I'd like to start this blog post by saying that Google Analytics is an amazing web stats tool. We use Google Analytics at SpringTrax and find a great deal of value from it to understand how people interact with our website.
However, when it comes to finding and fixing 404 errors, SpringTrax has several advantages over Google Analytics. After all, SpringTrax is specifically designed to look at and help you fix 404 error pages. Google Analytics is designed for other purposes. While Google Analytics can be configured to monitor 404s, even at its best, SpringTrax has more to offer as a 404 monitoring application. There are five main reasons SpringTrax is better choice for finding and fixing your site's 404s.
Monitoring 404s in Google Analytics requires configuring events, goals, segments, and profiles to track visits to your 404 error page. If you are a Google Analytics expert, this probably isn't all that hard. But if you aren't a Google Analytics pro, this can be a difficult task. SpringTrax, on the other hand, requires dropping in tracking code to your website and then you are all set to track the visitors who reach your website's 404 error page.
One of the most important facts you need to know about your site's 404 error pages is how many people left your site due to 404s. Along with that, you also want to know how many people left and didn't come back. For instance, if somebody hits the back button but then clicks another link to your site, should that really count as an exit?
Google Analytics looks only at how many people left, even if they came back a short time later. SpringTrax, because it is designed specifically for 404 monitoring, looks at both numbers: how many people leave and come back, and how many people leave and don't come back.
With SpringTrax's post-error monitoring you'll have more information about the way your site's 404 errors impact your business.
Google Analytics does offer email notices, depending on how you configured your 404 tracking (see reason #1). However, Google Analytics alert emails will only tell you about the problem at hand. We don't think that is enough.
SpringTrax's alert emails analyze the data in perspective so that we only tell you about the truly critical issues facing your site? For example, if you have a sudden uptick in visits to a 404 error page, SpringTrax will make sure that is atypical for this time of day and truly a critical issue before we alert you to the situation.
SpringTrax will also keep rechecking your site's stats to see if the problem with 404s goes away. That way you know if this is a continual problem, or if it is just a 404 fluke.
Also, the alert emails from Google Analytics don't tell you how critical the 404 errors are (see reason #4) or how to fix those 404s (see reason #5). SpringTrax's alert emails do give you all of that information.
One of the more helpful features SpringTrax offers is the ability to prioritize the 404 errors affecting your website. With this priority information, you know how urgent the 404s are on your site. Do you need to drop everything you are doing and fix the 404 now? Or, can you wait and fix those 404s in a weekly site clean up? Google Analytics doesn't give you any sense of priority and instead you have to use the data provided in Google Analytics to figure it out for yourself.
Finally, SpringTrax offers specific recommendations to help you fix the 404 errors your visitors encounter. We'll tell you what 404 errors to redirect and where to redirect them. Google Analytics, if correctly configured to track 404 errors on your site, will only tell you that the 404 exists. It is up to you to fix those 404s with no guidance or support. As a result, SpringTrax's recommendations save you time and ensure you are fixing the 404s in the right way possible. With SpringTrax's recommendation you can fix your 404 errors faster, which lets you get rid of 404s faster. The faster you get rid of 404s, the fewer customers you'll lose due to 404s.