Basics of Google Analytics

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Basics of Google Analytics

Basics of Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service which provides you with tools for measuring the success of your website or blogs with respect to marketing, content optimization, or e-commerce.

Google Analytics originated from a web analytics firm called Urchin which was acquired by Google in late 2005.

How Google Analytics Works

Google Analytics Sign Up Page

Cookies and Google Analytics

Google Analytics uses first party cookies to uniquely identify individual visitors.To begin the process of tracking cookie-related information, the Google Analytics tracking code gets initiated by a JavaScript code, called _gaq. By visiting a website, the visitor activates this JavaScript, and in turn, the cookie information gets passed over to your Google Analytics account. The following image from Google illustrates this process, highlighting the code. (You can find this image at

Google Analytics uses a combination of persistent and temporary cookies for tracking the online behavior of visitors.

Cookie Name Cookie Type/Purpose Validity
__utmc Temporary Session Identifier Deleted after visitors quit the browser
__utmb Persistent Session Identifier Expires after 30 minutes of inactivity in an open web browser
__utma Visitor Identifier Expires after 2 years
__utmz Campaign Values Expires after 6 months
__utmv Vistor Segmentation Expires after 2 years

User Privacy and Google Analytics

Privacy has become an important topic in web analytics. As a matter of best practices, it is not recommended to track Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Different regions have different privacy policies associated with PII and it is recommended that you check the privacy laws of your region. Here is a quick summary of information related to privacy in reference to Google Analytics:

  1. Google Analytics does not report on personally identifiable information.
  2. Google Analytics cookies collect standard Internet log data in anonymous ways and Google does not share this data with any third parties.
  3. Google Analytics does not track a user across multiple unrelated sites.
  4. Through the Benchmarking service, you can choose to share your data anonymously with Google. You can opt out of this service.
  5. Google offers a browser-based plug-in which allows users to completely opt out of Google Analytics tracking.
  6. Google also offers a method called IP Anonymization, syntax: _anonymizeIp(), to scramble the IP information sent to Google. This prevents Google Analytics from reporting geo-location information.
  7. For more information on Google Analytics privacy features, please visit: