Friday, August 18, 2006

Google Analytics

The other day I read that Google Analytics was open for business. I was curious as to what it was all about so I signed up and instrumented my blog template to incorporate it. So far - it looks pretty neat. It tracks activity on the site and generates since nice looking graphics:

Google Analytics

That is a view of the "Executive Dashboard". From there you can drill down into more details. I was interested in the "Visits by Source" pie chart there. I can get similar information from "statcounter", but it'll only show me the last 1,100 requests (I pay for the extra 1,000 records). Google analytics is gathering up all of the history for me and will even tell me over time the relative "up/down" contribution of a site. That is, if a new site comes along that starts sending traffic my way, it'll show as a "big up" whereas if another site decreases the amount of traffic they send - it'll show as a "big down".

In any case - it is 'free' for now (as long as you get less than 5,000,000 hits per month - the blog is pretty safe on that account).

It does raise an interesting question though in my mind. After reading through a lot of the postings/news releases on the AOL debacle (read more here and here) is Google just collecting too much information about "me" or "you"? Right now the motto is "do no evil", but who knows what could be done with some of this information in the future. I'm not a huge fan of this easily identifiable information being warehoused outside of my control. I don't necessarily like the "supermarket" clubs where you swipe a card to identify yourself and get a discount (hey, give me that discount just because I use your store, don't make me give data to you for a fee).

Anyway, I'll leave it on for a while and see what I see. Maybe it'll let me drop the monthly fee I pay to statcounter for the extra 1,000 records in the audit trail. The only reason I pay for that is to have a bit of history from which to estimate where traffic comes from. But since the extra 1,000 really only gives me on average an 8 hour window - it isn't that accurate of a picture. To get a view of "where in the world people are coming from", I'd have to check it while I'm asleep and other parts of the world are awake.

Speaking of sleeping, I'm vacationing next week. We take two or so short vacations instead of one big one and next week we'll be spending some days next to a lake:


Looks like a nice place to take a nap with a fishing pole doesn't it.



Blogger Hae-Kwang said....

I haven't had a vacation since I got out of high school ... I regret not using up vacation days at work when I had the chance. Too early to have become a workaholic. Is the picture of the place where you will relaxing, or something similar to? Looks like something that especially my mind needs to relax. Just wondering, how are hits to websites tracked? Like which host (the website being surfed from, or the website being surfed to) logs that information, etc.?

Just curious ... which Linux distro do you use and / or prefer? Does Oracle as a company have a preference as to which distro users of their products use?

Fri Aug 18, 10:55:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I use red hat, but there are various flavors in use. We support various implementations.

Fri Aug 18, 11:02:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Jeff Hunter said....

yeah, but what type of connectivity is there?
I am off in a couple weeks on my first 2 week vacation in 9 years. The places I am staying don't have broadband connections, so if I have to logon, it will be via something we used to call "dial-up".

Fri Aug 18, 11:02:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

... type of connectivity ....

My verizon aircard will have "national" service but not "broadband" where we are (already checked the signal :)

144 Kbps, sufficient for email

Fri Aug 18, 11:07:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I go scuba diving so we don't get any connections underwater. :-)

Fri Aug 18, 11:56:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Patty C. said....

Wow, should I feel bad because I will have taken 7 weeks of vacation by the end of this year? And to top it off, when I am on vacation next week I won't even have running water or electricity, let alone *connectivity*!

Have a great and relaxing vacation Tom!

Fri Aug 18, 12:18:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Gabe said....

You call that a cabin ... now i don't know what to call my house ;)

Fri Aug 18, 12:26:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Kyle said....

I think the dot over Florida in the Geo Map Overlay must be 95% me.

Fri Aug 18, 12:26:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I thought this google tool was quite interesting and sent a link to this post and a brief message to the webmaster of a customer.

She sent back an odd reply about how she only reads 3 blogs, one of which is a former coworker of hers who had recently discovered naughty pictures of her little sister on the internet and sent her an email about it.

Turns out she misread my message as about tracking her blog usage, because she had read the email about 1 minute before reading mine, and expected large uniformed personnel to be escorting her out momentarily.

Life in the internet age.

Like your tkyte-test, too.

Fri Aug 18, 04:41:00 PM EDT  

Blogger SeanMacGC said....

Hello Tom, how do you feel about the distorted world/atlas dimensions as represented by Google Analytics, i.e., extremely oversized North America, and extremely undersized African continent?

Just worried that such representations propagate a subliminal message, and a not too wholesome one at that.

Fri Aug 18, 06:19:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

... how do you feel about the distorted world/atlas dimensions ...

are you sure about that? Canada is huge in real life.

I'm not sure it is distorted, but I'd be glad to have my mind changed if you dig up something?

Fri Aug 18, 06:25:00 PM EDT  

Blogger SeanMacGC said....

OK Tom, this is taken from, and note particularly how the African Continent constitutes 20.3% of world land-mass area, and how much smaller that appears on the Google Analytics, where it is completely overshadowed in area by North America (16.3).

Asia (plus the Middle East) 17,212,000 Sq. Miles (44,579,000 Sq. Km) 30.0%
Africa 11,608,000 Sq. Miles (30,065,000 Sq. Km) 20.3%
North America 9,365,000 Sq. Miles (24,256,000 Sq. Km) 16.3%
South America 6,880,000 Sq. Miles (17,819,000 Sq. Km) 12.0%
Antarctica 5,100,000 Sq. Miles (13,209,000 Sq. Km) 8.9%
Europe 3,837,000 Sq. Miles (9,938,000 Sq. Km) 6.7%
Australia (plus Oceania) 2,968,000 Sq. Miles (7,687,000 Sq. Km) 5.2%

Fri Aug 18, 07:20:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Gabe said....

Just worried that such representations propagate a subliminal message, and a not too wholesome one at that.

Indeed … by now the Australians (+7,600,000 are likely up in arms and just about ready to invade Greenland (+2,100,000 …

Yes, it isn’t the most accurate map, but I doubt there is much of a message there. And likely the most accurate representation (no hidden messages possible here) would not have served the purpose here very well.

Fri Aug 18, 09:03:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

Any flat map of a sphere is going to have some degree of distortion. I wonder when Google will tie their Analytics map to Google Earth, then you can zoom straight in to see the house of the people reading your blog (well, perhaps just the suburb or town).

PS. You always set up a little Oracle app to query your statscounter page every three hours or so.

Sun Aug 20, 06:53:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

the secret to a good and relaxing holiday in a place like this is to NOT use bait with the fishing: it interferes with the reading, drinking and snoozing time.

Tue Aug 22, 09:55:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I use the script blocker with Firefox and a lot of pages show Google Analytics scripts blocked. I did not know what it was till now.

Wed Aug 23, 11:25:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

FYI Tom,

after reading your article I investigated Google Analytics and installed on my website. After inserting the code, I saw that my site was throwing a JavaScript error in IE (not sure about FF), and looking back at your blog, it is throwing the same JS error on every page ("Object Expected"). Not sure what is causing the error, have you noticed this at all?

Fri Aug 25, 10:43:00 AM EDT  

Blogger MERVskilton said....

I prefer the set up of StatCounter for analytic records for my website but it can only hold 25,000 page hits which is only a few days records.. so for our much higher traffic website we need Google Analytics which is better for high traffic with it's 5 million page record.

Wed Sep 13, 07:46:00 PM EDT  


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