If you want to run a successful website, you have to market it. And in order to market a site effectively, we need some data about our visitors. This information is saved in raw logs on our servers. But not all webmasters and bloggers know how to decipher that data (or want to). So we turn to Web Analytics tools that take our raw data and present it in easier-to read visual formats like charts, graphs, and tables.
Let’s look at why those statistics are so important, and then explore a few free and fee-based Web analytics tools that can put the information you need right at your fingertips.
Why It’s Important to Monitor Your Website Statistics
Today’s tools give us an extensive and easy-to-understand look at who our websites’ visitors are, what they do on our sites, and how they find us. This information — from unique visitor counts to top referring sources — helps us to tailor marketing campaigns to our audiences.
The more we know about our websites’ traffic and how users behave on those sites, the more effective we can be at converting those visitors into regular readers, subscribers, members, or buyers. Web analytics tools lay this information out for us so we can review it in a detailed way without having to dig into raw server logs for our sites.
3 Web Analytics Tools You Can Use
Here are three popular examples of Web analytics tools you might want to use.
- Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a popular Web analytics program. You add their script to your site’s code and they’ll track any visitors loading that script when they access a page. Their in-page analytics (formerly “site overlay”) is a popular feature, letting you see where people most often click on your site.
- AWStats – This Web analytics tools is often available for free as a part of your Web hosting package. Your hosting company may automatically enable it, or you might have to enable it yourself for any sites you want to track. Note that some statistics are frequently much higher in this analytics tool (like pageviews) due to the way different analytics programs define visits, visitors, and pageviews.
- pMetrics – This statistics tool from Performancing directly targets bloggers. It offers some features other popular options don’t, like Twitter analytics to let you track conversations about your blog and its posts as well as connecting user data in your statistics to usernames and other easier-to-identify information on your website.
Other Web Analytics Tools
Here are several other Web analytics options that may be available to you (in no particular order). Note that these tools are for use with your own site, and do not include search-specific and competitive analysis tools like Alexa or Compete nor do they include Twitter and other social media specific analytics tools.
- Yahoo! Web Analytics (sign-up limitations apply)
- Clicky (the tool pMetrics is built on)
- CrazyEgg (featuring heat maps)
- Piwik (open source)
Some of these Web analytics tools are freely available and others are fee-based. Review and compare the features to find the best analytics tool for your own Web development and Internet marketing needs. What’s your favorite Web analytics tool and why? Leave a comment below to tell us about it.