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Cool new features in Google Analytics

, Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Google has been slowly rolling out new features in Google Analytics over the past couple weeks – some more visible than others, but all of them pretty powerful.  If you haven’t seen them appear yet, you likely will soon.  I’ll let Google give you the full tour, but these are the highlights:

  • Intelligence - this is the biggest, shiniest of all the new features.  We all know there’s a lot of useful, actionable information buried in our Analytics reports, but often don’t have the time to sift through and find them.  The Intelligence reports look through your data for significant trends and deviations from those trends, and tell you what they find, saving you some of the time of hunting for these insights yourself.  It won’t give you all the details, but it will tell you if you get a large spike in search traffic, or if your bounce rate peaks.  You can even set alerts for yourself, so that when you get, for example, a big spike in referring traffic, Analytics will send you an email and let you know you might have some important incoming links.  Don’t pack your bags for vacation yet – you’ll still have to review your data regularly, and analyze it yourself – but this tool will make it a lot easier to keep on top of trends.
  • Pivot Tables – If you’re a data geek like me, and you love pivot tables in Excel, you’ll also love them in Google Analytics.  You can find them at the top of most reports with data tables, next to the other views.  This is great for doing a quick slice-and-dice of your data without downloading it for deeper analysis.  (This one has been around a little longer than some of the others, but hasn’t received a lot of attention – I think it’s great.)
  • Advanced Filtering – Until now, filtering data in a report was mostly just useful for looking at a particular folder, or file extension, or page title (or else, you had to know a lot about scary-looking regular expressions).  Now, instead of filtering only on the primary dimension of the report, you can filter on any dimension or metric that’s visible.  Want to look at pages that got 100-200 visits, with an average time on site over 1 minute?  Want to find pages with the highest bounce rate that had more than one visitor?  Advanced filtering will be your friend.
  • Goals - Goals have been around for a long time, but until recently, you could only have 4 of them.  Now, you can have up to 20, and Google has added some additional metrics that you can use for goals (like time on site).  Very handy.
  • Custom Variables – This feature requires some custom coding, but soon you’ll be able to tag visitors, visits, and pageviews with identifying data.  For example, you could tag your news articles by category, and then see aggregate data about the categories in your reports.  This feature is still on the way, but should have a wide range of uses.

Just a few things that could make your life a little easier.

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