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Google Analytics is good, but…

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 — by

Google Analytics is a good, but even with the recent slew of new features, it lacks proper Social Media smarts. Here are two lingering absentee features I think Google Analytics really needs…

Watching web traffic in real time

Google logoIf you’re an active social networker and blogger like me, you need to see things in real time, because that’s exactly how things are happening; you miss the moment and you miss the chance.

That’s why I use Clicky and the Spy tool, to monitor visits to and actions on my blog. I can see visits coming in from unexpected sources and react to them immediately.

The benefits might not appear to be obvious, so let’s start with a simple example. Let’s say I get a visit from a forum thread on SitePoint, which I’m a member of. I can go to that thread and reply instantly, while the conversation is still fresh.

I am, in effect, influencing the traffic to my blog in real time. Google Analytics currently offers no such tool, which in my opinion is a massive loss.

No way to move Profiles

I get about thirty visitors a month who’ve searched on Google looking to find out how to move Profiles in Analytics. I wanted to do the self same thing a while ago, so I sent a support query to the Google Analytics team and was told there is no such feature, and they won’t even do it on request, either.

Again, this is a big hinderance. I often set Profiles up for clients under my own Account. I’d like to then let them have the Profile under their own Account at a later time, but there’s no way to do that.

Lack of a public API

I use WordPress to power the Blah blog, and I’ve also written Plugins for WordPress, too. What I’d like to do is write a Plugin that uses the data accrued via Google Analytics to display things like the most popular articles, or to display articles that match against what a visitor from a search engine is looking for.

As we’ve seen in the last couple of years, the really successful web applications are usually those that allow people to extend them in some way, like Delicious, Twitter and Google Maps, ironically enough.

And I’m fairly sure that the guys who write Widgets would like similar access to the API (Application Programming Interface) of Google Analytics as well. Sadly, that’s not possible because Google don’t have a public API for Google Analytics.

Update: for the ultra observant, this is 3rd point is an update to the original article. I totally forgot to add this one the first time around!

Google FeedBurner, Analytics and Webmaster Tools should be combined

OK, I said two features, but this isn’t strictly a feature as such.

Having my love, admiration and eternal respect probably isn’t high on Google’s list of priorities, but if they were to combine Google FeedBurner, Analytics and Webmaster Tools, they’d make all our lives much easier:

“Google is now the proud, relatively new owners of FeedBurner. If subscriptions are the measurement of trust and web traffic is the measurement of popularity, what happens when the two are combined?”

And finally…

And then there’s the none too inconsiderable issue of there being a possible (and apparently avoidable) security hole in Google Analytics. But that’s for better people than me to discuss and ruminate.

Over all, Google Analytics is still a good product, but it’s one that, for me at least, becomes slightly less relevant each time Clicky add something new to their growing arsenal of features. So I’m hoping that they blow me away with a much more comprehensive update sooner rather than later…

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Alex → Wednesday, 26 November 2008 @ 15:03 BDT

If subscriptions are the measurement of trust and web traffic is the measurement of popularity, what happens when the two are combined?

Good question Google. I’m still waiting to find out.

Sorry Comments are close. Quite possibly for a good reason. Share your thoughts on some of my other posts or contact me directly.

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