In order to run a successful web business, you need to know your stats. You need to know how many visitors you’re getting, where they’re coming from, how long they’re staying on your site and so on.
The old adage “what you track improves” applies to the web. When you track specific numbers, you’ll be able to systematically improve those numbers. For example, when you track how long people spend on your website, you can try out different things to see if it increases the time spent on your site.
Every business needs at least one web stats tracking program. If you’re running a complex operation or if you don’t quite trust one method of tracking, you could run two.
Here are the top 10 web stats tracking programs.
Program #1: Google Analytics
Google Analytics is by far the largest stats tracking program on the net. It’s 100% free, provided by Google. Google Analytics can track all the basic stats, including page views, unique visitors, bounce rates, time on site, return visitors, the country people come from and more. Unless you have a reason not to use Google Analytics, it’s a pretty good bet for a basic and all-purpose stats tracking tool.
Program #2: Piwik
Piwik is a self-installed web stats tracking tool that works a lot like Google Analytics. It’s open source and 100% free. A lot of people who don’t want to use Google Analytics use Piwik instead. The interface is similar, as are the data gathering methods. Note that you do need to have slightly more technical skills to install Piwik than Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, you only need to install a line of code. With Piwik, you need to upload the Piwik files, set permissions and make sure everything’s installed properly.
Program #3: AWStats
AWStats is a log file analyzer that often comes with cPanel installations. In other words, there’s a good chance you already have AWStats installed. Unlike Google Analytics which works based on firing a script every time someone lands on your page, AWStats gets its data by analyzing your log files. Your server logs every visit and page load when people visit your site and can tell you a lot about who’s coming to your site and what they’re doing.
Program #4: Clicky
Clicky is one of the most popular private web stat programs on the web. It offers all the data that Google Analytics brings to the table, plus a few unique features. First of all, Clicky provides stats data on videos and on Twitter usage. If you do social media marketing of any sort, the data Clicky provides can be a big boon. Clicky also gives you data in real time. Data from Google Analytics on the other hand can be delayed by as much as half a day. You can check your stats with a mobile app, so you can watch your traffic on the go.
Program #5: Alexa
Alexa isn’t a traditional web stats program. Instead, what it allows you to do is compare yourself to other sites on the internet or other sites in your niche. It also provides demographic and keyword information about virtually every indexed website on the net. However, approach with caution because some rankings can be deceptive. It’s entirely possible for a website to rank highly for a search term, but still get less traffic than a site that’s ranked lower. That’s because data is based on visitors that Alexa is able to track, not all the visitors to a particular website.
Program #6: Statcounter
Program #7: Sitemeter
Sitemeter is a very simple and straightforward stats tracking program. It doesn’t do anything fancy or give you in-depth statistics. The program basically tells you how many visitors you have and when they visited your site. It’s the ideal solution for people who aren’t very web savvy. If you’re building websites for clients, Sitemeter can be a good way to give your clients access to traffic data without overwhelming them to other statistics.
Program #8: W3Perl
W3Perl is a Perl based log file analyzer. It’s more complex to install than anything we’ve covered so far and is primarily meant for system administrators who want highly in depth statistics. If you’re technically savvy and can do the installation and management, this software can be a very powerful tool. W3Perl can read data from emails, FTP servers and web visitors. It can give you all the standard data, along with advance data like session analysis, heatmapping and filetype breakdowns.
Program #9: Tracking 202
Tracking 202 is one of the top programs for running PPC affiliate campaigns. Note that this is not a tracking tool you want to use unless you’re doing paid marketing. It’s 100% free. Tracking 202 runs based on SubIDs that are tagged at the end of each affiliate URL. It allows you to track each sale back to the keyword that generated the sale, as well as to the affiliate network and the affiliate offer. Furthermore, Tracking 202 has a “Spy View” that allows you to see traffic flowing in as people visit your site. If they convert, you’ll see that live as well. As far as free PPC tracking solutions go, Tracking 202 is definitely in the running for the top spot.
Program #10: Klout
Klout allows you to track your social media ranking. It analyzes your Twitter and Facebook accounts and tells you how much clout you have with people in your social network.Your Klout score shouldn’t be used as an indicator of your business overall. However, if you’re doing social media marketing, it can be a great way to track whether or not you’re doing well in terms of increasing your social influence.
These are the top 10 web stats tracking programs. We’ve covered programs for affiliate marketers, for beginners, for advanced sysadmins, for social media marketers and more.