In our recent post on Google Analytics, we talked a bit about what Analytics is, what it does and how you can use it.
In today’s post, we’ll take a look at some recent changes to this tool that have made it even easier to track your web traffic and improve your site’s performance.
After a quick review of the highlights, we’ll discuss making the switch from Classic to Universal Analytics.
Universal Analytics: What’s New
For almost a full year, Google was beta testing some new features in Analytics. As of early April, the full version – known as Universal Analytics – became the operating standard. In essence, the features change the way data is collected and organised in order to do a better job of tracking how people are getting to and using your site, especially when using mobile devices.
At this point, Universal Analytics is an option; it’s not required. You can still use Classic Analytics if you prefer for now, but at some point, you’ll have to make the switch. Moving forward, product updates and new features will only be available to Universal Analytics properties, and Google will ultimately ‘auto-enroll’ you in the new Analytics.
So why make the change now? There are a number of features and upgrades that definitely make the upgrade worth considering (especially since, as always, it’s free). Here’s a breakdown of some of the biggest updates:
Want to create and define your own metrics for reports? Now you can. With custom dimensions and custom metrics, you can collect, segment and review data that wouldn’t otherwise get analysed, such as specific product details, different authors who write content for you, etc.
In the (Time) Zone
Until Universal came out, all Analytics properties were processed in the US Pacific Standard Time Zone, because that’s where Google is based. For those of us in Australia, that wasn’t very helpful. With the new rollout, you define where you are and get time zone-based processing, which is a big deal for our side of the planet.
The new User ID feature allows you to ‘group’ multiple visits by a visitor (and associated activity) with a unique ID. For instance, if an individual customer logs in and visits your site from a laptop, then from a smartphone and finally with a tablet, you can measure that activity and tie it to one single visitor, rather than as separate unique visitors. (Note: The person remains anonymous – only the behaviour gets tracked.)
With the User ID, you can get a more accurate user count, analyse user experience, and get reports across different devices. This is one of the biggest changes in Universal Analytics, and offers a whole new way of determining how and where your customers are using your site.
Ready to make the switch?
If you’re currently running Classic and want to upgrade to Universal, there are a few things you’ll need to do. Remember that snippet of code you used to set up Analytics in the first place? You or your developer will need to update this with new tracking code.
Google has established a Universal Analytics Upgrade Center to help you understand and make the changes – it’s definitely the best place to get started.
Have more questions about Google Analytics and how to use it? Contact us.