Rachael Gerson spearheads the Analytics division at SEER Interactive. Follow her on Twitter @rachaelgerson.

In my last Google Analytics post, I talked about the 10 new Google Analytics features you need to start using. Now that you already know what these new features are, let’s focus on how you can find them, and get started.

Basic Navigation




There are two main navigation methods for Google Analytics. The top navigation is used to view the Home section, Standard Reporting and Custom Reporting. Most of the reports from the previous article use the Standard Reporting tab.

The second navigation is the side navigation. Use this navigation to select the profile, search for a specific report or access the report you need. Each item in the side navigation can be clicked on to expand the full menu.

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After we published a primer for using Google Analytics, readers said they were hungry for more.

Google Analytics has since revamped its design, giving it not only a cleaner look but also updated data sets. You can now find everything from real-time stats to details about which mobile device your site visitors come from.

Though the data possibilities seem endless, Google Analytics product manager Phil Mui says the design reflects three core metrics: acquisition, engagement and outcome. Let’s take a closer look at what these numbers mean and how you can track them with one of the most widely used web analytics platforms.


Acquisition


The lowest-hanging fruit of web analytics is counting metrics. This data encompasses the number of visitors that come to your site and can be filtered to show what sites they’re coming from and how many of them have or haven’t been to your site before. In Google Analytics, this is described as “Visits.”

SEE ALSO: 10 New Google Analytics Features You Need to Start Using

The tool has long provided information about where your visitors are coming from (geographically and on the web), what language they speak, how often they visit your site and what computers and browsers they use to get there. More recently, Google Analytics released mobile reporting. As people increasingly access the web from smartphones and tablets, this information is key to optimizing your site for those looking at it from a mobile device. This and most visitor-specific information can be found under the Audience tab. On report pages, the Visits metric can be found in the upper-left, while New Visits — the percentage of visitors coming to your site for the first time — is second in from the right.

Measuring how many people are coming to your site is the most cut and dried — but it’s only one piece of the metrics pie.


Engagement


These numbers consider the quality of your site traffic. Once visitors come to your site, they’ll do one of three things: read the page they came to, click to more pages beyond their entry page, or leave. Engagement metrics focus on these actions visitors are taking once they get to your site — and how good you are at keeping them there.

The three key engagement metrics in Google Analytics are:

  • Pages per Visit: This is the average number of pages a visitor views when coming to your website. The more engaging your site is, the more inclined visitors will be to continue clicking beyond the entry page.
  • Average Time on Site: This refers to the typical amount of time visitors spend on your site, despite whether they continue to stay on the page they came in on or navigate elsewhere within your domain.
  • Bounce Rate: This represents the percentage of single-page visits to your site. It gives you a sense of how many visitors left your site from the entrance page rather than clicking further into your site as compared to total visitors. Like Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate can help you determine the performance of your entry pages based on the actions visitors take (or don’t take) after they’ve arrived on your site.

Engagement metrics are especially important for reports created in the Traffic Sources and Content tabs. On report pages, Pages per Visit and Average Time on site are located at the top middle of report pages, while Bounce Rate is at the far right.

So, how do you know if your site is “engaging?” Ask yourself: Is your site user-friendly? How simple is it for a visitor to click to the next page? Is there interactive content in which your readers can participate? Does landing page content match the keywords in its title? Considering these questions when designing your site is a surefire way to improve the quality of your web traffic.


Outcome


The Goals area is where your data tracking can really help you make a difference. These outcome-oriented metrics help you dive deeper into your site performance and learn whether you’re achieving what you want with your website.

The first step is defining your business objectives: Are you driving visitors to make online purchases? Getting them to view a specific piece of content? Aiming for more newsletter signups? Once you’ve pinned down your site goals, make sure your site administrator enables Goals in Google Analytics in the Account Settings page. Then you can choose one of four Goal types to track:

  • URL destination: This metric is best if your goal is to get visits to a key page of your site, such as your homepage or a post-purchase message page.
  • Time on Site: If you’re looking to measure engagement, this will track visitors spending a defined amount of time on your site.
  • Pages per Visit: Also important for engagement, Pages per Visit will keep tabs on a defined number of pages visitors view in a session on your site.
  • Events: Released in the most recent version of Google Analytics, Event Goals allow you to track specific actions visitors are taking on a page. This includes anything from downloading a PDF to watching a video.

Goals reports can be found under the Conversions tab, which will provide information about goal completions and conversion rates. You can opt to track goal value and abandonment rates (the percentage of visitors who fail to convert on the goal) as well.

If you’re an online retailer, it may make more sense for you to set up Ecommerce in Google Analytics, which allows you to track transactions and order values. It’s a more complicated setup process, but will provide more actionable metrics for visitors’ purchasing behavior on your site. For Google Adwords users, linking your account to Google Analytics goals can help you keep a closer eye on your marketing campaigns.


Other Noteworthy Features


One problem with the analytics industry, Mui says, is that tools give users so much information — but they’re not as good at telling users what they need to know. That’s why Google Analytics improved its Intelligence product in the most-recent update. It searches your site traffic for anything out of the ordinary and then alerts you to the anomaly. You can see all your alerts in a simple graph, where you can drill into and annotate specific events.

If you’re running a dynamic website that frequently publishes new content, Google Analytics Real-Time helps you understand what content is working best and what sites are sending you the most traffic at any given moment. It’s less useful for providing more long-term actionable insights.

For more useful v5 products, check out our top 10 features of the new Google Analytics.


Conclusion


While your level of interest in these key numbers and features may differ depending on your role and organization, these data points have become the standard for web analytics today. Whether you’re strategizing for a massive corporation or bolstering your personal web presence, understanding acquisition, engagement and outcome metrics is a must. “If content is king, then context is queen,” Mui says.

Which of these metrics and features are most important to your business? Has tracking them helped you improve your site? Tell us in the comments below.

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Rachael Gerson spearheads the Analytics division at SEER Interactive. Follow her on Twitter @rachaelgerson.

Over the past eight months, Google has steadily released one revolutionary new feature after another. On March 17, the company announced a new version of Google Analytics. Up until this point, users could decide whether they preferred to stick with the old interface or switch to the new one. However, Google recently announced that the old version of GA will be turned off in January 2012.

If you’re not already familiar with the new version, take the next few weeks to get comfortable with it. To help you get started, let’s review the top 10 features of the new Google Analytics.


1. Dashboards


Dashboards got a much needed overhaul in the new GA. Users can now create up to 20 personalized dashboards, developing widgets and formats that make the most sense for them or their company. For instance, each company department could develop its own distinct dashboard to quickly access site performance statistics that relate to department goals. Keep in mind: Dashboards can only be shared by users on the same login.

At a minimum, these four widgets would benefit the average user.

  • Visits – Timeline (can also include Metric)
  • Goal Completions and/or Transactions – Timeline
  • Source/Medium – Table
  • Bounce Rate – Timeline

2. Keyword Clouds


Rather than viewing a long list of keywords to spot trends, users can now evaluate a keyword cloud. This cloud makes it easy to visualize top keywords based on different user-selected criteria, including visits, bounce rates and pages per visit.


3. Real-Time Data


In the past, Google Analytics data was typically delayed up to 24 hours after the visit. For the first time, GA offers a real-time data solution. With its real-time reports, users can view the activity on the site as it happens, drilling into the top active pages, top referrals, keywords and geographic locations driving the traffic. In addition to monitoring current activity on the site, these reports can also be used to test campaign tracking prior to launching campaigns.


4. Site Speed


When Google released this report several months ago, it required additional code to be added to sites. Now speed reporting is standard on GA, and doesn’t need extra code. Use the site speed reports to get information about average page load time.

Why is this important? A slow site can have a negative effect on quality score for paid search, so visits can cost more to a slower site. Google has also indicated that site speed may be an important factor in organic search rankings. Additionally, a one-second delay can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Use this report to monitor site speed and avoid these issues.


5. Search Simplifies Navigation


GA has activated menu search, a phenomenal usability update. The tool makes it easier for users to quickly navigate to the proper report. Google also created an account search that lets users directly access the correct profile, rather than scrolling through hundreds to locate the right one.

GA also introduced the ability to switch between multiple profiles while staying with and maintaining the settings of the same report. Previously this could only be done using a Firefox plugin.


6. Webmaster Tools


The new integration incorporates Google Webmaster Tools data into Google Analytics. Using this tool, users can get a better sense of which Google property (web, image, local) drove site traffic. Similar to statistics provided to paid search advertisers, Webmaster Tools provides impressions, average position and CTR data for GA.

Although the numbers are not 100% accurate, they can be used to evaluate relative trends and to provide insight into data lost due to Google’s search update. Although the Webmaster Tools report is in Google Analytics, it’s limited to a single part of GA.


7. Social Engagement


Use Google Analytics to track how visitors interact socially with your site. A 2010 study showed 54% of small and medium-sized businesses said they already use or plan to use social media, and 17% planned to increase their social budget again from 2010 to 2011. With more companies making a push for social, it makes sense to analyze social site interactions.

GA’s new social reports break down how many of a site’s visitors are socially engaged with the site, itemizing which social source and action occurred. That way you can determine how many of your visitors +1′d site content vs. how many Liked it, as well as the pages that prompted this social action. Social plugins ShareThis and AddThis easily integrate with Google Analytics, passing information on social interactions back to GA with minimal changes.


8. Visitor Flow & Goal Flow Visualization


Flow Visualization was announced in October, but only recently started rolling out to most users. Flow Visualization consists of two reports: Visitors Flow and Goal Flow. The Visitors Flow report can be used to visualize the “flow” of visitors through the site, while the Goal Flow is an improvement on the original Funnel Visualization reports.

The Goal Flow report is especially valuable, as it simplifies evaluating a conversion funnel. Have a checkout process six pages long? Now you can determine at which page people are abandoning their carts. Then improve the process and save the sales.


9. Event Tracking


Prior to this new feature, any goal interaction with a site that didn’t result in a new URL needed to be tracked using special code to create a virtual pageview, which resulted in inflated numbers in GA. For the first time, Events can be used as goals. Want to find out how many people downloaded a PDF? Interested in knowing how many visitors viewed more than 30 seconds of a video on your site? Now users can easily track these events without affecting other metrics.


10. Multi-Channel Funnels


The Multi-Channel Funnels are a series of reports intended to help provide attribution information. For example, a person visits your site first from a paid search ad, then from an organic search listing, then from a link in Twitter, and finally from an email link. Therefore, which channel should get credit for the conversion? With many analytics platforms, the credit goes to the final funnel, thus, the email marketing campaign.

Multiple reports in the new Multi-Channel Funnels allow users to view further back than the final channel. Now GA shows every interaction a user had with the site in the 30 days prior to conversion. Using these reports, departments can take credit for their assists to conversions, and companies can make more informed decisions about which marketing activities have the highest ROI.

These are just a few of the many great advancements made to Google Analytics with the new rollout. While there are still several features missing (such as the PDF and email export functionalities, percent comparisons, missing graph by week option, etc.), Google is constantly striving to correct these with future iterations of the platform.

What’s your favorite feature in the new Google Analytics?

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Google for the first time is providing a window into real-time web traffic with Google Analytics Real-Time.

Real-Time reports are available in the new version of Google Analytics, and administrators with Analytics accounts will get Real-Time reports. Google turned the new feature on Thursday for “a number of you,” John Jersin, product manager at Google Analytics wrote on the Google Analytics blog.

For users trying to gauge how a campaign or post is performing, Real-Time will track the immediate impact to site traffic. If a user posts something and then tweets about it, for instance, Real-Time will track when traffic from the tweet stops driving visits.

Google isn’t the first company to offer such data. Woopra, Chartbeat and a number of other tools also provide data in real time. But unlike some of those, Google’s will be free.

Speaking of which, Google also rolled out Google Analytics Premium, the first paid Google Analytics product. Perks for the service include extra processing power, advanced analysis and 24/7 support for $150,000 a year.


More About: chartbeat, google analytics, real-time analytics, woopra

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Whether you built a personal site from the ground up or oversee digital strategy for a huge corporation, many of us are managing a web presence these days.

There are millions of websites out there, and tracking how people are getting to your site and what’s performing well is a must for being competitive in the online market.

Google Analytics makes it easy for anyone managing a site to track and analyze this data. It’s a powerful, free tool that can answer a variety of questions for a wide range of users. Wondering which keywords resonate with visitors? Need insight on what design elements might be turning people away?

Here’s how you can start answering the website questions that have been keeping you awake at night.


Adding the Code


Once you set up your Google Analytics account, you’ll need to implement the code on your website.

Set up a profile for the site you’d like to track and the step-by-step process will generate a unique script that you can add. If you’re using a content management system or blogging platform like WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr, you only need to add the code once to your template or theme. The theme will propagate the code in every post and page you create.

If your site is custom-built, you’ll either need to implement the code on each page manually, or speak to your web developer about how the site generates content.

Copy the JavaScript code from Analytics and paste it just above the </head> tag in your page or template. Adding this code will not affect the look of your site.


What You Can Measure


After you connect your site to Google Analytics, hit “View Report” on the initial screen. This will bring you to the main dashboard. In the left column, you’ll see the various types of data Google Analytics provides:

  • Visitors: This shows many things about the people coming to your site, including where they’re located geographically, what language they speak, how often they visit your site and what computers and browsers they use to get there.
  • Traffic Sources: Here you’ll find how people got to your site. You can track which sites link to your page or keywords people search to find you.
  • Content: This tab gives you insight into specific pages on your site. It can help answer questions about how people enter and exit your pages, as well as which ones are most popular.
  • Goals: If you’re aiming for established objectives, reports in the Goals tab will be helpful to you. Here you’ll find data about desired actions from users, including downloads, registrations and purchases.
  • Ecommerce: You’ll only need this tab if you’re selling items on your site as it houses all merchandise, transaction and revenue activity information.

These tabs contain subreports that provide insights about specific aspects of your site, including top content and visitor loyalty.

The information you choose to track depends on what curiosities you want to quell. Being in touch with keyword searches can help a site with text-heavy content to boost search rankings, while knowing which products convert best can inspire ecommerce sites to increase visibility of these items.

With Google Analytics, figuring out what you measure is the tough part. It’s how you measure that’s simple.


Setting Up the Dashboard


On the main dashboard, you’ll see a summary of your site’s data. You can customize the dashboard to show whichever reports you decide you want to see upfront. Just click on the type of report you want to see from the left column and hit “Add to Dashboard.” You can then position reports on the dashboard by dragging and dropping, or deleting ones you don’t want.

You can delve deeper into a data set by clicking “View Report” underneath the report graphic on your dashboard. This brings you to the full report on that topic.


Adjusting the Time Range


Be sure to adjust the date range in the upper right-hand corner before analyzing information from your reports. It defaults to a month-long range, ending the day prior to the day you’re viewing the report. (For example, on May 18, you’d see reports spanning April 17 to May 17.) Click on the date range box and a calendar will pop up. You can adjust it to track information quarterly, weekly, daily, or whatever timeframe works best for you.

If you want to compare date ranges, hit “Comparison” underneath the “Date Range” field. This will bring up a second calendar for you to adjust based on what time periods you want to consider, such as weekend to weekend or the first Tuesday of the month vs. the last Tuesday of the month.


Data Tables and Visualizations


Many of the reports in Google Analytics, such as pageviews and conversion rates, contain linear graphs that present data for the topic and date range you’ve selected. When mousing over the dots on the line, you’ll see measurements for that day, week or hour.

You can change the metric you want to visualize by clicking the tab above the graph on the left. Here you’ll also have the option to compare two metrics against each other. When you’re not com
paring date ranges, you can compare against the site average. This is particularly helpful if you’ve laid out goals, as you can compare site activity to conversion goals. When comparing, a second line (gray) will appear for the variable over the graph with the original metric line (blue), making it easy to see how you’re stacking up.

Beneath the graph, you’ll see more data laid out with summaries and scorecards prominently displaying important overall metrics, such as pages per visit and time on site. Most reports have three different tabs in the top left above the scorecards: Site Usage, Goal Conversion and Ecommerce.

More granular measurements of these data sets can be found in a table below. You can visualize the table in a pie chart or a bar graph by clicking the icons just above and to the right of the scorecards. Table information can be sorted in ascending or descending order by clicking on the column heading you want to reorganize. To increase or decrease the number of results displayed, click the “Show Rows” drop down menu at the bottom right of the report. The default is 10 and you can show up to 500 results per page.

You can also refine data with the “Find Source” box at the bottom left of the report. Enter keywords relevant to your search such as “source” or “keyword” and select “containing” or “excluding” to reveal more specific information.

If you’re unsure of what a specific measurement means, click the question mark next to it and an explanation bubble will pop up.


Sharing Reports


You’ll find an email button at the top of all reports, just beneath the title. You can send the email immediately, schedule a recurring report email or add the report to an existing pre-scheduled email. If you’re presenting the report, you can export it as a PDF (recommended), XML, CSV or TSV file.


Going for It


Now that we’ve broken down the basics, it’s your turn to go for it. Will you try your hand at Google Analytics? Which business questions might it help you answer? Let us know in the comments.


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