Latest Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools updates in a nutshell


There has been a plethora of updates in recent weeks and months to Google’s Analytics (GA) and Webmaster Tools. The three key recent updates not to be missed if you want to maximise your online marketing campaigns are detailed below, and best of all they are all free!

1. Demographic and Interest Reports in Google Analytics

New to the ‘Audience’ section of Google Analytics are Demographics and Interest reports, detailing as you would expect, age, interests and gender. The reports offer valuable insight in to site users and customers, vital to planning any successful online marketing campaign.

Demographics and Interest Reports

Age & Gender – As it says, you’ll be able to see a breakdown of the age range of visitors and their gender, all with detailed information on Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversion.

Interests – Visitors are divided into three slightly confusing interest groups, ‘Affinity,’ ‘In-Market’ and ‘Other Categories.’ The purpose of these groupings is to allow ads to reach people interested in products and services. However, the categorisation of people based on their interests as they browse pages across the Google Display Network means Google Analytics can report the interest group of a site visitor. Brilliant!

Within these three groupings are what we are really interested in; much more meaningful interests including News Junkies, Avid Readers, TV Lovers, Music Lovers, Home Decor Enthusiasts, Travel Buffs and Cooking Enthusiasts to name but a few.

Where’s the data come from?

The information for these new reports comes from the DoubleClick third-party cookie. Since most people won’t be opting out, this will account for a good proportion of your visitors.

How to get the Demographic and Interest Reports

To start seeing the data in GA you need to simply add a line of code to your analytics tracking snippet, set the enabling options in Analytics and wait for the data to come in. More detailed instructions from Google can be found here.

How should I use the data?

Probably the most powerful part of this is the ability to use the data in custom reports as the basis for segmentation. This means that you’ll be able to evaluate how your users’ behaviour varies by demographics and interests. For example, do females interested in travel convert more frequently than males who are interested in cooking? I like.
You’ll be able to quickly form basic customer personas without having to even ask a question! Read more here.

2. Universal Analytics

Google’s Universal Analytics has been around a while in Beta, but is now being rolled out and is soon set to be the operating standard for Google Analytics. Google describes Universal Analytics as “a set of technological innovations that improve the way data is collected and processed in ‘Google Analytics.’ Sounds good to me.

What are the benefits of Universal Analytics?

Get the new and more flexible data collection methods – A key benefit to Universal Analytics is the ability to collect data from any digital device, not just website visitors, this might include Apps and in-store consoles.

Use simplified and more accessible configuration options – Previously things like cross domain tacking could cause a headache for developers. The new analytics will allow configuration without having to make changes to the tracking code itself.

Collect data that’s unique to your business – Create custom dimensions and custom metrics to collect data that isn’t normally recorded in GA like product details, levels in games, or authors of content pages.

Stay up to date – Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics, to receive any new updates you will need to have upgraded from the Classic Analytics to the Universal Analytics.

How do I upgrade?

Sounds good doesn’t it? Get started using Google’s Universal Analytics Upgrade Guide.

3. Smartphone crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools

Smartphone crawl errors
Mistakes are a surprisingly common occurrence with smartphone sites and can completely undo the benefit of creating a mobile optimised site in the first place, Google recently announced how these ‘crawl errors’ can affect the ranking of your site on mobile devices. To help webmasters offer mobile users a far better experience, Webmaster Tools have recently introduced reports specifically for smartphones.

One of the most common and frustrating experiences I have personally encountered is selecting a search result only to be automatically redirected to the homepage of the site rather than the product or category page, argh! The GWMT Faulty redirects will help you identify and rectify this. Great!


Google take a lot of criticism from the industry but the valuable tools and information they provide help marketers improve their campaigns and deliver more compelling customer experiences.

With all of Google’s tools constantly being worked on and improved it’s important to ensure that as a marketer, you keep up to date and utilise these tools to the fullest. The updates above have some serious potential so get out there and start using them!

Ben Adam on Google+

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