Like other people I know, I have been testing Google Analytics. There are some good things about it, but overall I am not really impressed.
Content Summary. Specifically the percentages that content get for a time range. I love easily seeing how traffic is growing or subsiding for individual (well, the top 5 anyway) articles. Hey! Recently my TurnItIn.com article traffic was up 50%! Instant, easy to read feedback like that is awesome.
Variable time range. I like being able to see data for time ranges other than a month (which is the standard for things like Webalizer). Google makes this simple to do.
Date Storage. Some free web site statistics programs only keep data for a certain amount of time, and only show you a limited range of that. For example, the free version of StatCounter only tracks 2 weeks. Analytics stores……. probably all information it has ever received, which really ties in with the variable time range above.
It IS powerful. If you have the time and desire, I am sure you can massage the data to give you tons of information (to bad I don’t care about most of it).
Does not integrate with other Google products. Google Sitemaps integration seems like a no-brainer, given that it is for related data. Google Maps for the map overlay would seem to make sense as well, so that I could actually zoom in on an area, rather than seeing a large grouping of dots along the east coast.
All the Ad related stuff. Ok, I understand that a lot of people want to track their ad revenue, $ index, whatever. But what about those who don’t? I personally find all the ad related stuff clutters the interface I am trying to use.
Unintuitive. The breakdown into Executive, Marker, and Webmaster sections makes finding things difficult. For a while, I couldn’t find a simple referring pages list. More recently I found it under Marketing Optimization -> Visitor Segment Performance -> Referring Source. I couldn’t figure out filtering for a while. Clicking a graphic to change it from exclude a filtered item, rather than filter by it didn’t seem obvious.
Flexible in some ways, obtuse in others. A lot of places, you can display up to 500 records. For the content summary, you only have the top 5. Sure, you can get most of the same information under Content Optimization -> Content Performance, but that section is missing the percentage changes over time (you know, what I thought was GOOD) that the summary has. Also, the referrer information only gives me the domain name, not which page the user came from.
The (Possibly) Ugly:
Google stores all this information, and uses it for their own purposes. ome individuals understandably have privacy concerns regarding this. As Ian said, it’s basically a toss up. Decide if its right for you.
For something free, Analytics is better than some packages. I personally feel that I am presented with way more information than I really want. For something more revenue related, your milage may very.