Definition

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free Web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. The service is available to anyone with a Google account. Google bought Urchin Software Corporation in April 2005 and used that company’s Urchin on Demand product as the basis for its current service.

Google Analytics features include:

• Data visualization tools including a dashboard, scorecards and motion charts, which display changes in data over time.

• Segmentation for analysis of subsets, such as conversions.

• Custom reports.

• Email-based sharing and communication.

• Integration with other Google products, such as AdWords, Public Data Explorer and Website Optimizer.

Google Analytics is geared toward small and medium-sized retail websites. The service has limitations that make it less suited to more complex websites and larger enterprises. For example, the system collects data through a JavaScript page tag inserted in the code of pages the user wants to collect data on. The page tag functions as a Web bug to gather visitor information. However, because it’s reliant on cookies, the system can’t collect data for users who have disabled them. Google also uses sampling in its reports rather than analyzing all available data. 

Furthermore, some security experts have raised concerns about privacy issues in Google Analytics. Through the Google Analytics Dashboard, users can collect information on people whose websites link to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter

There are a number of commercial products for enterprises that require more advanced Web analytics, including those from Omniture, Webtrends, IBM’s Cognos product line and Oracle WebCenter.

 

This was last updated in November 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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