What is Google Analytics?
Formerly known as Urchin, Google Analytics is a web site analytics solution used by web site owners and marketers to better understand their users' experiences, optimize content, and track marketing performance.
Well, for one thing, it is FREE! While there are other free web analytics programs available none offer the comprehensive information available with Google Analytics. This type of information has previously only been available for those willing to pay for this level of service.
Google has added features such as browser overlay and visitor segmentation to the Urchin software.
In addition, Google Analytics is also able to track the results of any online marketing campaign, including banner ads, referral links, email newsletters, and organic and paid search.
Another useful feature: Google Analytics provides executive summary reports for the three most common decision makers – executive, marketer, and webmaster.
There are a few drawbacks we noticed in Google Analytics:
- You will not get any stats for transferred files (PDF, XML, doc, jpg, gif, flash, MP3 etc.).
- Neither will you be able to keep track of your error messages like 404’s etc since these only reside on your server.
- If you are not an active member of Google-Adwords then you are limited to "only" 5 million pageviews per month. But, for most websites this will not be an issue.
What will happen to the people who purchased Urchin?
Existing customers got this message from Google:
“Good news, Urchin from Google, the On Demand web analytics service, is now free, integrated with AdWords and renamed Google Analytics. What does this mean to you? Your current page tags will continue to work as before. At this time you do not have to do anything. When and if you decide to take advantage of the new autotagging functionality for AdWords campaigns, however, you will need to orchestrate the series of simple steps described below….”
Google Analytics is available immediately for free to existing customers of Urchin from Google.
It will be interesting to see how Google Analytics measures up over the long run with competing fee-based web analytics programs. For their part, Google says there's plenty of room for competition in this market, so we'll have to see if they're right.
Over the past week, Google has experienced extraordinarily high demand for Google Analytics, so much that they have temporarily stopped any new sites from signing up for the service..
However, you can visit this signup page and submit your name and email address there. You will be notified when Google Analytics is ready to add new accounts.