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:
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.