Google Analytics logo.
Sometime last December (around the time I was writing about website traffic), I deleted AWStats, the log analysis program which told me which pages on this website were the most popular, who was linking to the site, etc. In order to solve my website statistics fix, I signed up for Google Analytics, the website statistics program derived from Google that was previously Urchin. Since it was a couple of months after Google Analytics was introduced, I was put on a waiting list.

Sometime in late March, I ran across an essay suggesting that Google Analytics had serious privacy issues. The most pertinent issues in my mind were the possibilities that Google could use the data collected in Analytics for nefarious purposes and the fact that Google Analytics used the default privacy policy and terms of service, as opposed to one customized to the needs of Analytics users. This concerned me enough that I emailed the Google Analytics support staff. I received this response:

Google takes data privacy very seriously and we recognize that it is important to our users and customers. Only Google Analytics account owners and those to whom they give permission may access their reporting data. Google support and client services specialists may access reporting data for the purposes of customer support.

I understand the need to have a more explicit Analytics-specific privacy policy, and will suggest to the policy team that they draft one and post it on the Analytics website. We appreciate your feedback, so please don't hesitate to write back with any questions or concerns you may have.

This rapid response to my concerns made me feel better. When I received a Google Analytics invitation less than a week later, I was excited to start gathering statistics. I eventually settled on the Google Analyticator plugin for WordPress, mainly because it removes the Google Analytics code if a WordPress administrator (i.e. me) is logged in.

Google Analytics Geo Map Overlay.
The interface is relatively snazzy, with the standard amount of AJAX and nice Flash-based graphs. My favorite feature is the geographic map overlay, which displays a world map and marks the cities where your website's users are located with orange circles. Cities with a disproportionate number of visitors have larger circles. As you probably have already suspected, the large circle in the northeastern United States is Cambridge.

There are also some things that I do not like. Analytics has AdWords integration, but I do not care about it because I do not use AdWords. There is no AdSense integration, nor any plans for it. You use your Google Account to login to Analytics, but it refuses to automatically signin, even if you are already logged in at other Google services that use Google Accounts, like GMail or Google Calendar.