As a data analyst sitting with a Chinese website (or several Chinese websites) with traffic that has reached a certain size, you should seriously consider building a data center.
As a data analyst, your job involves:
- Regular reports: Create/compile and update reports for regular use that provide everyone with trends: daily reports, weekly reports, monthly reports, quarterly reports, and/or annual reports.
- Ad hoc reports: Create/compile ad hoc reports for urgent/sudden incidents: traffic spikes, online sales spikes, and/or website instability.
- Insight reports: Traffic source quality reports (e.g., which traffic source gives the higher conversion rate), and/or customer behavior reports (e.g., which segment of customers spends the most on your website).
Data Storage and Data Processing
Webserver log: The size of data depends on the quantity of traffic your website receives every day, and the data size accumulates each day! Your webserver’s log files grow everyday – which is a mega piece of raw data that you or your webserver administrator has to take care of (or find a place to store it). Then your webserver could be running on Apache or Microsoft’s IIS, you will almost always need some techie guy to write a customize script to automatically extract reports from this piece of mega data. As a data analyst, your job is to give your techie guy the report requirements.
Conventional Web Analytics Tools
The most obvious benefit of using a web analytics solution over webserver log as your data analytics solution is: the daily processing of raw data and data storage problem will be taken care of by third-party vendors who provide the web analytics solutions.
Free Web Analytics Solutions vs. Paid Web Analytics Solutions
Of course, the downside of paid web analytics solutions is it requires you to have a budget.
- With paid web analytics solutions, you get to customize during the setup process for exactly what reports and metrics that you will want to have. You also usually geta a high level of service attention from the third-party vendors. Of course, the service level will depend on your contract with your vendors.
- With free web analytics solutions, you may have access to a limited number of reports and metrics. You don’t get service or consultation on any further customization to your reports as normally you receive no service from the web analytics vendor.
Analytics for SEO and SEM
Conventional web analytics and webserver logs are great tools for you to understand the traffic and user behavior coming through from search (a.k.a. SEO + paid search). Combining the data you have collected from web analytics and webserver logs with Google’s web data sharing lifecycle, SEO analytics, and SEM tools, you should be able to build a full set of data center that will continue to power the full search engine marketing strategies that you have set out.