A preview of Twitter Web Analytics, which has analyzed the Twitter account of TechCrunch. Photo/Twitter Developers Blog



In a move to help people and website owners understand the impact of their content on Twitter, the San Francisco-based microblogging service has decided to release a free first-party analytics tool called Twitter Web Analytics.

The new service is powered by Y Combinator-funded start-up BackType, a social analytics company that was bought in July by Twitter for an undisclosed amount. Two months prior to the acquisition, BackType had just launched BackTweets Pro, which was an analytics tool aimed at marketers, brands, and publishers to help them understand the interactions and conversion statistics from Twitter.

Twitter is a powerful platform for websites to share their content, and drive traffic and engagement, writes BackType co-founder Chris Golda via Twitter's blog. However, people have struggled to accurately measure the amount of Traffic Twitter is sending to their websites, in part because web analytics software hasn't evolved as quickly as online sharing and social signals.

Previously, users needed to consult third-party services like Crowdbooster, Bit.ly, or Chartbeat if they wanted to learn the impact of each individual tweet. Now that Twitter has taken it upon itself to provide its own free analytics engine, users will soon be able to analyze their Twitter presence like never before.

Besides being able to measure the effectiveness of the Tweet Button and the degree to which your website's content is shared over Twitter, Twitter's new analytics engine will also let users track the amount of traffic Twitter sends to their website. This is where Twitter Web Analytics separates itself from other analytics platforms like comScore, Omniture, and Google Analytics, which can only track page views and hits.

Twitter Web Analytics also takes advantage of Twitter's link shortener (t.co), which was rolled out last June in a move to stay competitive with Bit.ly, the dominant link-shortening service at the time. While Twitter's link shortener was initially a competitive move, the company's new analytics engine can tag every t.co link and find out the referring source in the same way Bit.ly can track its shortened links, and even discover the quality of that traffic through segmentation.

Twitter will first roll out a pilot version of its analytics dashboard to corporate partners first before releasing it to the general public sometime in the next few weeks.

Facebook already has an analytics tool for users called Facebook Insights, which similarly helps administrators and curators of Facebook Fan Pages understand the effectiveness of their content.