Matthew D. Sarrel, a consultant and former PC Magazine Labs technical director, wrote a nice overview of website analytics, and had a bit to say about Google Analytics.

First his thesis:

By understanding a few simple metrics, you’ll learn a lot about how your site is structured, how it functions, and the products and information that you offer. It’s important to know whether your Web site is boosting your bottom line by bringing in new customers and visitors and retaining loyal ones.

Now the bit about Google Analytics:

Who should you choose to provide the right solution? One basic tool is Google Analytics. Free for AdWords customers, Google Analytics provides basic Web analytics. Ideal for pay-per-click advertisers, it provides excellent keyword reporting and AdWords return-on-investment reports, which advertisers can then use to tweak their ad campaigns. The service also includes executive summaries for traffic, e-commerce and conversion trends, and powerful trend-reporting features to help you understand how site traffic varies over time.

“One basic tool”. “Basic tool” sounds to me more like a log analyzer tool such as Analog or a stats tool of yesteryear analyzing page views, referrals, and not much else. As Google’s Alden DeSoto pointed out about Google Analytics Thursday in our interview with him:

It’s free because we want to provide a full-featured web analytics product to as many businesses and site owners as possible, not because it’s somehow stripped down. It’s a full-featured, complete solution.

Good point; and Google Analytics is not just “free for AdWords customers”, it’s free to anyone with a website and up to 5,000,000 page views per month (no limit on monthly page views for AdWords customers).