I have been intending to write an update to my initial look at Google Analytics for a while now and having now been using Blogbeat for a month, it makes more sense to compare the two.
Both are extremely easy to set up – its a matter of inserting a piece of code in your header or footer. Google is slightly easier because there seems to be an abundance of plugins for the various blogging tools out there. I was using Richard Boake’s tool for WordPress which you can find here.
Google Analytics: 5
Google Analytics allows you to keep track of up to 5 websites, whereas Blogbeat only allows you to track one. Nothing stopping you signing up to more accounts with Blogbeat but obviously at extra cost. On logging into Google Analytics, you only have to look at the menu to know there are lots of features available. Blogbeat has a much simpler menu structure.
From the perspective of a blog, both have a good set of features though. Identifying people who have come to the site via search keywords, identifying new and returning visitors and obviously numbers of people coming to the site. There is the usual information available about users in general – operating systems/browsers/screen resolutions which is more just for interest value than anything else. Google takes this further and shows plugin capabilities and bandwidth of the user. Rather strangely, Google Analytics has a very poor implementation for referrers. You can see the website referring to your site, but not the page itself. Both however track exit links (though Google tells you the number who left on your front page as well) and in effect, both track your most popular posts – Google calls them pages whereas Blogbeat calls them posts. Blogbeat has a neat feature that could allow easy targeting in the future – it allows you to name (tag) visitors so you can identify them easily in your stats – I think this is brilliant, it is manual right now but it makes your stats more personal – less ip addresses is always a good thing 🙂 – though as you get more and more visitors being able to automatically tag visitors would be useful. Maybe in the future you could tag users who are interested in specific topics within your blog. Yes, obviously you could then target these people with targeted advertising, or if you are less money focused, display a customised version of your blog 😉
Blogbeat also has integration with Feedburner for RSS tracking – it seems to only extend to number of subscribers currently – it would be nice to have all this functionality inside Blogbeat without the need to use Feedburner. There is nothing inside Google Analytics which refers to RSS feeds currently 🙁
There are a huge number of other features in Google Analytics though – none of which you would really use for a blog – ROI calculations, Search Engine Marketing (including A/B testing, source and keyword testing), Goals and Visitor Funnels.
Google Analytics: 3 (5 if you are not using a blog)
Blogbeat: 5 (3 if you are not using a blog)
Navigation in Google Analytics is a nightmare – it is really difficult to find stuff easily – everything is deep within a multitude of menus and it usually takes a fair amount of clicking to find the stuff you need. The ability to create a user profile which removes the stuff you don’t want would be useful. Blogbeat is very easy to move around, mostly because of its specialisation in blog tracking, strangely though the graphs for visitors are in the dashboard section and completely inaccessible from the visitor’s section.
When it comes to the interface itself though, Google Analytics is graphically pleasing, it is clean and crisp and feels professional. There are a good number of graphs which illustrate trends. Blogbeat is not quite so professional looking, everything is larger and more “laid back” – maybe a sign of their target audience. I would prefer it to be more professional looking though with clean and crsip layout. Maybe it is just because there are not as many graphs in Blogbeat though.. overall both meet a good standard and get the information across.
Google Analytics: 3
This is a simple one – Google Analytics is free, Blogbeat is not. Blogbeat charges $2/month after a free 30 day trial. It is not much but well compared to free it makes a difference. I wonder what will happen when Measuremap (recently bought by Google) is released to the public. If that is free, Blogbeat might have problems. On the other hand.. Measuremap may not be free 😉
From a blog perspective, you can get by with Google Analytics, but Blogbeat feels much more intuitive. The only real additional features you get is the tagging, better referral info and feedburner integration. Is that enough?
Google Analytics: 5
Analytics packages can slow your website down if they cannot cope with the demand placed on them by the number of website using their systems. Google Analytics had a huge uptake and they had to stop taking new users – it is still invitation only currently. Blogbeat is likely to keep numbers down due to its subscription payment mechanism. I would be surprised though if Google had load issues in the future, I wonder how true this is in reality? Load from either service on my website has been difficult to confirm in the past months. I did have a few slowdowns, but I could not attribute them to either analytics service 🙁
Google Analytics: unknown
I should note that its not an entirely fair comparison – Google Analytics is much more suited to analysing a website rather than a blog; Blogbeat is the reverse. Hopefully Google’s purchase of Measuremap will change this. I am of course viewing it from a bloggers perspective!
Overall, Google Analytics got 16, Blogbeat got 17. I am not that surprised they are that close. Performance is a question I was not able to answer, and this could be key for Blogbeat. They have to maintain high performace for a paid for service. Google gains because it is free, so even though it is not ideal for blogs, it does meet the basic requirements for most users. Blogbeat’s tagging, referral detail and feedburner integration nudges it ahead but overall it comes down to one thing – do you want to pay for it?
[update] Having used blogbeat over a month now I thought I should point out that there does seem to be some issues with its graphs for “this year” and last year” they never seem to appear! – bit irritating that! That probably means that overall Blogbeat is at best equal to Google Analytics – the tagging feature in Blogbeat is the one thing I really love about it though.