Google Analytics Review

If you aren’t using Google Analytics to track yourGoogle Analytics website visitors and performance, you should get on board because the service is free and robust and the discovery process may tell you things you don’t want to know but need to know about the sites you operate.

Once you sign up for Google Analytics — you may not be able to do it right this moment because their service is overwhelmed — and you add a little bit of script code to the raw HTML of every page you want to track, you will begin to see the magic of what is really happening on your sites behind the browser. 


This is an example of the sort of Google Analytics code that must be
copied and pasted before the final “/body” tag on each page. The
example below is for this Urban Semiotic blog. Since this blog runs on WordPress I have a Plugin that serves that code for me without any raw HTML coding on my part:

Google Analytics

Each website I own and watch uses a unique Google Analytics tracking number. I can track anything on the web that uses HTML a blog, a website, a Content Management System, a school
and here is my main Google Analytics control panel showing all 10 of
the sites I am currently tracking.

I have been tracking nine sites
since the Google Analytics program began. Then the program was closed
to new sites as the system caught up with the overwhelming demand.
Last week I was able to add http://ScriptProfessor.com after asking okay, begging
— the Google Analytics Gods to give me one more site to track.

I added
the appropriate HTML script to my pages and, as you can see below,
Google confirmed the Script Professor
code is in place and, in another day or two, Google Analytics will be
converting my raw data into visual information I can read and exploit
to my unknown advantage.

Google Analytics

Now you can see the different Google Analytics views I can pull up for all the domains I am actively tracking. I can get Executive, Marketing and Content reports on a monthly, hourly or daily slice. I can also track Google AdSense Conversions:

Google Analytics

I will give you a glimpse of my Visits and Pageviews for the month of January 2006 for this Urban Semiotic blog:

Google Analytics

Below is the Google Analytics Geo Map Overlay
of where the visitors are coming from across the world and if you hover
your mouse over the dots while actively logged into Google Analytics
you will see the city of origin and how many people are hitting you
site from that place:

Google Analytics

This is a pie chart view of New and Returning visitors:

Google Analytics

You
can bite on a Google Analytics pie chart breakdown of who and what is
sending me those visitors from where. As you can see, Google is still the king of Visits by Source with a massive 57.03% of the pie!

Google Analytics

I spend a lot of time looking into the deep data and tracking
information Google Analytics provides me as a BlogMaster and as a
WebMaster some of the numbers bring me joy while other numbers provide
a choking disappointment but visualized information can pinpoint
exactly where your site is going wrong and then you can figure out how
to fix it with advertising, a revised site navigation system or by
simply starting all over again from scratch.

With Google Analytics as my web partner, I know I can make all my sites
better, cleaner and more popular with each rising day as new data gets
processed. Google Analytics proves how websites have a large life
beyond the moment of you and the proof is in the pie chart.

50 comments

  • I can’t believe you have 10 sites in there and I can’t get one. Can you send me an invite?

  • Hi FarCry and welcome to this blog!
    You need to move fast when Google announces a new service because, like Google Page Creator, last week:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2006/02/26/google-page-creator-review/
    …People jump on the Google ship and overwhelm their capacity.
    I’m sorry I don’t have any Google Analytics invites to offer you.
    Keep you eye on their site and submit your email address right now expressing your interest and you’ll get in soon enough, I bet.
    Adding a single site to an existing plethora didn’t make much of a difference on their end — but it made a huge difference on mine because the http://ScriptProfessor.com site is so new — and Google knew that and did me a solid and, for that, I am thankful.

  • Yeh, that makes sense. I submitted my email long time ago. I’ll just keep waiting, thanks.

  • You’ll get in FarCry, I’m sure of it!
    Keep in touch and if you need me, you know where to find me. :grin:

  • You’ll get in FarCry, I’m sure of it!
    Keep in touch and if you need me, you know where to find me. :grin:

  • Google Analytics Review

    I just came across a very good review and introduction to Google Analytics, which is essentially a tool to help you analyze who is viewing your web site, and what they are doing. Sounds simple but way to many small businesses do not pay enough attenti…

  • Hi David.
    This is a good review of Google Analytics.
    You tell the story of the service visually much in the same way the service tells you the visual story of your websites.
    You did nearly 40,000 pages views here in January alone? I find that astonishing. Congratulations!

  • Hi David.
    This is a good review of Google Analytics.
    You tell the story of the service visually much in the same way the service tells you the visual story of your websites.
    You did nearly 40,000 pages views here in January alone? I find that astonishing. Congratulations!

  • Hey Anne!
    Nice to hear from you and I thank you for the usual insightful commentary. :grin:
    Yes, January and most months here are pretty good and the fact that Google Analytics pulls that data for analysis creates a fine chain-of-command for comparative analysis that third parties can trust because I don’t touch any of it.
    I guess I should selling advertising space here, eh?

  • Hey Anne!
    Nice to hear from you and I thank you for the usual insightful commentary. :grin:
    Yes, January and most months here are pretty good and the fact that Google Analytics pulls that data for analysis creates a fine chain-of-command for comparative analysis that third parties can trust because I don’t touch any of it.
    I guess I should selling advertising space here, eh?

  • You do have a lot of eyes here, David. It’s a great tribute to the community you and your commenters create here for everyone.
    Do you feel your privacy is in any way violated with this Google Analytics? Isn’t it like Google not only looking at your dirty underwear, but smelling it, too?

  • You do have a lot of eyes here, David. It’s a great tribute to the community you and your commenters create here for everyone.
    Do you feel your privacy is in any way violated with this Google Analytics? Isn’t it like Google not only looking at your dirty underwear, but smelling it, too?

  • Golly, Anne, next thing you’ll be asking me to do is tell Google to “eat my shorts!” :mrgreen:
    Seriously… you can’t think of Google Analytics or Gmail or the Google RSS service as an invasion of privacy if you invite them into your homepage.
    You have to think of Google as your partner — they’re getting raw data they can use and manipulate, but so are you – so you’re in it together and scratching each other’s backs.
    I want Google to index me. I want them to SiteMap me. So why wouldn’t I want them to analyze my traffic as well? They’re doing me a free favor.

  • Golly, Anne, next thing you’ll be asking me to do is tell Google to “eat my shorts!” :mrgreen:
    Seriously… you can’t think of Google Analytics or Gmail or the Google RSS service as an invasion of privacy if you invite them into your homepage.
    You have to think of Google as your partner — they’re getting raw data they can use and manipulate, but so are you – so you’re in it together and scratching each other’s backs.
    I want Google to index me. I want them to SiteMap me. So why wouldn’t I want them to analyze my traffic as well? They’re doing me a free favor.

  • Google is a good company and with them sending you 57% of your source traffic I can understand why you value their extra participation on your websites. I do wonder, though, if Microsoft offered the same services if people would feel the same way they do about Google doing it?

  • Google is a good company and with them sending you 57% of your source traffic I can understand why you value their extra participation on your websites. I do wonder, though, if Microsoft offered the same services if people would feel the same way they do about Google doing it?

  • Well, Anne, Google has taken the “Everyman” approach to building muscle on the web and, as you know, perception is everything. There aren’t many instances of Google bullying or getting bad press. In fact, Google seems to go the extra step in taking care of those who work for the company and that kind of common man goodwill goes a long way with the hardworking public.

  • Well, Anne, Google has taken the “Everyman” approach to building muscle on the web and, as you know, perception is everything. There aren’t many instances of Google bullying or getting bad press. In fact, Google seems to go the extra step in taking care of those who work for the company and that kind of common man goodwill goes a long way with the hardworking public.

  • Does this mean we can find out if anyone reads my stuff? :P

  • Does this mean we can find out if anyone reads my stuff? :P

  • Now that’s gonna cost you! :mrgreen:

  • Now that’s gonna cost you! :mrgreen:

  • I have heard much about Google Analytics, Dave, but I never read a review before. This is brave of you to share all the guts of your traffic with us.

  • I have heard much about Google Analytics, Dave, but I never read a review before. This is brave of you to share all the guts of your traffic with us.

  • Hey Simms!
    Killer new Avatar! Love it! Love the message! Love the design!
    I appreciate your commentary about Google Analytics. You can’t really appreciate the power of the service unless you share the details of precisely what it does. I could have blurred out stuff and been really general, but then that doesn’t serve the best interest of those who read the review. Let it all hang out there — guts and all! :grin:

  • Hey Simms!
    Killer new Avatar! Love it! Love the message! Love the design!
    I appreciate your commentary about Google Analytics. You can’t really appreciate the power of the service unless you share the details of precisely what it does. I could have blurred out stuff and been really general, but then that doesn’t serve the best interest of those who read the review. Let it all hang out there — guts and all! :grin:

  • I’m just went to the Google Analytics site and signed up. I’m going to try to install this on all my web pages if I can.

  • I’m just went to the Google Analytics site and signed up. I’m going to try to install this on all my web pages if I can.

  • Hi Simms —
    Sounds like a great idea! Remember Google Analytics will only work on domains where you can publish to the root of your site. You can’t use this with, say a Yahoo! hosted domain where “yahoo” appears in the URL, or on a university web page unless you are the webmaster of the site. You can try to set up your pages on the foreign domain and paste the code in your pages, but Google Analytics will report back to you that those pages are “not verifiable” so you’ll be stuck.

  • Hi Simms —
    Sounds like a great idea! Remember Google Analytics will only work on domains where you can publish to the root of your site. You can’t use this with, say a Yahoo! hosted domain where “yahoo” appears in the URL, or on a university web page unless you are the webmaster of the site. You can try to set up your pages on the foreign domain and paste the code in your pages, but Google Analytics will report back to you that those pages are “not verifiable” so you’ll be stuck.

  • David
    Does Google do the WordPress plugin or is that a third party plugin?
    Interesting stuff and something I want to look at.
    I’m still messing with the WordPress blog and getting ours nice and stable.
    Mik

  • David
    Does Google do the WordPress plugin or is that a third party plugin?
    Interesting stuff and something I want to look at.
    I’m still messing with the WordPress blog and getting ours nice and stable.
    Mik

  • I tried this site when it was launched and it really slowed by blog’s download time.

  • I tried this site when it was launched and it really slowed by blog’s download time.

  • Hi Mik!
    There are a lot of third-party Google Analytics Plugins. I don’t think Google provides one. I use the Plugin found here:
    http://cavemonkey50.com/code/google-analyticator/#download
    It works great for me and it is super-simple to install!

  • Hi Mik!
    There are a lot of third-party Google Analytics Plugins. I don’t think Google provides one. I use the Plugin found here:
    http://cavemonkey50.com/code/google-analyticator/#download
    It works great for me and it is super-simple to install!

  • Hi Joe —
    Yes, Google had no idea Google Analytics would be so popular!
    When Google bought Urchin and then offered the Urchin tracking stats for FREE where people had been paying over $200 a month to Urchin for the same results, the request for site tracking was overwhelming and that is what slowed down the system and that’s also why new sites were no longer being accepted for tracking.
    Google used to recommend you put the Analytics code right before the “/head” tag — which meant it would load first and if their system was slow to load that script your entire page lagged. Now Google recommends you place their script code right before the “/body” tag at the end of your rat HTML page — so Googly Analytics becomes the last thing on your page to load so even if their servers are slow your page load times will not be significantly be reduced because everything else is visible on your page.

  • My pages are on the educational server http://www.public.asu.edu, with the extension /~starlite. You said above that Google Analytics would not work for such pages, and I have an invite now, was ready to install the code in all 165 html pages on my site.
    I use StatCounter’s code just fine, it tracks my visits just fine, but the problem I have with StatCounter is that I cannot follow the referring link back on visitors from Google Images. This is because StatCounter’s referring link field is 150 characters, and the Google referring link is somewhere around 300 characters in length, and the search term is in the tail third of the link. Since probably 30% of my visits come from Google Image searches, this is a huge blind spot for me. And now, reading what you have said, I may not be able to use Google Analytics even with their invite.
    Why would StatCounter’s code be accepted by ASU’s server and Google Analytics code be rejected by it? Or maybe not rejected, but not trackable?

  • My pages are on the educational server http://www.public.asu.edu, with the extension /~starlite. You said above that Google Analytics would not work for such pages, and I have an invite now, was ready to install the code in all 165 html pages on my site.
    I use StatCounter’s code just fine, it tracks my visits just fine, but the problem I have with StatCounter is that I cannot follow the referring link back on visitors from Google Images. This is because StatCounter’s referring link field is 150 characters, and the Google referring link is somewhere around 300 characters in length, and the search term is in the tail third of the link. Since probably 30% of my visits come from Google Image searches, this is a huge blind spot for me. And now, reading what you have said, I may not be able to use Google Analytics even with their invite.
    Why would StatCounter’s code be accepted by ASU’s server and Google Analytics code be rejected by it? Or maybe not rejected, but not trackable?

  • Hi sierpinski and welcome to the blog!
    You can try to install Google Analytics on your site and see if it works. Google Analytics will tell you if it is set up properly or not. I think you will rather quickly discover you will not be able to use the service.
    As I understand it, you would need Admin access to the actual root of http://www.asu.edu — and unless you are the head Tech at ASU you don’t have that deep access as an end user.
    Google Analytics requires root access to guarantee their deep tracking information will only be used by those who own the root. That philosophy prevents regular end users from profiting from a site they do not own.
    There are lots of other site counters you can install as an end user. If you’re using WordPress on your site you could install Mint to get lots of good tracking information without needing root Admin access.

  • Hi David,
    Thank you for your answer. I’m sure you’re right about this, since some monitoring systems work, StatCounter happens to be one of them. Shoot! I really wanted to use Google Analytics, too! Google is going to occupy some ASU space, isn’t that interesting? They are displacing some of the business machine (copier, fax, etc..) service providers in the USB building. I knew they were coming to Arizona, but didn’t know they would be occupying some of our space at ASU!!!! Cool, huh? Wish I were a computer programmer, I’ll kill to work for Google, because they seem to do everything with class, and are so innovative, I love them.
    So, since I cannot follow the referring links back for Google Images using StatCounter (which is a great service, I otherwise am really happy with it), do you know of a service that is awesome for less than $20/month (I pay StatCounter $19/mo. for a wrap of 10,000 pageloads) where I can follow the Google Image referring links back? This is important because the site is all photographs and many of my few hits come from Google Images. Drats, I need to find a way around this problem!

  • I think you should buy your own domain and host it all yourself to get away from ASU and from Google Images. You can get a killer web hosting deal for the $19 a month you’re paying for StatCounter and then you can use Google Analytics.
    I had no idea Google was invading ASU. That’s interesting! Are they working on campus or are they providing services for the university? What is the “USB Building?”

  • About Google, well, I have no idea what they are doing in the USB (University Services Building, Facilities Management is there, all the carpentry and electricians, and I don’t know what else, except that it is mostly nonacademic stuff, things change so much around here, here is a link: http://www.asu.edu/fm/), they may simply be leasing space and have nothing to do with ASU, no telling.
    Okay, here is my next big problem, I have traffic coming to my website at ASU, people that are linking to it, and am afraid to change the website address:
    1) will it affect my rankings with Google?
    2) what about all the image and other links that will no longer be “good”? Although I …might?… be able to have a redirect for all 165 html pages (dk about this), a lot of the image links go to jpgs that cannot be redirected. This has been a longtime worry.

  • Yes, you’ll take an initial hit in your Google ranking but there will come a time when you need to decide if you’re serious about your presence on the web or not. If you intend to make a life on the record, then doing it from your own domain and hosting all your images and files yourself is the only way to maintain the integrity and the vision of your site without relying on so many unpredictable third-party services.

  • Yes, you’ll take an initial hit in your Google ranking but there will come a time when you need to decide if you’re serious about your presence on the web or not. If you intend to make a life on the record, then doing it from your own domain and hosting all your images and files yourself is the only way to maintain the integrity and the vision of your site without relying on so many unpredictable third-party services.

  • Well, I am absolutely Serious about my presence on the web, no doubt about it! Maybe I will just take the leap and …choke choke …cough cough … somehow live through it.
    Here may be one saving grace. Some huge sites link to my site, and because of my stats reports, which will carry over immediately, I can get a pretty good list of the different sites linking in. This is such a horrible thought, I can see the No.1 ranking of my Sierpinski tetrahedron page coming down, the very high ranking of my Morikami page (that is very sensitive to change) coming down, and so on. It will be akin to a belly flop.
    Do you think on my major pages, that maybe I could temporarily keep them up on ASU’s site, and put similar versions of them on a “new” domain, in order to preserve visitor traffic while the new address gets some traction with Google and others? At this point, even though my pages are still comparatively obscure and my traffic is miniscule (about 250 hits/day), I am getting visitors from not only the big search engines but tiny ones as well, as the site has filtered into smaller and smaller search engine root systems, from all over the world. All of that will be down the drain!
    What is the best way to do this?

  • Well, I am absolutely Serious about my presence on the web, no doubt about it! Maybe I will just take the leap and …choke choke …cough cough … somehow live through it.
    Here may be one saving grace. Some huge sites link to my site, and because of my stats reports, which will carry over immediately, I can get a pretty good list of the different sites linking in. This is such a horrible thought, I can see the No.1 ranking of my Sierpinski tetrahedron page coming down, the very high ranking of my Morikami page (that is very sensitive to change) coming down, and so on. It will be akin to a belly flop.
    Do you think on my major pages, that maybe I could temporarily keep them up on ASU’s site, and put similar versions of them on a “new” domain, in order to preserve visitor traffic while the new address gets some traction with Google and others? At this point, even though my pages are still comparatively obscure and my traffic is miniscule (about 250 hits/day), I am getting visitors from not only the big search engines but tiny ones as well, as the site has filtered into smaller and smaller search engine root systems, from all over the world. All of that will be down the drain!
    What is the best way to do this?

  • I think the time for biting is now!
    Do not duplicate content in two places. That will actually lower your Google Page Rank and other search returns position.
    You have to options:
    1. Leave your current pages up but edit them with instructions and a link to the new page.
    2. Speak to ASU about seeing if they will help you set up an .htaccess file that will set up a permanent redirect to your new site. The search bots will hit that redirect and then stop indexing your old site and start indexing your new address.

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