predetermined “goal page,” such as a “purchase completed” page.
In 2005, Google purchased the Urchin Corporation, makers of the highly
popular Urchin website analytics tools. Google engineers took Urchin's
high end Urchin On Demand analytics system, which was offered for
several hundred dollars a month, and released it as a free service
called Google Analytics. MightyMerchant offers complete integration
with Google Analytics. Existing customers can connect their sites to
Google Analytics' basic services for no charge. To take advantage of
Advanced Ecommerce tracking, there is a small one-time setup fee to
help you get up and running.
New features and product changes are listed on the Google Analytics
Update page, and announcements and tips from Analytics Specialists are
available on the Official Google Analytics Blog.
On May 8,2007, Google announced a new, redesigned interface intended to
be simpler to use. The new interface is greatly streamlined and much
easer it to use. If you are familiar and comfortable with the original
Google Analytics, they have allowed users to continue accessing the
previous, non-redesigned interface for about two months.
For new GA users, there is some set-up
which must be done. MightyMerchant staff handle this set-up, which
includes installing codes and basic profile configuration. Google
Analytics uses this code to collect information about visitors and
track data, such as where site visitors come from, what they do, and
whether they complete any conversion goals. The code does not influence
how your site performs and there is no change in what users see on a
website or how they interact with a website.
MightyMerchant offers you two ways to integrate your site with Google
Analytics: you can get basic ecommerce reporting (no setup charge) or
Advanced Ecommerce tracking ($100 one-time setup fee.) Serious
ecommerce site owners will likely want to get the Advanced Ecommerce
tracking and reporting, which gives a wealth of information about the
purchases, statistics and patterns that occur on the site.
A Google email address, which is free, is required to set up a GA
account. Once configuration is complete, it takes about 24 hours for GA
to generate the first reports. Users can add up to 10 website profiles,
which generally correspond to domain names. Currently, the free GA
service is limited to websites with less than 5 million pageviews a
month, however, active Google AdWords users are given unlimited
pageviews. GA is completely integrated with AdWords. Google Analytics
information is private and secure; none of the report data shows
identifiable information about the site visitors.
When first logging in to GA, the user can choose the website profile
they wish to view reports for. When that is selected, a “View Reports”
option is offered, which takes users to the starting point for viewing
the more than 80 distinct reports that GA offers. Currently, the button
says, ““View Reports – New Beta” For the original version of GA, click
“Previous Interface” underneath. GA will enable users to access the
original interface for approximately two months.
"Traffic Sources Overview"
One report you might want to start with is “Traffic Sources Overview.”
Click on the “Traffic Sources” on the left navigation bar. This report
shows you where your site visitors came from. Scroll down for
“Keywords.” Click “view full report” underneath for each keyword. Click
the keyword for a breakdown of how many visits each keyword sent, the
average time spent on the site, the bounce rate, pages looked at per
visit and new visits.
The view can be changed to pie chart or bar or line graph by
clicking the appropriate button on the top right of the chart. This
report shows paid and non- paid keyword searches, and also gives
information about goal conversions per keyword.
"Revenue & Transactions"
Next, check out “Revenue & Transactions” by navigating to
“Ecommerce.” There, “Revenue” and “Transactions” appear. Transactions
are graphed over time. This report can help you determine if there is a
correlation between a certain day of the week and an increase in
transactions. For instance, if you send out an e-mail newsletter every
Thursday, or if you update your RSS feed on Tuesdays, this report shows
you daily changes in revenue by date.
Another useful report is “Referring Sources.” From the upper left of
the page, navigate to “Traffic Sources,” then “Referring Sites.” Click
on “Ecommerce” tab to make the “revenue” and “transactions” columns
Referral sources, such as search engines and referral sites, are given
through the “Traffic Sources” menu. This report shows which referral
sources result in the most revenue. It is invaluable to know where site
visitors are coming from and what percentage of your revenue is tied to
that. Information is also given for Visits, pages viewed per visit,
average time on site, percentage of new visits and bounce rate for each
Goals and Funnels
Setting up goals and funnels can help you track what site visitors are
doing and where they leave your site. You can define a funnel and this
feature will tell you when visitors either complete the process or
abandon it. You can define "success pages" and determine the
correlation between where visitors come from and how often they make it
to the success pages. This can help you determine if there is some
problem page or flaw in your site’s design which causes the majority of
visitors to lose interest. For instance, your goal can be set as a
“purchase completed” page, and this feature can tell you if the visitor
is making it to the goal page or if they are leaving at the “check out”
page or the “view cart” page.
Your can set more than one goal, like signing up for a newsletter,
completing a purchase or completing a download. A funnel represents a
defined path you expect visitors to take in order to reach the goal.
Each Google Analytics profile can have up to 4 goals, with a defined
funnel for each goal. The Google Analytics help feature walks you
through the step-by-step instructions for setting up goals and funnels.
Once you do that and you’re ready to view your reports, find them by
navigating to “Goals," then click “Funnel Visualization” and the “Goal
Funnel” report appears. When you view the report, you will see three
columns. The left column shows all of the entrance points a visitor
could take to arrive at the funnel. The central column represents the
steps in your defined funnels. The right column tells you where the
visitor left the funnel process. The slash, /, indicates your home page.
In order for funnels and goals to operate successfully, filters
set up, which track the users as they move through your website. Go to
MightyMerchant's Documentation Center and see the article on "Google Analytics Setup
."Google Analytics also has extensive help features to make using these tools as easy as possible.
On October 16, 2007, GA announced two new features for more
sophisticated reporting: site search reporting and event tracking (not
available to the public yet, but still an exciting development). The
site search feature enables you to identify keywords and products that
people search for on your site (assuming you have a site search
feature) and measures these trends over time. MightyMerchant has our
own powerful on-site search engine
or we can work with you to integrate Google Custom Search Business Edition
You may never look at all 80+ reports, and that’s okay, but there are a
few that are straightforward, easy to understand, and provide useful
information at a glance. These and other reports that are available
provide a lot of useful website information that can be used to focus
your marketing dollar, make the navigation of your site stronger, and
revise content to make the average visitor more comfortable and more
likely to reach your goals. MightyMerchant staff takes care of the
set-up so that your site can access this high-powered (and free!)
analytics tool, so just ask us.
MightyMerchant specializes in developing e-commerce and database
driven, content-rich websites for small business customers across the
US. The company was listed as one of Practical eCommerce Magazine’s
“Top 100 Notable Shopping Carts” in September/October 2007. Hundreds of
site owners use MightyMerchant to quickly and easily manage their
online stores. For more information visit www.mightymerchant.com, and for ecommerce knowledge and tools visit the MightyMerchant eCommerce Blog.