- Google Analytics
Google Analytics Developer(s) Operating system Cross-platform (web-based application) Type Statistics, Analysis Website http://google.com/analytics
Google Analytics (GA) is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. The product is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew. It is the most widely used website statistics service, currently in use on around 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites. Another market share analysis claims that Google Analytics is used at around 49.95% of the top 1,000,000 websites (as currently ranked by Alexa).
GA can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, e-mail marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.
Integrated with AdWords, users can review online campaigns by tracking landing page quality and conversions (goals). Goals might include sales, lead generation, viewing a specific page, or downloading a particular file. These can also be monetized. By using GA, marketers can determine which ads are performing, and which are not, providing the information to optimise or cull campaigns.
GA's approach is to show high level dashboard-type data for the casual user, and more in-depth data further into the report set. Through the use of GA analysis, poor performing pages can be identified using techniques such as funnel visualization, where visitors came from (referrers), how long they stayed and their geographical position. It also provides more advanced features, including custom visitor segmentation.
Users can officially add up to 50 site profiles. Each profile generally corresponds to one website. It is limited to sites which have a traffic of fewer than 5 million pageviews per month (roughly 2 pageviews per second), unless the site is linked to an AdWords campaign.
Google's service was developed from Urchin Software Corporation's analytics system, Urchin on Demand (Google acquired Urchin Software Corp. in April 2005). The system also brings ideas from Adaptive Path, whose product, Measure Map, was acquired and used in the redesign of Google Analytics in 2006. Google still sells the standalone installable Urchin software through a network of value-added resellers and Urchin is at version 7 as of 6/20/11. The latest version of the tracking code is known as the Asynchronous Tracking Code, which Google claims, is significantly more sensitive and accurate, and is able to track even very short activities on the website.
The Google-branded version was rolled out in November 2005 to anyone who wished to sign up. However due to extremely high demand for the service, new sign-ups were suspended only a week later. As capacity was added to the system, Google began using a lottery-type invitation-code model. Prior to August 2006 Google was sending out batches of invitation codes as server availability permitted; since mid-August 2006 the service has been fully available to all users – whether they use Google for advertising or not.
In addition to transmitting information to a Google server, the GATC sets first party cookies on each visitor's computer. This is used to store anonymous information such as whether the visitor has been to the site before (new or returning visitor), what is the timestamp of the current visit and what was the referrer site or campaign the visitor came from e.g. search engine, keywords, banner or email.
Another limitation of GA for large websites is the use of sampling in the generation of many of its reports. To reduce the load on their servers and to provide users with a relatively quick response for their query, GA limits reports to 500,000 randomly sampled visits at the profile level for its calculations. While margins of error are indicated for the visits metric, margins of error are not provided for any other metrics in the GA reports. For small segments of data, the margin of error can be very large.
Due to its ubiquity, Google Analytics raises many privacy concerns. Whenever someone visits a website that uses Google Analytics, Google tracks that visit via the user's IP address.
Google has also released a browser plugin that turns off data about a page visit being sent to Google.
Since this plug-in is produced and distributed by Google itself, it has met much discussion and criticism. Furthermore, the realisation of Google scripts tracking user behaviours has spawned the production of multiple, often open-source, browser plug-ins. These plug-ins offer the user a choice, whether to allow for example Google Analytics to track his/her activities.
Webmasters who seek to mitigate Google Analytics specific privacy issues can employ a number of alternatives having their backends hosted on their own machines. An example product from Google itself is Urchin Software..
High profile sites using Google Analytics
Google Analytics is used by 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites (as ranked by Alexa Internet) ordered by popularity, as reported by (now defunct) BackendBattles.com
The Google Analytics API has been utilized by third parties to build custom reporting tools. Many such tools exist through a number of mediums. One was built to run on iOS (Apple) devices and is featured in Apple's app store see: Analytics by Net Conversion 
- Plaza, B (2009) Monitoring web traffic source effectiveness with Google Analytics: An experiment with time series. Aslib Proceedings, 61(5): 474–482. Article URL: 
- Plaza, B (2009) Using Google Analytics for measuring inlinks effectiveness. MPRA Paper No. 19676. Article URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/19676/
- ^ "Usage of traffic analysis tools for websites". W3Techs. http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/traffic_analysis/all. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- ^ "Google Analytics Usage Statistics". BuiltWith. http://trends.builtwith.com/analytics/Google-Analytics. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- ^ "Google Analytics Market Share". MetricMail. http://metricmail.tumblr.com/post/904126172/google-analytics-market-share. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
- ^ Google Analytics Help: Does Google Analytics have a pageview limit?
- ^ Official Google Blog: Here comes Measure Map
- ^ Increasing Accuracy for Online Business Growth – a web analytics accuracy whitepaper
- ^ Segmentation Options in Google Analytics
- ^ Does Google Analytics Slow down page loading?
- ^ Google Analytics Code is Slowing Down My Site
- ^ Is Google Analytics Slow or Not?
- ^ Google Analytics Launches Asynchronous Tracking
- ^ Making the Web Faster
- ^ "Opt Out of Google Analytics Data Gathering With New Beta Tool" by Chloe Albanesius May 25, 2010
- ^ http://noscript.net/ "The NoScript Firefox extension provides extra protection for Firefox, Flock, Seamonkey and other mozilla-based browsers [...]"
- ^ Forbes, The Virus Filters, Dec 11, 2008, Andy Greenberg
- ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urchin_(software)
- ^ Emerald | Aslib Proceedings | Monitoring web traffic source effectiveness with Google Analytics: An experiment with time series
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