Google adds more flexibility and intelligence to Analytics and Website Optimizer


As I sat in the conference room of building 14 at the Googleplex last week, my excitement about what Google was doing to improve its analytics and testing platforms went through the roof. At the 2009 Partner Summit, Google gave a preview of the new Website Optimizer (GWO) features as well as soon-to-be-launched, feature-packed version 4 of Google Analytics.

So what’s new with GWO? Well, there is not a lot, but the few features Google added to its testing platform are HUGE! For me, two of the most notable updates are:

  1. Management API for the creation and management of experiments outside of the Website Optimizer interface
  2. Daily conversion tracking

The GWO API will allow you to much more easily set up tests and record stats, especially if you are using a content management system or a third-party shopping cart. Basically, you will be able to do almost anything you can do in GWO, but with your own interface.

As for the daily conversion tracking, I have always been one of those people who like to see test results to the minutest detail. Until now, Google has only allowed you to see aggregated stats for the entire testing period.

As of today, we can now see daily conversion rates:

Daily Conversion Rate

This will give us much more intelligence regarding daily conversion swings and subtleties between the performance of experiment combinations. To read more, visit the GWO blog.

Now, I am even more excited about a couple of new features Google Analytics has included in its newest version. My favorites are:

  1. 20 Goals, including brand new engagement goals
  2. Custom alerts
  3. Advanced filters built into report interface

I’m sure many of you have shared my frustration when trying to track more than four goals for one website. Before, we would have to create a duplicate profile of our website just to add goal five, six, seven….

Well, that’s all changed! Google has announced 20 goals for each profile. These will be grouped into four sets of five, but you will be allowed to use the 20 slots however you want.

Screenshot of new 20 goal limit:

More Goals
But it doesn’t stop there. Add on top of that the fact that you will now have the ability to set user engagement goals. And you are no longer limited by a goal being attributed only to a pre-defined conversion page. The new engagement Analytics goals are:

  1. Time on page
  2. Pageviews per visit

Engagement Goals
You will also be able to set custom alerts to be emailed to you. By “custom,” I mean you set the variables however you want. So if I want to know if my website’s New York PPC traffic drops 15%, Google will let me know and I can act accordingly.

Screenshot of custom alerts:

Custom Alerts
Finally, they have added custom filters to the report interface. Sure you could export the data to Excel then sort, filter, and do whatever you wanted to make the data make sense to you. But now, Google has added the flexibility to get a clear and intelligent picture of what’s going on with your website without having to go back and forth between its interface and Excel.

Screenshot of advanced filters:

Advanced Filters
Say I’m looking at my Top Content report and I want to sort by bounce rate to see which pages are performing poorly so I can dedicate new resources for improvements to be made. Previously, I would see many pages with a bounce rate of 100% simply because they just had one or two visits.

Now, I can set the filter to only look at pages with a minimum of 100 visits and a bounce rate of less than 70%. This will allow me to make much more sense out of the heaps of data that Analytics is collecting.

You should be seeing all of these new features and many more appear in your Analytics and Website Optimizer interfaces over the next few weeks. We will be taking advantage of them right away with our research partners.

Check back next month — after we’ve tested some of these new features, we’ll offer suggestions on how you can make the most out of them.

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  1. Paula Bonelli says

    SO excited to check out these added features! I’ll be looking to you in the coming weeks to let us know what you’ve found after testing these with your research partners. Thanks for keeping me up-to-date.

    1. Adam Lapp says

      No problem Paula. We too are very excited. Google is taking a lot of great steps forward to improve their tools. And there are a lot more upgrades to come in 2010. I can’t say anything because Google swore us to secrecy, but they are really listening to what their customers are asking for and trying to deliver.


  2. K.D says

    I love the excitement about what Google is doing. I wonder would it possible to do a webinar on the best ways to use these new Google tools. Plus, I imagine, there are many people who follow you that would love to give a primer on how to use G.A to their advantage.

    1. Adam Lapp says

      Hi K.D. I will borrow a line from the great people at Google when they would respond to questions about new features, “I can’t make any official announcements, but it is in the works.” We are definitely planning on doing a few webinars on Google’s analytics and testing tools as this has been a frequent request. I think this type of webinar will be very timely given all the new features that Google just launched.

      That’s a great idea about getting our audience members involved with this topic. I will see if we can reserve a portion of this webinar for audience submitted Google Analytics trade secrets.


  3. SWF says

    Does anyone have concerns about google inaccurately or artifically reporting stats too low from the page beacons/tagging codes being blocked by firewalls-? Have any companies serving government agencies had any problems with that? Are any of the new GA upgrades addressing this? Thanks!

  4. panjeeta patel says

    Interesting Article – Thanks

    Well, you seem to be very happy with google & that’s fair enough. But, i am perfectly aware that google has far more information that it could (easily) share with its customers…

    The only reason google has improved its tools – is because it knows it will lose customers, if it doesn’t offer more refined data!

    i for one, am not grateful for the breadcrumbs it throws down! That, however, does not go double for Marketing Experiments. You guys are doing some great stuff & share much, too! Keep up the excellent work. :o)

  5. Tonia says

    I have been thinking of switching to Google Analytics for some time now. Is it truly a FREE app? Some of the wording leads me to believe there are occasional fees.

    BTW, i really appreciate Marketing Experiments for putting this kind of information out there for those of us who are self-teachers of web marketing. thank you

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