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.