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Should You Use Google Analytics with SharePoint?

Microsoft SharePoint is a popular document management & intranet solution, used by thousands of companies to share information among employees and customers.

At a basic level, SharePoint is a web-based application that sits on top of IIS. If you want to see how users interact with your SharePoint sites, you can use web analytics software to generate usage reports for your SharePoint environment.

Many organizations use Google Analytics to track SharePoint usage. Here are some reasons why this isn’t a good idea:

1) Google Analytics Is a Marketing Analysis Tool

When Google Analytics launched in 2005, it was a traditional web analytics solution. But over the years the product has become focused on advertiser-specific features, like remarketing, AdWords / DoubleClick / Display Network integration, attribution, and advertiser ROI. It makes sense strategically – the bulk of Google’s revenue comes from delivering ads, and Google Analytics provides reporting for advertisers.

If marketing isn’t a concern and you’re only looking to track usage of your SharePoint websites, Google Analytics is the wrong tool for the job.

2) Google Analytics Doesn’t “See” Document Downloads

In order for Google Analytics to function, you’re required to put JavaScript tracking code on each page of your website. When a visitor comes to your website, the tracking code runs and sends tracking data to Google’s data collection servers. But if someone opens a page or document that doesn’t contain the tracking code (or if the tracking code is blocked), no tracking data will be sent.

Most SharePoint environments allow users to access documents directly from within an application, and you can’t embed GA tracking code in a document. This means when a document is opened directly from the application, Google Analytics isn’t able to show you the document has been accessed.

3) Data Security

Depending on your company’s industry and the sensitivity of data stored in SharePoint, data security is usually a primary concern or an afterthought.

If data security is a concern, Google Analytics stores the full location (hostname and path) of the content stored by SharePoint.

4) No PII (Personally Identifiable Information)

One of the more useful features of using web analytics with SharePoint is the ability to see a list of usernames who accessed a page or downloaded a document.

Google Analytics doesn’t allow you to store PII: PII includes usernames, IP addresses, or anything that would enable you to identify the user. This means you aren’t allowed to store usernames in Google Analytics, and you won’t be able to see the list of users who downloaded a document.

5) Data Sampling

High traffic websites are subject to data sampling in Google Analytics. Sampled reports give you a general idea of the activity on your website, but the results aren’t 100% accurate.

6) No Broken Links or Site Errors

Google Analytics uses JavaScript-based tracking to collect data. The tracking code runs when web pages successfully load, but there isn’t any tracking info sent for web pages that don’t successfully load.

Page errors can occur with broken links, unauthorized content, bad redirects, and many other issues. Out-of-the-box, Google Analytics isn’t able to tell you about these website errors because the tracking code doesn’t “see” them.

An Alternative to Google Analytics

Angelfish Software provides web analytics for more than 25,000 websites and web-based applications. Our SharePoint customers love Angelfish’s clean design and detailed usage reports, and that you can use Angelfish to track SharePoint on-premises AND SharePoint Online.

Learn more about Angelfish web analytics for SharePoint here: