Web Analytics Stats: Fact or Fiction?

2008 has been the year of web analytics. In the world of “Web 2.0,” we’ve read a literal flood of stats, analytics and reports. Articles written about everything from statistics in social media to website traffic and usage projections for 2009 and beyond. Stats, numbers and more stats everywhere. What do they mean? Should we believe them? I’d like to put it out there that you really need to take any analytics stat with a grain of salt. Here’s why…

Web Analytics Tracking Differ Greatly from One Program to Another

Google Analytics, Hitwise, Omniture, Woopra, Urchin, the list of proprietary tracking programs goes on and on and on. Every program tracks differently from one another, which is why a lot of professional web analysts will tell you that they use two or three different programs when they cite a problem. While some platforms have more inherent trust for writers to cite stats, there is little to no standardization across the board. Additionally, many tracking platforms require customization so that all of the data they track is “good” data. (Typically, customized so they ignore your interaction with your own website, block spam visits, etc.) In some cases, two tracking programs that are utilized on the same service could report a twenty to thirty percent difference in numbers.
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