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Google Analytics Update

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Yesterday evening I was briefed by Brett Crosby about the latest Google Analytics update. Net-net, this is more cool stuff from Google on the analytics front. Coming soon to a Google Analytics account near you (i.e. yours) is the following:

  1. Improved Site Search Reporting. While you could get some data on site search previously, this has been simplified and expanded significantly. You now can get data on keywords, categories, products across time and user segments.
  2. Web 2.0 Event Tracking. This is new, and very exciting stuff. Now you can tag and track Flash and Ajax events. With this announcement, Google Analytics is unveiling a new paradigm, based on an Objection (e.g. a Flash player), Action (Play, Pause), Label (did the user skip a step, start at step 3, ...) model.
  3. Tagless outbound link tracking. Currently, you need to add an "Onclick" tag to your exit links if you want to track them. With this announcement, this is no longer necessary. In the near future you only have to append a tracking parameter, and Google Analytics can still track it without your having to run Javascript when someone clicks on an exit link.

Accessing the Web 2.0 and tagless outbound link tracking will require a change to the basic Javascript placed by users on their sites. The traditional "urchin.js" file called by the Javascript tags will need to be changed to call "ga.js".

There have been several updates from the Google Analytics team this year. The great majority of the prior updates have been focused on catching up to the other products in the industry, namely the paid ones. With this announcement, Google is moving past the catch-up model, and establishing some leadership positions in a few key areas that many webmasters will find compelling.

Additionally, Google has also announced that they are simplifying the pricing model for the Urchin software version of the product. For those of you who are not familiar with this, this is the version of the product which pulls its data from server log files, instead of log files created by Javascript tagging.

The new product offers upgrades and enhancements to the current Urchin 5 version of the product, and is available for $2995. Current Urchin 5 customers who purchased Advanced Support will be upgraded for free, and those who purchased Urchin 5 without Advanced Support will be able to upgrade by paying the difference in price between what they paid and $2995.

Ultimately, the significance of this announcement is that it should lay to rest those rumors in the industry that Google was planning to abandon support for the Urchin Software product.


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