Business owners wonder about things such as website traffic and visitors, what visitors are doing on their site, which features are popular, and whether that webpage overhaul was worth the money or not. If your business has these questions, then maybe you should think about using a web analytics tool. These tools are used for tracking site statistics that help measure traffic, gauge click-thru rates, and allow you to understand what your visitors need and how they behave. In sum, these pieces of software will help you answer all your questions.
Most corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits use similar data-tracking software because they often have similar needs. However, there is such a wide array of tools available, and sometimes choosing the right one can be a challenge.
Which Data Needs to be Analyzed?
Shopping for a tracking tool without knowing what you want to track is a waste of time. Needs vary, and can include simple monitoring of traffic, complete and complex analysis of user behavior, and support for testing.
So which statistics are important for you? Those are what you need to focus on when shopping for an analytics package. Here we break these down to three broad areas, with various measures to show you each aspect.
1. One of the most important things that you can learn from analyzing your website is how people use your website. Sounds easy, but in reality this is tough. Some of the measurements for this include:
- Visits: This is one of the most commonly traced statistics in web analysis. This will track how many visitors come to the page, and its trend will let you know how popular your site is. When you compare this overall number to visits of other pages on your site, you will see which areas are most useful to users.
- Hits: While this almost seems silly to track, you will hear about it often. This will measure the total number of image, text, and files requested from your page. While some software marketing may say otherwise, this number gives you no idea how users are utilizing your page. This is because the number of hits often varies with how the page is organized, not how its interacted with, this number really is only useful to determine server capacities and such.
- Unique Visitors: This will tell you how many different users visited your page. For example, when two people visit the same page twice, you will have four visits, and two unique users. This will help you see if people are just visiting your site once and leaving, or if they are coming back on a recurring basis.
- Page views: What this will tell you is how many times each individual page on your site was visited by any user. This is often divided by the number of visits, which gives you the page views-per-visit number, which will represent how many pages each user viewed, on average, in a single visit. An increase in page views will show you which pages are most interesting to your users, or let you know that people are just finding what they need and leaving.
2. Next, broadly tracking who visits your site, and how they interact with the site, will let you see which features and pages they are most interested in, and which they are least interested in. Some of these measurements include:
- Bounce Rates: This is the percentage of times when the visitor left the site after only viewing one page. This measurement is often used to determine the quality of the user’s visit. For example, a high rate will show that your intro pages are either irrelevant, or not interesting. However, it is common for blog or article-based sites to have visitors come, read one article, and then leave.
- Top Entry/Exit Pages: This will tell you through which page visitors most often find you site and then leave. Do not think this is the home page; often, it is not. These can be great places to begin improving your site.
- Visitor Information: A business can learn a ton about its web visitors, including how many visitors are new, where they are located in the world, which browser they are using, and many more interesting facts.
- Click Tracks: These are also known as click paths or click trees, and are graphical representation of the usual journey a visitors takes through your site. This can show you, for instance, that 35% of visitors click on the Resources tab from the main page, and 20% go to the About Us sections. They can also tell you that 40% are leaving right away.
- Conversion Rates: Although this measurement can be a bit complex, it is also very valuable. What it does it track how many people followed what you wanted from a specific beginning. To explain, it will show you how many users went from the Donate link on your Home, and followed the whole process to donate, or how many signed up for an email list or newsletter from the main page.
- Track Registered Users: Sometimes parts of our websites require users to login. Some of the analytics tools on the market will help you track what these users are doing. If there are no logins, it is harder to determine which data came from which user. This data can help you see the various visitors and what they are doing on your site.
- Site Search: Some of these tools include the ability to see what people search for on your site. What this will do is help you know what people are looking for, what they find, and what they don’t find.
- Search Keywords: Many tools will show you which words or phrases users type in search engines, such as Google and Bind, to find your site.
- Referrers: Often, users find you from clicking links on other sites. This is called backlinking. This will help you track a large influx in visitors, or simply allow you to see where you are popular around the Web.
People often say that about 50% of all marketing is a waste. But which 50%? This is where technology and can help. WIth these tools and such you can now measure all of your advertising and see what works and what does not.
The proper web analysis system will allow you to track activity quickly and accurately. This will help you get rid of wasteful marketing and place those resources in marketing that is more effective. Sometimes you will even find patterns in purchases or hits, patterns you would have missed alone.
Here are 24 of the Best Web Analytics Software Programs
- Google Analytics: This software is the most popular around the globe. It is full of features, comes with AdWords, and best of all, it’s free!
- Core Metrics IBM: created this high-end approach to web analysis. It is great at helping companies grow, engage in the market, and achieve their goals.
- Omniture: This tool was created by Adobe and is an industry leader. Many say this is the best for those users who are serious about their sites.
- VisiStat: While this approach is fun, it holds a lot of power and usefulness.
- Extron: This tool is great because it was designed to work using the whole lifecycle of a website. This is one of the best for optimizing the experience of the user.
- Deep Software: This full-feature tool, which is also very affordable, will allow you to maximize your returns. This is done by using the marketing data stored in your log files.
- At Internet: This tool uses browsing sequences, which will allow you to grab an insight on your users and improve the channels being used.
- WebTrends: This software focuses on social media and mobile trends, and is one of the top companies for web analytics in the world.
- MetaSun: This tool comes with a free trial, and will help you track sites, media files, and downloads.
- Piwik: This is an open-source tool that is also affiliated with OpenX. Piwik is a major competitor to Google Analytics.
- WordStream: WordStream is excellent at helping you to organize your marketing. And using data from your site, you can create more effective marketing strategies.
- OneStat: This tool does not just give you data; it also will give you actual, real-time information about visitors and users.
- Lyris HQ: This is a powerful and complete suite of tools that was created with the needs of web site managers and businesses in mind.
- OpenTracker: This is a step up from Google Analytics, and was created for those who want more granularity in how users behave on a website.
- AdvancedWebStats: This tool is an online tracking service which will help you engage your visitors, and fix the issues that are causing users to leave.
- WebLogStorm: This is a new, less popular tool, but one that has potential to be great. WebLogStorm comes with many interactive filters and the capability to drill-down.
- GoStats: This service not only gives you web statistics, but also is a hit counter. This will help you improve how you interact with users, and will gives users more information.
- ClickTale: You can use this tool to watch your users browse the site by using click heat maps. This will surely help you improve your site.
- Woopra: This company has tracked over one hundred thousand sites, and offers you a great, real-time monitoring experience.
- GetClicky: This package comes with similar tools as others in this list, but is more user-friendly and simpler. This often makes it a practical choice for users.
- Personyze: This tool will help you have a personal experience with your analysis, which will give you just what you are looking for.
- ChartBeat: This is great for those who are impatient and want instant data. It will allow you to monitor, track, and chart data in real-time.
- ShinyStat: This suite is robust with analytic tools that include video analytics, trending, and SERP monitoring.
Whichever of these packages and tools you decide to use, you will quickly see where you can be more efficient in your marketing. These tools will help you increase your business, and give you happy, lifelong clients. These tools will be an investment in your business, not just an expense. So try a few out and you can find one that is perfect for your business.