What Google Analytics Isn’t Reporting

Google Analytics is installed on over 10 million websites!   It’s robust, highly integrated, easy to implement and not to mention free!

Without question, every web proprietor should, at the very least, try it.  Most will swear by it.  So why should we take the time to re-visit what many would argue is fast becoming an internet artifact?

For starters, tools like Google Analytics, rely on page tags (being present), javascript and cookies.  Their one obvious weakness is “under reporting”.  While this limitation is generally not considered statistically significant to web marketers, it is important for anyone interested in obtaining a comprehensive review of who’s visiting, linking, crawling and downloading from their site.

Here are 5 quick reasons to consider dusting off Wusage (at least from time to time):

Total Traffic & Data Transfer


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Wusage, Urchin and similar tools use the server logs as a data source.  These logs capture all requests for a site’s content.  This includes pages, images, videos, scripts, PDF’s, etc… regardless of the source (i.e. humans and robots).

Having a tool that can report a sites total traffic enables the site owner to review potential data transfer (i.e. bandwidth) saving opportunities:

As a web host, we regularly come across images that have not been optimized for the web.  These unnecessarily large files result in slower page loads and wasted bandwidth.

Periodically reviewing your top downloads with a program like Wusage (‘Top Documents’ report) or Urchin (IT Reports > Pages & Hits) can expose these hogs, even with only minimal request volume.

Byte Converter Tool: http://www.whatsabyte.com/P1/byteconverter.htm

“Stolen” Objects

Wusage recently introduced the “Stolen Objects” report.  You can review the top external websites linking directly to your non-page content (with or without consent).  Non-page content includes images, videos, PDF and other downloads.  Intellectual and copyright legalities aside, it’s important to know because files served from your domain count against your sites allocated bandwidth (traffic).  That may be acceptable in certain cases where the link ultimately results in a conversion on your site (albeit unlikely).


Trespassing Robots (or invited guests?)

Since log file analyzers don’t rely on embedded code (i.e. Javascript page tags) or Cookies, they’re able to effectively track most robots.

Googlebot and Bingbot are welcome guests on most sites.  Wusage (and Urchin) will show you how often they visit, the number of pages they access and of course, how much bandwidth they’re consuming in the process.  In Wusage, you’ll find these details in the ‘Top Web Browsers’ report.  Urchin shows them in ‘IT Reports > Browsers & Robots > Robots’.

Both of these crawlers allow you to increase/decrease their “visitation rights” (Crawl Rate can be configured via Bing/Google Webmaster Tools).

Other bots are visiting too.  Some have specialized benefits, while others are a downright nuisance.  You can run a background check on bots who properly identify themselves at http://www.robotstxt.org/db.html.  If a bot isn’t helping generate quality exposure (i.e. conversions) and using more than acceptable bandwidth, you might consider blocking them with your robots.txt file (or by IP in your .htaccess file).  In doing so, we’d recommend checking your robots.txt file in the appropriate webmaster tools portal to be sure you haven’t knocked out our friends googlebot and bingbot.

Popular Downloads

Wusage and other log file analysis tools have the advantage of being able to report on non-page object downloads.  Your log file based analysis tool can provide a summary of your top downloads – whether they’re images, video, PDF files, etc… In Wusage, these document types are found in the ‘Top Documents’ report.  Urchin displays them in ‘IT Report > Pages & Files > Downloads’.  You may just find some surprises here.

Historical Analysis and Sanity Checks

It’s quite difficult to perform quality analytics with a limited data set.  And unfortunately, that’s reality the first month or two after a Google Analytics implementation.   Wusage, Urchin and other log analyzers have instant access to historical data.  On first launch, these utilities can process available log data up to a year old.

If you’ve only recently integrated Google Analytics on your site, a log analyzer can help fill in the gaps.  Log analyzers will always report higher traffic than a page tracking tool, so remember to discount the Wusage numbers when combining datasets.

For those with sufficient volume of data in Google Analytics, Wusage/Urchin can provide a window into pages with missing tags.  Scanning the top pages on your log analyzers report will help ensure you’re not missing out on any key tracking opportunities!

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