Website analytics can be the most valuable asset you have. However, choosing the right analytic tools can be overwhelming. There are many to choose from. Here’s a brief list of some of the more popular analytic tools, and advice on how to choose the right one for you.
Google Analytics is free. You simply register with Google if you don’t already have an account. Sign up for the analytics tool by providing a bit of information about your website. Then it’s merely a matter of copying and pasting the code into your website.
You can choose your settings and the data you track. Google tracks visits, average time on site, page views and the referral source. It also tracks geographic data and can be used to track split testing results. It’s a comprehensive analytics tool that provides just about everything a website owner could need.
Piwik is a free open source type of analytic tool. It’s also open for development. This can be a big advantage if you want your analytics to accomplish something new. Piwik is designed to be the open source alternative to Google analytics so their offerings are similar. With Piwik your analytic data is on your server. You own your data. Additionally, you can customize your interface to suit your needs.
AWStats is another popular analytics tool. Again, it provides much of the same data as most other analytics tools. However, it also provides some unique data. For example:
* Visits of robots
* Worm attacks
* HTTP errors
* Number of times your site is added to a visitor’s favorites
AWStats doesn’t work with all websites. You’ll need to double check before you install it. It can work with all web hosting providers which allow Perl, CGI and log access.
Site Meter offers two options. They offer a free version. They also offer a paid version that starts at $6.95 for 25,000 page views. The rate increases depending on your page views. Site Meter offers a vast amount of information including page views, bounce rate and time spent on your site. Site Meter also tracks the path your visitor takes when they arrive at your website. This is extremely valuable information. It can help you tighten your website content and copy to achieve a desired result.
Which Analytic Tool Do You Choose?
Decide which data points will be most useful. What do you need to know to optimize your website?
Also consider who you trust with your data. If you utilize a service, then they have access to your website data. If you install the software on your server then you’re the only one that has access to your data. Also make sure you can easily read and understand the reports. All of the tools mentioned provide demo data and reporting.
Once you have a trusted source and the data you need to grow your business, it comes down to price and personal preference. Most analytics tools are free or very inexpensive. Choose your tool, install it and start taking advantage of the information website analytics provide.
Is there another service you use that you’d like to share with the readers? Please feel free to leave a comment.