When Cloudflare announced its own analytics solution nicknamed “Browser Insights”, I was very excited to try it out, along with thousands of other people who have come to enjoy Cloudflare’s services. So I took it for a test spin, and it shows a lot of promise. The interface is amazing, and allows one to easily drill down into different metrics to a closer look at data. However, it has a long way to go before it can even remotely compete with Google Analytics. And there are two main reasons for this:
- Limited sampling
- No visitor tracking
The reason for these limitations is that Cloudflare’s focus is fundamentally different from that of Google Analytics. While the latter want to tell you how many people visited your site, how many of them converted via pre-defined goals and more, Cloudflare’s entire focus is on measuring performance and speed. In this, Browser Insights from Cloudflare more closely resembles the “Speed” option in Google Analytics.
For Browser Insights to take off and be a competitor to Google’s product, here’s what needs to change.
1. Current Sampling Rate is too Low
Cloudflare mentions on its blog, that it only samples a fraction of the total page visits to your site. This is also what Google does when it measures page speed data. I’d written an earlier article on how to increase the sampling rate in Analytics so that it accurately measures the page speed for sites that don’t have a ton of traffic.
Unfortunately, there’s no option in Cloudflare as of now to change this sampling rate. So if your site has say just a few hundred visitors a day, you’ll barely get 30 or 40 page view samples. While this is useful to get a broad overview of how your site is doing, it’s pretty bad when you want to isolate problematic pages and see which ones are contributing the most to loading times.
So if Cloudflare wants to become a serious competitor to Google Analytics, it needs to let users define the number of samples it takes for measuring page speed.
2. Tracking Visitors Across Multiple Pages
Cloudflare’s Browser Insights currently doesn’t retain any user metrics, and so doesn’t know when the same user visited different pages. This makes it impossible to answer the following question for example:
How many users converted after landing on this particular page?
Apart from not being able to configure events such as clicking on links, scrolling, and other goodies that Google Analytics provides, Cloudflare can’t even distinguish between the number of users and the number of visits.
This is because Cloudflare doesn’t use either cookies or store metric data for tracking across pages. Without this information, it’s an incomplete product for analytics purposes.
Why Use Two Services Instead of One?
Normally I’m a fan of separating functionality into different services, but in this case, each additional script comes at a cost of page load speed. I already have a Google Analytics script on my site. It’s a hard sell to convince me to use Cloudflare’s Browser Insights just to measure page speed when Analytics already has that functionality. Not just that, Analytics allows me to configure the page sample size. True, the interface isn’t as easy to use as Cloudflare, and neither is the setup as simple as just clicking a button. But that’s a one-time cost during the entire lifetime of a website, and you get so much more.
So for Cloudflare to become a more serious offering, it needs to provide at least some of the features that Google does. Visitor tracking across pages, and page speed sampling increases at the very least. And also preferably a way to configure events like link clicks.
Without that, it’s just going to be a cool experiment – nothing more.
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!
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