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Should You Use Google Analytics for Your Intranet?

Google Analytics is the most popular analytics solution globally, used by millions of websites. Even though it’s an effective solution for external websites, Google Analytics is NOT a good choice for Intranet websites.

Here’s why:

Google Analytics Isn’t Designed for Intranets
Google Analytics is an advertising tracking platform, targeted towards marketers and advertisers. Most of the new features released in the last few years are not relevant for Intranet websites, like Remarketing, AdWords linking improvements, and DoubleClick integration.

This wasn’t always the case: early versions of Google Analytics were more Intranet-friendly. But as Google Analytics has grown, the product has become more aligned with advertisers’ requirements and less Intranet-friendly.

Poor Document Tracking
In order to track file downloads (like PDFs), Google Analytics requires you to tag the clickable link with a JavaScript snippet. When the link is clicked, a tracking event is sent to Google’s data collection servers. Depending on your environment, setting up these tracking events can require a lot of work.

But there’s a bigger problem: if someone accesses a document via a direct URL, Google Analytics won’t “see” the document has been accessed. Intranet environments commonly have direct URLs to documents embedded in both websites AND applications, which means Google Analytics isn’t able to provide an accurate count of document access.

Privacy Regulations
When considering data privacy, the two areas worth mentioning are the Google Analytics ToS (Terms of Service), and the data laws enforced by your Country.

Firstly, the Google Analytics ToS forbids you from storing any PII (Personally Identifiable Information) within Google Analytics. This includes usernames, IP addresses, email addresses, or anything that would allow you to identify an individual.

Secondly, Google Analytics’ report data is stored in Google’s cloud, and some countries have stringent limits on the types of data that can be stored in a cloud environment. Again, these laws vary by country – it’s a good idea to verify the data privacy laws enforced by your country (and industry).

These regulations interfere with your ability to see how employees are using your Intranet sites. For example: if you want to see a basic list of employees that viewed your Intranet website in the past month, you won’t be able to use Google Analytics to create the list!

Security Issues
Google Analytics tracking requests contain a wealth of information, like server names, IP addresses, file paths, and more. This information is sent to Google’s data collection servers each time a page is viewed. If this information is intercepted by a would-be attacker, s/he knows exactly where to find your servers and documents. This is a major security concern for Intranet sites that contain sensitive data.

Google Analytics stores data in datacenters all over the world. When your data is stored outside your network in another company’s cloud, you no longer control access to the data.

Site Errors
Like most SaaS (Software as a Service) analytics applications, Google Analytics uses JavaScript page tags to collect data. These page tags run when web pages successfully load, but they don’t provide much information about web pages that don’t successfully load.

There are many reasons a web page might not load successfully; examples are broken links, bad redirects, and unauthorized content. Google Analytics isn’t able to tell you about any of these website errors.

Angelfish Software is Ideal for Intranets
If you’re looking for a secure web analytics solution for your Intranet environment, Angelfish Software deserves your consideration.

Learn more about using Angelfish for your Intranet.