Google Updates August 2012

Our friends at OrderDynamics, Canada's leading ecommerce provider, released this great post about the recent updates to Google. This is part of their monthly series and we will repost most of the article here, for the complete blog, OrderDynamics Google Monthly Updates August 2012.

On July 18, Google officially retired the original version of Google Analytics. While having rolled out the newer version in March 2012, users were able to switch back to the older version for some time before Google slowly began removing the option.  The new Google Analytics brings with it several new features, as well as simpler ways to use veteran features.

Multi-Channel Funnels API
Google implemented an API for their Multi-Channel Funnels feature with great interest to developers. The feature allows users to establish various metrics related to conversion, such as the most common channels and paths through a web site leading to up to sale.  Metric types include Assisted Conversions, Top Path, Path Length, Time Lag, and others. The data collected using Multi-Channel Funnels can be combined with data from other platforms to establish advanced metrics;Google’s Official Analytics blog noted how analytics company Mazeberry Express combined media expenditure with conversion path data to establish Cost per Acquisition and Return on Investment.

Data yielded by Analytics is now real-time, and can provide feedback on exactly what has occurred on a website thus far in a day.

Social Reports
Social Analytics allows users to track how social media activity leads to traffic and conversions to a website. Users can now tell which social networks generate the most traffic and conversions, and how social media users interact with a brand on the social network itself. Google’s Social Reports generates reports such as:

●    Social Visitor Flow
●    Off-Site Activity - Social Data Hub
●    Activity Stream
●    Social Value at a Glance
●    Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis
●    Multi-Channel Funnel

Mobile Reports
Mobile Reports will prove to be a game changer, offering extensive information on how consumers interact with mobile devices with respect to a brand’s website and mobile app. Users will now be able to measure the analytics of their mobile app the same way they would a regular website, geo-locate where consumers are when using their app or mobile site, and which mobile platforms work best with the brand’s app and mobile site. The feature is not exclusive to smartphones - it utilizes data from any web-enabled mobile device.

Content Experiments
This feature is not new, but has been made much simpler to use. Previously known as Google Web Optimizer, Content Experiments allows for A/B testing within Google Analytics. Content Experiments asserts that it is an improvement over its predecessor in that statistics are better analyzed by preserving data for 2 weeks before making test results available, and automatically deleting tests that run longer than 3 months. It also automatically diverts test traffic away from low performing test pages to better performing ones to preserve data from being skewed. Content Experiments is also different from Web Optimizer because the testing feature is already within analytics, whereas Web Optimizer required hacks and code implementations to link test pages to Analytics.

Remarketing is a feature of the Google AdWords program that automatically has a brand’s ads follow a consumer after they have visited a site. The Remarketing feature within Analytics generates reports on consumer behaviour on a site to determine their exact preferences, and the data from these reports is then sent to AdWords to allow users to tailor their Remarketing ad campaigns according to exactly what their consumers want. This feature is automatically available to anyone with an existing AdWords account linked to their Analytics.

Google Panda & Penguin
With respect to these Google Algorithms, it has been a notably quiet month. On July 24, Google Tweeted about the Panda 3.9 data refresh. The results of the refresh were low-impact, affecting only 1% of search results over 5-6 days post-refresh. It is important to note that a data refresh is not the same as an algorithm update. This, and having made an uncommon two data refreshes in June which likely rendered last month’s update relatively minor, is likely the cause of only a minimal backlash post-update. As for Penguin, it has been 9 weeks - also uncommon for Google - since the last update, and there has been no news on when to expect the next one.