Google Upgrades Analytics Product

Google Analytics, the free Web analytics tool launched by Google 18 months ago after it acquired Urchin Software, has gotten a major redesign. The new version of the hosted software was revealed today at the Emetrics Summit in San Francisco.

The new release marks a paradigm shift, from providing analytics data in isolation to offering a more holistic view of the data, Brett Crosby, senior manager of Google Analytics, told ClickZ. In the new version of Google Analytics, data is concentrated into combinations of reports, which will help users to make informed decisions, and put the data in perspective.

“It’s not just one lonely number sitting on the page, telling you if your traffic went up or down,” Crosby said. “We present it with other data, so you can see if the data show that things are good or bad. Maybe your visits are down, but your conversions have tripled,” he said. “Once you have the reports, you still need to understand what the data is telling you.”

When Google Analytics first launched in November 2005, it began a process of “shifting the analytics conversation from the back room to the board room,” Crosby said. As a result, the product began to be used in different ways, and by more non-technical users.

The latest version of Google Analytics is designed so that advanced users can do more sophisticated analysis, but is also meant to support non-technical users. For example, users can set up customized dashboards and e-mail reports that present them with data that they need most. Google Analytics summarizes data and statistics in plain language, so that any site owner can use the data to make informed decisions.

The changes help Google to achieve its stated goal for offering a free analytics product: to provide a better experience for users online. By offering analytics to every site owner, Google hopes to help them identify problems and create better sites.

Of course, Google benefits from this product as well. Sites that use analytics will theoretically be able to improve their sites and make more sales. Those site owners would likely turn to Google’s AdWords program, which is integrated with Google Analytics, to drive more traffic to their sites. Healthy companies are healthy advertisers.

New users who sign up as of today will get immediate access to the new version. Existing users will be transitioned over the next few weeks, beginning today. Those users will be able to access both versions of the application for at least 30 days, and all historical data will be preserved in the new version.

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