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What is Urchin 5?

Categories: GA & GTM, Metrics Understanding, Urchin software - Deprecated! / Comments: 9

urchin.gif Urchin is the software company and technology that Google acquired in April 2005 that went on to become Google Analytics. Urchin software remains a product in its own right and is a downloadable software tool that runs on a local server (Unix and Windows) providing web analytics reports by processing web server logfiles – including HYBRID logfiles – which are the most accurate.

Although not as feature rich as Google Analytics, Urchin is essentially the same technology that allows you to view historical data over any time period you have data for, as well as providing complimentary information not available in Google Analytics.

Data available in the latest Urchin beta release that Google Analytics does not have:
(click for screenshots – opens new window)

  • Error page/Status code reports
  • Bandwidth reports
  • Login name reports – standard Apache .htaccess or any authentication that logs usernames in the logfile
  • Visitor history report – tracking individual visitors (anonymously)
  • Greater customisation – show as much or as little data as you want
  • Data is stored locally on your server in a mysql database – allows for ad-hoc data queries

Reporting differences between Google Analytics and Urchin beta software:

  • GA imports AdWords cost data with little fuss
    Just just two tick boxes to click and the data is collected daily. For Urchin, this is a manual process
  • The GA dashboard is fully customisable
    With up to 12 different reports that can be changed and re-ordered on a per user basis. Urchin summary dashboards are fixed
  • GA geographic overlay is best in class
    With zoom and continent/subcontinent breakdown, this GA report is one of the best out there. Urchin geographic overlay is a little more basic (same as GA v1.0), though still very good
  • GA is available in 25 languages, Urchin is available in 12
  • GA has internal site search reports, Urchin does not
  • GA has event tracking (beta), Urchin does not

…continue reading ‘What is Urchin 5?’

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Comments (most recent first)

  1. pearl says:

    We use urchin in all of our pages, however it makes it difficult if you have some sites in a non-template format which adding it to every individual page for tracking. With templat sites you add it on to 1 page and it goes on the footer of them all. Use footers people! Good for tracking campaigns. Example of a template and non-template site:

  2. Matt says:

    Hi Brian.

    Another question for your goodself on the subject of Google Anayltics vs Urchin.

    I see that this blog piece is a summary of the points you cover off in Chapter 3 of your (excellent) book. However, I wonder if you could add a bit more clarity in terms of whether Urchin and/or Google Analytics can cross-tabulate site activity metrics with a visitor’s personal details – by which I mean data capture that’s volunteered on registering to the site.

    Say for instance, we have a file download as a site goal, could Urchin and Google Anayltics both support a breadout of this measure by, for instance, the registered user’s employment category?

    Is it this sort of functionality that you speak to when referencing “Login name reports”?

    A bit uncertain as to what extent the registered user info that’s been captured can be utilised to better understand precisely what audience (as defined by the site’s own reg user data capture) is looking at what content/achieving what goals. And whether this sort of functionality is supported by just Urchin, or by Google Anayltics too, or only by a combination of the two.

    Many thanks.

  3. Kiran BM says:

    Agreed. utm_override solves my problem partially – it tells how many of those campaign visitors eventually converted. I’d also like to know if they visited the site again.

    I can think of using session labeling (utmv) to accomplish this. On the landing page (assuming it is dedicated to that campaign) I can label the cookies appropriately and see their behavior there on. But there is a limitation in using this facility as you agree. Improper or too much usage of labeling might mess up the data. Are there any better/smarter ways of doing this in GA?

    I’m referring to Visual Sciences in my earlier organization that allowed me to do this. I could segment the visitors (essentially cookies) and study their behavior over a period of time.

    Thanks Brian!

  4. Kiran: I think what you are referring to is the overwriting of referral sources that GA/Urchin does by default i.e. the last referrer overwrites the previous one unless it is “direct” – direct typing of a URL, bookmark, or even a non-tagged email campaign.

    The parameter you need to set in your campaigns is utm_nooverride. Have a look at Chapter 9 of the book for a fuller description – Changing the Referrer Credited for a Converison.

  5. Kiran BM says:

    Hi Brian! Great article! I have a special requirement that I’m afraid neither GA nor Urchin would be able to solve. Also some of the paid leading tools like Omni don’t have a direct solution for this. I need your help!

    My requirement: I run a brand marketing campaign say for 1 month. This campaign ran across display advertising, PPC search and also Email. With the current tools I can find out exactly how many visitors came thro these campaigns and how many are first-time visitors among those.
    Now, I want to track the future interaction of this specific set of visitors with my site. How many of them came back and when. How many purchased my products in their subsequent visits. This helps me assess the true impact of my campaign.

    Is there any way to do this using Urchin?


  6. Alex Ortiz says:

    Excellent post, Brian! I agree that having both technologies: Google Analytics and Urchin gives you the most amount of flexibility for analyzing your web preference and I often get questions about the differences, strengths and weaknesses… Glad to see it all laid on the table 🙂

    I notice only one flaw: Urchin doesn’t store data in a MySQL database. As much as I (and many other Urchin users) would love this to be true, Urchin (v. 5 and Beta v. 6) both still use a proprietary database to store reporting data, which makes ad-hoc queries a bit more limited, since you have to use Urchin-developed tools rather than the more flexible SQL tools.

  7. Aaah! Thank you! That’s exactly the information that I was looking for.


  1. […] Laut Brian Clifton, ist GA aus einer Software mit dem Namen Urchin entstanden. […]

  2. […] to Brian Clifton, GA all began with a software called […]

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