First of all, thanks for all the kind words regarding my first web analytics post here last week! I started with the basics last time. This time I am going to be discussing all the free web analytics tools out there and yes, believe it or not, just because they are free, doesn’t mean they aren’t any good – you can get some great results using these.
I will walk you through the free basic tools that are essential to tracking your basic visitor stats, and then some more unusual, advanced tools that help you analyze your websites for free. So this post is really ideal for any wannabe web analysts out there who have a limited budget (i.e. zero).
The Free Basic Web Analytics Tools (Yep Free!)
1. Traffic Tracking Tool: Google Analytics
One of the best and most powerful free web analytics tools to track your website visitors is Google Analytics. Not only can you get all the basic metrics like pageviews and unique visitors, and trends for them over time, but you can set up goals so you can measure conversion rates (like for newsletter signups or products purchased). Another cool feature is the Site Overlay tool which enables you to see a visual breakdown of where visitors are going and clicking on your website. Its also very easy to put on your website – all you have to do is put a simple tag on each of your pages. No need for help from techy folks or your IT department.
2. Traffic Tracking Tool: Woopra
One of the newer free web analytics contenders (so new in fact that they are still in beta) is a tool called Woopra. This tracking tool is ideal for smaller websites, especially for blogs. Two of the cool features it has (that Google Analytics doesn’t offer) are real time visitor analysis (you can see where they came from, what page they are on, where they have been so far etc), and also a great built in chat tool, that allows you to popup messages to your visitors and actually talk to them – offer help, get feedback etc. Might be worth checking out, especially for those of you looking to try something different than the leading free Google Analytics tool.
3. Blog Feed Tracking Tool: Feedburner
For those of you that have a blog out there, you should be offering RSS (real simple syndication) feeds of your blog posts. This way, visitors don’t have to keep coming to your website to read your posts – they can read them via an online feed reader like Bloglines or Google Reader, or even read them in a daily email. This free tool, Feedburner, makes it easy to track who is subscribing to your posts via feed readers and email, and helps you learn what your most popular posts are. Go sign up!
Advanced Free Web Analytics Tools (Free means Zero Cost!)
4. Visual Visitor Analysis Tool: Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg is great for people who don’t really like looking at numbers, and are more visual. Its basically a very advanced version of Google Analytics’ site overlay tool. It allows you to see EXACTLY where people are clicking on your website, and even shows you in the form of a heatmap. It’s great for helping you come up with ideas of what to change and test on your website (more about testing in an upcoming post). They have a basic free level of service for you to use and check out, plus more premium, paid versions.
5. Search Engine Analysis Tool: Enquisite
If you took out the Search Engine reports part of Google Analytics, and added in a lot more detailed reports regarding your regular search engine traffic (resulting from your SEO efforts) and your paid search engine clicks, then you pretty much have ‘Enquisite‘ in a nutshell. It is a very useful free tool for those of you who spend considerable time and resources regarding attracting website visitors from search engines.
6. Survey Tool: 4Q
One of the best ways to understand what is happening at your website is to ask your visitors questions in the form of a web survey. You should never just rely on visitor statistics. These question answers tell you ‘why’ your visitors are doing the ‘what’ that you see in your website tracking stats, and enable you to get ideas for improving your website, thus improving the visitor experience, increasing the chance of them coming back. This new tool called 4Q is free and easy to set up and start generating good feedback.
7. Recording Tool: ClickTale
ClickTale takes visual analysis tools to another level, and enables you to record and watch what your website visitors do! You can watch what your website visitors do on your website from their own perspective. Its great for understanding where they go and what troubles they are having. And it only requires a few simple lines of code to be added to your pages! Amazing huh? The free version allows up to 100 recordings a week – more than enough to get started with! Intriguing stuff! Here is a sample of one such recording.
So there we have it – a pretty long list of free analytics tools for you to check out and start playing with – lots of nerdy fun to be had, I assure you! And it just goes to show, you don’t always have to pay to get great tools!
Written by Rich Page, A web fanatic, and owner of Rich Page Ramblings blog – full of cool website reviews and web analytics insight.