In this post you will discover 12 powerful web analytics tools; 11 of them being great alternatives for those that want to move away from Google analytics. What are you waiting for? Get stuck in!
Web Analytics Tools are a great way of getting data about who is visiting your site, what keywords they used to get there, which pages are the most popular, bounce rates and a wide range of other metrics and some go as far to tell you average load times of your pages.
If you want to improve the user experience on your site then some form of analytics will be essential and there’s a lot more alternatives to just Google Analytics.
I’ve split this list into two major segments, remote hosted analytics and self hosted analytics.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Before I go any further I want to mention, in case you’re unaware that Google announced in October 2011 that as a result of SSL search on Google.com that search phrase data would be encrypted for logged in users so in your analytics software you’ll be seeing more of the words “not provided” or “secure search” for your incoming search terms. It’s a good while since this announcement now and the dreaded “not provided” continues to increase.
Remote hosted analytics are much easier to set up and will put less additional load on your server but you’re not in control of your data. On the other hand self hosted analytics take a bit more setting up and may cause slight additional load on your server but you’re in control of your analytics data and if the analytics service decides to shut down, then no problem because it’s all hosted on your server.
Remote Hosted Analytics
This is one of the most popular analytics tools on the market right now. Some people do have concerns about Google finding its way into every aspect of our sites and that is a very relevant concern but it doesn’t take anything away from the power behind this service.
Some other limitations exist but unless you’re running a site with crazy amounts of traffic they won’t bother you, if you do get crazy amounts of traffic there is always the premium version of GA.
This is a great alternative to Google Analytics and comes with some awesome features. For example, you can easily track downloads and outbound links with no need to add additional code and display your rank in Google search alongside incoming search terms just to name a few.
What I really love about Clicky is just how many different features they’ve got, one of my favourites is how detailed visitor information is, it even goes so far as to show how many actions they carried out while visiting your site.
A free account will allow you to track 1 website with a maximum of 3,000 daily page views, a monthly fee is available to get access to premium features and allows you to track additional websites with a higher allowance of daily page views.
Another big name in the web analytics arena that also has some unique features, one of them includes a live chat widget that displays all of your agents currently monitoring the site allowing you to chat live with your clients.
Overall a great system however there is something that puts me off about this is which is that they state in their packages how long they will keep your data stored for, that in itself makes me feel uneasy.
To get the full benefits including the ability to offer the live chat functionality to clients surfing your site you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription, however there is a basic account which is free for none commercial use only although the way their pricing page is arranged it’s pretty easy to miss.
4. Kiss Metrics
This service is used by some of the biggest companies on the web, including the likes of Amazon and EBay which are a force to be reckoned with, so this really speaks to the quality and functionality of Kiss Metrics whom provide some great data relating to customer retention, real-time data, conversion funnels and general metrics. – Everything that you will need to optimise your site and improve conversions.
Also you can easily export your reports which is something a lot of services seem to lack, I’m sure it won’t be surprising that such a great service comes at a monthly cost, after all you usually get what you pay for (well in most cases).
5. Mix Panel
This web analytics service offers some great real time analytics and some great tools for analysing funnels and improving conversions and visitor retention.
Pricing is worked out by the number of data points that you’ll use, for example a single data point is the equivalent to the tracking of a single event, but looking at their pricing structure fee’s can easily amount up,.
6. Crazy Egg
This isn’t a complete online web analytics tool, but it’s so good I thought it deserved a mention. Crazy Egg creates really cool heat maps so you can visualise exactly how your websites viewers interact with your site.
This is a great way of optimizing your website and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work, other web analytics tools like Google Analytics offer a similar function although not quite as good; Pricing starts from $9 per month.
7. Fox Metrics
This service goes beyond what other web analytics tools do, Fox Metrics has some great social media monitoring functions and even carries out on page analysis and grading of your website which will then generate you an actionable report so you can begin making improvements to your site. – Along with the usual analytics, segmentation and conversion funnel data that you’d expect from a web analytics service such as this.
Fox Metrics operates a pricing strategy based mainly on the number of events, which can range from page views to downloads, unfortunately there’s no free account but the basic plan will allow for around 100,000 events.
This is a service operated by Webtrends.com, a company that are experts in the analytics fields and provide services for a great deal of major websites.
Here you will get some great real time analytics, some great looking heat maps and a bunch of other features.
There’s no free version here, but the important thing here is that you’re getting a quality product and it’s not going to break the bank because a basic account will allow you to track stats for up to 3 websites and up to 500,000 page views per month which seems like a nicer way to price things than some of these other web analytics tools.
You also have 5 years of archived data which is much better than the 1-2 years offered across the various Woopra subscriptions.
9. Chart Beat
What I like about this service more than anything is the mesmerising live stats dashboard, actually it’s pretty distracting.
In all seriousness though, it’s a great tool and their stats are straight forward with minimal “bells and whistles” or unnecessary functions.
If you want to see exactly what Chart Beat can do, check out the demo.
Self Hosted Analytics
This is a self hosted service so some setup is required however it seems pretty straight forward. You get a decent range of features but unfortunately it’s not free, for a license it’s a one off fee which sounds cool but if you have multiple sites the cost soon amounts up, you also have to pay additional fee’s to upgrade to a Mint 2 license.
This is an open source piece of software that you install to your web server, it’s PHP MySQL so there are some requirements. Once you’ve installed the software you get some code to place on your web pages however there are some plugins available to make this process of adding code a lot easier.
The interface is easy to use and you get access to real time reporting and the ability to choose the frequency of the reports.
There are a lot of advanced features here too; you can track goals, campaigns and custom variables etc. If you run an ecommerce site you’ll find abandoned carts, product & category reporting functions very useful. – There’s a huge amount of additional features, too many to list here.
Out of all the other analytics tools this one has an interface that seems the closest to Google Analytics, so if you were looking for a very close alternative this would be a great choice.
There’s a wide range of data points that are monitored, all the usual suspects, but one thing that I quite liked was the referral link text section which seems like a great way of discovering how your content is linked and with what anchor text.
If you want to get a feel for how Open Web Analytics operates then you can check out the demo.
If you want control over your data then a self hosted analytics service is the way to go, while I think Mint is great, Piwik & Open Web Analytics have the edge and also a familiar feel at zero cost, 100% free, although in comparison to the remote hosted solutions you will have some extra leg work to get these set up.
Remember that the internet is ever changing and with a self hosted service, even if the company or organisation that developed the software goes under you’ll still have access to all of your data.
If a remote hosted solution is more preferable to you then you are fairly limited in terms of zero cost solutions, you’ve got Google Analytics which is a great tool especially considering that it’s free.
If you don’t like the idea of Google having access to all this data then you’ve still got some great options but depending on the amount of traffic your sites receive you may have to opt for a premium service – but there are still free options like the free basic account that Clicky provides.
Are you using any of the web analytics tools that I’ve mentioned or are you using and other types of analytics services? Let us know about your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.