Mike Pantoliano will be speaking on the “Website Analytics” panel at SearchFest 2014 which will take place on February 28th, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here.

1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living.
I do marketing for Ookla, creators of Speedtest.net. My day to day involves getting my hands in all things technical marketing, including digital strategy, product management, web traffic and product data analysis, ad ops, CRO, SEO, ASO, and other acronyms :). Prior to Ookla, I worked 8 or so years as an SEO consultant for Groove Commerce in Baltimore, MD and Distilled in Seattle, WA. I’ve spoken at a number of industry conferences, including SEMpdx, MozCon, and SearchLove – usually on the topics of CRO and/or analytics.

2) In the world of “Not Provided”, how best can organic search be tracked in Google Analytics?
Just as another traffic medium. I’m not going to pretend that I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to have keyword data back, but continuing to complain about it, especially to those are already aware of Google’s hypocrisy on the matter, is a waste of energy and time. With that said, I wish the general public was more aware of (or cared more about?) the company that Google has become with respect to personal data…Anyway!

These days I focus mostly on a combination of landing page analysis, aggregate rank tracking, and geographic sourcing. Occasionally I’ll dig into Google Webmaster Tools data for keyword-level analysis, but only to a point where the data inaccuracies aren’t going to muddy things.

3) The Google Analytics UI has been changed a whole bunch in the past months. What do you think the rationale is for such changes and do you think they benefit the user?
Avinash Kaushik has been preaching the Acquisition -> Behavior -> Outcomes analysis for years, and I think his influence is at the core of some of the interface changes. In the past a default table view report gave you some of the acquisition and behavior metrics (visits, bounce rate, visit duration, etc.), but you had to switch views to look at conversions, and even then you just got conversion rate, not conversions. Now it’s all in one view. Much easier. I like this change, definitely.

Further, I like the channel creation ability. I’ve liked this since it was a part of the multi-channel funnel analysis reports, and it makes perfect sense in regular reports. It allows users to group together traffic sources that otherwise don’t fit into their own neat buckets. For example, if my website gets considerable traffic from other owned properties across the web, why should these be a simple referral? Group them into ‘owned media’ and get them out of the regular referral reports.

Other nice additions are the attribution modeling tool, more real-time reports, optional demographic data, revamped admin, and more. I know this sounds like a GA commercial, but almost everything they’ve added can serve a great benefit to the end user.

Lastly, the advanced segments tool has been revamped quite a bit. It’s definitely more powerful, but I’ll admit it can get confusing.

I think GA’s in a weird awkward phase between what it used to be, a session-centric web analytics platform, and what it’d like to become — a user-centric analytics platform for much more than just the web. In other words, I expect more changes to come, but I do like the direction they’re headed with the product. Some of this has to do with Universal Analytics, which I’ll be covering in my presentation.

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