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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

First Google Analytics Findings

I’m playing around with Google Analytics today and really like it. The first numbers are in, and though I don’t have a lot of stats yet, it’s enough to check how Google Analytics works. So far it has all I’m looking for, and things I didn’t even know exist. It’s not super-fast (the individual Flash files always take a second or more to load) but it’s not slow either anymore.

Let others view your stats

Want to share your stats with someone else? You can. Just click on “Access Manager”, and you can add others who will either only view your reports, or have admin rights to your account as well. Note they need their own Google Account/ Gmail for you to add them.

Visits vs pageviews

The main chart Google offers consists of a pageviews vs visits charts, as well as a map showing where your visitors come from. Note that the visits and pageviews use their own scale so they appear to be closer together than they really are – and on a first look you might get the impression you have more daily visitors than pageviews, which isn’t possible of course.

The Long Tail of search

This pie chart beautifully illustrates the long tail of search. Even though at the moment a search for [google base] is the most popular for any single keyphrase on this blog, all other searches added up together bring around 10 times as many visitors. Some searches which make up the long tail with a few hits each only, for example, are [google earth], [google babelfish], [samy is my hero], [google phoenix], [urchin google] and [google headquarter].

Define goals

A goal is anything you want your visitor to do on your site, and you can offer Google Analytics a URL chain (page 1 -> page 2 -> page 3) to make up a goal. Whenever someone visits the pages in your defined order, it will count as a reached goal. On commercial sites, that would consist of e.g. buying something. On blogs, at the moment I have a hard time defining a goal. (I want to know how many pages a visitors checks per visit, but the stats already show that elsewhere; I am interested how often someone posts, but I can see that in the forum; I want to know who clicks on AdSense, but I can see that in my AdSense account, and so on...)

Browser stats

Because the inserted JavaScript can check for system details such as used browser, Flash version, colors, resolution or Operating System, Google can present you these as well. (What happens if a visitor turned off JavaScript? I think Google simply ignores those, which might give slightly skewed stats.) On this blog, there’s a walloping 38% of Firefox users. 54% use Internet Explorer. Mac Safari, Konqueror, Opera and others make up the rest. As for screen resolutions, 47% here have 1024x768, 22% have 1280x1024, 9% have 800x600, and 4% 1152x864 pixels.


Referrers are those sites linking to you and one of the most interesting stats. For this blog, I can see most of my visitors come from Google, or go directly to the site without any links (e.g. by entering the URL, or via bookmarks). I get 30 times more searches from Google than from Yahoo.

Geo location

Where’s everyone from? It’s fun to see in which countries a global audience lives. For my blog, more visits come from California alone than my home country Germany! Adding up all countries however – the long tail of location, if you want – I’m getting a few more visits from all over combined than just from the US. There are visitors from France, Malaysia, Vietnam, Saudi-Arabia, Canada, Spain and so on.


The “Network Location” view in the “Visitor Segment Performance” category allows you to find out from which organization visitors come. Often this will only show the ISP, like AOL. Sometimes, it does show a company. Interesting for me to see was that Google Inc is in my top 10. (No, that doesn’t mean most of my visits are from the Googleplex – it only means off all the organizations that can be identified, Googlers as a group make up a significant amount.)


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