It’s the most popular analytics tool on the web, and it boasts a customer base of multiple tens of millions, but what does the future hold for Google Analytics? When the piece of software was first released, it provided people with a way to track the majority of interactions on any of their own websites. The sign up process was fairly straight forward, and all that users needed to do was to assign their domain name, add a block of tracking code, and they’d soon be in a position to monitor how many people visit their site, what pages they looked at, and how long they stayed for.
These were just a few of the elements that Google Analytics provided, and several dozen more exist to really get to the crux of a website’s user engagement. So what’s changed over the past few years, and why has Google Analytics seen a steady decline in its usage? Well it’s all down to the way in which the internet is used these days. Things have gone from manual usage, to automated services that do all of the hard work for us. Unfortunately, Google Analytics specialized in moderating these manual activities (such as when a user visits a website, or when they click a particular link).
As things have become a little more automated (with many sites making use of bots, cookies and other programmable elements), it’s become harder and harder for Google Analytics to provide an accurate reading. Many business owners have found that they log in to Google Analytics, click on their website ‘property’, and are greeted by a huge collection of information gathered from these automated activities – the majority of which is useless.
In fact, where Analytics used to display only confirmed visitations and interactions – it now struggles to tell the difference between automated visits, and real ones. When Google found out about this, they attempted to introduce several filters to help users to ‘siphon’ out the excess automation, and focus on the manual interactions with a website. But even with these filters applied, newer technologies are being introduced on a weekly basis, and these technologies (many of which are automated) create a persistent problem that isn’t showing any signs of letting up.
To further complicate matters, many web browsers (such as Chrome, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox and Opera) now allow their users to browse as anonymously as possible. If there was one thing that Analytics specialized in, it was being able to track a keyword or set of keywords, to provide the user with information on how their website was found. As internet users can now ‘cloak’ their browsing habits, Analytics is finding it almost impossible to obtain information from keyword searches in specific – and that was something that led many users to choose Analytics in the first place.
So is Google Analytics dead? Well, that remains to be seen. It has seen a steady decline in usability, and thousands of users are switching to other pieces of software each year. The filters are certainly helpful – but users need an advanced level of Analytics knowledge to use them to their full potential, and this in itself may result in the demise of the tool altogether – especially as modern users want simplicity to be a priority.