Google Analytics

August 22, 2006 in 5 out of 5 stars, Analytics, Free, Hosted software, SEO/SEM

What is it?


Google Analytics: Web analytics (statistics + analysis) software that anyone with a website can use.

After Google initially launched this service, they were crushed with interest and they shut down new sign ups. However, after several months, the gates are open again.

Logo_ga

Who makes it?

Google (although they bought and tweaked Urchin's product to create this).

Why is it the killerest?

The information it provides is super-rich without being unwieldy (unwieldiness is a common ailment afflicting analytics software).

Googleanalyticschart You can use it to track simple traffic statistics, but you can also you use it (and here's the real power) to track conversions and associated behavior (this is the heart of Seth's point  number 5). It integrates closely with your AdWords campaigns but can also track any marketing initiative you run, Google-based or not. It's hard to overstate the power and importance of that. If you do commerce online, you're insane not to be using this to measure.

It has great visual representations of your information, making it easily digestible. This includes graphs, charts, and a very nifty site-overlay showing you where and how people click through your site on their way to conversion Also, Geo-targeting map representations, date-range comparisons, and more.

It's simple and quick (just a few minutes) to integrate into your site, just drop a snippet of code on each page you wish to track.

What could be improved?

Some of the more common data feels buried.

The data is always about a day old.

Potential for some tin-foil hat anxiety about Google's increasingly Sauron-like all-seeing-eye.

How much does it cost?

Astonishingly Free

Rating?

Reviewed by Carson McComas

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I've had a look at a good few different stats and analysis products. Just for visitor analysis it bugs me because it didn't accurately record the hits on the site but that was a good while ago so maybe they have fixed that since.

The day old stats also really annoys me. I would have thought it would be pretty straight forward to have this information real time.

Statcounter.com has a huge number of users and you see your information instantly which is a clincher for smaller sites I think.

Now in saying that i do think google.com looks quite nice and the integration with google adwords with conversion tracking make it very useful for larger sites and more commercial sites.

I do think for smaller sites with no conversion point you would be better off using statcounter.

my 2 cents ...

Posted by: Derek Organ | Aug 22, 2006 2:54:20 PM

Actually as a follow up to my previous comment:

Someone commented on my blog post which review Google analytics back in November of last year and he had this to say:

"Hi Derek,
From two days I’m trying to compare my statistics in Google Analytics and BBClone and discovered the same as you - a lot of hits are missing in Google Analytics… Your post is from November 2005 and I’m writing on April 2006!??!
I can’t imagine that this is a bug in their soft, because the service is running from long time. I definitely will stay with BBClone.
Cheers"

I put a link directly to the post in the URL for this comment.


Posted by: Derek Organ | Aug 22, 2006 3:05:08 PM

A note about the incorrect stat speculation from above.

Most statcounters, all the old-school ones, track by page load via log or an embedded image or resource. That means that things like robots count as page views. For many sites robots are a large part of the traffic. Maybe even most of it. Robot views are meaningless. No one saw your content, no one really visited, no one read anything, no one shopped, etc. So the visit stats are really bogus and only good for fake ego stroking.

Javascript based trackers like the one Google is now using don't register (so far anyway) robot visits b/c robots don't parse or request the Javascript and when they follow links they aren't interacting with the DOM of the page, they're parsing the plain text and calculating which URIs to follow. Most, almost 100%, of human users have browsers with JS enabled and can be tracked correctly.

So the Google stats that look off, compared to another analytic, are probably much more realistic and useful.

Posted by: Ashley | Aug 23, 2006 12:13:59 PM

Hi Carson,

I agree, Analytics makes finding fairly common data difficult, but at the price point it's worth the time to search. As far as the time-delay in the data, we find it's about 2 - 3 hours typically. Not sure if anyone else has experienced longer delays than that...

Andrew

Posted by: Andrew | Aug 24, 2006 3:43:40 PM

Like I have previously posted on other blogs there is about a 10-15% difference in what Google and javascript based solutions report and what log based solutions report.

Posted by: Jeff Lawrence | Mar 12, 2007 4:07:17 PM

I work with Google Analytics and implemented about 20-30 Websites with it. It really great! The best feature is the functionality wich enables you to see the network providers of the users because this really helps you to get the information who exactly your visitors are...!

Best Regards from Austria,

Mario

Posted by: Mario Koerbler | Jun 14, 2008 3:36:33 PM

I have been using google analytics for some time now and love it. Google has a really nice webmaster package of tools to drive your business home.

Posted by: Chad Atkins | Jan 5, 2009 6:50:46 PM

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