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Google Offers Free Analytics Course

The search giant's online Web analytics course prepares users to take the company's Google Analytics Individual Qualification certification test.

Google wants to help people boost their Google Analytics IQ.

The search company on Tuesday said that it is offering a free online course to prepare Google Analytics users for the company's paid Google Analytics certification test.

Google Analytics provides data to Web site owners about how visitors are using their sites. Understanding Web analytics data has become crucial to operating Web sites efficiently and to e-commerce.

Google Analytics was developed using technology acquired from Urchin Software in 2005 and from other acquisitions.

"Beginning today, we are offering an online course in Web analytics techniques and Google Analytics implementation, administration, and analysis tools," explained Google Analytics team member Alden DeSoto in a blog post. "The course is offered free of charge to everyone who is interested."

Not every Web site owner takes advantage of the insight to be gained from Web analytics software, which is something Mark Simon, VP of industry relations at digital ad firm Didit, suggests shouldn't be the case.

"A recent survey by marketing firm Altrian found that fewer than half of online marketers made use of any type of Web analytics," Simon said in an e-mail. "To us, this represents a tremendous lost opportunity that could be easily remedied. We praise Google for providing Google Analytics as a free, easily installable tool providing a relatively detailed picture of marketers’ online traffic, user behavior, and online marketing campaign effectiveness."

Google's course aims to teach Google Analytics users the knowledge required to pass the Google Analytics Individual Qualification, or IQ test.

The test costs $50 to take and those who pass, by receiving a score of 75% or better, become registered as Google Analytics qualified. Certification lasts for 18 months.

Google also has a program for organizations to become Google Analytics Authorized Consultants.

Google continues to offer a standalone version of Urchin for organizations with security that prevents the use of Web-based Google Analytics. But unlike Google Analytics, Urchin isn't free. It is available from authorized Urchin consultants and costs $2,995, which may suggest something of the value Google derives from access to the Web site data of Google Analytics users.

Simon points out that Google Analytics isn't necessarily right for everyone. "The feature set of Google Analytics is limited in comparison with more full-featured third-party analytics packages, so we do not recommend it for marketers seeking such advanced functionality as real-time reporting," he said. "Additionally, we have heard concerns from marketers about sharing certain types of data, notably conversion data, with Google or any other media seller, and understand why they might prefer to deploy a truly third-party analytics package which does not share such data."

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around setting business priorities for next-gen Web applications. Download the report here (registration required).

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