With the recent release of the new Google Analytics, marketers and webmasters were greeted with a new set of tools on their dashboard – Social Reports. As Google and other online giants continue to tap into the social circles (most recently Microsoft with their new social site So.cl), it was time for a more robust way of collecting and filtering social data. The new Google Analytics social reports will include more than 400 sources of social media data.

Even before these new tools, Google Analytics had been providing insight into how visitors use a website and how they arrived, and even offered suggestions on how to keep them on the website. This free web-based application generates detailed statistics that provide content analytics, mobile, conversion, advertising, and now social analytics to users. These tools are also accessible on Google Webmaster tools, which provide detailed reports about a website pages’ visibility on Google.

How can you use these valuable tools to gather website intelligence in order to improve your website conversion rates and rankings on Google?

Tracking social engagement

Google Analytics now allows you to know when a visitor likes your Facebook page or clicks the Twitter or Google+1 button on your website. These social engagements are recorded and are visually displayed on your dashboard helping you determine which pages or content generated the most engagement. It goes even deeper. These reports can also help you compare the people who used social actions and those who did not on your site, and help you determine who among the two groups viewed more pages. This level of intelligence can help you pinpoint what you need to do to get more people using the social actions and how you can prompt those already using them to visit other pages on your website.

Social comparisons

Have you ever wanted to find out the level of engagement on different social platforms for your brand? Well, Google brings this ability closer to home by allowing you to compare social actions for each social source. It’s now possible to compare, for example, the total Facebook and Twitter interactions graphically. This information will help you determine where most content sharing is occurring and how the sharing is taking place. As the number of social platforms continues to expand, it has become increasingly important to engage with the right communities. These comparison analytics can then help determine where you should be spending most of your time and how you should be interacting with your audiences.

Track conversions with multi-channel funnels

If you want to know how many visits it takes for a customer to reach conversion, you can use the new multi-channel funnel feature to see the sources, campaigns and channels that contributed to a conversion. Since most conversions occur after multiple visits to a site, this data is extremely useful for determining where you should be spending money and other resources. Since a direct-entry visitor most likely knew about your brand and had possibly visited your site before, this feature helps determine the initial contact they had with your site. Before the conversion took place, it could have been months.

The multi-channel funnel feature now shows the sources that contributed to a visitor conversion, the total conversions over a time period, the sequence that led to the conversion and the number of visits needed to convert a customer. A time lag report is also available to show how long conversions take to happen on your website.

The new features will likely help webmasters and marketers have better insight into their websites. How are you leveraging Google Analytics on your site?