Google Analytics Gets Annotations, Better Customization Tools

A new API is also about to be launched

Google Analytics has evolved over the years to become a very powerful tool if used to the full extent of its capabilities. The free tool allows webmasters to get detailed information on the visitors to their websites and how they engage with the content. One of the strengths of the product is the possibility to customize the tracking and focus on a particular group of users or a particular behavior. Now Google is taking the customization features one step further while also introducing some interesting new tools.

One of the interesting new features is Annotations which, as the name suggests, allows users to leave notes right inside the graph display to mark any unusual activity or a specific event. The explanation for traffic surges or drops can now be added right next to the graph making it easy for other users of a shared account to know what happened or to explain the phenomenon months after it happened.

Not only that, future events can be labeled in advance so that everyone is aware of any special circumstances. The applications for this feature are numerous and it can come in really handy especially for larger companies. Google says this was one of the most requested feature by its users and it's easy to see why.

Google introduced a useful new feature about a month ago, Multiple Custom Variable, allowing users to get a much more detailed picture of their visitors grouped by any metric which the webmasters saw as relevant. When it was launched though, the only way to view the data was through the “Custom Variables” in the Visitors section.

“This week, a user can create an advanced segmentation based on any key, value, as well as key-value combination of all Custom Variables. In other words, if you've created a Custom Variable such as "Logged In Member", you can also create an advanced segment based on that variable and see it across all of your reports,” Jeff Gillis and Phil Mui from Google Analytics Team wrote.

In order to gather all the analytics data, a tracking code has to be installed on the site. This isn't too much of a problem for those more technically inclined or for larger companies, but for people with no coding experience it can be a challenge. Therefore, Google set out to make the process easier for everyone to create custom tracking code for various sections or versions of the site, such as multiple subdomains or mobile sites. The new tracking code setup wizard should make it a lot easier to customize the code to your needs. Finally, Google is also revealing a new version of the Analytics API which will be launched sometime this week.

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