What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a website tracker that allows you to gain insight into the number of visitors that come to your site or blog. You can also see geographic location of those who view your site, as well as access detailed reports for analysis and comparison. It is the most popular analytics service in use today. There is also a mobile version that specifically tracks app usage and a paid version for businesses. Read on to learn what you can do with this insightful web analysis program.

General Features

There is quite a lot of information you can gain through use of this service. Frequently, site owners will find it useful to learn where visitors come from when reaching their blog or website. These places are known as referrers. Knowing which are your top referrers will allow you to target ads or content to those spots. Funnel visualization lets you see which pages are performing well and which are not. You can also get the bounce rate of your pages, which is information regarding how long visitors stayed on each page or post. If you sell a product on your site, e-commerce reporting will be beneficial, as it gives you a view of transactions, total revenue and other sales information. Tools like Website Optimizer can help you to ensure your site is reaching more viewers. Cohort Analysis gives you the power to segment your site users into various demographics for analysis. There area wide range of functions you can accomplish with this versatile service.

History

In was in April of 2005 that Google acquired Urchin Software Corp. Urchin’s software, Urchin on Demand is the basis for what we all know today as Google Analytics, which was officially redesigned and launched in 2006. However, it was in November of 2005 that Google first began sharing its earliest version of the service. Demand was so high that in only a week, signs up were discontinued. Google ramped up their systems, adding the capacity for more users, and began to issue invitations based on a lottery model. Free and open use has been available since mid-August 2006.

Technology

Google’s analytics system works through the use of page tags that use snippets of JavaScript code that is placed throughout the website. This code tracks consistently in the background of the client browser, collecting data from all those who visit the website. The data is then sent to a Google collection server from which the information is accessed by analytics users who wish to view their site stats. Tracking codes from the Google server set first party cookies on the computers of site visitors that read information such as geographic location, referrer site, timestamp and whether the user is a new or returning site visitor. It is important to note that many ad blocking software packages are able to block Google code. In addition, certain privacy networks or browsers that are not enabled for JavaScript will not be counted in analytics. Thus, there are limitations to the system.

This service is invaluable to bloggers, businesses and various website owners in terms of providing useful insight into site visitors. Google Analytics is essential for anyone who owns a website and who would benefit from analyzing the activities of site users.

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