Tools/Services The Magnificent Seven of Free(!) Web Analytics Tools

Published on June 6th, 2012 | by My Truong

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The Magnificent Seven of Free(!) Web Analytics Tools

So you’ve set up your website and your business is ready to start generating revenue through a new channel, but how do you keep track of how such of that revenue is due to your site’s performance? The answer, of course, is by studying your site’s analytics. We understand if you don’t have the budget to afford a behemoth like Adobe SiteCatalyst (formerly known as Omniture), but fret not, there are plenty of free apps out there for that too!

Comparing enterprise-level solutions (such as the aforementioned SiteCatalyst) to any of the ones I’m about to introduce, is kind of like debating which is the better film between Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven. Both have their own (exceptional) merits, but while Kurosawa’s original is the more complete (cinematically speaking), it requires a lot more effort to take in. On the other hand, the US remake is a lot easier to digest while telling pretty much the exact same story. And just like the mercenaries in either picture, the following applications work for free and get the job done really well. So without further ado, I give you the “Magnificent Seven” of free web analytics tools.

Google Analytics: the clear leader in the space, Google Analytics (G.A. for the initiated), is pretty synonymous with “free web analytics” and a good place to start. G.A. allows you to set your marketing objectives and facilitates your meeting these objectives by comparing page views, visitor information and conversion rates all at once in a way that lets you interpret the data as it relates to your goals. It’s pretty easy to set up as well; all you need to do is add a snippet of JavaScript code to each page you want to track.

Google Analytics

 

AWStats: a free real-time log analyzer, this server-side app is designed to process server logs. In other words, you will need to install it locally on a server, which eliminates the need to access your data through the Internet. You’ll also need to be able to run a recent version of Perl scripts from the command line or a CGI (Common Gateway Interface). Like most tools on this list, it allows you to monitor page views and visitor information. Needless to say, I would recommend AWStats for those of you who are pretty tech-savvy only, otherwise just stick to G.A.

AWStats

 

ClickTale: the free version of ClickTale offers a few useful features and includes tracking 400 page views/month on one domain. The feature they are most known for, though, is the heat maps that overlay your actual web-page and show you its visitors’ actions. It is also the only tool that allows you to record and watch a visitor’s path. ClickTale was made for those of you who can’t stand staring at numbers all day and are more visually-minded, preferring to look at pretty pictures. Just like with G.A., you don’t need to install anything on your server, just add a few lines of code to the pages you want to monitor. It actually acts as a nice complement to G.A., without causing any interference.

ClickTake Dashboard

StatCounter: by using a unique combination of log analysis and cookies to gather your site’s visitor information, StatCounter’s data accuracy is better than that of most apps out there. On top of that, it tracks browsers instead of server requests, so even though the visit count may look lower, the stats will be more realistic. The free version allows up to 250,000 page loads/month, or a log size of 500+ page loads, which makes it a great tool for low traffic sites and start-ups.

Statcounter dashboard

Woopra: this young application allows you to track over 40 events such as usernames, IP addresses, browser information, visitor funnels, location-based data and much more.

Woopra Dashboard

 

Clicky: the free version of Clicky will let you track up to 3,000 page views each day on one website, while the data mined will be available for 30 days. It offers individual visitor tracking, filtering and a few other features, but some of the more advanced ones are unfortunately reserved only for paid customers. Bonus: their customer service boasts a response time to email questions of just 60 seconds. Talk about a quick draw!

Clicky Dashboard

Piwik: an open source PHP MySQL software, which means that you own the information gathered by Piwik. As with AWStats, you’ll need to install Piwik on your web server and embed a piece of JavaScript on the pages you want to keep track of. The kicker here is that Piwik’s features are built inside plug-ins, so if you are a developer you can design custom ones to gather and display custom information on your site’s performance.

Piwik Dashboard

So there you have it, 7 neat little tools to monitor your website’s performance without breaking your bank. Remember though, whichever you use, what matters most will be the metrics you choose to analyze and what you do with the insights they provide you.

Are you already using any of these tools? If so, what do you think of them, and if not, which of your favorites did we miss?

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About the Author

My Truong

is a Marketing Programs Manager at VerticalResponse.



4 Responses to The Magnificent Seven of Free(!) Web Analytics Tools

  1. Jason says:

    I recently made the switch from GA to Angelfish for security reasons and I can’t say enough good things about it. Solid product that’s worth checking out.

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  3. Ayaz says:

    I am using Google analytic tool and I thought its awesome to use. its really working great for all of my sites.

  4. Ryan McGrane says:

    Great list! I like how you mixed in client-side applications with server-side ones. One resource I do think is missing is Mint, which has a beautiful interface.

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