Media

Google Analytics gets a visual layout for the numbers-impaired

NOTE: GrowthBeat -- VentureBeat's provocative new marketing-tech event -- is a week away! We've gathered the best and brightest to explore the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the full scoop here, and grab your tickets while they last.

Google Analytics has become an indispensable service for tracking who’s visiting your site — or at least it’s indispensable to VentureBeat and to every blogger I talk to. But it takes a little while to get used to the service, since it’s all about parsing screen after screen filled with numbers and slightly wonky terminology like “bounce rate” and “landing page”.

Today, Google announced a new feature that should make the service more accessible and usable, especially for people who don’t spend all their time studying Web traffic and search engine optimization. As you can see in the video below, the new In-Page Analytics feature overlays Google Analytics data on the actual webpage. So, rather than studying a long list of URLs, users can look at a page and see how frequently users are clicking on each link.

I don’t want to oversell Google Analytics’ complexity — numbers can make my head hurt, but I have no problem using the service. Still, the visual layout has an immediacy that Analytics previously lacked, and it could help make Analytics a widespread tool in organizations, rather than something used by a few experts.

To be clear, the new visual layout does not bring in any new data and is therefore subject to the some of Analytics’ previous shortcomings. For example, Google notes that if a webpage has two links leading to the same destination, Analytics can’t tell you which link is getting more clicks. So In-Page Analytics doesn’t necessarily make Google more competitive with startups (such as ClickTale and Chartbeat) that offer publishers a different set of data.