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Google Analytics - Story so Far

Time for a bit of reflection on Google Analytics - so to start us off here is an independent piece:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a product based on the popular web traffic
analytics Urchin platform, as a result of Google's earlier
acquisition of Urchin. As a surprise to the webmaster
community, Urchin's technology, which is one of the most
complete and well designed web analytics software in the
industry, is being given at no cost to webmasters when they
sign up at www.google.com/analytics. This move has raised
suspicion as to what are Google'’s motives and what will be the
consequences of Google having so much website traffic data in
their power. Currently, Google can track traffic only through
the traffic they refer from their portals and an estimate
through the Google toolbars installed in people's computers.
However, this toolbar is not very representative of the general
population, since most users are webmasters trying to see the
PageRank value for web pages displayed in the toolbar. With
direct traffic data from websites, Google could potentially add
an enormous array of variables to their search engine algorithm.
This has webmasters concerned.

Many webmasters, despite the search engine ranking
possibilities that this tool could bring, are jumping in the
wagon to get a slice of Google's "gift" to the webmaster
community. To many webmasters, their only source for traffic
intelligence and reporting was through free tools available,
such as Webalizer and Awstats. These tools were not too precise
in reporting and gave straightforward information like visits,
page views, search terms, and country. This data was valuable
to some extent, but lacked many web analytics that were only
provided through expensive services from Urchin and Webtrends.
Google Analytics changes everything, something that could hurt
Webtrends' sales tremendously.

With Google Analytics, webmasters have many convenient and
competitive features. Google Analytics provides a single
control panel for all of your websites. Here is some analysis
that is provided:

1. In the main control panel, the user is presented with an
executive summary that summarizes the most important traffic
data,– visits and pageviews, percentage and number of one time
visitors and returning visitors, geographic distribution of
visits, and source of visits.

2. Additional to the Executive summary, the user has an option
to these condensed reports: Conversion, Marketing, and Content
summaries. Conversion summary presents the amount of visitors
and their conversion rate, as well as the conversion rates for
established goals. Marketing summary displays the top five:
sources of traffic, search keywords, and campaign based.
Lastly, the Content summary identifies the top five: entry
points, exit points, and most visited pages.

3. Finally, the system provides for very specific reports
divided into two categories: Marketing Optimization and Content
Optimization. Both categories also have sub categories. This in
turn goes into very specific details and analysis. Sub
categories for Marketing Optimization include: Unique Visitor
Tracking, Visitor Segment Performance, Marketing Campaign
Results, and Search Engine Marketing. Content Optimization goes
into sub categories that include: Ad Version Testing, Content
Performance, Navigational Analysis, Goals & Funnel Process, and
Web Design Parameters.

As you can see, Google Analytics isn't anything like the free
traffic statistics tools out in the market. Google Analytics is
a full traffic analysis tool that will provide very valuable
information to webmasters and businesses about their website's
performance. No other free program can match Google Analytics
diverse set of reports. If you can live with the fact that
Google will have knowledge of all of your website's traffic,
including where they come from, how well your marketing efforts
convert, and how Google performs against other sources of
traffic you receive, then start taking advantage of this
powerful tool.



About The Author: Rafael Sosa has been in forefront of
e-business development and digitizing of documents in Puerto
Rico. Since 1999, he has worked extensively in the construction
of websites and internet systems through the integration of an
efficient international team. His articles can be found at
http://www.WebArticles.com/

After a few weeks of acclimatisation I would broadly endorse Rafael's conclusions. But I do miss the impact of individual visit visibility that I got with Hitslink. I also miss the immediacy of Hitslink - I can cope with restricting myself to a daily review of the data but it is disappointing that yesterdays results are consistently understated even after midnight Pacific Coastal time. In Google Analytics the tendency is to emphasise the predominant patterns rather than highlight the interesting exceptions - that does support a focussed, prioritised, action oriented approach but makes for a less exiting monitoring experience.

The security question is not something we need to concern ourselves with and the Beta experience has gone well so far. I hope Google are getting what they need out of it to improve their users experience, as we are committed to continuing with it.

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