Google Analytics is the premier tool for web developers, webmasters, and SEO professionals looking to monitor their website’s visitors, analyze their site’s traffic sources, and track their site’s sales and conversions. GA provides the kind of in depth analysis and data that web developers need to create and manage websites that consistently perform well on the world wide web. The fact that Google Analytics is a free product is simply a bonus. In fact, it’s not too much to say that Google Analytics is the industry standard, and should have a place in every webmaster’s tool box.
However, not everyone is devoted to Google Analytics. Some web developers and SEOs are uncomfortable with Google having such a large role in all of their online activities, while others simply like having an alternative perspective on their website’s performance data. For some people, the complexity of GA can often be hard to master, and so they are looking for simpler alternatives to track their website’s data. So, whether you are looking for an alternative to Google Analytics, or merely a supplement, what follows is a brief overview of some of the more popular services available.
I’ve used StatCounter for a very long time. It’s extremely simple to setup, the support is phenomenal, and very easy to use. StatCounter has all the basic features you would expect, such as incoming and exit links, visitor maps, and more. The “visitor paths” section is really great. It shows your visitor activity in real-time. Their free version really gives you all you need for 1 website, but the next step up gives you HTTPS access and a larger log file for only $49/year. I highly recommend this solution as a place to start.
Clicky markets itself as being the easiest analytics service available, and by and large they are true to their word. It is a well designed tracking tool with an easy to use interface, making it ideal for the inexperienced webmaster. Clicky provides data on hourly traffic, referral sources, page views, bounce rates, and total time spent on site. It also features a “Spy” button, which allows you to see how visitors are interacting with your site in real time. Clicky does have it’s faults, however. The current version is weak on tracking social media data, and a lot of the links within the web interface don’t simply click back to the link source mentioned. Clicky is available in both free versions (limited to 3000 page views per day) and premium versions (cost determined by site traffic).
Unlike other analytics tools, Kissmetrics focuses less on page views, and more on how visitors interact with your website. This is particularly useful for e-commerce sites, as Kissmetrics allows you to analyze conversion funnels in real time, giving you a clearer picture of how successfully your site is converting visitors to your final goal. This data is invaluable for webmasters who are trying to convert first time visitors into repeat customers. Kissmetrics offers a full range of features, including A/B Split Tests, Staging Sandboxes, Real Time Data Monitoring, and comprehensive debugging tools. Kissmetrics isn’t cheap, however, with subscriptions costing upwards of $150 per month.
Mixpanel promotes itself as being “the most advanced analytics platform ever for mobile and the web”. Like Kissmetrics, Mixpanel allows you to collect data in real time, closely monitoring how visitors interact with your site and any specific applications. It also allows you to create and analyze conversion funnels retroactively, as well as tracking how often visitors return to your site after their first visit. Again, this is particularly helpful for e-commerce sites who are working to make their online business more profitable. Mixpanel offers both free and subscription services. The free version allows you to track up to 25,000 data points. The cost of the paid versions vary, and are priced according to how many events you wish to track.
This is a great self-hosted solution. Piwik is loaded with tons of features and can even add geo-location data to your visitors. You will need a fairly robust server running PHP 5.3.2 or greater. Piwik can manage the same UTM parameters that you’re used to from Google Analytics, or you can create your own as well. There’s also a “visitor log” and complete reporting options. If you would like to have us install Piwik for you, feel free to reach out. This is a top contender as a GA replacement because you control all the data. Plus, it has a fantastic plugin for WordPress to show your visitor traffic on your WP dashboard.
While Google Analytics remains the industry standard for webmasters and SEO professionals, it is by no means the only player on the field. There are many independent analytics services to choose from, all of which have their pros and cons. The five we have discussed here are only some of the most popular. If you are looking for an alternative to Google Analytics, or would like a secondary service to act as a supplement to what GA, these solutions are a great place to start.