Analytics awareness, Google has it covered

4 11 2009

Knock-knock. Who’s there? Someone with the IP address xxx.xxx.xx.xxx. What does that mean? Why is the person choosing to visit a particular website over another? What are they doing while visiting the site?

These are questions that analytics can help answer. As a result, analytics are increasingly becoming a go-to resource for websites to garner necessary insights on how users interact with their content. I have previously blogged about analytics because they are important and becoming increasingly so as time goes on. With that being said, this post is going to focus primarily on attempts by Google to harness the power of analytics for people who are not expert web designers.

The main resource behind the Google Analytics tool is the Google Conversion University. In essence, the compilation of materials is similar to that of an institution of higher learning focused solely on analytics, what they do, how to apply them and how to make sense of them. The Conversion University contains:

  • two hours worth of video tutorials
  • video segments range between three and ten minutes each
  • collectively provide powerful knowledge for users to apply towards their own purposes

Considering the depth and breadth of features offered through Google Analytics, I am going to touch upon only a few of the most recent additions I find intriguing. User engagement is one example of recent refinement. Since every website is unique in its own right, it makes sense to measure analytics that reflect data which is catering to the websites needs. Up to recently, engaging a user typically meant them placing an item into an online shopping cart or registering for a mailing list. It was a pretty limited definition of engaging. Now, Google Analytics has moved beyond these regimented standards. Websites can define their own definition of measuring user engagement. Examples include:

  • time spend on a page
  • number of pages viewed
  • comments posted on a page
  • link use for accessing more in-depth knowledge of material teased from the original page

Clearly, much greater customization is available thanks to these newer analytics featurs.

Advancing analytics customization even further, analytics can now be tailored to generate specific titles upon users based upon a set of predefined actions. For instance, if a user visited a website and viewed an animation of the weather forecast, a tag can be assigned to that user labeled something like “weather”. Now, website designers can look at the data collected from numerous “weather” users and compare patterns of the way users rely upon website resources. Did they commonly move to other pages after viewing the weather animation or did they leave the website completely? Perhaps there is a trend for these users to check out the entertainment section of the site when the weather forecast for the weekend is pleasant. If so, can content and advertising be altered to better reach these users? These are just a couple of the specific resources that now exist with Google Analytics.

In order to understand what they do and how they can be best be applied, Google now offers tutorials on Google Conversion University. In fact, if you are interested in not just learning about these resources but want to prove that you understand their application, try taking the Google Analytics Qualification Test. This test is used to determine if a user knows enough about analytics that Google is willing to grant them a certificate to reflect this fact. I plan on taking advantage of this opportunity in the near future. If only I could have Google Analytics show trends in my daily routines where extra time exists for watching the tutorials……maybe someday.

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