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Groove Commerce
Google Analytics has slowly rolled out formerly enterprise-only features to its users, making the decision to use it over a paid package much easier. There's still improvements Google Analytics can make to further back those paid solutions into a corner. Here are 8 ways to improve google analytics.

I use Google Analytics constantly. It is a permanently opened tab in my browser from the minute I walk in the door. I have some experience with other Analytics packages, but for the most part, you just can't beat the value that GA provides. Over the years, GA has slowly rolled out formerly enterprise-only features to its users, making the decision to use it over a paid package much easier. That said, there's still plenty of improvements Google Analytics can make to further back those paid solutions into a corner.

1. Faster Data Reporting

Who wouldn't like to review their data faster? Anyone that has ever been anxious to see today's stats in Google Analytics knows that there seems to be various points in the day when updates are pushed out. And even once that happens the numbers are unreliable for another several hours.

This can be extremely frustrating when dealing with Google Analytics installations that require modifications to the tracking code and/or advanced filtering and segmentation. Better not make an error, or you'll have to wait until tomorrow before realizing something is wrong.

Wouldn't it be nice if Google could guarantee that any data after a certain number of hours was accurate?

2. Real Time Traffic

Another popular and really powerful feature that could be added to Google Analytics is a real time traffic spy, much like Clicky Web Analytics. Their "spy" feature allows users to see how many visitors are on the site at that moment and includes basic referral data, as well.

I likely don't have to go through just why having a real time traffic spy is useful, but imagine monitoring traffic levels after publishing some linkbait, or sending out an email campaign.

3. An Improved Date Picker

AdWords vs Analytics Date PickerI hate Google Analytics' date picker, and I'd like to think I'm not the only one. I am frustrated endlessly by the unintuitive nature of selecting dates with it, and I'm praying Google is hearing my cries.

Why not feature Google AdWords-like preset date selections, like last 7 days, this month, last month, etc? Even more useful would be an easier to use "compare to past" option. Comparing 2009 to 2008 stats is hardly a simple task, and likely a common one.

In the scenario to the right, AdWords is allowing me the opportunity to fix my obvious date error before sorting, whereas Analytics is forcing me to go back and fix my date before moving on and changing the other date. Yeesh.

4. Trendlines!

This is a feature that the folks at Raven SEO Tools have implemented in their reporting, and I can't live without it.

Raven Trendline

Wouldn't this be nice in Google Analytics?

5. A Better/More Customizable Overview Screen

Both the AdWords "My Client Center" and Analytics Overview screen suffer from the same problem. It is impossible to customize them to include whichever metrics you find most important. For an eCommerce client, wouldn't it be useful to see sales over the past month?

Additionally, for those of us with access to anymore than 10 accounts, we're forced to expand the list every time to a higher number of rows, or click through to the next set of 10. It would be nice if when I asked GA to show 100 rows, it remained that way until I changed it back, instead of resetting to 10 every time I log in.

6. Report Exact Keywords from Paid Search

Whenever we begin a new PPC campaign for our clients here at Groove Commerce, we immediately install advanced filters that extract the raw keywords from which users are entering the site. This is really valuable data. After a few days, we usually have a slew of new negative keywords that we didn't originally think to include.

By default, GA only reports visits to the AdWords keyword with which the raw search term is matched. The question is, why? Why should I have to install this hack of a filter to get this data?

By the way, if you haven't installed this raw query filter, SEOptimise has a good article to set you in the right direction.

7. Let Me Rid My Account of Empty Profiles

Deleting old Google Analytics accounts can be troublesome. I'm not sure if this is a widespread problem, but I have seen it in two separate, unrelated accounts.

Empty Undeleteable Account

Here we have a few empty accounts that just won't go away! And since the GA Overview page is so difficult to manage with anymore than 10 profiles, it'd be nice to get rid of unneeded accounts.

8. Step Up the Support

This can almost be said of almost all Google apps, and considering it is free to use and doesn't generate direct revenue for Google, maybe I'm asking too much. However, the help documents for GA contain a lot of mistakes and outdated information that can be very frustrating to even seasoned webmasters. It's one thing if there's a lack of support, but another thing if there is support that leads you down some of the wrong paths.

I may not be alone in being frustrated by the Google Analytics documentation, as it seems like Google is holding surveys about the help center at this very moment. With any luck, some of the feedback will lead to improved documentation.

That's Enough Complaining

Google Analytics is free and awesome. And it is getting better. The addition of annotations, the new asynchronous tracking snippet, and the ability to track many more goals are some recent welcome additions.

What else would you like to see in Google Analytics?

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