Google's Universal Analytics: What does it involve?

If you have a website the chances are you have Google Analytics or, at least, have heard of it. However, last year Google announced moving to a new version of Analytics called Universal Analytics as mentioned in our account of Google Engage. ‘Universal’ is a big name for any tool, but Google’s new Analytics aims to provide webmasters with data gathered by all aspects of their business, from online, offline and social too, giving a holistic approach to metrics. For many retailers these are exciting times, integrating the in-store data and online data to get a true understanding of your customer’s journey and seeing what elements of your campaign contributed to a conversion.

On the surface, Universal Analytics looks almost identical to the traditional Analytics and they are difficult to tell apart, however it’s what happens behind the scenes, like any tool, that really makes the difference. Although the majority of the features are being developed in Google HQ, when these features are launched, the previous limitations of Google Analytics are likely to be a thing of the past.

At a glance, Universal Analytics is set to become faster, more customisable and accurate. But how is Google going to achieve this in a free tool? It is reducing the cookies used from 4 or 5 to just 1 with a carefully created tracking code making the page load time a lot quicker. Also for those tracking transactions and conversions on your ecommerce pages, Google has separated the tracking code specifically for these pages. This means that your non-ecommerce pages are not trying to load code that is not relevant to the page. With Google’s best practice advising businesses run two Analytics profiles, (one Universal and one traditional Google Analytics to prevent losing historic data) running Universal Analytics currently will seem slow until Google releases documentation to allow you to merge the accounts.

Finally we move to accuracy. With the ability to exclude referrals and search terms, your data will appear more precise by allocating the correct information to the correct source. Excluding referrals is a short term fix to pages within the domain or sub domain that are not tracked correctly. In the past these would appear as self-referrals, but now you can exclude them as a referral and they appear as direct traffic instead. Excluding search terms from your organic traffic might seem odd, however when someone searches your brand, company name or URL, they already want to visit your site, therefore by excluding this traffic from organic search it again appears in ‘direct’ traffic giving you a clearer understanding on what search terms you are showing for in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

So this was a brief overview of what Universal Analytics can do for your business.

If you require Google Analytics training, please contact a member of our digital team on 0118 324 9000 or email hello@redhotpenny.com and we’ll be happy to help.

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