Tips and Tricks: Google Analytics

September 26th, 2006

I recently discovered Google Analytics, a remarkably powerful and free set of tools for analyzing website traffic. My site hardly does justice to the power of the tools, but in the brief time I have been using it I have been amazed at the amount of data it provides. Google picked up this toolset through its acquisition of a company called Urchin, which apparently charged $200/month or more for use of the tools.

One especially nice feature in the toolset is the ability to automatically filter out one’s own pageviews from traffic reports. For many small sites, “internal” page views may skew traffic data significantly, so this can make a difference.

Of course, nothing is really free. Analytics looks like yet another step toward Google’s goal of storing all of our data. I do wonder what Google plans to do with all this data and Google’s retention policies make me uncomfortable using gmail to store my mail. For some reason I feel less squeamish about the traffic to my website- perhaps I would feel differently if I had commerce or other proprietary activities happening there. This privacy tradeoff is a one each company must make for itself.

The Small Business Podcast did an interesting 2-part feature with the authors of a new book on how to get the most out of the Analytics toolset. As of this writing the book had just come out, so I haven’t read it yet. If anyone has, please drop me a note and let me know what you think.

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