Google Analytics v Urchin

PushON | July 16th 2008
Google Analytics

Google & Urchin Analytics Background

A common misconception is that Urchin is simply the old name for Google Analytics and is no-longer around. However Urchin is a product in its own right and has some key differences to its free cousin.

Urchin On Demand was an Analytics tool bought from Urchin Software Corporation by Google.    To use this Analytics tool, you signed up with an account and copied and pasted a piece of code into each page of your site.

Urchin On Demand

After some time as a paid for product, in around November 2005 Google offered users this tool for free.  At this time, Urchin On Demand was also re-branded as Google Analytics .

Urchin 6 was developed by Google as an analytics software tool that you installed on your own servers.

This server side tracking tool graduated from Beta on April 16th 2008.

Google Analytics/Urchin Comparison

Google Analytics and Urchin software rely on different code and track visitors in slightly different ways. Here’s a comparison table adapted from an illustration by Benjamin Mangold:





(version 6)

Install and manage on your own server
Hosted and maintained by Google
Reprocess historical data (from logfiles)
Track content behind firewall
Track search engine robots/spiders
Goal tracking
Campaign tracking
Automatic Google AdWords tracking
E-commerce reports
£1495 ($2995) for up to 1000 domains


The differences in the results that you are likely to see are:

  • With Google Analytics, page views are recorded when the external JavaScript on Google’s servers is executed. Search Engine Spiders and automated bots don’t call this JavaScript file.  So Google Analytics may show lower page views as a result.
  • Google Analytics relies on JavaScript to track results, so users who have JavaScript disabled won’t be tracked, whereas they will be tracked using Urchin.

Benefits of Urchin

  • You don’t necessarily need to tag web pages with JavaScript code
  • You can control the processing schedule of traffic logs, including the option to process data immediately
  • You can re-process and post-process data, which can’t be done with Google Analytics
  • View all website traffic, including images, downloads, robots, status codes (e.g. 404s, 500s), and referral errors, including outdated links – particularly useful in identifying “Page Not Found” (404) errors
  • You can create customized reporting for different types of visitation data
  • Report data can be easily audited by 3rd parties
  • You can analyze firewall-protected content, such as an Intranet
  • You can save 5 years’ worth of old server log data
  • You can integrate your e-commerce logs directly with Urchin

Benefits of Google Analytics

  • This will be the latest version, and includes advanced features not yet found in Urchin Software
  • It is updated automatically when new features roll out
  • It integrates really well with AdWords reports from the AdWords user interface.
  • Can be set up quickly with limited technical knowledge
  • It’s free
  • It is translated into more languages that Urchin
  • You can drill down to unique visitors – view session/path, platform, geo-location, browser/platform, etc. data for individual visitors