GoSquared Analytics: My First 24 Hours

GoSquared plus StatusBoard

Yesterday, web analytics company, GoSquared, announced integration of their service with Panic's new Status Board app.

I was immediately taken with how good-looking the screenshots were and so I headed over to their site to check them out. After doing some research, I signed up and took advantage of their free account.

Why use another analytics service?

Well, because GoSquared fills a very real hole in the market and they do it spookily well. Here’s why.

Taking GoSquared for a Spin

After installing the GoSquared Wordpress plugin on this site and the very easy installation of GoSquared’s Status Board modules onto my Status Board, I took GoSquared for a spin.

When I visited my site, the GoSquared status board meter obediently registered my visit very quickly. Nothing too amazing about knowing when a visitor visits a site. The really difficult thing is knowing when they leave and how long they were there.

Real real-time vs. Real guessed-time

Google are the dominant force in analytics and offer a great service in Google Analytics, but it has several weaknesses that have always bothered me. One of those weaknesses is that their ‘real-time’ only seems to be 'kind of' real-time. For example, someone clicks a link to an article on your site. They read it and leave. Google Analytics doesn't seem to know how long they were there or if they’ve even left. Unless the visitor clicks on another of your pages, Google Analytics just times out and you have no idea if they were there for two seconds ten minutes.

GoSquare knows! They know exactly how long a visitor was on your site and when they left. And because of that, they know whether the visit was a bounce (someone not finding what they were looking for and leaving quickly) or a successful visit.

"GoSquared calculates the time your visitors spend on your site much more accurately than Google Analytics, through a technology called pinging. While a visitor is viewing any page on your website, a small signal is sent to GoSquared at regular intervals to inform GoSquared that the visitor is still online. Unlike other services that simply make assumptions about the time a visitors spends on your site, GoSquared can show you the true time visitors are spending on pages." (GoSquared Support)

That brings us to another thing that's always bothered me about Google Analytics. If a visitor doesn't click on any other pages in your site, Google Analytics considers it a bounce - which of course is nonsense most of the time. If a reader comes to your site and reads what they came to read without reading anything else, then job done. Definintely not a bounce, and not representative of the huge numbers of people who visit sites to read what they came to read before leaving.

Go Squared knows this too! When GoSquared says real-time they mean ‘real’ real-time, and not real guessed-time.

So there I am, working away with Panic’s Status Board on my desk, watching visitors arrive and leave on GoSquared's beautiful Status Board modules, and knowing - for the first time - that what I’m seeing is actually representative of what’s actually happening. When site visitors arrive, I know. When they leave, I know.

On the down side, GoSquared doesn’t have much in the way of historical analytics data, but they don’t claim to and pitch themselves as a real-time service. In fact, they recommend using it with another analytics service such as Google Analytics. I haven’t noticed any performance issues in doing so and the two services complement each other very well.

"You can use GoSquared on any website you have control of, and it works seamlessly alongside anything else you have running. GoSquared is great for understanding what's happening on your site in real-time, and a lot of our customers use Google Analytics for a more detailed historical view of their site." (GoSquared Support)

One thing that bugs me is the scarcity of GoSquared native mobile apps. They do have a web app for mobile devices, but personally I’ve have never liked using mobile web apps, especially on phones.

Last but not least, I also tried their API and wrote my own integration to Status Board, using data pulled from their API. It was relatively easy to use and I had it up and running quickly.

Go check out GoSquared.

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. Other than opening a free account, I have no connection whatsoever to GoSquared and have opted to get nothing if you join them.

By Jools

iOS developer. Android developer. Leads a solitary life on a hot island. Loves silence and the sea. Former software developer in film and game industries. Works a lot. Autism.

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