Google has revamped its Analytics tool, allowing webmasters to monitor their site traffic in real time.
Google Analytics has been around since 2005, but until now it has only been able to analyse the past performance of websites. However, the company bought the real-time analytics firm PostRank in June and, less than four months later, that capability is being added to Google's service.
"Currently, Google Analytics does a great job analysing past performance. Today we're very excited to bring real-time data to Google Analytics with the launch of Google Analytics Real-Time: a set of new reports that show what's happening on your site as it happens," Google Analytics product manager John Jersin wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
Jersin explained that, although it was once "fine to build a website and modify it only when new products were launched", the advent of social media such as Twitter and Facebook has made it important to track traffic in real time.
He said this was particularly important for those running social media-based campaigns — to see how promoting a blog post with a tweet affects traffic, for example.
"Last week we posted about the latest episode of Web Analytics TV and also tweeted about the post," Jersin wrote. "By campaign-tagging the links we shared, we could see how much traffic each channel is driving to the blog as it happened. We could also see when we stopped receiving visits from the tweet, which helps know when to re-engage."
Users have to upgrade to the new version of Google Analytics to get the real-time view, Jersin wrote, adding that the feature does not support profile filters. Some users already have access to real-time analytics, but the full rollout will take a matter of weeks, he noted.
Google's move did not impress rivals such as the real-time analytics firm Clicky, which blogged on Thursday that people were misreading the search giant's announcement.
This isn't 'real-time Google Analytics', this is a single report in GA that is real time.– Clicky blog
"This isn't 'real-time Google Analytics', this is a single report in GA that is real time," Clicky wrote. "The rest of GA remains the same. This is more akin to Chartbeat, to be used as a real-time compliment to a standard analytics package, rather than a full standalone real-time service like Clicky is."
Clicky added that itself, Chartbeat and others would be "just fine", claiming they will continue to have "plenty of advantages" over Google's tool.
"If anything, I'm glad Google has done this, as it will bring more awareness to the concept of 'real-time web analytics' in general," Clicky's blogger wrote. "This will inevitably lead to more people searching about it, and we just so happen to have the #1 organic result for this search on both Google and Bing (and hence Yahoo). Everything is going to be just fine!"
Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.