One of the most important tasks for any online business is the thorough analysis of their traffic. It helps them understand why they have or hadn’t had success within a given period and helps them plan for the future. It’s not just a matter of counting how many page impressions or unique visitors your business has had in the last month (though these are important metrics).
Web Analytics, as it is known, is the measurement and analysis of every factor that contributes to your websites success. It allows you to track your visitor activity and show where visitors are coming from, what keywords and search terms they used to find your website, how long they stayed on your website, what page they exited your website from, what links they clicked, what pages are getting the most traffic and much more. It also shows where they come from, what browser or device they used to visit your website and what language they speak. Other sources such as leads, email campaign responses, heat maps etc can be tracked too.
All of this data can be used to analyse where your sign ups, sales and affiliate conversions are coming from. It helps expose areas of your website that need addressed and plays a major part in planning future projects and strategies.
Today we will be showing you a large collection of free and premium web analytics scripts and services that you can use to track your traffic, monitor your goals and plan your next move. Before we do so, let’s look at how web analytics software works.
How Web Analytics Work
There are two main methods of collecting data on a websites traffic. The first method is called ‘Logfile Analysis’. This is when software such as Webalizer is installed on your server to analyse your servers log files. Most starter to medium sized hosting packages usually have Webalizer, AWStats and/or Analog installed, all of which can be viewed via your hosting admin area (usually cPanel).
Page Tagging Vs Logfile Analysis
One of the major drawbacks of using logfile based analytical data is caching. On average caching is responsible for around one third of page impressions. If a visitor loads a page from their cache then it is not recorded by the server in the log files. This is one reason why page tagging has become more popular over the last 10 years.
With page tagging, a visitor is counted every time the tracking code is loaded, therefore traffic should be more accurate. There are some metrics that page tagging can track too that logfile analysis can’t do (visitors screen sizes etc).
Confusing Traffic Reports
Due to the different ways that different scripts and services analyse traffic, there can be discrepancies when the statistics from 2 or more web analytics programs are compared for the same website, particularly the number of page impressions and page visits.
Another confusing web analytics problem when tracking unique visitors is referred to as ‘The Hotel Problem'; a term that was coined by Rufus Evison to refer to the issue of monthly unique visitors not equalling the sum of unique visitors for each day of that month.
The problem is explained by considering a hotel with 2 rooms:
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Total|
|Room A||John||John||Jane||2 Unique Users|
|Room B||Mark||Jane||Mark||2 Unique Users|
In the example above, there was only 3 unique visitors over the course of 3 days however the stats show 2 unique visitors for Room A and two unique visitors for Room B. If you count the number of visits per day, the total number of visits is shown as 6. Web analytics report this problem correctly which is why the sum of daily unique visitors for a given month does not match the total.
More confusion arises because stats show that new visitors and repeat visitors does not equal the total visitors. The confusion comes around because of how the visitor is tracked. For example, consider a person who visits your website and then returns on the same day. Are they a new visitor or a repeat visitor? They’re both; however for that day the web analytics software would correctly track one unique visitor.
You shouldn’t concern yourself too much about these issues though you should have a brief understanding of how web analytics software services work as it will help you when you start planning ahead.
Let’s move forward and look at the most popular web analytics scripts and services on the web :)
Free Web Analytics Scripts & Services
The list of web analytics programs has been split into two main categories: Free and Premium. Programs are then categorised again according to the type of program they are such as log analysers and hosted services.
Below you will find a list of useful web analytics that won’t cost a penny!
The following scripts analyse data by analysing the data collected on your server. As such, they need to be installed directly on your server.
A fast, free log analyser that produces reports in HTML format. Arguably the most popular log analyser available for website owners.
A useful log analyser that can analyse log files from all major servers. Collects a lot of data that similar scripts don’t such as visitor location and search engine robots.
Works in conjunction with AWStats to provide an enhanced interface when viewing stats.
A basic log analsyer that hasn’t been updated in several years. It provides some useful traffic data but seems very outdated and isn’t very user friendly. Some of you may prefer this simple approach to data reporting.
A perl based log analyser that can be accessed via a command line or via the web. Reports can be produced in HTML or PDF format.
Self Hosted Page Tracking Scripts
The following scripts have to be installed on your website in order to collect data about your traffic.
A basic program that shows visits, referrers and the operating system of your visitors.
A simple stats program that is optimised for viewing on iPhones.
A basic stats program that is free for non-commercial usage.
A beautiful stats program that collects data on geo-location, page details and visitors actions. It also shows a heatmap for your site.
A program that aims to be an open source alternative to Google Analytics. Collects a lot of useful data which is displayed in a user-friendly interface.
A realtime web stats program that is fast loading and multi-language friendly. One of its best features is Path Analysis; an interesting report that shows you exactly what pages each visitor viewed on your site and in what order. This allows you to analyse how visitors are navigating around your website.
A stats program that collects a lot of data about your search engine presence.
Hosted Page Tracking Services
The following services are free. To start collecting data all you need to do is sign up and insert the appropriate tracking code into the header or footer of your website. Many services also have a premium version if you want additional features.
13. Google Analytics
The industry standard for web analytics. It boasts a lot of great features such as alerts, goal tracking and integration with Google Adwords. The services 50 website limit should be sufficient for most website owners.
A customisable web analytics service that features advanced PPC management, click path analysis, custom reports and more.
15. Site Meter
One of the oldest hosted web analytics services online, SiteMeter looks a little dated compared to alternatives that are available though it does show interesting stats such as who’s online right now and traffic prediction.
A basic web analytics service that shows the number of visits over set periods.
A great looking service that provides over 30 free web analytical reports such as visitor locations, screen resolutions and click overlay.
A simple stats service that features keyword analysis, returning visit information and the ability to magnify users to find out more about them.
Produces easy to read reports online. The service is also optimised for use on iPhone and other mobile devices.
A stats service that has gained popularity for it’s easy to use interface and unique features such as a live map of your online visitors.
A basic stats service that shows you information about your website visitors.
22. Blog Tracker
A simple stats service that was designed specifically for blogs. There is no reason why you couldn’t use the service on other types of websites though.
Targeted towards blogs, Koego provides over 40 free reports. It also tracks activity of your Twitter and FriendFeed accounts.
Don’t be put off by the outdated grey design, TraceMyIp is actually a pretty useful stats service that provides a lot of useful stats.
A free service that provides lots of interesting reports such as users online, referring websites, geo-location and much more.
Checking Your Competition
Whilst not always the most reliable way of monitoring traffic on smaller websites, it’s still a useful way of comparing your own website to your competition.
A great free service that shows click heatmaps, movement heatmaps and link analytics.
Premium Web Analytics Scripts & Services
All of the scripts and services listed in this section charge on a monthly basis to use their service or a large fee upfront to download and use their script. Many services, particularly those who offer packages under one hundred dollars, offer a free trial for up to 30 days before you commit to a recurring payment.
28. Deep Log Analyzer – $199.95
An advanced logfile analyser that provides over 40 reports. The program costs $199.95 and allows you to use the script on an unlimited number of domains.
29. WebLog Expert – $99+
A premium logfile analyser that produces traffic statistics and click overlay reports. A standard license retails for $99 however a lite version exists with a reduced number of features.
Self Hosted Page Tracking Scripts
30. Urchin – $9,995
The feature rich software that Google Analytics is based on. A standard license retails for a whopping $9,995 and is valid for 1,000 domains.
Hosted Page Tracking Services
31. Sawmill – $99+ per month
A powerful analytical application for serious businesses. For one website (profile), the lite version retails for $99, the professional version for $199 and the enterprise edition for $699.
32. NextStat – $9.95+ per month
A professional real time analytics service. Prices start from $9.95 per month for 20,000 page views with additional website programs costing an additional $5 per month.
33. OpenTracker – €19.95+ per month
Advanced real time visitor monitoring and search term analysis. Prices start at €19.95 per month for up to 100,000 page views.
34. HitsLink – $9.95+ per month
A professional web analytics service that is used by many large internet companies. The professional account retails for $9.95 per month and the enterprise account costs $14.95 per month. The platinum account costs $499.95 per month and includes one million page views. Each additional one million page views costs another $100 per month.
35. ReInvgorate – $10+ per month
A professional web analytics service that allows you to stream traffic information on your desktop. It also shows heatmaps so you can see where users clicked are clicking on your website. Up to 500,000 page views for $10 per month.
36. Extreme Tracking – €5+ per month
A basic stats service that has a bafflig pricing plan. A free tracker is available but it’s only allowed on one page. For up to 100,000 page impressions per month they charge 5 euros every month. For over 900,000 impressions per month they charge around 150 eurors per month (the prices depend on whether you pay monthly, quarterly or yearly).
37. VisiStat – $49.95+ per month
A professional web analytics service that can track your email, PPC and other marketing campaigns. Prices start from $49.95 per month.
38. FoxMetrics – $9.95+ per month
An event driven analytical service that has a lot of great features such as conversion funnels and grouping website visitors into logical groups. Plans start from $9.95 per month.
39. KissMetrics – $29+ per month
Their bootstrap starter package costs $29 per month for up to 100,000 events. Up to 500,000 events costs $79 per month with more expensive packages available for bigger businesses.
40. LuckyOrange – $7+ per month
A professional service that offers a live dashboard, heat mapping, online polls and much more. Packages start at the very affordable $7 per month for up to 1 million page impressions.
41. OneStat – $125+ per year (just over $10 per month)
A professional service that is used by a lot of major companies throughout the world. Their entry ‘OneStat Pro’ package starts at $125 per year though more expensive packages are available that offer more features. A free stats service is also available.
42. Mint – $30 per website
An extensive web analytics program that has a user friendly interface. The service costs $30 per website.
43. ChartBeat – $9.95+ per month
A premium service that shows real time data. Alerts can be sent to your mobile or email inbox and the service is optimised for use on the iPhone. Plans start at $9.95 per month for 5 websites and 1,000 concurrents (1,000 concurrents means 1,000 people are viewing your website at a given time).
44. Performancing Metrics – $FREE+ per month
A premium blog analytics service with unique features such as Feedburner integration and stats via RSS feeds. The service is free up to 3,000 page views per day with 10,000 page views and 30,000 page views costing $6.99 and $9.99 respectively. A super pro and custom packages are also available.
45. RealtimeStats – $9.95 per month
Realtime analytics for web, social media, mobile and eCommerce traffic. It costs $9.95 per month for traffic reporting and an additional $10 per month for eCommerce tracking.
46. GoSquared – $9.95+ per month
A useful service that shows what is being viewed on your website right now. Whilst the first 10,000 page impressions are free, the standard package is $9.95 per month and allows up to 150,000 page impressions over 3 websites. 500,000 page impressions costs $24.95 per month and 1,000,000 page impressions costs $49.95 per month. An extreme package is available which allows up to 2,500,000 page impressions.
47. Bango Mobile Analytics – $49 per month
A premium solution that tracks mobile traffic and mobile marketing campaigns. The standard package retails for $49 per month though an advanced package exists for $499 per month.
Checking Your Competition
48. Compete – $199+ per month
The leading service for monitoring your own website against the competition. The starter package costs $199 per month. More expensive packages show more data such as demographic metrics and incoming and outgoing traffic.
Tracking your websites performance is one of the most important aspects of running a successful website. Granted, checking your stats too much can be counter productive if that means spending less time working on other aspects of your business. Though there is no denying that the more information you have at your disposal, the better position you will be in to analyse your success and move forward.
What services you use depends on what type of business you run and what you are looking to achieve in the future. If a free stats service does everything you need then there is no need to pay for analytics. However, don’t be afraid to spend money on a good service if it means getting the edge over your competitors. Bear in mind though, a company that charges for their analtics service doesn’t guarantee that their service is any better than free alternatives are available so make sure you take advantage of 14 day and 30 day trials before entering your credit card details.
We hope you have found this brief explanation of web analytics and collection of great free and premium traffic services useful. If you know of any other great services that haven’t been covered in this article, please feel free to share them in the comment area.