Google Analytics – Is It Eye Candy Or Useful Data?

I signed up for a Google Analytics account a while back and got set up in early May tracking stats from this blog. As it is one of the plugins here at, it was very easy to get going and the Analytics site gives you a full array of data and pretty graphs to look at. I think that having this in place from the birth of a blog would show some real elements of growth, but over the past two months, I think my stats are just variations on a theme.

When I open my account for a look, the first thing I see is the Executive Overview - 4 graphs designed to give me key information at a glance. There's a line graph for Page Views and Visits, two pie graphs showing Visits and Visit Sources and a Geo Map similar in style to a Clustr Map. Here's my earliest Overview and the latest.



So what does this tell me? My return visitors have increased - that's got to be a good sign. The maps are similar - who is that checking out this blog from Fairbanks, Alaska? How people are finding this blog is also interesting but pretty predictable. Once or twice, Stephen Downes has featured something from me and then drives in a bit of traffic on its own, early on was a factor to be replaced by Technorati. My panic whenever Bloglines drops the edublog/incsub feeds is obviously trivial as only 5-6% of visitors come via that path. At least I know they're readers though. I wonder how much of the stats can be accounted for by spammers?

I can dig around for all sorts of interesting bits of data and make some assumptions about those bits. My most popular blog post - Blog On, 188 visits with an average of 4 minutes, 3 seconds spent reading it. Nothing else makes the top 5 content list as an individual post. However, a significant number of people come here looking for the Interactive Whiteboards tag - 130.

Does this help in becoming a better blogger? Very doubtful, as comments from others are the best feedback on how this blog is doing. The nerd in me enjoys the statistics but they are best enjoyed infrequently.

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2 thoughts on “Google Analytics – Is It Eye Candy Or Useful Data?

  1. Tony Forster

    I look at my cluster map so often, fifteen visitors a day, I wonder who’s that dot in Capetown? Its a vanity thing but its a good motivator.

    Now that we are electronically interconnected, we can do research that previously seemed impossible. On insufficient data, I have analysed the national interest in game programming using Clustermaps and Google Trends:
    with questionable accuracy I can say that Australia is a world leader in educational use of game programming.

    See for a statistical analysis of the transmission of memes.

    There was a study which looked at guild size in World of Warcraft to test theories of human organisation.

    Yes I spend too much time massaging my ego looking at my cluster map and Googling myself, but we have a powerful research tool there too

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