Comparing web traffic stats: google analytics, google urchin, and webtrends

The best way to take web analytics data is with a healthy dose of salt. While analytics software packages have improved over the years, they are still best seen as providing an indicator of patterns over time, rather than representing accurate absolute numbers.

As I currently have access to traffic stats for the same website from three different analytics solutions, I thought I would share them.

Table: Analytics data
Visits by month
Analytics package June July August September
Webtrends 31,581 28,333 29,582 29,374
Google Analytics 5,821 5,539 4,525 6,683
Google Urchin 27,920 25,082 25,022 23,839

As you can see, Web Trends and Google Urchin are roughly in line (not surprising, considering they are both work via logfile analysis), while Google Analytics is about five times lower than the others.

Another interesting comparison was on file downloads, as recorded by Urchin and Web Trends. With my limited sample, I found that Google Urchin undershot Web Trends in reported PDF download numbers by a factor of anywhere between 2 and 10. That is to say, Web Trends might report 28,000 downloads, and Urchin would report 2,500. Or Web Trends would say 5,000 and Urchin lists 2,300.

Apparently random, and confusing. I haven’t tried any of the javascript hacks that get Google Analytics to track file downloads.

A first step towards “justice after Bush”?

In a surprising and almost (but not quite) faith-restoring move, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzalez, and others have been indicted by Texas DA on charges related to prisoner abuse in a privately run prison in which Cheney had personal investments.

For actual justice to be done, of course, much more is demanded. In “Justice after Bush: Prosecuting an outlaw administration,” in the December 2008 issue of Harper’s, Scott Horton argues persuasively for an official, commission-led inquest into the Bush administration’s role in sanctioning and promoting torture, in contravention of both international and domestic statutes.

It will take the world a long time to recover from the damage done by Bush et al., confirming in a sad sort of way Margaret Mead’s words:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

The #1 reason not to use Joomla

The most annoying issue with Joomla!, despite the admirable efforts of many people involved with the project, is its tendancy to output crappy HTML. Even still, at least one of the default themes uses tables for layout, and last time I checked the RSS feeds that it spat out wouldn’t validate.

But the biggest problem is not with the core. A little bit of hacking can get around that. The bigger problem is the poorly coded extensions (plugins, components, modules). Running a website off an open-source CMS means you almost invariably are going to need to rely on 3rd party extensions, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

What’s wrong is the shoddy state of Joomla’s extension landscape. Credit to the extension authors is of course due more than blame, as they’re working (generally) for free, out of goodwill. But having to re-work over the HTML generated by pretty much each and every extension–whether it’s removing tables used for layout, getting rid of deprecated elements and attributes, or just fixing plain old errors–gets tedious quickly. People should know better than to just throw <style> tags into the middle of a document. I shouldn’t be seeingĀ  <td align="center"> anywere.

If it can’t be shared, it doesn’t count

Kevin Kelly on the future of the web, which he sees basically in terms of a movement towards the semantic web, or a web of linked data.

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Kelly unfortunatley comes across a bit naive, as he discusses our inevitable dependance upon, and surrendering to, the envisioned “web 10.0” without any critical hesitation or indication of cause for concern.

How not to do a call to action

As any email marketer knows, your call to action is a crucial element of your campaign. When tweaking your text can double your conversion rates, you can’t afford to ignore it. Even a 5% increase in conversion rates can translate into huge sales if you’re talking about thousands of customers.

So why PayPal, a company who you might think would know better, would use this confusing and non-clickthrough-inspiring call to action text is beyond me.

Continue reading “How not to do a call to action”