Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Google announces major usability improvements to the free Analytics service

Like many other sites I've been taking advantage of the free Google Analytics service to analyse visitors, page visits, browser types, etc for both my main Brittany Holiday Home website and this Holiday Gite Blog.

Although I initially loved the power that it provided me to understand what my customers were doing and where my visitors came from, I have to admit that over the 18 months or so that I've been a user I tend to use it less and less. OK I do look to see how well my keywords are performing and where I'm getting referrals from, and I used it quite a bit when investigating visitor screen sizes and browser types ahead of redesigning the website, but on the whole my usage has dropped off from the initial flush of enthusiasm.

One of the reasons for the reduced usage is definitely the usability of Google Analytics itself. Although there is lots you can do fairly quickly, there are equally things that are quite a pain to do - drilling down into what search engine keywords were used to "find" the site is a couple of levels down in a report and I've not found any easy way of comparing keyword results across search engines (so Google vs. MSN vs. Ask for instance). Another niggle is that analysing "who got to what page" (e.g. the holiday booking enquiry or current property availability pages is quite cumbersome.

Anyway, I was pleased to see tonight that over on Google's Official Blog they announce a major overhaul of Google Analytics with lots of new features and usability improvements such as geographic visitor analysis, improved funnel analysis, keyword performance reporting, etc.

There's further details of the new analytics features on the Analytics Blog and a video tour of the Analytics features.

The improvements look well worthwhile and I'll be taking a closer look at how well it performs in practice when they're rolled out to my two sites.

And like most Google tools, Analytics remains free to use (as long as you have a Google Adwords account).

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