One of the most important thing to know, for anyone with a blog or website, is who’s visiting. We all love tracking our stats ““ how many visitors today?
Who’s coming, who’s going, who’s subscribing? It’s a fun boost when there’s a spike in traffic, and lets you know when you’re doing something right.
But that’s just the fun part. Tracking your visitors can also be hugely useful ““ the more you understand who your visitors are, the better prepared you’ll be to give them the content they want, and keep them coming back for more.
For the most part, the standard application for all of this is Google Analytics ““ and with good reason. It’s a great, simple, and free program that provides you with a lot of useful information. But if you’re looking more real-time, detailed information about who’s coming to your site and what they’re doing, give Clicky a look.
Clicky is an alternative to Google Analytics and a real-time traffic analytics tool that couldn’t be easier to set up ““ just insert a bit of script into the header of your website, and you’re set to go! Clicky then tracks, down to the crazy and useful minutiae, what’s happening on your site.
Clicky tracks all the basics, right on the homepage for your site. The number of visitors, the pages they’re coming from, the pages they’re looking at, and how much time they’re spending on your site. I like, in particular, the “Actions” category, as it shows how many people are clicking around within the site, rather than just coming and going. One action means they come, they read, they leave ““ higher numbers mean more activity within the site.
On the “Visitors” tab of the (beautifully designed) site, it gets into the nitty-gritty. You can see the IP addresses of your visitors, what they searched for or clicked on to find you, and where in the world they are. Who’s coming and leaving? Who’s spending hours on your site? How are people finding you? The visitors page answers all of that.
There are too many other ways to analyze traffic to name them all, so I’ll just name six: By country. By the page they view. By the page they view after leaving your site. By what they click or download within your site. By type of traffic (direct, social media, etc.). By Web browser (my own blog gets mostly Firefox users, interestingly enough).
Knowing your audience, what they like and don’t, and even what else they read and how they find you, is a critical tool in building your site. You can promote yourself in the right places and ways just by knowing where people might look for you, and even tailor content based on, say, what Web browser people use to view your site.
For a few dollars a month, Clicky offers a bunch of other features, most notably Twitter tracking ““ you can see who’s talking about you on Twitter and what they’re saying. In a world in which Twitter’s becoming a hugely viable marketing tool, Clicky does a great job of keeping tabs on activity surrounding your site on Twitter, as well as providing a bunch of other analysis tools.
The free version of Clicky (which I still use) is a fantastic alternative to Google Analytics, for the casual or power user. If nothing else, its real-time reporting gives you a better sense of what’s happening that Google Analytics does. It’s easy to sign up, easy to use, and fun to see what’s happening on your site, right now.
For other ways to analyze your site’s traffic, read “Free Traffic Analytics Tools you Should Know About” and Woopra.
How do you track who’s on your site? Let us know in the comments.