What Google Analytics is really used for

16 June 2017

Think Google Analytics is free for your benefit? Think again

Google Analytics (GA) is without a doubt, the most used website traffic tracking and reporting programs in use today.
Launched on 14 November 2005, after the acquisition of Urchin Software, it immediately made the product free which was unheard of at the time. Within the space of a view months, user growth exploded and they had overtaken all other competitors in that produce niche combined.

Market Dominance

Now Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics program in use today. Estimates of usage vary from 30 million in 2014 to over 70 million more recently.
While Google officially doesn’t report usage of this product, we can safely assume that it has a two thirds market share or more.

Alternatives to Google Analytics

The next most popular are Quantcast, Yandex Metrics, Stat Counter and Gemius in that order.

Secret to Success

Offering a product for free always helps but not if you want to monetize. The main reason for it’s success is that it’s a good product and it was popular first. Knowledge of Google Analytics is almost a prerequisite for work in any Marketing role these days.

Strategic partnerships have also aided in keeping existing users onboard and invested in the product. It’s not surprise that Google’s lucrative online advertising platforms seamlessly integrate as does Google Tag Manager (GTM). I often pull audiences from GA into Adwords with a few clicks of a button. When you’re already invested into one product and your choosing between ad platforms, which one are you going to choose? That’s right, if one integrates and the other doesn’t, the choice is a no-brainer.

Why Google Analytics is given away for free

Google has a history of giving away products for free for a couple of good reasons.

  • They can afford to with a market cap of over $650bn and multiple billion dollar budgets to play with
  • They will forego short term revenue for long term gains a.k.a. The End Game
  • It’s the fastest way to attract users
  • So they can upsell you later
  • For the main reason below

The main reasons Google Analytics is free

User data

Every time someone puts the GA script/tag on their website, Google can match all the visitors to your website and profile them. This is all done via cookies and other device tracking mechanisms which record where you have come from, what you are doing on the site and where you’re going next. This user data is used by advertisers to target users based on their demographics, interests, behaviour and more.

Feedback Mechanism

A lot of people may realise that when you use Google Adwords, each ad will receive a quality score based on how well the ad copy matches with the page your sending the user to. Higher quality scores equal a lower cost and higher positions for your bid price. Google analytics helps provide feedback to Adwords on the user experience after that person has clicked on the ad so they can accurately produce this quality score, improving the quality of the Adwords product.

More crucially, Google Analytics plays a very crucial role on organic Google searches and the world of SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. Again, GA helps determine whether a website’s listing in the search results is warranted based on a series of tests that are performed over time. If youre website has recently shot up the search results for a topic area only to stay there momentarily before going back to where it was before, this is symptomatic of the user experience not being strong enough to warrant your higher position.
Interestingly, many people don’t realise that removing Google Analytics from your website subtly improves your search rankings as there is more ambiguity now for Google’s crawler in terms of the on-page quality.

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