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Google is getting more sophisticated in the way that they allow webmasters to track and measure website traffic. The new analytics is referred to as Universal Analytics.

Universal Analytics is centered around four specific and key areas of measurement:

  • Organic search traffic – Universal Analytics allows you to designate which search engines are more significant to your measurement goals. You can remove search engines from your list and prioritize those that are on your list.
  • Session and campaign timeout – The default is 30 minutes for sessions and 6 months for campaigns, but Universal Analytics allows you to change those parameters based on your cookies and website policies.
  • Referral exclusions – Referral traffic is an important metric for any website. By being allowed to exclude certain referral sources you can get a truer picture of your session timeout data. Learn more about how this works here.
  • Search term exclusions - You can exclude search terms that people use to find your website and when you do Universal Analytics will count that traffic as Direct Traffic.

Universal Analytics gives you more control over how you measure traffic information related to your website, but it also means spending more time playing with the controls that measure these statistics.

If you need help figuring out Universal Analytics, talk to a search engine marketing specialist about how to incorporate it into your business.

Google just keeps improving its products. One product that recently underwent a major improvement is Google Analytics. Your favorite search engine has added something called Content Experiments to your favorite free analytics software.

Essentially, Content Experiments allows you test up to five full versions of a single web page. That’s better – much better – than A/B testing.

With A/B testing, you are comparing two versions of the same page. You can use multivariate testing to test multiple variables of the same page. For example, you might want to see if a particular page title is better than an alternative, see whether the primary image works better on the left or the right, and see if two sidebars or one results in more conversions or more traffic. The multivariate tester rotates these variables on your page for your visitors at random until you determine which elements work best.

Content Experiments is better than that. With Content Experiments, you can create five different versions of the same page and test them all to see which one results in the most conversions. It’s A/B/C/D/E testing.

The sampling is done randomly according to the parameters you set. You define the percentage of your visitors you want to include in your testing. Google Analytics does the rest.

If you’re going to succeed at developing the best website possible, testing is an important phase. I recommend Content Experiments for page testing.

If you publish your videos to YouTube, you should tie those videos to your Google Analytics account. Doing so will allow you to track important metrics for your videos and see what’s working and what’s not with regard to your video marketing efforts.

To add YouTube to your Google Analytics account, all you have to do is go to YouTube and click on My Channel in your profile settings area (HINT: Click the down arrow in the upper right corner near your avatar). Next, click on one of your videos. Under the video title you’ll see a small box labeled “Channel settings.” Click on that button. Scroll down to where you see “Google Analytics account ID.” There should be a text box next to that label. Copy and paste your Google Analytics account ID into that box and click the blue Save button.

Adding your YouTube videos to your Google Analytics account allows you to see how many visitors, unique visitors, and page views each of your videos gets on a regular basis. If you perform any marketing campaigns to drive traffic to your YouTube videos, that will be a very important metric for you.

Video marketing is getting better all the time. YouTube and Google Analytics are two reasons why.

If you’re getting frustrated over Google Analytics or you’d like a free alternative, then there is one available. This is a bold announcement because there have been other analytics packages on the market for some time. But now there is a free open source alternative that could give Google a run for the money. It’s called Piwik.

Other online marketers have already abandoned Google Analytics. I think more will follow.

So what does Piwik have to offer that can compete with Google Analytics?

First, you own your own data. With Google Analytics, Google owns it. That’s a huge selling point because there are certain things you just can’t do with the data in Google Analytics unless you hack it. With Piwik, you can do what you want.

You can have scheduled e-mail reports in Piwik (in HTML or PDF format). You can also manage unlimited users and unlimited websites. You can have a custom login with Piwik. If you have old data you don’t use, you can delete it to make room for more data so that you don’t use up all of your storage space (you can’t do that in Google Analytics).

If you want to export your data, you have a myriad of format to choose from, including Json, PHP, Excel, XML, and more.

Piwik is also compatible with a huge selection of server types. It’s compatible with Windows, Linux, MacOS, Solaris, IIS, Apache, and more.

So, if you are looking for a Google Analytics alternative, Piwik is out there. It’s open source and free.

Have you noticed that one thing is constant at Google? That one thing is, Change. It comes at us daily.

Why does Google make so many changes so often?

I think Google has one goal in mind. To make its search products better. By doing so, they’re aiming at making the Internet better. And of course to increase their profits. That’s a given.

One of the latest changes at Google is the incorporation of Google Local into Google+. If you own a local business and you have a local listing, then it makes sense to also have a Google+ account now that these two services are tied together. The recent changes are pretty much forcing us all to succumb to Google’s dominion.

Another recent change at Google (Google Local specifically) is the removal of stars from business reviews. As Mike Blumenthal says, this change will result in fewer reviews on your Google Local listing and you will have to focus on the quality of your content and authorship markup. You should be doing that anyway.

If that isn’t enough, Google has also recently announced that Webmaster Tools is being completely integrated into Google Analytics. So if you want to use Webmaster Tools you’ll have to have a Google Analytics account.

What do you think about these changes? Are they good or bad? Will you start using, if you aren’t already, Google+ and Google Analytics?

Chances are, if you’ve got a website, then you have some kind of analytics installed. If not, you should. How are you going to tell where your traffic is coming from and how much of it you are getting?

You’ve also likely heard by now that Google Analytics is free. Indeed it is. Totally. And you can use it to gather all sorts of useful information about your site visitors. But is it enough? Can you survive on Google Analytics alone?

I think for new websites Google Analytics is enough. You really want to see how your site grows over time. But as your website grows and you take on more search traffic from a variety of sources, you probably want to use an alternate analytics services to compare your metrics.

I’m not saying you should replace Google Analytics. You can keep it installed. There’s nothing wrong with it as a service. But there’s no perfect metrics package.

The point really is that you want to corroborate your data, especially the actionable data. By comparing the numbers you get from two or more analytics sources, you ensure that you are getting accurate data. It’s actually more actionable when you can get reports and actionable data from more than one source. Wild fluctuations between the two can be analyzed and judged according to reality and your expectations.

Google Analytics is good, but I wouldn’t rely on it completely forever. Your SEO is more important than that.

Google Analytics is now tracking page load time. This is significant for a number of reasons.

First, conversion rate. It is now widely believed that page load time affects conversion rates. After all, site visitors will not wait long for your page to load. You have about eight seconds to capture their attention. Anything beyond that and they’re off to some place else. This is true whether they arrive on your landing page from an organic search engine listing or a pay-per-click ad.

Secondly, page load speed affects your pay-per-click quality score. There is no doubt about it. If a competitor’s website loads faster than yours and you are both bidding on the same keywords, the slower loading landing page will likely rank lower in the ad placement resulting in fewer clicks.

Thirdly, you will likely lose organic search rankings too. The jury is still out on whether Google uses page load time to determine search engine rankings, but I’m betting that they do. If that is the case, then you will see fewer click-throughs in addition to a lower conversion rate.

What all this boils down to is less traffic to your sub-par pages, and fewer conversions on the traffic you do get.

If you haven’t paid attention to your page load times until now, you should start thinking about it right away. Track and measure those page load times and fix your deficiencies – before they fix you.