When it comes to web statistics, I’ve always been an advocate of the “Only server logs are trustworthy” principle. I still stand firm on this opinion. Recently, I installed Google Analytics here and on ServerBuzz.com. I realized that my life as a webmaster would have been much better if I had installed Google Analytics on my web sites much, much earlier.
The crux of the matter is that there’s only so much information server logs can provide. Essentially, the main information obtainable from server logs include:
- Date and time of access
- What URL was accessed
- What’s the IP address of the visitor
- What browser was used
- Referring URL
- The response code served to the visitor
When I first used Google Analytics, it was overwhelming! There are widgets and graphs everywhere. It didn’t help that when I was viewing the dashboard I had planned for things to do within the next hour or so. Therefore, I merely skimmed the interface.
I have now been using Google Analytics for ten days, and I regretted not installing it earlier. I gained a lot of information on my most popular pages. Of course I can get the same data from my web server logs. However, the Google Analytics interface provides the information in a pleasant visual representation.
In addition to that, a lot of data not captured by server logs can be seen as well. These include:
- Geographical location of the visitor
- Visitors’ display size and colour depth
- Their page-hop path
If you run a web site I suggest that you install Google Analytics if you haven’t already done so. It’s free and ran by a leading Internet technology company; so what’s your excuse?