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The Magic Of Weighted Sort

Monday, 20 September 2010

Avinash Kaushik is the Analytics Evangelist here at Google. He is, without a doubt, our toughest, most vocal and valued critic and advisor - we couldn't be luckier to have him. He reminds me of a younger, more talkative Gandalf, the wizard from the The Lord of The Rings who just knows stuff. Lots of stuff. Basically everything. When it comes to analytics, Avinash is our Gandalf, except Avinash is a much more riveting public speaker.

So, when he lauds something, it should be noted. That's why his recent post, End of Dumb Tables in Web Analytics Tools! Hello: Weighted Sort, about the newly launched Google Analytics feature, weighted sort - which sorts table data according to its importance, not simply according to numerical value - is worth reading for this audience.

Here's a quote from Avinash's post:
Arthur C. Clarke said:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

That quote comes to mind when I think of a new feature in Google Analytics that carries the unassuming name of Weighted Sort. It is an advanced implementation of technology (mathematical algorithms in this case) and when used it very much feels like magic!

In this blog post I want to share with you why I am so incredibly excited about this feature, how it works and how going forward you will reject every tool that does not come built in with this feature (ok so maybe that's a stretch, but I promise you this is so cool that at least for a few minutes you'll think other tools are lame by comparison!).
We have a very long tail of data in web analytics. Tens of thousands of rows of keywords in the Search Report (even for this small blog!). Hundreds and hundreds of referring urls and campaigns and page names and so on and so forth.
Yet because we are humans we tend to look at just the top ten or twenty rows to try and find insights. The problem? The top ten of anything rarely changes (except in rare circumstances like a sale or on a pure content – think news – site).

Hence I have persistently evangelized the need for true Analysis Ninjas to move beyond the top ten rows of data to find insights.
He goes on to give great examples of use, and even gets into the math behind the feature. Love that! It's a must-read post for anyone interested in getting the most out of Google Analytics, or in web analytics as a whole.

We hope you're making use of this new feature. Feel free to let us know in the comments below.


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