Daniel Waisberg, Author at Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 03 Mar 2022 20:36:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.2 Live Blogging: Interview with Amit Singhal, Google Fellow /interview-with-amit-singhal-google-fellow-121342 /interview-with-amit-singhal-google-fellow-121342#comments Tue, 15 May 2012 07:56:00 +0000 /?p=121342 Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman are on the stage at SMX London to interview Amit Singhal. Amit is a Google Fellow, a honorary title reserved for Google’s most accomplished engineers, and he has spearheaded Google’s core ranking team since 2000. He’s also a key influencer of Search Plus Your World, Google’s search experience centered around […]

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Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman are on the stage at SMX London to interview Amit Singhal. Amit is a Google Fellow, a honorary title reserved for Google’s most accomplished engineers, and he has spearheaded Google’s core ranking team since 2000. He’s also a key influencer of Search Plus Your World, Google’s search experience centered around people, that lets you find personal results from your world — your photos, your friends, your stuff — in search.

Chris Sherman is on stage to introduce Amit Singhal, Google’s Vice President and Google Fellow. Chris provides Amit’s background showing a dynamic visualization using Google Maps with the countries/cities that Amit has lived on. Amit got a M.Sc. degree in University of Minnesota. He worked for AT&T (Bell Labs), and from where he headed to Google.

Amit thanks for the intro and talks about his child memories and how he grew up watching Star Trek. He dreamed about creating robots that we can talk to. As an academic for many years he worked hard on language software that he believed would help him with his dream. In 2000 he went to Google and said to Sergey: “Your engine is excellent, but let me re-write it!” This became the new ranking system.

Amit then talks about how he got involved with the challenge of moving beyond keywords to tackle the problem of having the same words that have multiple meanings: how can you understand user intent? Apple (software) vs. Apple (fruit) was the first generation of search. The next leap in search technology will be when computers will understand the difference between those Apples. That’s what excites him.

In the last 5 years Amit feels he is very close to building his childhood dream. Even though there are many things to be done before achieving this dream, he feels Google is in the right direction and they will be able to achieve that. “Computers don’t understand things, they understand strings” and it is Google’s jobs to teach computers how to differentiate between different intentions.

Danny is speaking about Universal Search and how it evolved Google to Search Plus Your World. How is Search Plus Your World impacting Google? Amit says the key motivation behind Search Plus Your World is to have a secured search, it is the first baby step to achieve Google’s dream, and data shows that Google users like the personal results. It also gives the user one click removal from their personalized results. Google is currently analyzing and improving their personalization engine.

Chris mentions that personalization can be narrowing, as it gives people the same results and they do not discover new things. Amit answers that there should be different points of views in any search results, and Google is aware of that and they balance between personalized and non-personalized results.

Danny mentions a Pew research that concluded that people do not want personalization. Amit says “I am a scientist, when I look at researches I look at how the question was asked.” He discussed the specific research, and said that personalization is valuable for Google users. Danny asks: can you tell what percentage of personalized searches are clicked? Amit says people are clicking more than before on searches and it is lifting CTR from search pages.

Chris mentions Bing Social efforts and how it is different from Google’s. Amit says: “the key challenge with personalization is that no one can judge a personalized search for someone else.” That’s why Google looks at the data about how users like their results. Search Plus Your World is the same approach as Universal Search, people have to find what they intend to find on their results.

Danny mentions the integration Bing did with Twitter and Facebook, and how this might be good for users. Will Google do that in the future? Amit said that their contract with Twitter expired. Google cannot add Twitter and Facebook right now as their information is hidden behind a wall. It has been tough to build an integration in this terms.

Chris asks Amit how is the evolution process at Google with so many updates; how does Google decide about which update goes live? Google has an internal system where every flawed search result is sent to Amit’s team. Based on that engineers are assigned to problems and solutions are tested on a sandbox. Then the engineer will show how the results will show after and before the update and the update is tested using an A/B test. They discuss the results and this loop runs several times until they find a change that is better in all aspects. After this process the change is send to a production environment for a very low percentage of real user traffic and see how the CTR is changed. Based on this, an independent analyst (that works for Google) will generate a report. Based on that report the group discuss and decides if the change is going to be launched or not. That’s how scientific the process is. There are some videos available on some of these sessions: check them at this post.

Danny talks about Penguin and asks how it is going from Google standpoint, are search results better? Amit says that in the end of the day, users will stay with the search engine that provides the most relevant results. Google’s objective was to reward high quality sites and that was a success with Penguin. One of the beauties of running a search engine is that the search engines that can measure best what the users feel is the one that will succeed more.

From Google’s perspective they use any signal that is available for them, more than 200 of them. They have to make sure they are accurate and good. They will use any signal, whether it is organic or not. Chris discusses the link graphs and how it is common sense now, but what about the knowledge graph? Google wants to return to users the answers that they are looking for, and that’s what drives them. Google is increasingly investing in understanding the real meaning of each query so that they can return the right answer.

Danny asks about Paid inclusion in vertical products, which was against Google’s policy in the past. Amit says that a class of searches could not be answered organically and they realized that they would have to establish relationships with data providers to get that data. To be super safe and honest with users, they make sure that these results look different, and they also started calling it sponsors to be even more clear about that.

Chris asks about the dream of creating a communicating machine and asks how this will change the way we relate with Google. Amit says that these changes come in baby steps, and it won’t be an overnight change. Amit gives the example of spoken search, and how this data is still scarce, and Google will adapt according to data.

Amit was asked whether search results are measured by Google’s revenue or by relevancy to users. Amit firmly states that revenue is not measured at all, only relevance is taking into account when defining search quality.

Amit says that if you build a great search engine for users, they get more curious because they expect to get great results, so they ask more questions. Giving relevant results will give more time for people to search more and free them time.

Postscript: Here’s video of his response, which came to a question about how publishers might potentially lose traffic if Google provides more direct answers:

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClozVPkQUUE[/youtube]

Chris asks: with the scope that Google have reached, is there anyone that still knows all of Google? Amit says that there are senior executives that each can understand very well their own “entities” such as Search, Advertising, and other big groups, but no one understands everything.

Danny asks which funny search Amit has came across. Amit says that once he read a query along the lines “do my ear make me look fat?” Amit laughs: “why are you asking Google that? Go figure it alone!”

Amit concludes that he couldn’t have a better job, he gets to influence search quality and also to improve the world in some ways.

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Discover Links Using Google Analytics New Backlink URL Report /google-analytics-backlink-report-120235 /google-analytics-backlink-report-120235#comments Thu, 03 May 2012 21:09:50 +0000 /?p=120235 Today the Google Analytics team announced that we will start seeing backlink URLs in their newly released Social Reports. According to the announcement post, written by Ilya Grigorik, Software Engineering Manager, Google Analytics (and PostRank Founder): “These reports provide another layer of social insight showing which of your content attracts links, and enables you to […]

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google analytics iconToday the Google Analytics team announced that we will start seeing backlink URLs in their newly released Social Reports. According to the announcement post, written by Ilya Grigorik, Software Engineering Manager, Google Analytics (and PostRank Founder):

“These reports provide another layer of social insight showing which of your content attracts links, and enables you to keep track of conversations across other sites that link to your content. Most website and blog owners had no easy mechanism to do this in the past, but we see it as another important feature for holistic social media reports. When you know what your most linked content is, it is then also much easier to replicate the success and ensure that you are building relationships with those users who actively link to you the most.”

Where To Find The Backlink URLs Report

The Backlink information is not easy to find. First visit the pages tab on the Social reports (this link should take you directly to this report). Then click on a specific URL. Here is what you will see now:

google analytics backlink

As indicated in the screenshot above, click on the Activity Stream tab above the graphs. Then you will arrive at another page that gathers all Social Data Hub conversations related to this specific page, as seen below:

social conversations

If you click the Events tab shown above you will find the Backlinks information. This information appears among all other social events like +1s, Delicious bookmarks, and others. For each backlink URL you will be able to View Activity, i.e. visit the page with link, or to View Page, i.e. view the page linked.

backlinks report

As you will see in the reports, while this information is very useful, it is still lacking a centralized place where users can see all the linked pages aggregated. The way this information is being organized is very focused on Social Media professionals, it treats links as another event related to the post. And the reports do not allow any filtering or segmentation. If we look at the Webmaster Tools (screenshot below), the information is more focused on SEOs, showing in a glance where the links are coming from and to which pages.

Postscript 1: According to a comment by Ilya Grigorik on a Google+ post, there is a way to find the centralized information in the reports, here is his explanation on how to do it.

I should also point out that there is indeed a way for users to see all of the linked pages aggregated, though it requires some GA ninja tricks at the moment. We’re working on making it more intuitive for users. Here it is:

    1. Just as you outlined in the post, navigate to “Pages”, select a URL, click on “Activity Stream” – this shows you the activitystream for just that URL
    2. Ninja trick #1: At the top of the page where it shows the breadcrumb with the current page, click on “ALL” – this report will show you all activity across all the pages in chronological order.
    3. Ninja trick #2: Scroll down to any trackback activity and click on the (green) trackback icon: this filters the activitystream to just trackbacks.. And voila, you see a list of most recent trackbacks across all of your pages.

webmaster tools links

Social Signals And Backlinks In The Same Bucket

This addition is interesting in that Google decided to add this information to the Social reports instead of adding it to the SEO reports. This decision makes sense from a Google Analytics perspective as this information, like all other Social information, is a factor that happens outside the website and, as such, it could be analyzed in the same way we analyze Google+ activity.

However, this information is more often used by SEOs in order to optimize pages and understand which pages are getting the most links. As discussed above, it appears that these reports are more focused on Social Media professionals rather than SEO professionals.

It is also interesting to look at this in the light of Danny Sullivan’s post discussing Social signals for Google and Bing, this decision shows how backlinks and social signals are seen as part of the same bucket.

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Google Analytics Update To Organic Reports /google-analytics-update-to-organic-reports-111029 /google-analytics-update-to-organic-reports-111029#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 11:51:03 +0000 /?p=111029 As many of you know, organic traffic is auto-populated in Google Analytics reports using a default search engine list curated by Google. It is also possible to add smaller search engines manually into the tracking code snippet, using the _addOrganic method; but it’s nicer when Google does it for us. Every once in a while, the […]

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google analytics iconAs many of you know, organic traffic is auto-populated in Google Analytics reports using a default search engine list curated by Google. It is also possible to add smaller search engines manually into the tracking code snippet, using the _addOrganic method; but it’s nicer when Google does it for us.

Every once in a while, the Google Analytics team updates the list to reflect new or more popular search engines. We have confirmed that, starting from February 1st, a few search engines have been added to the list mentioned above. Below is the list of new search engines that are now part of the default list:

Change In The Way Google Analytics Recognizes Search Engines

In addition to the update above, Google has also fixed a long-running issue with the way search engines are recognized.

Before this change, if a URL contained the word “search” and a query parameter “q”, Google would attribute it to the search engine search.com, which led to inaccurate reports, especially as a consequence of big customized search engines, such as Conduit, Babylon and others.

Below we can see the Google Analytics organic data for a large website, and it is clear that search.com is heavily over counted.

google analytics search engines

As of February 1st, this logic has been changed, in a way that customized search engines (as the ones shown in the list below) will not be shown as search.com.

search organic traffic

The Google Analytics team are also explicitly adding known large customized search engines with “search” in them to their default list of known search engines:

  • http://search.conduit.com
  • http://search.babylon.com
  • http://search-results.com
  • http://isearch.avg.com
  • http://search.comcast.net
  • http://search.incredimail.com

How Does It Affect Your Data?

Basically, if you receive a large amount of organic traffic, you will probably see your search.com organic traffic going down, and other search engines will start to appear as a source (such as the customized search engines shown in the list above). But your Google or Bing organic should not be change.

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New on Google Analytics Landing Pages Report – Measuring Success /google-analytics-landing-pages-report-measuring-the-success-101143 /google-analytics-landing-pages-report-measuring-the-success-101143#comments Tue, 15 Nov 2011 13:25:27 +0000 /?p=101143 At some point last week Google Analytics quietly released an apparently small change to its Landing Pages report (Content tab => Site Content => Landing Pages). This report was almost useless before this change and now it joins the list of the most useful reports on the tool. In a few words the change was […]

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At some point last week Google Analytics quietly released an apparently small change to its Landing Pages report (Content tab => Site Content => Landing Pages). This report was almost useless before this change and now it joins the list of the most useful reports on the tool. In a few words the change was simple: we can now link landing pages to goals, i.e. we can see the value of each landing page out of the box.

Up till now, the landing pages report was very limited, having only three metrics available on the report:

  • Entrances: the absolute number of visits landing on this page
  • Bounces:the absolute number of visits that bounced when landing on this page
  • Bounce Rate: the percentage of bounces from entrances in this page

Google Analytics landing pages

This is all we got. We could not drill down into landing page performance even when it came to simple actions like understanding time on page (for non-bounces), not to mention goal conversion and ecommerce transactions that were completed during a visit that was initiated on this page (there were some work arounds, but they required many clicks). As of this week we see the following on the same report:

Landing Page Report

As we can see in the screenshot above, we now have other metrics available in this report, such as Pages/Visit, Avg. Time on Site and % New Visits. This would already be a great improvement, as it allows us to instantly see engagement metrics for visits started from a specific landing page. However, if we look at the top of the pages, we see that, besides site usage, we can now view this report by goals and ecommerce. This means that we can now have an instant picture of landing page performance from this report.

This knowledge is very important in order to understand where to focus the optimization efforts. Once the landing pages can be analyzed, we are more free to segment landing pages, in a way that each audience receives the most matching landing page.

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Social Tracking Integrations For Google Analytics /social-tracking-integrations-for-google-analytics-99928 /social-tracking-integrations-for-google-analytics-99928#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2011 14:00:27 +0000 /?p=99928 Back in June, Google Analytics unveiled a new set of Social Engagement Reports, which can be used to get content interaction metrics from social sharing icons such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other. Google+ is tracked by default (no codes needed), but other networks must implement the _trackSocial method in order to collect […]

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Back in June, Google Analytics unveiled a new set of Social Engagement Reports, which can be used to get content interaction metrics from social sharing icons such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other. Google+ is tracked by default (no codes needed), but other networks must implement the _trackSocial method in order to collect the interactions.

Last week, the Analytics team announced an official integration with social sharing services ShareThis and AddThis. According to their blog post:

google analytics social tracking

To enable the integration for all of your AddThis buttons, you are now just one line of code away, and ShareThis users don’t have to do a thing. If you have Google Analytics installed, and you are using a ShareThis widget, simply login into Google Analytics and check out your new social reports!

While this is great news for many website owners, which can get the social analytics without getting into code implementation, there are still a few issues with these integrations. First, one of the characteristics of the Social Tracking is that it is not filterable. So, for example, if I have two websites under the same account and I use filters to separate the data, the social data will not be separated; if I have a profile for an agency that manages my PPC account that should include only CPC data (according to the filters), they will see all the social data, unrelated to what kind of filter is applied to the profile.

AddThis gets a +1, since it provides the option to choose to add the social method if their customers want to. ShareThis tracking is automatic, so if I have Analytics users who cannot see social data in my account, ShareThis would not be appropriate, unless it provides in the future an opt out from social analytics.

In addition, as we can see in the screenshot below, some calls are still not clear as to their meaning on ShareThis. We have reached their team for an explanation on what is “ShareThis_follow: Share” and “sharethis: sharethis” which, in Search Engine Land’s social reports, represent 6% of all social actions.

Post Script: According to ShareThis, the meaning of the two unknown calls are:

  • ShareThis_follow : Share – This is twitter follow
  • sharethis : sharethis – This is from publisher’s own logging.

ShareThis social tracking

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Keyword “Not Provided” By Google Spikes, Now 7-14% In Cases /encrypted-search-terms-hit-google-analytics-99685 /encrypted-search-terms-hit-google-analytics-99685#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2011 19:12:43 +0000 /?p=99685 Google’s new encrypted search for logged in users now appears to be blocking a much higher percentage of search terms than when it initially rolled out two weeks ago. In some cases, it might even be higher than the 10% or less figure that the company initially predicted might be impacted. Blocking Search Queries Two weeks […]

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google-g-logoGoogle’s new encrypted search for logged in users now appears to be blocking a much higher percentage of search terms than when it initially rolled out two weeks ago. In some cases, it might even be higher than the 10% or less figure that the company initially predicted might be impacted.

Blocking Search Queries

Two weeks ago Google announced that it would start encrypting search sessions of anyone signed in to Google.com. In practice, this means that Google stopped passing the organic keywords that referred traffic to websites whenever users are logged in Google and conducting searches.

This change caused strong reactions, both in the web analytics industry (as this means that organic search becomes less trackable) and also in terms of whether Google was protecting privacy fully (since advertisers still receive this information).

Single Digit Impact Predicted

Google predicted that the change would impact 10% or less of searches:

Google software engineer Matt Cutts, who’s been involved with the privacy changes, wouldn’t give an exact figure but told me he estimated even at full roll-out, this would still be in the single-digit percentages of all Google searchers on Google.com.

In fact, the week the changes started rolling out, various reports put the “Not Provided” percentage — which is what those using Google Analytics see if terms are blocked — at around 2% to 3%.

High Single Digit To Above 10% Now Happening

However, as of October 31, we have seen a very significant increase on the Not Provided figure here on Search Engine Land. It’s not just us, either. Looking at data from several websites across industries, we see a range of 7% to 14% of total organic keywords now being blocked.

Below you see how the “Not Provided” figure has suddenly spiked for Search Engine Land:

Encrypted Search not provide search term

Below you can see how the percentage of Not Provided for the total organic keywords for November 1st to the site is above 10%, 12.87% in all:

Encrypted Search Analytics

The figure is even more dramatic, however, when you consider it as a percentage of Google-driven keywords. In other words, the 12.87% figure above means that for ALL keywords from ANY search engine to Search Engine Land, 12.87% of them were blocked.

As this blocking is only happening by Google, what’s the percentage of only keyword traffic from Google? That works out to 14.2%.

Of course, one might expect Search Engine Land to have a higher percentage of search-driven traffic than other sites. But as said, we’ve also looked at sites beyond Search Engine Land.

Danny Sullivan’s personal blog, Daggle, had 13.65% of its Google-driven keywords blocked. One non-tech site had 7.1% of its Google-driven queries reporting “Not Provided.” Another non-tech site we know of had 8.83% of all its keywords reporting as “Not Provided.”

We’d love to hear what others are finding — please comment below, if you’d like to share your figures.

Postscript: Conductor posted a few days after our report that it found 6.5% of Google-driven searches from high traffic sites they monitor had keywords blocked.

Rollout Still Happening; Percentage Could Get Higher

The rollout was supposed to take place over the course of several weeks. The process is still happening, and it seems as if it was suddenly enabled for more users on October 31.

Google wouldn’t confirm that, nor say how complete the rollout is at this point. In general, the company said:

As we noted, this change will occur over the next few weeks. Traffic figures will naturally vary depending on a website’s audience. What we provided was an estimate.

If there are significantly more people not yet being included in encrypted search, the percentage of Not Provided queries would likely grow over the coming weeks.

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Google Analytics Gains “Napoleon’s March” Flow Visualization Charts /google-analytics-flow-visualization-97066 /google-analytics-flow-visualization-97066#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2011 17:33:39 +0000 /?p=97066 Google Analytics announced a new set of reports that should help marketers and website owners to understand how users behave on their websites. The feature was presented this morning during Web 2.0 Summit, on a keynote delivered by Susan Wojcicki (SVP of Google, Advertising) & Phil Mui (Group Product Manager, Google Analytics). This feature is […]

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Google Analytics announced a new set of reports that should help marketers and website owners to understand how users behave on their websites. The feature was presented this morning during Web 2.0 Summit, on a keynote delivered by Susan Wojcicki (SVP of Google, Advertising) & Phil Mui (Group Product Manager, Google Analytics). This feature is an interesting solution to an old problem: analyzing paths throughout a website in a scalable way.

Path analysis has historically been a feature that provided little insights on user behavior, mainly because visitors behave in such non linear ways that it is hard to learn something from their paths, even when looking at aggregated data. The best option to path analysis has been to analyze micro conversions, i.e. looking at each page and trying to learn if the page has fulfilled its objective. However, the visualizations below bring some interesting approaches that will be very helpful for web analysts.

Flow Map Visualization

In terms of data visualization, this feature is probably the most advanced since Motion Charts, which is a highly advanced visualization that can be used to view five dimensions in one chart.

As some might recognize, the visualization used on this feature is very similar to the one created by Charles J. Mainard shown below. This image, created in a 1869 to describe Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, displays several variables in a single two-dimensional image (source: Wikipedia):

  • The army’s location and direction, showing where units split off and rejoined
  • The declining size of the army (note e.g. the crossing of the Berezina river on the retreat)
  • The low temperatures during the retreat.

Minard flow map visualization

Google has used this visualization to skillfully present website usage.

Visits Flow Report

This report shows the navigation flow for a specific segment of users, either a traffic source, country, browser, or any other segment that can be chosen from the drop down on the report (green box). We will see the pages that started the section for this segment and the following interactions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc). Interactions can be added and removed, and the circle with the arrows on the left of the chart can be used to navigate between the interactions.

The connections between the pages represent the number of visitors who went from one node to another. Larger connections represent a larger % of visitors; red connections mean visitors left the site; looping connections mean they navigated to another page in the same node. The number of connections shown can be controlled using the slider above the chart.

Visits flow report

Goal Flow Report

This report is a representation of goal conversion per segment of visitors (segments can be chosen as mentioned above). This visualization is welcomed as it enables analysts and managers to see goal conversion per any segment in one centralized place and with a great UI. Any goal can be seen on the chart, although as of this first release, Flow Visualizer supports only URL Destination goals. You can find the Goal Flow visualizer in the Conversions > Goals section of the “Standard Reporting Tab.”

Goal flow report

Flow Navigation Report

This report enables Google Analytics users to divide websites into sections and learn how visitors navigate between those sections. An interesting case would be for ecommerce sites to understand how visitors navigate between search, category, product and cart pages; this would bring an important understanding that could be applied to site navigation structure. Below is an image showing the setup page:

Flow navigation settings

In this interview with Phil Mui and Paul Murret (Director of Engineering, Google) talk about Google Analytics developments and future

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Google Analytics Premium: Better Support & Goodbye Data Sampling /google-analytics-premium-better-support-goodbye-data-sampling-94997 /google-analytics-premium-better-support-goodbye-data-sampling-94997#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 18:25:54 +0000 /?p=94997 Today Google launched a paid version of Google Analytics that processes higher volumes of page views and provides additional support. The general feature set and user experience remain the fundamentally the same as the standard product. This comes as an important addition to the enterprise set of tools that Google offers. The new version audience […]

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Google Analytics PremiumToday Google launched a paid version of Google Analytics that processes higher volumes of page views and provides additional support. The general feature set and user experience remain the fundamentally the same as the standard product. This comes as an important addition to the enterprise set of tools that Google offers. The new version audience is mainly enterprises that receive a high amount of traffic and need a certain commitment from Google’s part on data collection, up-time, and support.

The new Google Analytics premium is not about features, as shown below there are few capabilities available on the premium version that are not available on the standard version. It is designed for organizations who value guaranteed availability, dedicated services and support; it is also critical for sites who want to process data more frequently and without sampling.

Below is a detailed description of the tool capabilities, availability, support and pricing.

Google Analytics Premium – Product Description

Processing Power

  • Guaranteed processing for up to 1 billion hits per month (vs. the 10 million a month for standard accounts).  This applies to a single business or enterprise, but can include multiple web properties. In other words, if a company owns several sites, but the combined volume is under the 1 billion limit, all can be part of one premium instance, but if each site may reach the 1 billion limit separately, then the company would need to pay separately for each site.
  • Faster, intra-day processing
  • Service Level Agreement around data collection, reporting, and processing
    • 99.9% on Collection up-time
    • 99% on Reporting up-time
    • 98% on on-time Data Freshness (within 4 hours)

Advanced Analysis Tools

  • Up to 50 Custom Variable slots (the standard version provides 5)
  • Unsampled report downloads for custom report requests
  • Unaggregated report downloads for large report requests (up to 1 million rows per download)

Dedicated Support

  • Dedicated Account Management
  • Phone & Email support 10 hours per day, 5 days per week (relevant to the time zone in which the contract was signed)
  • Implementation Consultation & Tagging Audit
  • Live & Webinar Training
  • 24/7 Product Emergency Escalation Support, if the product is ever outside of the SLA

Pricing & Availability

At first, Google Analytics Premium is is available to companies based in the US, UK, and Canada, although the sites can be located globally. However, according to Google, it will expand into other regions as quickly as possible.

Prices varies per region and will be as follows: $150,000 USD (US), $150,000 CAN (Canada), or GBP 90,000 (UK) per year (billed in monthly increments).

User Interface Changes

As mentioned above, Google Analytics Premium is not about a new set of features. The interface is almost identical to the standard interface we are used to. I believe this is an advantage for users, as most people are already acquainted with the tool and won’t have to get to know another interface.

The following differences can be seen in the tool (screenshots from Analytics Premium a website developed by Cardinal Path, a Google Analytics premium reseller):

    • When you click the “Download” button on a report, you will have the option to request an “Unsampled Download”
    • There will be an “Unsampled Downloads” section in the Custom Reports tab

  • Up to 50 custom variables will be available in the Custom Report builder

Google’s also released this video about it:

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNIQ7lxIXxg[/youtube]

Who Should Use Google Analytics Premium

One very important question that comes to mind is: does this mean that Google is not going to invest in the free version moving forward? According to Google:

We are more committed than ever to our standard version. With the release of Google Analytics v5 we are poised to release features faster than ever and are confident that measurement can keep up with the digital consumer journey at last. In the last 3 months alone we’ve released many great features to the new version of Google Analytics.

Another important question is: do I need Google Analytics Premium? That question is a bit trickier. Here are a few cases where you should certainly consider the premium version:

  1. If you are currently using a paid tool: the advantage of GA Premium is that pricing is not based on pageviews or hits or visits. If your site generates 1 billion hits per month (in which case you are probably paying a very high amount), now you can use Google Analytics with a higher level of accuracy. In addition, you can feel safe that in case you lose your web analytics budget, you can downgrade to the standard Google Analytics without losing your data or needing to switch tags (and can upgrade again later).
  2. If you are using standard Google Analytics and currently getting sampled data and unsampled data is important for you you. Some websites generate large amounts of data, which results in data sampling on Google Analytics. The premium version will power the collection and processing of this information, in addition to have higher data limits (1 billion hits a month). A plus is that the reports should load faster and data will be fresher, even at larger volumes.
  3. If your website visitors need to be segmented in more ways. By offering 50 custom variables (the limit now is 5) Google will enable more segmentation options, usually needed on large and complex websites.

Closing Thoughts

This release comes as great news for the industry, as it shows how strategic is Analytics to Google and how much they are willing to invest in it. The unsampled reports and the SLA are great differentials (which were always used by Google’s competitors on the field). It means it will bring the market up and we will keep seeing advancements in this arena.

One single feature that is still not on the level of the competitors is user access management. As of today there are only two types of users on Google Analytics: Administrator and Viewer. For SMB and enterprises this is not enough in order to administer who sees what and who can change the tool settings. As mentioned in an article about Analytics User Management: “Everyone who has access to a web analytics tool needs to take responsibility for that access.”

To summarize, in an interview with Thomas Davenport he said that “it ain’t about the math, it is about the relationships”. Google’s strategy to first conquer the end user (i.e. analysts, SEMs, and more recently marketing managers) and then go for the enterprises looks very smart. Google Analytics is by far the most used tool, and this can only count in favor when an enterprise is choosing a tool, employees are already comfortable with it.

The post Google Analytics Premium: Better Support & Goodbye Data Sampling appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Analytics Real Time Reports: Web Traffic Right Now /google-analytics-real-time-94981 /google-analytics-real-time-94981#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 18:08:35 +0000 /?p=94981 Google Analytics just announced a new set of reports called “Real Time.” They will be seen in the new interface of Google Analytics (available to all users), under the Dashboard tab; according to another recent announcement, this tab will soon be renamed the Home tab. This new feature does not require extra tagging. According to Google, full […]

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Google Analytics just announced a new set of reports called “Real Time.” They will be seen in the new interface of Google Analytics (available to all users), under the Dashboard tab; according to another recent announcement, this tab will soon be renamed the Home tab. This new feature does not require extra tagging.

According to Google, full roll-out could take up to 1-2 weeks, but in order to get the new feature sooner than later you can signup for the beta by filling the form at https://services.google.com/fb/forms/realtimeanalytics/

Google Analytics Real Time will show the number of people coming to a site for every minute, and the number of visitors actively on the site at that moment. It enables monitoring the sources sending traffic to the website, the pages being viewed, the GEO location of visitors, and the keywords that brought the visitors (if from search, paid or organic).

Google Analytics Real Time

While for some users this feature will not bring new insight into user behavior (e.g. small websites), this feature will be specially interesting for content websites. Publishers will get an instant insight into which content is attracting visitors and can adapt the website based on that. For example, if an article about a certain celebrity is receiving high engagement it could immediately be added as the featured post on the homepage or sidebar.

Other occasions where real time data could be helpful:

  • Verifying the effectiveness of an ad just as a campaign goes live
  • Measuring social media impact as it happens
  • Watching the impact of a tv campaign when you know your commercial is on

Do you find it useful? Let us know in the comments how you use it and why you think real data is / is not important.

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Update Made To Definition Of A Google Analytics Session /update-made-to-definition-of-a-google-analytics-session-89300 /update-made-to-definition-of-a-google-analytics-session-89300#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:17:58 +0000 /?p=89300 Google Analytics announced a change on the way a sessions are calculated on the tool. While this change will not affect the majority of the accounts significantly (according to the official blog post “most users will see less than a 1% change”), it is an important change. Below, I will describe why it is important […]

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Google Analytics announced a change on the way a sessions are calculated on the tool. While this change will not affect the majority of the accounts significantly (according to the official blog post “most users will see less than a 1% change”), it is an important change.

Below, I will describe why it is important and how this can affect some Google Analytics accounts (mostly companies that misuse Google Analytics campaign parameters), and what you can do to make sure you are on the right track.

What Is Changing & Why?

According to the official post, here is a summary of how Google Analytics has ended a session up till now:

  • Greater than 30 minutes have elapsed between pageviews for a single user
  • At the end of a day
  • When a user closes their browser

In the new model, Google Analytics will end a session when:

  • Greater than 30 minutes have elapsed between pageviews for a single user
  • At the end of a day
  • When any campaign information for the user changes. Campaign information includes: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_id, utm_campaign and auto-tagging from AdWords (gclid)

This change is an interesting move as it will provide more accurate data when it comes to Multi-Channel Attribution. This will happen because visitors that visit a website multiple times during a time period that would originally be considered as one single session, will now have their cookies updated to a new session in some specific situations.

For example, if someone visits a website from a PPC ad and then leaves the site and within 10 minutes get back to the website through an organic link would be considered as one long visit from PPC in the old model. In the new model, we would have two short visits, each attributed to its own source.

Do Not Use Campaign Parameters For In-Site Tracking

One of the mistakes I have seen when it comes to implementing Google Analytics is the usage of Campaign Parameters for in-site tracking (mostly tracking navigation usage or internal campaigns).

This practice produces inaccurate numbers for those analyzing in-site behavior and also heavily affects traffic sources accuracy and, therefore, should never be used. Now even more. With the current update to how sessions are defined, each time a visitor clicks on an internal link that uses campaign parameters, a new session starts; this will artificially increases the number of visits in addition to the issues I described above.

If you are currently using campaign parameters to track in-site behavior, here is what you should do:

  1. Remove all campaign parameters from your links. For example, if you have a link on your site such as searchengineland.com?utm_source=story&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=launch , you should simply use searchengineland.com
  2. If you are tracking navigation elements on the site. Using Event Tracking is the best way to go: add an onclick event to the “a” tag that would include the following: onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘navigation’, ‘link’, ‘launch’]);”
  3. If you are tracking internal campaigns. Using Custom Variables is the best way to go: add an onclick event to the “a” tag that would include the following: onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_setCustomVar’, 5, ‘internal_campaign’, ‘banner’, 2]);” . It is important to note that you should check with other people involved in setting Google Analytics to be sure spot 5 (the first value on the function above) is available for campaign tracking.

The above techniques will certainly provide you with accurate numbers in the best possible way without affecting your reports.

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