The Power and Goodness of Analytics
In this edition of WWYSYDH we explore Google Analytics
In short, Analytics provides anonymous tracking and reporting of site visitors and how they interact with your website.
Assuming you look at what it's tracking, you can gather neat insights, trends, and answers. This can help with your marketing strategies or just make you feel more/less popular.
I have little experience with the wide range of free and pay stats programs, so I'm not going to compare them. At any rate, we use Analytics at OC because it's likely the most simple, yet advanced, free tracking program currently available.
The Nitty Gritty
Some unique or key features:
- Absolutely Free
- Simple setup - copy and paste code into your site, click verify, and you're done.
- Very visual - line, bar, and pie charts. Timelines like on Google Finance
- Near-zero load on your web server - aside from adding 417 bytes to your page, all the processing is done by the Google server and the visitor's browser. If you use gzip (future article) it becomes even smaller.
- Customizable, dashboard for quick visual checkup
- Zero storage of log files - not usually a big problem, but I've seen log files fill up hard drives numerous times in my previous life in IT
- New tracking code also works on https:// pages (i.e. SSL)
- Integrates in some conversion-type results for your active Google advertising campaigns
- Allows for easy sharing of stats with anyone with a Google account
- Works with Google Apps accounts for easy permissions within your company
- Track multiple sites per account
- Uses a slick AJAX interface
- Benchmark your stats against your particular industry averages
- Export to PDF, XML, CSV (Excel), TSV
- Track goals - how many times did someone get here with keyword A and reach page Z
- Overlays your actual web pages with %click for each link. I must say, it's new to me and it's pretty sweet
- The overlay percentages can be a bit misleading if you have the same link more than once per page, like in both the header and footer.
- Don't be confused by off-site links. If you link to http://www.example.com/ its overlay % is actually showing the results for clicks back to your homepage which is also
- Integrates in Google Site Search data, if you install it to allow visitors to search your site's content
- Schedule automatic emails of exported reports daily, weekly, etc.
- Visitors stats are pretty standard, though the Flash Version breakdown and display of visitors by their ISP name, not IP address, was new on me
- It shouldn't interfere with your existing stats programs
- People use the "Back to top" links at the bottom of the page, even on short pages.
- Josie is more popular than me :(