There is No Free Lunch
Ask me no questions…I’ll tell you no lies
This is not a rant, nor am I bitching about the countless great Google products. I can’t help feeling a little taken back by data collection in Google Analytics now. I realize this program is free and enterprise class but something has left a bad taste in my mouth. Up until December 2011 this was an outstanding program to improve your website in many ways…marketing, graphic design, conversion and (my favorite) finding your money keywords.
In case you think this is some motor mouth rant, I want to share some of the time I invested in Google Analytics…
Google Analytics Shows you Less by Hiding Logged in Users Keywords
Keywords that are labelled as (not provided) means you will not see the keywords that “logged in” Google users use to find your website. It’s not the end of the world but in all likelihood it is going to continually increase its presence in your Google Analytics reports.
Have Your Say by Voting
2008-2009-Achieved Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC)
At the time I was working with one of Canada’s premier internet marketing companies. My role was to attain the level of knowledge required to pass the GAAC test. It took the better part of one year but after plenty of theory and practical education we became one of Canada’s first internet marketing companies to pass the elite GAAC company qualification
2009- Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ)
After my contract was fulfilled with the internet marketing company I went on to complete the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. It was fun, challenging and left no room for posers.
2010- Google Analytics Introduction to Training Video Series
6 Sigma black-belt trained Mukesh Sharma approached me. He had heard through the grapevine that my knowledge base was extensive in Google Analytics. After several brainstorming sessions we decided to produce an extensive video introduction series on taking your Google Analytics Individual Qualification to Market. These videos would serve as an overview to the in-depth video training series we would produce immediately following the introduction.
2009- 2010- Google Analytics Training Videos
After producing the introduction we followed through with our plan and created a ten hour video training collection of Google Analytics training videos. It took us a great amount of time, effort and energy to produce these high quality videos.
2008- 2011- Supporter and Hardcore Google Analytics
Every client we perform our services for must have Google Analytics installed. If a valued client did not have Google Analytics installed we would insist on some means of measuring our campaign success and improved ROI.
Google Analytics Crossroad
Time is the most precious commodity we have. Time is money! After living, breathing, walking and talking Google Analytics for 5 years, reality has struck me right between the eyes. The primary objective for Google is their business model, not its user’s best interest. Of course there are some that would strongly disagree with me, I can respect that. You might say “What do you want for free?” My answer “The truth” In 2007 it was my decision to invest 5 years into Google Analytics, true dat! If I knew my keyword data was going to fade away in 2012 I would have started with a paid program such as Omniture.
I am not listing the above accomplishments to impress anyone or promote what I do. The reason for briefly outlining the time invested is to circle back to the phrase “there is no free lunch”. Although this software is free, I want to share some negative features about Google Analytics that I believe now make looking at other paid analytics programs worth perusing:
Google Analytics Cons
If you understand the way Google Analytics works you would also conclude that Google owns your data. Sure, you can review reports and export data but the fact is their Meta crawlers see it before you do. Your data is likely used in Google’s massive Meta data set.
Google ran into some hot water in 2011 by the German authorities
“The German data protection representative Johannes Caspar has made it public that Google’s negotiation with the federal authorities about the future of its web measurement application Google Analytics (GA) in Germany have reached a dead end” Source
Google has worked to resolve this matter with German authorities.
If you breach any of their TOS your account will be terminated along with any of your report data. It’s not often that happens, but it does.
Support is Limited
Google does not directly support Google Analytics. They have structured a network of GAACs (Google Analytics Authorized Consultants) to address support issues. You can also call upon GAIQs (Google Analytics Qualified Individuals)
Recently (Aug 2011) a Googler shared his thought of the day with his Google+ buds…
“If you have a billion users, and a mere 0.1% of them have an issue that requires support on a given day (an average of one support issue per person every three years), and each issue takes 10 minutes on average for a human to personally resolve, then you’d spend 19 person-years handling support issues every day.” - DeWitt Clinton
That is thought provoking but the reality is there are great support methods such as forums, blogs, chat, Google Instant messaging, and email available for paid products. Most notably, Google AdWords support has improved immensely.
Slows Web-Page Loading
After heavily using Google Analytics across thousands of websites I will support Google’s claim of 99.9% server uptime. I have experienced downtime on occasion where you’ll notice your web pages don’t fully load, depending on where you have placed the GATC (Google Analytics Tracking Code).
It is recommended that you place the tracking code above the </body> tag so your pages will fully load if there are problems with the Google Analytics Servers.
I do not recommend Google Analytics to big data websites. If your website exceeds 10 million requests per month you may lose some or all of the data above and beyond that limit. You should also understand above1 million requests per day may cause issues with your (Google’s) data.
No Log Files
Some businesses would prefer raw or filtered log files to include in their Meta data. These files reside on the Google servers and are not available to users.
Recently Google has decided that users logged into Google will no longer pass the keywords along to Google Analytics. Take a look at your keyword data, if you see (not provided) it represents logged in Googlers. The keywords they use are not being passed along to your Google Analytics reports. It sucks!
Yes, there are many pros Google Analytics has but right now I am in a bad mood and don’t feel like discussing them. All I want is access to all of my keyword data once again. (Not provided) is (not cutting it) for me. The majority of my accounts show (not provided) as the number one referring keyword.
There is no doubt that my voice alone will not influence the Google Analytics engineers. In 2007 I had the pleasure of working with some of them during GAAC training. They are a smart group! I cannot believe these brilliant and talented developers cannot find a way to give GA users back the valuable keyword data they once had. It makes me think there is an underlying objective that has nothing to do with Google Analytics users and all to do with Google’s new social push (Google+).
In short, if you are seeing (not provided) in your keyword data help yourself to voicing your opinion. Together we might make a difference!