The Google Analytics Blog announced today a fresh look and set of tools for Google Analytics; Google’s free web analytics program.

The posting announces the following improvements:

  • Email and export reports: Schedule or send ad-hoc personalized report emails and export reports in PDF format.
  • Custom Dashboard: No more digging through reports. Put all the information you need on a custom dashboard that you can email to others.
  • Trend and Over-time Graph: Compare time periods and select date ranges without losing sight of long term trends.
  • Contextual help tips: Context sensitive Help and Conversion University tips are available from every report.

Check out the excellent tour demo for details.

My Two Bits of Caution
When a company like Google puts all of this work into a free program I have to wonder how much information is used for their gain and the user’s loss. There is no question this is one slick program and their new additions make it all the more tempting so I am sure it will be a hit. That said, the kind of data that Google reaps from this arrangement must be financially worthwhile which in-turn must have positive and negative ramifications for Google advertisers – of which many users of Google Analytics are. After all, Google is bound to want advertisers to spend more. Hmm, I wonder… if the data led Google to a position where they could increase their bottom line but might cost advertisers more money whose best interest Google would ultimately side with?

I am sorry but a lovely little mantra like “don’t be evil” seems hardly enough to trust a company to safeguard my valuable traffic data against its own financial (publicly traded – read ‘pressured’) interests. Unfortunately I am in a hypocritical spot since StepForth has to work with it regularly to keep up with the latest tools so we can properly navigate some of our client’s analytics system; ahh the irony. But just because we are in that position doesn’t mean you have to be. Safeguard your long term interests and use a reputable commercial application if you can afford to – or go with Google Analytics and accept the potential consequences.

Unless finances prohibit the option we strongly advise every client utilize ClickTracks or another quality commercial analytics solution tool for their web analytics needs. At StepForth we may have to use Google Analytics to “keep up with the Jones’s” but 100% of our in-house and outsourced analytics are conducted using ClickTracks Professional.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services
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