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Monday, November 14, 2005

Google Analytics

The Google Analytics intro screen.

Google – never shy to launch something every other week – introduces Google Analytics. Analytics is a free statistic software for your website, and it’s integrated with Google’s AdWords advertising program. You can sign in with your Google Account (the one you use for Google’s other programs, like Gmail). Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch points out the service has been known as Urchin before and is therefore only a re-brand; but now that it’s free, the rules of the game are changed of course. Here’s the site’s claim:

“Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. You’ll be able to focus your marketing resources on campaigns and initiatives that deliver ROI, and improve your site to convert more visitors.”

After signing up to the service with my Google Account, I was asked to provide my name, plus my country and phone number (at least the last one was optional, as there was no complaint when I left it blank). Also, I had to agree to the ToS. Then, Analytics provided me with a JavaScript snippet to insert into my site. It showed some traces of Google-acquired Urchin. I inserted the code into my page* (if you want to check the source, search this page’s HTML for “urchinTracker”). To see if the snippet has been inserted fine, you can click “Check status” on the Google Analytics main screen.

*The inserted snippet theoretically does not provide new information to Google as I’m already using their AdSense.

So what can be done with the software, exactly? For every site you entered, there’s a “View reports” link. On the page that follows you’ll find different summaries to navigate – Executive Overview, Conversion Summary, Marketing Summary, Content Summary. There’s also a calendar widget to pick a date range. The Flash-based main view then offers you visits and page-views, a “geo map overlay” (basically, that’s a map showing your visitor locations), as well as two screens “Visits by New and Returning” and “Visits by Source.”

My site analysis screen, relatively empty for now.

As you can see from my screen, there is no information yet as I just started tracking my site. (Google offers a sample screen which looks a little more filled.) As soon as I have more traffic to let Google chew on, I can test-drive this. This could certainly become interesting. Or, as UK developer Tony Ruscoe put it in an email, “It looks like Google are about to put the entire web statistics and analysis industry out of business.”

Google’s sample image shows more colorful charts.

On a side-note, Google Analytics is not in Beta.

[Thanks Tony Ruscoe.]


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