Google announced late Monday afternoon (March 28th, 2005) that it had reached an agreement with Urchin to buy the web analytics company. We can’t wait to see what the power and deep pockets of Google have in store for our favorite web stats reporting software.
Over the years, we at Bare Feet Studios have tried many web site traffic analysis packages. They’ve run the gammut from free packages like Webalizer that are provided or installed by most hosting providers, up to the true enterprise-level packages such as WebTrends and Urchin. In the early days, packages such as WebTrends required that you add code to each and every page on which you wanted to gather statistical information. While that in itself was quite a pain, the real problem came when the WebTrends servers were down or responding slowly. See, the way it worked was that each time a user requested one of the pages on your site, the code that you had to paste into each page actually had to connect to the WebTrends servers and “log” a hit as well as gather additional information about the visitor, their browser, what page or site they had previously visited, etc. Much like the same problems with ad tracking sites like DoubleClick, when the servers that tracked these hits were busy or down, your web page would fail to load.
This never really made any sense to us. The web server software, Apache is our web server of choice, keeps a very detailed log of all access and activity. Other packages on the market at that time, like Urchin and FunnelWeb (it was an early stats package that ran on Macintosh servers) instead were installed on the server, or on a server in your local network, and would read the contents of these server logs into memory once a day (or as many times as you want to configure them to) and then spit out a very detailed and expansive series of reports that could be sorted and viewed in almost any way imaginable. Very early on we decided to go this route and to not leave our client’s websites at the mercy of some other server out there and just hope that it wasn’t too busy at the moment to deal with our hits. WebTrends did see the problem and moved to create a series of packages that could be purchased and that will run on your local network. But we found their products to be very unfriendly, unweildly, and expensive for what you actually got.
So, for the past 5-6 years we have been offering enterprise-level Urchin statistical website traffic reporting FREE to our clients who host with us. We feel that understanding the traffic patterns on your site are just as important as getting good placement on the search engines. It doesn’t matter if you have a top 10 or top 5 placement on Google if your visitors can’t find what they are looking for when they get to your site. Helping our clients understand the traffic patterns that develop on their sites is one of the important and surprisingly educational services we offer.
You might know how many hits or sessions your site registered yesterday. Do you know if your site visitors found what they were looking for?