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Google has once again updated its popular web analytics software, which is used by most smaller companies that don’t have the money or expertise to use an enterprise analytics package.

Analytics software is the observation platform companies use to watch over their websites and plan their design strategy, so when Google improves its analytics software, it means startups may improve their analysis of what is going well — or poorly.

The new additions reflect a growing feeling on the web that pageviews are a less important metric than they used to be. Google Analytics is opening a feature for beta testing that tracks user engagement with elements that have become common with Web 2.0 services, including Javascript, Ajax and Flash applications, widgets and gadgets, and downloadable pages.

Other new tools will be aimed at assisting online retailers and marketers in examining how effective their page designs are at convincing consumers to buy products or use the site in a certain way.

While small web companies will be the primary beneficiaries of the new features, the move could also prove meaningful for online advertising. Experts have suggested for some time that advertising rates should reflect elements beyond the simple standard used so far, page views.

Allowing sites to keep track of how the tools and features on their pages are used is one part of the puzzle. Once websites understand how users interact with their features, they will be better able to sell advertisers on the idea of switching to a more valuable metric than page views, like time spent on the page or how long the advertisement is visible.

Google also updated its Urchin Software package, which has lain dormant for two years, and added new language options to its web analytics. The new features should also help Google stay a step ahead of a Microsoft project to enter the analytics market, called Gatineau.

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