June 2, 2010

Google Analytics Intelligence


Hostway Team

By Melissa Luther

Google’s already powerful Web site Analytics service recently became even better with the addition of a new feature called Intelligence. This newest enhancement to Analytics, still in beta, automatically alerts you to marked changes in your site metrics over a defined time period. Google has pre-loaded several alerts that it considers important, and allows you to create additional alerts based on your needs.

What does this mean for your business? It means you can easily see significant changes in your traffic, pages visited, conversion rates, or any other metric you follow. Instead of analyzing your own data to look for these trends, you can tell Intelligence to do it for you. This can make it easier for you to measure the impact of marketing efforts or site design changes.

Google Analytics Intelligence has two alert types:

  • Automatic Alerts: These are built-in alerts, created by Google. Google Analytics predicts what your site’s current performance should look like based on past performance. If Analytics Intelligence detects a discrepancy between the two, it creates an alert. Depending on how you set the sensitivity, you may find these alerts give too much weight to normal fluctuations.
  • Custom Alerts: This is where you tell Google what you consider significant, and Intelligence will look for it. For example, you may want to know if traffic from certain keywords increase or decrease by a given percentage. Or maybe you want to see if your newest marketing campaign increases (or decreases) conversions significantly. Custom alerts are not based on historical data; rather you tell Intelligence what time frame to look at.

Both alerts provide a graphic representation in the form of a bar graph below your traffic graph, as well as alert details in a section below the bar graph. You can also choose to receive an email when alerts are triggered.

In general, weekly or monthly changes are probably more useful than daily changes, especially when looking at the automatic alerts. Daily fluctuations, even big ones, are normal for many sites. On the other hand, if you’re making significant design changes to your site or launching a new ad campaign, daily alerts can help you see the immediate impact of these activities. A good idea is to set up alerts for both increased and decreased activity. This way, you can also see when your campaign has run out of steam.

Even if you’re not sure how you can use GA Intelligence immediately, it’s a good idea to get a feel for what it can do by enabling automatic alerts and seeing what they turn up. As you get more comfortable with the feature, you will begin to think of alerts you’d like to see. Then you can set up some custom alerts. Google even provides a few templates to get you started.

By investigating GA Intelligence now, you will be ready to take full advantage of it when you launch your next marketing campaign.

About the Author

Melissa J Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC, helps small businesses create and maintain a strong online presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an online presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.

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