Web analytics is one of the most important tools a company can utilize to understand the success and the gaps one is experiencing with their website. A web analytics tool allows you to discover daily or even hourly traffic flows onto your website without having to interrupt the visitor’s experience. There are many analytical systems on the market that range from paid to free and can either be installed on your web server or remotely collected through Java Script code. While most of inbound marketing agencies use Hubspot with combination of Google Analytics/Google Tag manager and other advanced tools, SMEs might look for FREE solutions
The majority of tools and services out there offer the basic information collection. At a minimum, your analytics software should be able to detect the following:
- Browser type
- Screen resolution
- Type of operating system
- Type of device
- Geo-location identification
- Visitor quantity
- Referring web address
- Popular search engine keywords used to direct traffic into your website.
The more comprehensive analytics tools offer features such as:
- Traffic timelines
- Real-time statistics
- Heat maps/page overlay click recordings
- Language identification
- Bounce rates
- Referrals from social media pages
- A/B split testing
- Entry pages
- Exit pages
- Visitor click path
- Time visited on pages
- WordPress plugins
- SEO tools
There are many tools that can help you analyze your website statistics. If you were to do the research and try to find how many tools are out there, you would find at least 35 different website analytical tools on the market. For the budget conscious, we have done the research for you and picked out five free tools that you can use to analyze your traffic. There is the well-known Google Analytics, along with GoingUp!, Clicky, Piwik, and Woopra that we are going to cover.
Google is all about collecting information and selling advertising space to help websites better direct customers to their websites. In keeping with their slogan of “don’t be evil,” they offer a great set of tools to help webmasters gather data about their website’s health. Google offers the service Google Analytics, which can intertwine with Google Webmaster Tools and Google AdWords. The service is 100% free and offers many layers of information scoring to be completed. Inside the dashboard, you are able to collect information on just about everything except for visitor retention rate or heat maps. Using Google Analytics can be a little overwhelming at first, but there is lots of how-to’s, community support, and even a certification program. The only big downside is that Google Analytics is not real-time statistics, which leads to the database updated every 24 hours. For some companies, they might need to consider other services if they would like to see information immediately, which you can react to important situations instantly. A neat feature that Google Analytics has that no other service provides is the ability to create demographic profiles of your website visitors. This will help you fine-tune your website to cater to your current or growing demographic. If you feel like springing for the premium version of Google Analytics, it would cost you $150,000 a year to boost the refresh data time to every 4 hours instead of 24 hours.
Another great free tool that is on the market is GoingUp, with their very simplistic and clean analytics system. You can connect the service to your website using PHP code, Java Script, HTML, or via a WordPress plugin. Once it is connected, you are able to track visitor’s activities. Once GoingUp is able to track your website it gives you access to see real-time statistics of heat maps, traffic counts, language, location, browser, screen size, OS, device type, refer URL, search keywords, entry page, and visitor path. The service also has a built in SEO tool that can help you adjust your website’s keywords for search engine results. If you find that you require more features or have too much data for the free account, you can upgrade for only $19 a month.
A great challenger for GoingUp and Google Analytics is the free service Clicky. The overall package provided by Clicky is very simple all the while still provides a high level of detail with tables, graphs, and charts. Clicky allows you to see your traffic count in real-time, a timeline of hits, a heat map overlay of clicks on pages, the language, location, browser, screen size, OS and device of visitors, the referring URL, bounce rate, search engine keywords, social media referrals, A/B split testing, funnels, segmentation, entry page, exit page, visitor path, time visiting, a WordPress Plugin, and a mobile application. A neat feature Clicky offers is the ability to real-time Spy on visitor’s actions. Unfortunately, the free access subscription does not include all the features listed above. A Pro Plus plan goes for $10 a month and gives you access to all the mentioned features and more.
A real-time website analysis tool that operates on the freemium model is Woopra. Like the other services, it is full of many features that allow you to gain an in-depth understanding who is visiting your website. One of the few things it does not do is offer a heat map overlay of clicks, provide referrals of income social media links, or offer an A/B testing module. A really neat feature that Woopra offers that sets it apart from all of the other tools on the market is that it has a built in chat feature. This allows you to directly interact with visitors instantly and provide a quick resolution to their issues rather than routing through emails and phone calls to resolve problems. If you feel that your company can benefit from Woopra services, you can upgrade to a subscription model that costs $80 a month.
The only tool that is completely 100% free open source and controlled on your own web server is Piwik. It operates on your own server side, which runs on a PHP and MySQL database. The list of features is almost endless; better yet, it is easier to say what it does not do. Well, the only thing that Piwik could not do is funneling of customer types! Piwik is very detailed like Google Analytics and lets you to drill down to the deepest levels of visitors interactions with your website at a very low cost price of free. In addition to all of the information that Piwik collects, it can export the information into an Excel spreadsheet for reporting needs.
Honourable Mention: UserTesting
UserTesting is not a free to use tool, but it is an honourable mention because it is highly suggested for small and medium businesses to consider exactly how your visitors experience your website. For $39 you are able to request UserTesting to hire a community member based on a selected demographic to review the usability of your website. They produce a video recording of navigating your website within 1-3 hours of your request. Then within a couple of days, UserTesting provides you a full report of the experience of the paid users. It is a truly unique service that allows you to discover embarrassing errors or hear the hard truth about user engagement on your website. Just head over to their website and watch their promotional video. There are some great examples of how website developers can completely miss errors that visitors experience.
All of these tools have their amazing upsides that make each of them beneficial for your organization. With the web progression, websites have to dig deep into understanding their visitor’s habits to better service them to retain their visitation in the future. Analytics is the key to your company’s success online and can never be ignored or discounted.