Google Analytics will from today provide instant access for anybody that wants to open an account and start using the service to monitor visitor activity on their website/s.

Google Analytics

The service, which is free of charge, provides comprehensive information on visitor behaviour to help webmasters better understand how their sites are being used and where users are coming from.

As a freebie, the Google product is ideal for SMEs that perhaps don’t understand why web analytics is so important to their business, and as such might not be prepared to pay for these tools.

When Google Analytics launched in November 2005 there was so much demand that Google swiftly stopped accepting new registrations, and subsequently spent months clearing the backlog of people who wanted to use the service.

More recently, there has been a short delay between sign-up and activation – 48 hours or so – but now Google is providing instant access for anybody that wants it.

Google’s main strategy here is to provide a greater understanding of ROI for Adwords advertisers, to help them match up Adwords clicks to sales. If you use Adwords then you can sign in and look for the ‘Analytics’ tab to set this up.

Google Analytics is however available to anybody with a website – you do not need to be a Google advertiser to use it.

Those looking for more education on how to track Adwords usage can visit Google’s Conversion University for more information on how to get the best out of the Analytics product.

As a free service, the launch of Google Analytics annoyed some people in the web analytics sector, who feel that it may impact on their ability to charge for similar software.

In an interview with E-consultancy a couple of weeks ago Brian Clifton, Google Head of Web Analytics EMEA, said: “Web analytics is more important than ever before, which is good for the industry, and in fact has also benefited our competition – ‘a rising tide floats all boats’.”

As a sector, web analytics, like email marketing, has suffered from price commoditisation over the past couple of years, as recounted in our Web Analytics Buyer’s Guides (the 2006 update is a couple of weeks away…).

Yet more and more vendors are making profits not through the sale of web analytics software, but largely through the consulting and integration that often accompanies a large installation.

As such we think that Google Analytics will merely open eyes (especially the great swathes of SMEs and start-ups) and focus minds, rather than destroying an established industry that makes most of its money through supporting blue chip clients, rather than providing low-margin off-the-shelf analytics tools.

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