Analytics Blogging Google Usability

Google FeedBurner, Analytics and Webmaster Tools should be combined

Google is now the proud, relatively new owners of FeedBurner. If subscriptions are the measurement of trust and web traffic is the measurement of popularity, what happens when the two are combined?

I’ve been using Google Analytics for a couple of years now, but not without the odd issue or two, as you’ll see from the Recommended Reading sources below.

I’ve been using FeedBurner for maybe a year, and although being broadly appealing, the main problem with FeedBurner is that there seems to be a heavy emphasis on visual features (email and forum widgets, chicklets et cetera) and a lack of more substantial analytics.

Google applications user interface

And that’s where Google Analytics comes in. I think the web analytics in FeedBurner should be dropped in favour of a seamless tie-in with Google Analytics.

When I say seamless, what I really mean is FeedBurner gets brought in-line with the rest of the Google applications — the same consistent, familiar and friendly user interface.

And while Google is busying themselves merging these two applications, why not throw Google’s Webmaster Tools into the mix, too?

I find it odd that Webmaster Tools should sit an entirely separate collection of tools when it’s patently obviously they relate directly to the broader goal of web analytics.

Within my Google Analytics account, I’ve granted access for some of my clients, so that they can monitor their own web statistics via their profiles.

But I’m not able to give them the same level of access to the Webmaster Tools. And to compound things, the export tools are quite weak.

Having consulted with Kate, here’s some things she’d like to see FeedBurner give us:

“I want statistics on people that sign up, a la Clicky style — location, IP, browser preferences, et cetera.

I want to be able to access that information when I receive my daily breakdown list of who makes up that magical fluxtuating feed number each day. As an extension, I want to see who accesses the feed daily, every other day, et cetera. But perhaps most importantly, I want to see when / if people unsubscribe.

I want to see the average time someone has been a subscriber. This may be an open number — for continuous subscribers — but I’d also like an average. This should have an option of being categorized / sorted by date: certain month, last 7 days, all time et cetera, a la Google Analytics.

In addition, I’d like to see this number broken down among where the subscribers were originally referred from, if at all possible. For example: StumbleUpon yielded 75 subscribers in 2007, and stayed subscribed for an average of 89 days for Blah, Blah! Technology.”

I suspect some of these requests — while entirely reasonable — don’t fall within what’s currently feasible. But this is what Kate & I want to see. And I imagine more people would want to see stuff like this, too.

In these days of Social Networking and Social Media, the currency is trust and respect, which is paid in full when people subscribe to your ‘blog or website.

And should Google choose to combine FeedBurner with Analytics, I’m sure they’ll enjoy no small measure of success…

Recommended reading

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

4 replies on “Google FeedBurner, Analytics and Webmaster Tools should be combined”

For some reason I suspect that Google tends to like to keep their mergers independent from the rest of the organization. Even when it comes to YouTube/Google Video you see a bit of a disconnect.

It’s almost as if Google is sucking up market share from great ideas and wants to see them out as separate entities. This may have something to do with anything from the integration of workforce/culture to the ability to track the success of each as subgenres of Google’s mass.

Either way, I think that you’re right. FeedBurner and Analytics should have been merged long ago. The larger issue at hand might be that Google doesn’t adopt an instant-integration attitude. As a consumer of everything Google I’d like to see that change.

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt announced a while ago that they would be concentrating specifically on bolstering what applications they currently have, rather than work on new stuff.

As an example of this, Google’s Analytics works quite closely with AdWords.

The main problem for Google is that not all of their applications are based on the same coding languages or systems. So it’s difficult for them to make App A work with App B without some intermediary service, like an adjoining API.

They’re a victim of their own fast & loose style…

All of this “I want” stuff could be done with a good db and a few minutes of programming. Or, wait until some company happens to do EXACTLY what you happen to want/need. Either way.

Hi Al, thanks for the comment.

Here’s the thing — I could probably program something up in PHP, but I’m not on their payroll. So I won’t.

And these are precisely the kind of things Google should be doing right out of the trap, because they add value to services Google are offering us…

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