Google Universal Analytics: Changing the Way Google Reports Data

analytics-logoGoogle has been rather busy lately making changes to many of its properties. These changes are meant to enhance user experience and make Google properties more valuable to companies. For instance, nearly all Google users have noticed search results are now bigger and no longer underlined. While many searchers do not like this change, it appears it’s here to stay (Google says that these changes optimize user experience for tablets and mobile).

Another change that Google is currently working on is updating Analytics. While most searchers are unaware of the true power of Analytics, for those who know Analytics these changes are huge. In fact, they are so fundamental that Google is creating a new version of Analytics – Universal Analytics (UA). Eventually, Analytics users will be forced to switch to UA, but for now users have the option of staying with the current version. The exact date of the UA switch is currently unknown.

Overall, UA will be like the current Analytics on steroids. It will take the best of what Analytics has to offer, and add some great, new features. Some of these features are:

  • Having a tracking code specifically for mobile apps
  • Having different tracking codes for different devices
  • Being able to adjust various Analytics settings

One trend that seems to be gaining momentum month after month is the rise of mobile. Mobile is slowly but surely becoming more and more prominent in the search and buying processes, and not just for consumer products. For the past year, many of Blue Horseradish’s B2B clients have experienced new records for mobile month after month. Google has acknowledged this increasing mobile trend, and Universal Analytics will include a tracking code specifically for mobile apps – UA will be implementing the Google Analytics SDKs (v2.x or higher) for mobile apps.

With UA, data from any digital device that can connect to the internet can be tracked. This will be possible through UA’s Measurement Protocol. Devices that can be tracked through Measurement Protocol include smart phones, tablets, game consoles, and information kiosks. For instance, workers on a floor can now track data to UA from individual, handheld barcode scanners.

With UA, users will have the option to customize multiple parts of the reporting process. For example, users can choose to exclude certain search terms as appearing as organic traffic and be counted as direct traffic. This can be very useful for terms that focus on the branding of a company. Additionally, UA will let users define what is considered a search engine, which will allow users to control how traffic sources are attributed. Lastly, one other major customizable UA setting is being able to exclude specific referral sources. By utilizing this, users will be able to exclude spam sites from appearing as referrals – i.e. third party vendor sites that can interrupt one continuous visitor session.

Currently, Google is in the third stage of its four stage roll out plan. Again, although Google has not publicly announced when UA will go into effect, since it is already in stage 3, it might occur sooner rather than later. Overall, the changes that UA will bring to Analytics appear to do more help than harm, and will help to improve user experience and increase Google Analytics’ value to users.

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