Analytics Market Chart

AnalyticsMarket's blog

Google Analytics Definitions

This article attempts to clarify definitions for common terms used in Google Analytics.
With Google Analytics, a hit is ANY request sent to the GA data collection system. This includes pageviews, events, custom variables, measurement protocol uploads, etc.

Google Analytics for Intranets

Google Analytics is free (up to 10 million events) and contains a bunch of useful reports and features. You can use Google Analytics to track any website, although there are some important issues to consider if you want to use Google Analytics to track your Intranet sites.

Potential Issues

We've worked with Google Analytics since it was first released in 2005, and the below list is based on our observations and client feedback.

1) Secure Environments

Web Analytics Software Review

Website analytics reporting software can be on-premises or hosted/SaaS. This article compares the best on-premises solutions, and differentiates between Commercial and Open Source products.

On-premises web analytics software keeps your data within your environment, which provides full data security and avoids many of the regulations imposed on SaaS solutions.

Should You Use Commercial or Open Source?

There are a few things to consider when evaluating an on-premises web analytics reporting tool, since there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

SharePoint and Google Analytics

SharePoint on-premises is a popular portal solution, used by thousands of organizations globally. SharePoint 2010 had a built-in web analytics feature that did a decent job of showing how users interact with the portal, but Microsoft decided to remove certain web analytics features with SharePoint 2013.

Many SharePoint customers now use Google Analytics, since it's free (up to 10 mil events) and contains lots of useful reports. But unfortunately, Google Analytics isn't able to provide a complete picture of activity on SharePoint sites:

No Usernames

Google Analytics Unavailable

As Google Analytics has become more ubiquitous, disruptions in service tend to be felt far and wide.

Google Analytics Outages

There have been a handful of widespread outages since Google Analytics was first rolled out. They have typically been rare and brief, but they have been troubling for users nonetheless.

Outages have affected users in two ways:

  1. the Google Analytics interface has been slow or inaccessible

Multiple Domains in Google Analytics

By default, Google Analytics creates a unique set of cookies for every domain.

****UPDATE: this article only applies to ga.js implementations

Google Analytics + Angelfish = Data Privacy

It's no surprise that Google Analytics is used by a staggering number of websites around the world. Google Analytics has lots of advanced reports, looks great, and it's free. But for all the features Google Analytics has, it doesn't give a complete snapshot of website activity.

There are a few reasons for this:

Urchin Software Discontinued!

In January of 2012, Google announced development of Urchin Software would be discontinued. We at Actual Metrics were disappointed to hear the news, although we can't say we were overly surprised. Google's focus on Urchin dwindled in 2011, coinciding with the launch of a paid version of Google Analytics.

Google TV and Web Analytics

This list might be disconcerting for web analysts. Google TV—and other emerging technologies—will turn web analytics on its ear.

Google TV is coming to consumers fall of 2010. Google announced a partnership with Intel, Sony and Logitech to essentially turn any HDTV into a dedicated media PC. Google released notes for developers who want to design sites that are TV-friendly. This all made me realize that Google TV will have a major impact on web analytics by redefining how we think about user behavior.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of ways Google TV may change the web analytics landscape.

Google's Secure Search Obscures Google Analytics Reports

Today Google announced a secure search page using SSL to encrypt data being sent back and forth during a search. This prevents other people from seeing what you are searching for on Google, although it doesn't change anything about what information Google stores.

One startling implication of this new technology is what it does to Google Analytics reports. In short, searches done from the secure search page will be tracked as direct visits (instead of google searches) in Google Analytics — and every other web analytics software. Even the keyword data is lost.

Google Analytics and Social Media Tracking

Many business are tapping into the value of social media. It operates unlike any other type of online marketing, and the rules are constantly shifting. With this shift in focus, web analytics vendors have started to announce partnerships or tools to integrate social media tracking into their product.

Companies using web analytics have to decide how they will track and measure their social media efforts alongside their online marketing and website traffic. How can social media be tracked in Google Analytics? How can a company compare their social media against their banner ads and cpc?

The short answer is, they shouldn't.

There are (at least) three reasons social media can't be tracked accurately in web analytics tools. Some kind of integration isn't intrinsically bad, but making web analytics software a one-stop source for measuring everything online is a mistake.

What iPads and Tablets Mean for Web Analytics

Things just got a lot more complicated

Web analytics software companies are still touting their (recent) ability to segment mobile traffic in reports. This is important primarily because people using mobile devices interact with sites differently than people using more conventional machines.

With iPads and competing tablets entering the scene, the terrain becomes a bit more complex. It raises important new questions for the web analytics industry and companies who rely on it.

Google Analytics Application Gallery

Google announced the introduction of an application gallery with tools for Google Analytics. We are proud that their list of tools includes two of our own: LinkTagger and Mobile GA.

We encourage users to leave comments and reviews for these tools.

Understanding Site Visitors with Google Analytics

What do all these people really want from you?

Understanding who your site visitors are is one of the most critical steps in optimizing your online presence. Google Analytics can help you to understand who your visitors are and what their expectations are. Yet, too often, companies focus exclusively on marketing or overall site performance, without taking the time to understand the types of people they are trying to interact with.

This article will not only challenge you to dig deeper into oft-ignored reports for insights, but it will also point you to some other tools to analyze the data.

Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

Advanced Segmentation is arguably the most powerful feature ever introduced to Google Analytics. It allows you to specify a set of criteria and view almost every standard report for just the visits that meet that definition without needing to reprocess data or wait for more data to fill in. New applications for Advanced Segments are still found everyday.

For example, use Advanced Segments to analyze every aspect of the visits that interacted with your gift module before noon but didn't complete a purchase. Create multiple segments and compare them against each other in the same report.

In short, Google Analytics now has a powerful ad hoc reporting mechanism.