As most of us in this industry know, Google is always changing and tinkering with its products, from Gmail to Google+, and, often times, the company doesn't even bother to tell us when changes have been made. (The nerve of some mega-powerful corporations!)
As a digital marketing manager, a large chunk of my time is centered on navigating and understanding Google Analytics, discovering insights and unearthing important data. Lately, several major changes have popped up in Analytics, which may impact the way we use it, as well as the information within. Here are four changes you should know about.
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The Google Analytics redesign
This is a broader change, but it is impactful nonetheless. Google recently introduced a sweeping redesign to Google Analytics, cleaning the interface, rearranging menus, and adding functionality.
Access to the old format is still available, but it's a good idea to get used to the new layout, because the old one is going permanently "bye-bye." Here's a comparison of the old menu (left) versus the new menu (right):
You can see that it's a more simple ("intelligence" always struck me as something that didn't quite fit in the menu) and cleaner presentation. Note that AdWords data have moved from "traffic sources" to "advertising." If you dig around, you'll also see that analyzing certain data has been made easier. At my agency, we run our blog on WordPress, with each blog post URL including the month and year of the post. In the old version, Google Analytics' "content drilldown" feature would interpret this as a hierarchy; meaning, if I wanted to see the top performing posts during February, no matter when they were published, I would still have to view them by month published.
However, the new "content drilldown" does not separate by month, giving a clearer view of long tail and current performance.
The redesign is filled with small fixes like these. You may actually discover that some functionality has been removed (the disappearance of percentage-change calculations when comparing time periods for certain data is a particularly head-scratching move). But don't worry; Google executives have said the company will be re-instituting the most popular features that were jettisoned. For some reason, the redesign initially lacked the ability to export reports as a PDF, until user feedback encouraged the company to add it back -- the power of complaining put to good use.