Chapter 2. Analytics and AWStats


AWStats (Advanced Web Statistics) is an open source log analyzer written in Perl that can use a variety of log formats and runs on a variety of operating systems. The official documentation of AWStats is mostly targeted to system administrators rather than to owners of web site businesses. In short, it’s not much help in figuring out what the statistics mean.

Wait a minute!

This is a book about Google Analytics, so why the heck are we talking about some open source stats program? Because the thing about analytics is that to make any sense, there needs to be some data. It’s going to take at least a couple days to get any data into Google Analytics. It’ll be months before there’s enough data to make any sense. But you may already have a wealth of historical data right there in AWStats. Never looked at it, you say?

Thought so.

That data you’ve probably got in AWStats, which maybe you never really understood because there’s no in-depth documentation on it, are still valuable. This is your past. For some things, bigger and newer isn’t necessarily better. Google Analytics and AWStats have different features with different strengths and weaknesses. For some things — many things — Google Analytics blows AWStats out of the water. For other things, Google Analytics uses a different methodology, with its own limitations.

There are two main differences between Google Analytics and AWStats. First, AWStats is primarily a site statistics program. AWStats counts ...

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