Google Analytics has started highlighting major changes in traffic patterns. A new tool, Google Analytics Intelligence, alerts online marketers to potentially critical changes on their clients' sites. Available as a beta version, Intelligence can be accessed from the dashboard of the web analytics program.
The service is designed to boost the visibility of key trends and statistical anomalies. For example, online marketers can find out if there has been a significant drop-off in overall traffic figures, as well as more detailed data like fluctuations in organic search click-through rates and new visitors. By using complex algorithms to work out expected traffic patterns for a given site, Google Analytics Intelligence can draw attention to anything out of the ordinary.
Google Analytics Intelligence is explained in the following official Google video:
Google Analytics Intelligence – three categories
Currently, the alerts fall into three categories – daily, weekly and monthly. This enables online marketers to track both the day-by-day impact of a new ad campaign and the degree to which visitor levels are boosted in the following months.
Google Analytics Intelligence sends out alerts automatically, meaning account holders don't have to set aside several hours before they can start extracting insights. These reports have even been applied retrospectively to historical data so it's possible to see straight away how traffic patterns have evolved over time. However, power users can also set up custom updates if, for instance, they have specific performance targets in mind.
Countering information overload
Although the data is always available to view inside the Google Analytics account, online marketers can also choose to receive important updates via email.
Obviously, one potential problem of Intelligence is that users will suffer from information overload. Google has taken some steps to minimise this danger, though, by allowing online marketers to view alerts by dimension or metric and assigning a significance rating to each update. Furthermore, occasional users who would rather not receive 20 or more updates a day can filter out minor warnings by sliding the alert sensitivity bar to a lower setting.
Google Analytics – intelligent, not a silver bullet
Google Analytics Intelligence has the potential to become a powerful new tool for extracting insights from websites. Alden DeSoto, a member of the Google Analytics team, has described it as a "dedicated assistant" that is on call 24 hours a day and never misses a thing. However, it is far from a magic bullet solution that can reverse deep-seated SEO visibility issues.
Mr DeSoto explained: "Your new hardworking assistant, Analytics Intelligence, can't replace you or a professional analyst. But, it can find information for you and your professional analysts – so that your team can focus on making strategic decisions, instead of sifting through an endless stream of data."