I was interested to read that Microsoft is now at work on their own Analytics package. It’s currently in beta and will be released later this year. Then again ‘Vista’ has had more projected release dates than that new Guns N Roses album. Still, this might be a better bet for actually arriving on, or near, schedule. An analytics package is, presumably, an easier job than an operating system.
Another good reason for on time delivery is that this fits with Microsoft’s new focus on Internet/Web dominance. They realize that challenging Google is going to mean real action. And if there’s one thing a monopoly hates, it’s another monopoly.
Google started the Analytics race when they bought Urchin, changed the name to Google Analytics (very imaginative) and cut the price to Free. Formerly Analytic packages were, for the most part, expensive. That changed with Google Analytics as ClickTracks suddenly had their own Free package on offer. Of course Google had the advantage as they immediately tied Analytics to AdWords, allowing advertisers to check their stats without leaving their AdWords dashboard. If you’re thinking that this sounds a little like the Internet Explorer/Windows set-up that caused Microsoft, you’re probably not far off.
It’s not a direct parallel, but it’s a valid one. Another possible benefit of Analytics, and the coming Microsoft analytics package, is that the vendor(s) have access to all the data that is being collected by the users. Many are worried that Google can , or will, use this data to raise bid prices for the keywords that are producing the most business for advertisers. You don’t have to be paranoid to believe that it’s at least a possibility.
The bottom line is that you should be using Analytics, whether you are doing search engine advertising or not. You need to give yourself the advantage of knowing where you are strong and where you need to make changes. With the arrival of Free options, you have no excuse for not doing it. Both the Google and ClickTracks packages are excellent; and there are some others out there that are free, or close to it, that are worth looking into as well.
Remember, though, it’s not just about the numbers you get. It’s equally or even more about interpreting those numbers. That’s where real skills are needed as you try to interpret what exactly is being said to you by the figures. Go to Yahoo, or even Google, and search under ‘How to web analytics’. You’ll find some excellent sources of information to get you started. And, best of all – they’re free.
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