Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Analyse this

Pretty much everyone loves Google Analytics.

I've been using it for a while, and I've found it to be both comprehensive and straightforward to use. Even when I was struggling with an ancient version of Flash, which wouldn't display the pie charts and whatnot, GA's tables were easy to understand.

Last week, I was given a hot tip about getting the most out of GA. It's at WebDev101, and it's worth reading. The article shows you how to get a report showing keywords used to find your blog/site/whatever in search engines. I didn't know GA could do this - in fact, I thought it was a bit odd that it didn't do something like this - but it's not like I bothered to read the flipping manual or anything.

You can use the technique described in the article to compare all sorts of other attributes of your visitors. I now know that 100% of hits from Rotherham College came from computers running Windows XP, and that I've had a visit from an NTL user in Swansea.

It's interesting to note that a new release of GA is imminent, as reported by Search Engine Watch. It will feature customisable dashboards and other flashy improvements, which would presumably enable users to put this incredibly valuable reporting function right at the front.

I'm doing some work on benchmarking web usage of library services. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It's a problem when you're comparing services which use different systems for monitoring usage. These systems invariably use different terminology, with the same function - say, number of visitors - having different names and different counting methodologies depending on those systems.