Nov 16, 2005

Website tracking - The Google Way

If you are a web publisher and you don't have access to data like who is viewing your site and how actively have they been following it, there is good news. Google, adding to its ever-growing portfolio of Web services, is offering Google Analytics. And like everything else from Google, it is free.

Google Analytics is based on Urchin, which was acquired by Google sometime back. Urchin offered its customers access to web-site statistics and user information which would help webmasters and publishers determine who is doing what on their web-site. Urchin offered its services for fee, while Google is offering it for free.

Well, it is free if your web-site has less than 20 million page-views, and if you are a blogger, you should most probably fall in that category. Analytics also comes fully integrated with Adwords, the Google advertiser program.

How to use Google Analytics

Anybody with a Google account can access the Analytics after agreeing to the terms of service. Once you are logged in, you can setup profiles for the different websites you want to track. Once you are done, you will be provided with some lines of Javascript code to be inserted in your pages that you want to be tracked, and that is it. If you are a blogger, insert the code into your blog template, and it will be automatically inserted in every page of the blog.

There are quite a number of options available in Analytics and frankly, I haven't figured them out yet. But I was amazed by the sheer amount of data that a webmaster can collect from a simple page-view. There are a lot of options available and it seems to be a goldmine of information.

There is only one problem though. By Google's usual standards, the site seems to be pretty slow. Browsing around takes quite a while, and the next page takes forever to load. However, to be fair, the interface is quite user-friendly and there is quite a lot of information to be presented in the first place. Maybe these are operational issues and will be sorted out soon.

So, Google has begun to flux its muscles in its fight to retain publishers with its Adsense program. I wonder if Yahoo is watching this.


Orikinla Osinachi. said...

page takes forever to load?
In that case, I prefer to move on.

The internet is not fast enough for my brain. And anything that takes minutes to load will not attract my attention.

rankwil said...

Yes, when I checked out Google Analytics, they had just launched the free service, and some sites report that service was sluggish because of peak demands. Anyway, Google is supposed to be a pioneer in scaling up things when they need to. I would suggest that you try it again after some time, maybe things are better now.

GeekBrit said...

I'm still a little bemused by google analytics - for some reason they don't seem to be able to detect their tracking javascript on my website, though I put it exactly where they told me to. I did get some data for Thursday, but everything since then has disappeared into a black hole.

I think I shall just go looking for something I can host on my website that can give me roughly equivalent detail. For me, immediacy and relevance is more important than 'free' while tweaking my pages.

Anyone have any recommendations? I'd like to track new/repeat visitors, visitor locations, referrers and click-paths through the site (and which links they click to go offsite would be nice).

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I use sitemeter on my website it does that for free.
I used to use bravenet , still do but O think the site meter is actually better. I have not looked at the google thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information.. I have signe up with them.. :-) Derek

golfwidow said...

I might just as well stick with Retrostats - it's not as detail-intensive, but at least they didn't say, "Well, we're not accepting new registrations," like Google Analytics did.

But thanks for the heads-up, just the same.

rankwil said...

Well, it seems that Google *is* having some problems with their Analytics site. They are not accepting any new registrations at the moment, and the existing users are unable to add any new profiles for sites to be tracked. Seems like the Urchin integration has not been too smooth a ride for them yet.

Jim Symcox said...

I've installed the Google Analytics. It's working - but nowhere near in realtime. Unlike which is free and works real quick.

Analytics looks better than Statcounter and I know they're having problems because of the massive demand. But hey... Google knows they're popular.


PS I intend posting my own analysis of how it's working on my blog at in the next few weeks

rankwil said...

Jim: I agree with you on that; Google Analytics is nowhere near real-time. The only thing that keeps them going is the pull of the word 'Google'. Speak it and whole mountains will move, not to mention technical glitches. But then again, when users have options, they may not. I hope to hear from you on your experience with Analytics in the future. All the best.
- Ranjit