Google Analytics is a great service for many reasons, not the least of which is its price tag of zero. Another of its great advantages is that site owners just have to follow a few simple steps before being able to track most--but not all--visitors to their site. After signing up for an account and adding a small snippet of code to every page, site owners are ready to track a wealth of information. But not every visitor can be tracked, and not all types of interaction can be recorded with the basic installation of Google Analytics. And the reasons for both of these limitations are caused by the internal workings of GA itself. Its guts, if you'll excuse the metaphor. With that in mind, I'm hoping that this post will help demystify what's actually going on in Google Analytics. Specifically, I'm going to focus on how GA collects information from a site's visitors. With a better understanding of this process, you should be able to recognize situations wherein Google Analytics might not be providing your site with very accurate information.
How Does Google Analytics Collect Information About Visitors?
Why does any of this matter?
How important are the limitations of Google Analytics?
All in all, the two limitations I've mentioned aren't really major drawbacks for most sites. There are plenty of reasons why the software is used by half of the world's leading websites.