Web site developers have been able to tell you a lot about users of Web sites. We could tell you:
- How they visited the site: When a user visited, How many pages and which pages they visited,
- About the user’s computer: What Web browser and Operating System they use, what screen resolution they have
- The user’s general location: in what state and city they are located in (or if the user consented, a more specific location)
- How they found the site: Did they find it by visiting it directly, clicking on an ad, or visiting a search engine.
There were (and are) limits. Here are some things we couldn’t tell you (unless the person self reported the information):
- The user’s name and contact information
- Their age or even their gender
- Things they are interested in.
We still can’t tell you someone’s name or contact information, but thanks to Google, you can now get demographic information about a significant minority of your site’s visitors. It has some limitations:
- Google only has age and gender and interest group information for some users, but not for all users. In my example site, we saw data on about 50% of users. Your mileage may vary.
- You can’t see individual user’s data — you can only see an aggregate. You can combine it with other attributes (like # of pages visited) to get more data about each group.
Go to Google’s site for more information about this useful tool.