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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
If the client is in a secure network where Internet access is blocked, or if the browser/OS blocks GA tracking code, you won't see the visit in Google Analytics. We've also seen instances where the tracking request is blocked at the corporate firewall / proxy.

2) Tagging is Required
Large organizations typically have lots of internal websites & web applications. Google Analytics requires each page to reference tracking code, and rolling out tracking code to hundreds of websites can be a large task.

3) Document Tracking
When an employee opens a document (PDF, Word, Excel, etc.), the only way Google Analytics is able to "see" the document is via a JavaScript tag. Documents that are accessed directly, like via a bookmark or a history link, won't appear in Google Analytics reports.

Even if you add JavaScript to the document link, you aren't able to see who opened the file since you can't store usernames in Google Analytics. This is especially relevant for SharePoint environments.

4) Visitor Details
Google Analytics reports don't show you individual visitor details, like a complete list of logins by date and time and pages/documents accessed for a specific user. You also won't see IP addresses, usernames, or direct file downloads.

5) Data Security
It's remarkable how much information is contained just in the page URL and page title - we've seen usernames & passwords, client names & IDs, social security numbers, and other sensitive info. Each GA tracking request contains the page URL and title, as well as the client IP address, network information, browser and OS versions, and other sensitive information.

More importantly: Google Analytics stores data in datacenters all over the world. When data is stored outside your network, it's no longer secure.

The Case for On-Premises

Over the years, we've learned that on-premises web analytics software is a perfect solution for Intranet environments. There are a few reasons for this:

1) Tagging NOT Required
On-premises web analytics software can work with the data that's already contained in your web server log files. You'll also see reports not shown in Google Analytics, like Broken Links and Bandwidth.

2) Process Historical Data
If you've kept your web logs from the past few years, you can process them with on-premises web analytics software.

3) Visitor Details
Link usernames to login dates and times, documents accessed, devices, network locations / IP addresses, see full clickpaths, and much more. On-premises software doesn't need to abide by the same Personally Identifiable Information (PII) regulations as Google Analytics.

4) Full Data Security
On-Premises software stores data in your environment and lets you control access. 'Nuff said.

We recommend Angelfish Software for your Intranet web analytics needs. Angelfish is on-premises web analytics software that can track any of your websites - public or internal - as well as any of your web-based applications.

Learn more at the Angelfish Software website