Here at Alexa, the product managers are often asked about the differences between Alexa and Google Analytics. In this two-part post, we’ll do a quick compare-and-contrast.
First, let’s look at panel-based analytics – metrics that aren’t derived directly from the site in question. Our recent post about the measurement and accountability gap explains why it’s so important to get the whole story about what other sites in your space are doing (short version: so you can learn from their successes and failures and respond effectively). But since you won’t have much luck asking your competition to hand over their metrics, you need lots of panel-based analytics to put that story together.
This is Alexa’s real strength. We’ve been gathering traffic data across the entire public web for more than 15 years. Our competitive analysis tools are designed to tap into that data trove at a highly specific level. You can choose which sites to look at and drill down on each one. Then you can watch the metrics change over time, benchmarking your performance against others’ to make sure you’re staying a step ahead.
GA is different. Their bread and butter is on-site analytics — metrics directly measured on your own site. (Alexa does this too – more about that in part 2.) Since they don’t go deep on off-site analytics, GA can’t tell you the whole story. However, they have recently re-introduced a benchmarking tool that provides a few of the plot points. It’s free, which is a plus. In return, you have to share your data into the benchmarking pool, so unlike Alexa, they require you to have a site and use their on-site analytics if you want to see their competitive intelligence.
Also unlike Alexa’s, GA’s benchmarking data is anonymous (otherwise, who would opt in?). You can only see how your site compares to a broad, anonymous group of sites. For example, GA benchmarked Alexa against a group of 350 anonymous sites in “Internet & Telecom”. That’s interesting, but it’s a little tricky to know exactly how to apply that kind of broad and high-level data to your own site or marketing efforts.
In short, GA’s competitive intelligence tools are free, but limited and anonymous. Alexa’s tools take it to the next level: more advanced data (like reputation metrics) and the ability to drill down on specific sites — so you can take specific action.
Next we’ll take a look at Google’s on-site analytics vs. Alexa’s Certified Metrics.