New “home” in Google Analytics
Google has introduced a new ‘home’ within Google Analytics to try to introduce insights from machine learning into the platform. This replaces the former starting report – Audience, Overview – and in this post, I’d like to offer my thoughts on what this change means for University of Edinburgh users.
Google has been experimenting with “machine learning” for some time to help analytics users explore data. This would allow users to see what Google’s servers think the biggest changes/most important data from their website activity are – and for Analytics to learn over time what is useful, and what is not. This has been available for some time in the Google Analytics mobile app.
The new homepage, though, introduces it to a larger audience. I can immediately see why the new home could be useful – it teams up actual questions you should be using Analytics to immediately provide key data points:
- How do users find us (search, social, direct)?
- How well are we retaining users (frequency, recency)?
- What is our top content?
The main issue I perceive is that (as yet) the new homepage doesn’t allow segmentation. This means that the key questions from above are answered for the entire website, and not just for the (usually) small parts of the web estate that each of us are interested in. I’m sure it’s relevant and welcome to the MyEd service management team that 6 of our top 10 pages site-wide are in MyEd – but I’m not sure it gets the rest of us any further in improving our own sites. However, on each panel of the new home, it offers a link to the relevant report to answer this question, where you can then segment for your pages and answer the questions for your site.
Where do we go from here?
So to the extent it will prompt us to ask good questions of Analytics, I do welcome this – and Google do assure us that it will improve over time as feedback is introduced: as an example, after the pilot phase, date pickers were introduced. I’m sure that there will remain a job for analysts, though, to ask the questions that are relevant to us – and the easier it is to understand the data that Analytics provides, the better questions we can ask.
And if you’re looking for the “old” home in analytics – don’t worry, it’s still there: just click Audience > Overview in the reports section in the left-hand pane.