Google Universal Analytics - What You Need To Know

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's been a few years now since Google started talking about Universal Analytics, but in October last year they finally announced the inevitable. That Universal Analytics was to become the "operating standard for Google Analytics". 

They have now started a transfer process slowly allowing users to opt-in to upgrading their existing analytics accounts before they auto-upgrade at a date later this year.

Today's latte, Google Analytics. by yukop on Flickr via Creative Commons

What is Universal Analytics?

Let's start at the beginning, many people won't have heard of Universal Analytics. Most users ocassionally log into their Google Analytics account, if ever. So, what is the big deal?

Universal Analytics is able to collect bigger and better data from your website visitors and in doing so can deliver you with more tools for analysis. Benefits which have been highlighted by Google are as follows:

Mobile Device Tracking

You will be able to track much more data on visitors coming to your site from mobile device's. In the year where mobile visits is supposed to overtake desktop visits this can't be a bad thing!

Easier Configuration

With the current Google Analytics you will have needed to adjust your tracking code if you wanted to change something you were tracking, with Universal Analytics you will have configuration tools which will pick the data up from the data which is already being picked up from your existing tracking code, meaning you can more often than not leave the code alone. Great for those of us who aren't developers!

Custom Metrics

You will be able to create customised dimensions and metrics so that data which is picked up from your site is custom to your needs and requirements. Imagine being able to tell analytics to track blog post authors or days of the week posts are published? Now you can!

More to come

As Universal Analytics is now the operating standard, there will be more features added as the upgrades continue and everybody moves over. The options are endless and the things that we can all achieve with this data are endless.

What happens now?

As I said at the beginning of the post, Google are in the process of a phased roll out to upgrade existing accounts. We are currently in Phase 1 where existing properties are being invited to upgrade. You will know you can upgrade when you log into Google Analytics, go to 'Admin',  and see this under 'Property':

Once you click on the option to upgrade you will be guided through the transfer process, but bear in mind you will need to change the analytics code on your site. So if you need some help do ask!

Phase 2 will see the auto transfer process begin, Google haven't stated when this will begin and have also stated on their information page:

"Users will not receive notification prior to the auto-transfer, but will see a status message on the tracking code page in their accounts regarding the progress of the upgrade."

Again, you will have to change your analytics code once the upgrade has been carried out.

Phase 3 will see Universal Analytics come out of beta and a number of tools from Analytics Premium will be enabled.

Phase 4 sees Universal Analytics become the operating standard for Google, it will be the only option for new users and all existing users will have been upgraded.

Our Advice

The new features in Universal Analytics and the fact that this is going to be a mandatory move we suggest moving over as soon as you can (unless you have a Google Analytics Premium account in which case wait until Phase 3). 

We suggest taking a look at the Universal Analytics Upgrade Centre for more detailed information, if you have any information at all. Please don't hesitate to get in touch!

Image Credit: Today's Latte, Google Analytics by yukop on Flickr, used via Creative Commons Licence