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Do you find Google Analytics Helpful

Google-AnalyticsIf you’ve been waiting for an Google to reopen it’s doors to Google Analytics users your wait might almost be over with an announcement to that effect on their update page.

‘We’ve added enough capacity that we are re-opening signups on an invitation basis. Many of our users who previously submitted their email address to us will be receiving an invite shortly.’

While there was certainly a massive buzz about Google Analytics when it first launched I’ve heard very few reports of people using it recently. I’d be interested to hear how people are using it?

I’ve had it installed on a couple of my blogs since the day it went live – but realized today that it’s something I’ve not used for about a month.

While I find the tools it contains helpful the main reason I’m not using it is that it’s just not smooth enough for me. It might have improved but loading times were slow and statistics too out of date for the type of information I use regularly. I like to know what’s happening on my sites at a glance with up to the minute figures.

I’ll probably use Analytics on a big picture level when I do monthly or quarterly reviews but I doubt it’ll ever become a part of my daily blogging rhythm.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hagrin says:

    Absolutely. In fact, I can’t even begin to describe how a smaller site like mine has really benefited from Analytics.

    First, from a web design perspective, the Webmaster data allows me to figure out if my readers are Windows reader, Linux readers, their screen resolutions, the browser being used, etc. This data has been incredibly useful for the redesign of my website.

    Probably more importantly, the Referral data has shown me what terms I am ranking high enough on to generate traffic. It’s allowed me to switch focus almost on a daily basis to research higher traffic topics and post more on those topics.

    Analytics is an invaluable tool although the interface is sometimes annoying and I wish you could export ALL the data all in one shot, but hey – for a free tool, it’s been great.

  2. I am an italian podcaster and I installed Google Analytics on the podocast web site, I also published some of the December data gathered by Analytics. I like very much and check everyday Analytics, it is not timely updated (but the previous day data are ok) but I always look at:
    – daily visits, page views and trends
    – returning and new visitors
    – referrals (who send traffic to my site)
    – geographic location of visitors
    – browser version (on my site Firefox is the most popular)
    – connection speed
    Especially the last 3 informations allow me to better tailor my website and podcast to my audience.

    My website is in italian language anyway pictures are universal :-) you can see some Analytics data related to my site at http://www.audiocast.it/2006/0110/statistiche_di_dicembre_2005.html

  3. Tinus says:

    I wish I could remove some transactions from the transaction list. Now my e-commerce statistics are off because of some tests I’ve done.

  4. Doug says:

    Yeah, I use it reluctantly because I haven’t yet set up and configured my recently discovered free stats program. There is a day or two delay, but I find it acceptable for general ideas of my site stats. Still, I’d rather have server-side metrics instead.

  5. Chris Howard says:

    No. They confuse the absolute crap out of me. Haven’t looked at them for ages as a consequence.

    I want simple tools that give me quick answers and easy to learn. Analytics’ failing is there’s actually too much in there.

    There’s SO many things to distract bloggers – pings, trackbacks, SEO, backlinks, ad optimization etc etc etc etc – that when something like Analytics comes along… well i just find it hard to prioritize learning something else.

  6. Dehumanizer says:

    I admit I havenn’t looked at all their features exhaustively, but I can’t see anything there that AWStats doesn’t give me, in real time, and in a more organized way, as well.

  7. Steve says:

    Here’s a specific example of something none of my existing stats packages could offer.

    Although I still primarily use the others to check visitor levels, etc (because it’s easier), GA has offered some advance features I couldn’t track before. One of my sites – podguide.tv – recommends iPod-format videos. While I had a good handle on traffic, I never really knew how many people were following my advice and subscribing to feeds via the Apple store. By adding a tag to each ‘subscribe via iTunes” button, I can now see at a glance which feeds are most popular in Analytics, which will actually allow me to publish a “top ten feeds of the week” article.

  8. I tried it. It was ok for a while but I agree with some of the other posters here, it’s just too damn clunky. It’s hard to see the data I really want (hits) I have a bunch of space taken up by things I don’t care about (inaccurate world map of users), and the stats don’t update very quicky. All in all I punted the whole thing about a month ago.

    I prefer Statcounter at the moment, although it could definitely use some GUI reworking.

    I have hopes that one day I’ll get invited into MeasureMap or something prettier will come along, but for now I’ll stick with my simple, trusty Statcounter.

  9. Sean says:

    If you have a goal for your web site (ecommerce sale, newsletter signup, ad click) then it provides very useful information on how people are navigating your site to get to the goal. If you use AdWords or other advertising to get people to your site, it is even better since it integrates cost and source data.

    If all you do is look at web stats the same way you would for AWStats or Webalizer, then GA won’t give you much more. There are a couple of things in the navigational analysis categories, but the real value comes from determining if users are doing what you want them to do.

    Sean

  10. Lyndoman says:

    It really frustrates me because the old urchin system was great, Google then bought out Urchin and ruined it. It doesn’t do it for me, I still have not got the perfect stats system. Maybe I will just build my own.

  11. brem says:

    Since I can’t try it for myself, yet, I’m curious as to in what google analytics differs from AwStats, for example.

    brem

  12. Marcel says:

    Google should put everything on one page.. No one want’s to make extra clicks to see their own statistics.

    Imagine having to make extra 10 clicks for 50 websites. I could be doing better things

    That’s why I prefer Webalizer, Awstats, and my own mxcounters.com

  13. Marcel says:

    I want to

    1. Place my stats on one page
    I should be able to browse everything and notice new trends in 30 seconds.

    2. I want to fetch my results via RSS or Atom

    3. I want to receive my stats via email.

    BTW, why isn’t anyone doing this ?

    Marcel

  14. Rob Lewis says:

    I use my own home-built scripts for basic stats which I know are up-to-the-minute, such as which pages have been viewed and recent referrers, but GA allows me to find out more about my visitors (platform, resolution, etc), and also I can track which pages people are clicking my Adsense ads on using this script: http://www.digitalpoint.com/~shawn/2005/11/track-adsense-clicks-with-google-analytics.html

    I generally check Google Analytics about twice a week, whereas my other stats I check every hour or so.

  15. D. Campbell says:

    I agree. The stats are just too ‘outdated’ to really benefit me at this point. I do like the ‘map’ feature that allows you to see what part of the world your visitors are coming from. Pretty neat, since it allows me to see how much ‘coverage’ my site is getting.

  16. Marcel says:

    I check my stats once a day.

  17. Denis says:

    I find it helpful indeed. I have found it difficult to get to the information I want, but once I figured it out, some of it is remarkable. I have AWstats as well, but that package doesn’t deliver cross-market segmentation with specifics based on keyword and search engine e.g. how many visitors came to the site in the past week/4 days/day with ipod as a keyword thru Yahoo/Google/AOL/MSN. If this kinda granularity is available with webstats, I would love to see it!

  18. Darnell says:

    Although it isn’t as “up to date” as statcounter.com, it does offer a few features many site counters lack.

    It will probably take them another 6 months before it really starts kicking, but until then a standard stat counter will do.

  19. Marina says:

    I found Analytics to be quite useless for my small site, mainly because it doesn’t analyze urls that have special characters (like “?”), so basically it gave me almost no information. Also, the interface is too cluttered. I prefer to use the combination of AWStats and MyBlogLog.

  20. Cory says:

    Overall I find that it’s a great tool. It’s free and comprehensive but it’s detail also takes away from its effectiveness for casual users. I’d love to see a ‘customize’ option where users can add or remove categories / features to suit their particular needs — I also realize that that’s a HUGE job and it’s not likely that would be added anytime soon…

    Also, now that Google’s increased the number of separate accounts / profiles that can be used (to 5 for me), I expect that I’ll use it a bit more, if not a bit more frequently.

  21. Not really.

  22. I don’t use GA at all, but I do use a self-hosted version of Urchin 5.0. Now that Google has purchased Urchin I’m a bit worried that they’ll drop support for the software version completely.

    I do find Urchin very useful, and check it every morning. Definitely the best statistics package out there.

  23. Too slow for me to try and dig through. Unless I see in clear black letters that it’s going to give me something really useful making it worth my time – I could care less. I’ve got enough data to muck through in the run of a day..

  24. Duncan says:

    No, because in the time it takes to load I could have logged into my server and read the Awstats figures for 3 blogs in the time it takes 1 in Google Analytics. Sure, the figures are nice and pretty but I don’t want to spend half my daying waiting for a page to load to get pretty stats!

  25. Jon Heizer says:

    I have been suing it since it came out. It has done the basics for me and I think It is pretty fast, but I was only checking 2 blogs. I didnt mind it being behind because I was checking it late at night and it usually had the most of that days stats.

  26. Elle says:

    I would be interested in using it but currently pay for hitslink.com. This is excellent service and shows me the phrases people are searching on to find my site – not sure if Google Analytics does this – would anyone be able to tell me? Thanks Elle

  27. Thomas Swift says:

    I really like GA. I have Urchin installed from my webhost so I have access to both. I think GA’s user interface has been modified to suit business people that want to have access to the webstats. Once I saw ROI sprinkled in there, I figured that is what they are going for.

    Features I find useful. Like others posted. I like all the metrics regarding broswer/platform/screen size/screen resolution, It’s quick and easy to get to.

    It’s speedy and snappy for me. All in all it’s a great tool for free.

  28. Bill McRea says:

    Google Analytics has been very helpful in figuring our where my traffic is coming from and what keywords are driving people to my sites. My guitar website has been fine tuned based on the information people want.

    This fine tuning has lead to increased Adsense income and more sales. I see what people want… if it’s information about Boss effect pedals… I put up more information on my site and my product sales and adsense income goes up up up!

    Once you are on Googles good list they love you. They give you traffic, pay you advertsing money and show you how to fine tune your site to optimize your ROI.

  29. Abdul Rahman says:

    Well, I have used Google Analytics on both of my blog (http://www.xtreme-fund.com and http://www.spyware-blog.com) and it’s working without any problem. Their statistic were simple yet providing much statistic I wanted too, though they doesn’t track what is coming from other SE such as Yahoo! Not bad afterall. :)

  30. Russell says:

    I use it almos daily now. It has re-energized my blogging. Now that use Performancing for Firefox I blog much more, and QA shows the results.

  31. I have been using Google Analytics to great effect. It’s generally far better than free packages such as awstats as the reports you can get are much more in-depth and can show you things that you will certainly miss using other packages.

    One thing I’ve realized reading the comments here is that people use statistics in wildly different ways. I think what might be helpful at this point is a series of “how-to” articles showing how to use Google Analytics to accomplish specific tasks, such as seeing what keywords led people to individual pages (awstats only shows you keywords leading people to your site overall).

    I’ve actually used it to help optimize my AdSense ads, and had my first over $30 day this week. I didn’t figure on hitting that until March. Now, on to $50, then $100…

  32. Robb D says:

    I do find Google Analytics helpful, although, I wish the stats were more up to date. I will say, however, that the goal tracking, is invaluable.

  33. Mihai says:

    Google Analytics are extremely helpful.
    This is the only way I can truly understand my visitors.

  34. Rian says:

    Good Lord, no.

    GA sucks compared to third party apps which analyze the server logs directly:

    AWStats
    Analog
    Webalyzer

    And an offline program I rather enjoy because it allows you to filter you specific keywords (great for spam). OpenWebScope

    Compared to any of the tools I listed, GA isn’t even a contender. Decent webhosts (like HostRocket, Dreamhost, etc.) have some or all of the tools I listed above pre-installed.

  35. miscblogger says:

    I love analytics. I’ve basically ditched my previous stats program (the one bundled with my web host’s cPanel, AWStats). I find it very helpful to track which page gets the most adsense clicks.

  36. One thing some people might be missing with Google Analytics is the ability to track AdSense clicks. This nice script will let Analytics track when someone clicks a Google ad (but unfortunately, it doesn’t tell WHICH ad).

    Install this script for a while, and then look in Reverse Goal Path in Analytics, and you’ll get the sort of information none of the server log analysis tools could ever tell you. More tips later, probably…

  37. row1.info says:

    its a bit clunky and has to many features for me,
    i prefer sitemeter, much nicer :)

  38. jayvee f. says:

    GA is just fine and dandy but it doesnt compare to AW stats which givs much more detailed information.

    GA slacks when you need to find out what the “other sites” that link to you are.

  39. SearchPro says:

    Just installed google anayltics on my site, I am excited to see the results
    Net Detective
    I had trouble adding another user profile the forums report the same thing

    hmmm?

  40. MG says:

    I like it less and less everyday.

    At first I was seduced by it’s pretty GUI but once I started trying to get it to do some of the standard analysis tasks I was appalled at how difficult it was.

    A lot of the features simply don’t work, while others are so complicated to set up they are all but useless.

    The help pages seem to be written by geeks who don’t know how to communicate to the ordinary business owner or man on the street.

    The Site Overlay would be useful if it could ever work properly.

    There are plenty of other easier packages to use.