Thursday, July 27, 2006

Run and Hide .... Here Come The Bees!

On the 24th, Seth made a quick mention at one particular hot space ... web analytics. He highlighted 103Bees.com, though I'm not 100% sure why. It's a neat product, and it is certainly simple (its best feature is its simplicity). It follows the same logic as the ultra-useful MyBlogLog (which does everything that 103Bees.com does, but also tracks outbound link popularity and community members who show up on your site). Designers / developers drop in a single line of Javascript and they are done.

And while it is a neat tool (I installed it on a low traffic site as soon as I found out about it, similar to my trial of HitTail.com), it is not yet a complete tool. Web masters and designers will still need something that can analyze logs (and I postulate that 103Bees.com will need to go that direction to get people to pay for their product), and probably another package or two to worry about click fraud.

Most of what 103bees.com and HitTail.com do, is available in the log files of websites, and the log files are a source of many, many other interesting tidbits. Numbers like which page was the most frequent entrance page. Exit page. Which browsers were used. How long the user stayed on the website. Common paths of users through the website. Etc... A Javascript Wizard (Brad Feld claims that the genius behind MyBlogLog is such a person) may be able to do these statistics from Javascript. But they are not there yet.

A much better tool (right now), would be Google Analytics, or even AWStats, both of which are free, excellent log analyzers.

I doubt Seth (or anyone with a large website) is running their site solely using just one tool (103bees.com or even Web Side Story). Most of our sites use two or three of these tools at all times, to ensure that the short comings of one aren't hampering our real growth. [This comes with its own set of problems, of course.]

A note on Google Analytics: Years ago, the premier in this space was Urchin, which just a year or two ago, was gobbled up by Google, and is now Google Analytics. We use Google Analytics for a few different web sites and their ability to track the "funnel" (albeit, it is not flipping the funnel) is great. Unfortunately, when Google bought them, they quit developing the Urchin product, which really means that if you want to use the Urchin package, you better like using Google's products. Many of the reports which used to be available within Urchin went out the door, as did any type of integration with shopping carts, etc... that they used to have. Overall, I think Urchin was a better product. But we live in a Google world.

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