As some of you may be aware, I was the first member of the EMEA analytics team to join Google back in October 2005. That feels like a decade ago, both in time, but also in terms of our positioning within the company – remember the GA invite code system?

Last Friday after two and a half years based at the London office, I hung up my Googlepex pass and switched off my environmentally un-friendly lava lamp for the last time. I leave behind a well established team of dedicated product experts and a third-party Partner network to help. As you may suspect following the recent book launch, I will very much remain in the industry and continue to discuss web analytics (with only a slight bias for Google as usual!) both here on the blog and at industry events/conferences.

So what’s next for Brian Clifton?

FACT: The vast majority of web content is made up of poorly optimised websites. By that I mean poorly optimised for visibility (visitors can’t find you via the search engines) and poorly optimised for the user experience (leading to low conversion rates). These two are closely related and web analytics is the key to unlock the potential of both.

Since my first days on the web in the early nineties, I have wanted to do something about that! In fact I have always been fanatical about ergonomics. Therefore I am happy to announce that I am now the Senior Strategist for Omega Digital Media – a company specialising in search integration and conversion marketing and the company I originally founded back in 1997. They have been an official analytics partner for Google for many years (that’s how I got recruited by Google!), so the connection continues. I will be focusing my efforts on providing the service needed to help clients grow their business by making web analytics central to their strategy.

Also expect further publications from me (think Urchin - where my association with the product began in 2003), SEM research and conferences/events where you will hear me discussing ideas on web analytics, search integration and multi-variate testing.

Some analytics highs while at Google…

Google Analytics v2, launched last May, was a major milestone for our product. Building on our unique approach to web analytics, one that puts the marketer in the driving seat as opposed to the engineer or statistician as so many of our competitors still do, we not only re-engineered the back end, but also completely re-thought the user interface in a new and innovative way. Of course there is still plenty for Google to do, but now, some of the biggest brands on the planet use Google Analytics to measure the performance of their web marketing, as well as the effectiveness of their website to engage and ultimately convert visitors (for details view the following blog posts: e-consultancy, my post, VKI blog).

From what appeared to the outside world as product stagnation during those first two years following the acquisition of Urchin, great new features are now being launched almost monthly. Internally, GA has become ingrained into the success of Google as the industry moves from budget based online marketing to conversion and ROI based marketing.

Another great product launch I was privileged to witness is Website Optimiser – the A/B and multi variate testing tool. At the present time, I estimate that in the UK approximately 1 in 10 active commercial web sites (by that I mean actively conducting search marketing), are using testing tools to optimise pages or page components*. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg and I fully expect testing to be the next big thing for marketers in 2008. How else can you decide what works best for your visitors and maximise your conversion potential?

Last but not least, I have been very fortunate enough to work with some extremely talented people within Google and I am genuinely sad not to be working with them any more – not directly anyhow. You guys know who you are – I have pretty much credited all of you in the book!