A few weeks back I wrote about the powerful new metrics that small business owners can glean from the new Social reports within Google Analytics . And since that post, even more neat features have been released to help business owners learn more about not only what’s happening on their site, but what’s happening off of it, as well.
It’s no secret that I’ve long been a fan of Google Analytics . For a consultant or small shop looking to monitor keywords or keep their ear open to conversations, Google Analytics provides a simple, yet powerful, way to do that. However, with the new data tucked inside the new Social reports, you can now get your Google Alerts data directly in your analytics. It’s a one stop shop!
Over on the Google Analtyics blog, we hear about new ways to expand Google Analytics Social Reports and track links  (aka trackbacks) to your site content directly from your Analytics console. By monitoring trackbacks, webmasters learn who is linking to their sites and which content generates the most links. This is invaluable insight for any content marketing strategy.
To access the reports go to Traffic Sources -> Social -> Source and click on any data hub partner (Google+, Blogger etc.) Above the graph a tab named “Social Referral” will be selected, click the next one “Activity Stream” and in the top selector hit trackbacks.
From there, you’ll get an automated list of all the sites that are linking to your content. Use the data to thank the author for mentioning your content, keep track of what content is being most passed around, or to use it to build a larger influencer list.
According to Google:
These reports provide another layer of social insight showing which of your content attracts links, and enables you to keep track of conversations across other sites that link to your content. Most website and blog owners had no easy mechanism to do this in the past, but we see it as another important feature for holistic social media reports. When you know what your most linked content is, it is then also much easier to replicate the success and ensure that you are building relationships with those users who actively link to you the most.
I couldn’t agree more. While setting up Google Alerts was already an easy way to help site owners keep track of links and mentions, putting this information directly into their analytics data makes the process even easier. It’s also a great incentive for sites who haven’t set up analytics on their Web sites to do so.
But it’s not just links you can track via your analytics, you can now spot the actual conversations happening, in near real-time.
To use Google Analytics as a conversation tracker, go back to the Activities Tab screen and select Conversations. Once on this tab you’ll get an interactive look at how your content is being shared on Google’s social network, as well as the specific users who are doing the sharing.
Those are the people talking about your brand in the wild. In the drop down on the right, select the option to View Activity, Google will take you directly to the page where the comment happened. From there, you can interact, answer a question, thank a user for the mention, etc.
This is incredibly powerful information now sitting perfectly (though a little hidden) in your analytics. Currently, this information is only available for Data Hub providers, but with any luck Google will be able to expand it soon.
Alert  Photo via Shutterstock