The team over at Google has come out with some enhancements to the Google Analytics software designed with the enterprise in mind. They claim they have been listening to our needs and that this is the biggest update to the analytics software to date. But is it enough to ward off the threat the Yahoo has brought on? Let's take a look at the updates and see.

The Battle for Free Web Analytics

It has only been a few weeks since Yahoo introduced Yahoo! Web Analytics, a new free web analytics tool based on the former IndexTools software. They haven't officially released the software to the broader audience yet, but they have provided some insights into what can be expected. Google, on the other hand, has offered their web analytics software for some time now. While it's not a bad offering -- especially considering it's free -- it has lacked the some of the features that an enterprise level analytics product needs to really be of value to a business.

Google Analytics Updates

Of the updates Google is announcing, several are expected to be available anytime while a couple of others are still in Private Beta. As of this morning, we haven't seen anything new in the Analytics Dashboard. You can also watch YouTube videos of some of the new updates.

New Account Management Dashboard

Move between your accounts and profiles easier with a new account management dashboard. Even more importantly, you now have a bird's eye view of some key performance metrics for your accounts from the dashboard. You don't have to go into each account dashboard to get the basic view of what's happening on your site. GA_NewDashboard.jpg
New Administrative Dashboard

From this new dashboard, see how many visits your site has had, what the average time on the site was and what the bounce rate was. In addition you can view the % of change in a number of metrics including Visits, Bounce Rate and Time on Site. You can view all this information based on a particular Day, Week, Month or Year. Some of the data is even color coded to let you know immediately of any issues. The new dashboard is definitely an improvement over the current one.

Advanced Segmentation

Analyze subsets of traffic on the fly. Google makes a couple of predefined segments available out-of-the-box including: "Paid Traffic" and "Visits with Conversions", or create your own. GA_Segmentation.jpg

Advanced Segmentation
Segments can be applied to current or historical data and you can compare the performance of the two segments side by side. Segments are not filters. Filters are applied to information coming into your account to provide customize final reports. They modify data at the pageview level. Segments do not actually modify your data. They simply enable you to filter the data in your report so that you can see how different types of visits are performing. There's a good blog post by Avinash Kaushik on how to use the Advanced Segments, along with a YouTube video.

Motion Charts

Motion Charts are pretty. They also provide a view of multi-dimensional analysis to your reports. GA_MotionCharts.jpg
Motion Charts

You plot your data into four different dimensions -- x-axis, y-axis, size, color -- and then watch how the data changes over time. When you click on each dimension you get a menu of metrics that can be applied to that dimension. This functionality looks and feels confusing, but Google provides a couple of samples to show you how it works. There is also a YouTube video for this new feature.

Custom Reports

Create your own custom reports now and save them for viewing later on. Using a drag and drop interface you select the information and metrics and how you want the results organized. You can also create tabs which are basically multiple levels of sub-reports. GA_CustomReports.jpg
Custom Reports

Here's a nice little step-by-step diagram showing how to create a custom report: GA_reports.jpg
Steps to Create a custom report

Watch the YouTube video first to really understand how to build reports that provide you with valuable information.

The Data Export API

Want to play around with your analytics data? Integrate it into other applications? Build your own custom dashboard? Now you can using the Data Export API. The API is still in private beta -- so you'll have to wait on this one.

AdSense Integration

Using Google AdSense and Analytics? Now you can view reports on both of them in Google Analytics. GA_AdSense.jpg
AdSense Integration

The integration of the two will provide you with good information on how your revenues and impressions are working in relation to your traffic. You will first have to link the two accounts together and if you are integrating several different websites, you will have to make a code small change to the sites you aren't marking as the Primary Domain. You can also link only one Analytics account to your AdSense account.

Comparing Google Analytics to Yahoo Analytics

There isn't enough information available on the Yahoo offering yet to provide a really deep comparison of these two free solutions. However Yahoo's solution appears to go a lot further with its capabilities including things like Live Cost Analysis (which compares search engine price information for revenues), Scenario Analysis, Advanced Path Analysis and Marketing Workflow Management. Yahoo account dashboards are also customizable -- something Google does allow yet. Maybe one of the biggest differences is that Yahoo provides real-time data whereas Google updates account data every 24 hours (although we've read there is a way around this). Whether or not this is a big deal depends on who you ask. Yahoo's analytics are currently only being offered to those who use its eCommerce solutions, Microsites and development platform, while Google Analytics is open to the masses and many of the updates will be available to everyone soon. We are looking forward to trying out the new updates to Google Analytics on our own website to see if they really provide the extra value we need to make our site that much better for our audience. We are interested to learn how you find the updates as well, so let us know. Are these updates enough to help Google move into the enterprise? We'll all be the judge.