|Google Analytics Realtime|
|Written by Ian Edwards|
|Thursday, 03 November 2011|
Anybody involved in running websites should by now be familiar with Google Analytics, a remarkably useful tool as it is, but now Google have taken another leap forward with Google Analytics Real-Time. Google Analytics Real-Time (beta at the time of writing) can be found tucked away under the optional new style user interface in your Google analytics account.
What it does is quite remarkable. As the name suggests you get a near real time display of activity on any website currently configured to use Google analytics. The display shows you the number of currently active visitors, whether they are new or returning visitors, how they have found your site (if by search the search term they used) which pages are active, the number of page views in the last minute and per second. There is also a top locations map which shows you roughly where your visitors are located. (Note: Google Analytics says it does not collect personally identifiable information).
In my own tests I've found some variance in the number of users on a site reported by Google Analytics Real-Time compared with the "Whose online" function on the site. I've noticed anyway that Google Analytics usually reports fewer site visitors than the server logs. This could be that Google Analytics is missing some data, or it could be just a difference in the way things are measured - if someone spends some time on the same page analytics may not see them as being "active". Bearing in mind that the actual numbers may not be too precise it makes fascinating viewing and offers insights into how your website is being used that might have otherwise required some digging to discover. If you use Google Analytics already then Real-Time will add considerably to your understanding of how your site is being used, and it's free!
Read more on the Google Analytics Blog.