Lately at SEOmoz I have been spending a lot of time in the GA interface. It’s great to get back into the data, especially when working for a site that has so much data to wander through. As I started my benchmarking and explored some trending scenarios I was in the Intelligence tab. I actually tweeted out that I was in there playing around and was met with a number of replies asking me what Intelligence was and how it should be used.
You asked. I answered.
This post will explore the Intelligence tab and hopefully motivate you to play around on your own. So the Intelligence tab—what the hell is it?
It was Google Analytic’s attempt at an alert system. We all know that GA is meant to handle accounts of all size, and I believe this tab came out of a direct need from site owners to quickly access the health of their sites. While we all know the dashboard quickly visualizes peaks and valleys, and the “compare to” date range feature enables all of us to get a quick numeric breakdown of our changes, the Intelligence tab was an attempt to take this to the next level.
In short GA wanted you to be able to log in, go to Intelligence and quickly see if there has been huge changes in data over the past day, week, or month. They have both given you automated alerts (ones they believe are important) and they have provided the ability to set your own custom alerts. Both of these alert situations are customizable in the sense that you get to decide the threshold of alert sensitivity. I’ll get more into that in a bit.
Image 1 shows you where the tab is located, and Image 2 shows you what the Intelligence tab looks like. I have isolated the key components of Intelligence and provided further explanation on how to use them.
Features & Purpose:
1. Bar Graph Timeline: This shows you visually what days during your set time range have the highest and lowest number of alerts. You can click through on each individual bar to examine the day specifically.
2. Bar & Data Point: These two correlate the number of alerts on any given day with a visual representation of traffic for that day. As you can see for the day highlighted that when you hover you can receive both data sets to assist you during your research.
3. Create Alert Link: This is where you can go in and create a custom alert. I will talk more about this in a bit.
4. Custom Alert Link: This is where you click through to research any custom alerts you have set up for your account.
5. Automatic Alert Link: This is where you click through to research any alerts that GA has decided you should be notified for (based on your alert sensitivity level).
6. Alert Sensitivity Setting: You set how “sensitive” the alert system should be. Low would notify you of basically any change in the data, while high sets a very high bar for notification. I always suggest if you have a new site or if you are monitoring a specific marketing move keep the sensitivity low to medium, but if you have a huge site (which innately receives data changes frequently) keep the sensitivity medium to high.
7. Data Presentation: This is where each alert is explained. This is just one, but all the alerts fall below it (just cut off in snippet image). The data given is the data change, the range you would have expected, and some specifics on what metric they are highlighting.
8. Significance Visual: This is a bar graph given by GA. It is their attempt at telling you how concerned you should be about this particular alert. You can sort by high significance, which is nice if you only have a few minutes to check the health of your site.
9. Create Segment: I will touch on segments in more detail in another post, but if you do know how to create segments you can do so here to correspond with any alert. Great for comparing a number of metrics and pivoting through them.
Hopefully that helps explain the key pieces to the Intelligence tab. The idea is that anytime there is a big change to the traffic or vital stats of your site the Intelligence tab notifies you. GA wanted to provide all of us with a virtual assistant in our dashboards. How nice of them.
I did want to touch on custom alerts a little bit (see Image 3 below). I highly suggest you go in there and play around with the different filters. You can get seriously specific with these. You can segment out your traffic in so many ways, and have it tell you when a certain “condition” hits a “certain value” or below. Then you can add in a “metric” to be used as a baseline. This is all great stuff to consider as you push out site changes, marketing campaigns, new promotions, etc. You can name all of your custom alerts, and even have yourself (or whoever else) emailed when this alert is triggered. Great stuff for us data heads.
Image 3: Setting a Custom Report
Okay that is it for now. Hopefully I have shown you a few things you didn’t know coming in. Intelligence was released last November I believe and since then I have been finding more and more ways to utilize its features. As per the usual, Google has released this in beta so who knows how long it will last…3 months, 3 years…but either way we can assume they will be updating the features and adding in more awesomeness as requested by users.
I would love to hear your stories on how you have leveraged the Intelligence tab for your own data research and adventures. Data heads sharing data ideas is basically heaven right?