After the Prairie Developer Conference, I noticed that I had a few questions on using Google Analytics to help understand what is going on within a website to make decisions on what to do. But I had a few questions at first asking about the tool and what it was all about. That’s a fairly loaded question, but I will do my best to provide an introduction and some experiences in using the tool.
So what is it?
Simply, Google Analytics is a library you can include within your website in order to get information on how people are using your website. It’s history is long…
Google Analytics was originally known as Urchin, which was a piece of software created by a company of the same name. Some years back, Urchin was purchased by Google and then there were 2 services offered: Urchin, which you could purchase and license but you had to host everything on your own infrastructure; or, Google Analytics, where the hosting and service components are managed in their entirety on Google’s server farm. Since that time, there have been iterations of both pieces of software. Google Analytics (or GA) has since upgraded its service to Version 5 to be asynchronous with its tracking code, which permits you to track visits and information in real time (this is actually pretty cool!). Urchin, however, seems to have reached the end of its life cycle. As I write this on March 31, Google will no longer be selling the tool after today (so if you really want it, you better get it now!). To replace Urchin, Google has recently launched a premium service, which is a paid system, that replaces Urchin but is hosted on Google’s environment. It provides you a better SLA for uptime and support, but also provides you more information that you can track (more on that later…).
How do I use it?
OK, you’ve sold me that it sounds like I need it. How do I get started?
First, go to the Google Analytics home page and you get started by creating an account. All you need is an email address to get started.
I need more! That’s not enough information!
I’m going to begin a small series on setting up and working with Google Analytics to get your sites set up for monitoring. This is as the title implies – an introduction. I’ll be adding a few posts a week on this topic to start filling in the gaps. If there are specific questions, post a comment and I’ll do what I can to respond.