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Definition: Web analytics

The analysis and reporting of website activity. Web analytics software reports the number of unique visitors, page views, banners clicked, most common navigation paths taken, most downloaded files and so on. Although reporting is commonly done in a batch mode at the end of a period, Web analytic software may also be able to report in real time.

Logs vs. Page Tags
The analysis is performed by summarizing the log files that the website generates or by using page tags in each Web page or both. At the website's facilities, the details of each request to the Web server are captured in a log file.

Page tags are JavaScript code embedded within each Web page. When the page is downloaded and rendered in the user's browser, the JavaScript routine sends details of the transaction to an analytics server within the enterprise or one operated by a third party. For example, Google Analytics is a free third-party service used by a huge number of sites on the Internet.