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Google Rocks the Analytics World

Posted on 11.17.2005
Google recently released its analytics software this week to anyone with a website and much to the chagrin of other analytics providers like WebSideStory. In its most basic form, setup of this product is pretty simple and requires only a few lines of special java script code inserted in the head of the pages for which you need analytics. The system can be set up with numerous advanced features to track different promotional campaigns (not just search advertising), perform A/B and A/B/A content testing, and pretty much anything else you can think of (in the line of tracking email impressions, clicks, conversions, etc.) - WSM will be providing more details about the features in future magazine issues. What's immensely interesting about the product is its ability to track goals - think registrations, downloads, etc. When coupled with features such as the ability to monitor navigation paths and compare different date ranges, Google Analytics is simply an immensely powerful system for gathering information and providing insights into Web traffic - but require some technical knowledge and some work to setup properly.

Favorite feature: GEO, GEO and GEO
Whether you work on a global or local level, Google's Analytics Geo Location feature shows in detail where your visitors are coming from. We're not talking country level here. Nor are we talking about state level - that's right - Google Analytics takes it all the way down to the city level. So if you're a spa in Kansas City you can actually see how many people visiting your site are from Bonner Springs and how many are from Wichita. That's powerful.

Least Favorite Aspect: Mr. Brin and Mr. Page, here are my keys.
While the information collected is used primarily in aggregate form it's certainly a lot of information (and that means power) in the hands of Google. Not that you would ever do anything to promote your website that was less than one hundred percent ethical, but if you do, I would not necessarily recommend using Google Analytics to track the results of any Black Hat efforts. Why? Well, without getting too involved, your metrics will stand out like Shaquille O'Neal in Beijing, meaning that it will be that much easier for Google to see the illicit ways you generate traffic.

Overall preliminary rating: Exceptional, plus one.

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