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Google Universal Analytics: Why the Switch?

If you’ve heard the buzz about Google Universal Analytics, have you heard the news that this is going to be a game-changer?

But, really – what’s changing?

Really, quite a bit.

A Short History Lesson

The Google Analytics you know and love wasn’t created in-house by Google. It’s based on an analytics product named “Urchin,” purchased by Google in 2005 – but originally created all the way back in 1998. The original code and the upgrades by Google have done an admirable job, but it had one big limitation: it was only designed to track visits to a website.

Today, you want to know much more than just visits.

New Super Powers

Universal Analytics eclipses mere tracking of visits and captures the behavior of your website’s visitors. And, because today your website visitors are coming to you via a wide variety of devices, Google Universal Analytics also merges data across platforms to give you the full picture of visitor behavior.

If that wasn’t a major functionality upgrade, fasten your seatbelt – it encompasses mobile apps and point-of-sale systems. Yes, that means you can use Google Universal Analytics to track your offline conversions, as well.

Follow Your Customers Offline

Thanks to a core component of Universal Analytics called the Measurement Protocol, you’ll be able to, as quoted by Google on their overview page “Make HTTP requests to send raw user interaction data directly to Google Analytics servers. This allows developers to measure how users interact with their business from almost any environment. Developers can then use the Measurement Protocol to:

    • Measure user activity in new environments.
    • Tie online to offline behavior.
    • Send data from both the web and server.

For the first time, you’ll be able to send to Google data from sources such as Technical Support, CRM, Email Lists, and even Third Party Data Providers. That means you’ll be able to study how groups with specific identifying characteristics access different types of content, allowing you to decide the type of campaign that best engages with them.

Session Spanner!

You know that a conversion doesn’t always happen in one visit. Google Universal Analytics migrates away from single visits and allows you to segment based on multiple visits by letting you to create advance segments by varying session timeout (up to four hours) and campaign timeout (up to 24 months).

Treat Search Engines the Way You Want to For a Change

Mobile devices have given users a different outlook on search – especially when you consider that a popular app might align itself with a search engine you previously might not had considered as organic. Universal Analytics will allow you to add custom search engines.

The same goes for organic search terms. Now you’ll be able to exclude search terms, which will then appear as Direct Traffic. This makes a whole lot of sense. How often have you wondered what the numbers looked like if you could actually remove your brand name or even your domain name from organic search reports – because after all, doesn’t a search using either of those things pretty much mean the user already knows who you are?

You Can’t Just “Flip the Switch” at the Present Time

Although Google Universal Analytics is available for all current users of Google Analytics, there’s no ability to do a direct upgrade. Google advises that you create a new Web Property for Universal Analytics in your existing Google Analytics account. You’ll run this in parallel with the current tracking code. Yes, that means you get new code.
For a thorough overview, head over to Google’s documentation of Universal Analytics.


This article was provided by Ty Baisden and his marketing team at Ty is a SEO and marketing guru with more than 15 years of search engine optimization, web development and marketing experience. He has helped build MSI into a top SEO company. Read more at the MSI Marketing Blog.