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Web Stats: Alternatives to Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a very popular tool for tracking website visitors, but it’s not the only solution and certainly not the perfect solution for everyone.

Depending on your business model and your needs, an alternative analytics solution might serve you far better and be a lot more useful to your business. Whether you’re looking for something supplemental or something to completely replace GA, this post has got you covered.

Read on to discover the best Google Analytics alternatives for your website.​

More...

What's Wrong With Google Analytics?

Problem with Google Analytics

From a technical standpoint, there is at least one glaring mistake in the way Google Analytics tracks pageviews and visitor actions. We’ve written about it extensively in the post about bounce rates, where you’ll also find something of a hack, to help improve the situation.

In short, GA cannot truly measure how long a visitor stays on your site, unless they perform another action like a new page load. Many visitors will show up as having stayed on your site for zero seconds, even though they might have spent minutes or more, reading a page or watching a video. This leads to skewed bounce-rate and time-on-site data. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it’s something you should be aware of.

Another very common complaint is that Analytics is just too damn complicated. It’s brimming with features, but there’s quite a severe learning curve to it.

Having said that, it’s infinitely better to use GA and only its most basic features, than not analyzing your traffic at all.

There are many alternative analytics solutions that provide features that Google Analytics doesn’t or give you new and improved ways of working with an interpreting your visitor data.

How to Spy on Your Website Visitors

Here are some of the criteria I looked for, in the different analytics services:

  • Does it track visitors and interactions in real time, so you can see what's happening on your site right now?
  • Does it correctly measure time on site, even if only one page is viewed?
  • Does it make a distinction between a "bad bounce" (short one-page visit) and a "good bounce" (long one-page visit)?
  • Does it allow useful sorting and filtering of the stats, so you can make intelligent decisions based on your analytics?
  • Does it allow easy tracking of conversion goals and funnels?

​Before going any further, we need to examine the three broad types into which the test candidates fall:

3 Flavors of Analytics​

Each of the products and services I looked at falls into one of three categories: website analytics, real-time stats and advanced customer analytics.

Website Analytics

​This type of service can be thought of as a “Google Analytics alternative” most directly. It provides an overview of where your visitors are coming from, what they’re doing on your site and gives you various ways to search and filter the data.

Real-Time Stats​

​This type of service is mostly concerned with what’s happening right now on your website, giving you a second-by-second view of traffic and visitor actions. Historical data, conversion tracking and similar features take a back seat or aren’t available at all.

​Real-time stats services usually come with very pretty dashboards and they can look impressive. However, the actual usefulness of them is limited. In my opinion, only a news website that gets huge amounts of traffic can really benefit from real-time stats like these. It gives them an opportunity to detect hot stories and act on trends in a fast paced environment. If your site doesn’t publish multiple stories per day and has any less than 100 visitors active at any given time, a real-time stats dashboard will not be a valuable addition to your business.

Advanced Customer Analytics

This type of service is most useful for websites that sell one or multiple products directly to the visitors. With advanced customer analytics, you can answer questions such as:

  • ​What steps do visitors take, before turning into customers?
  • What are commonalities between customers who cancel their subscription and how can we address them?
  • How does a recent change made to a sales page affect the customer lifetime value in our business?
  • Who exactly are our most valuable customers?

Examples of advanced customer analytics solutions are Kissmetrics, Mixpanel and Indicative. I've created a separate roundup review of these tools, here.

​In summary, website analytics are about visits, pageviews and historical data, real-time stats are about spotting trends as they happen and advanced customer analytics are about a deeper view of conversions and revenue.

Part 1: Website Analytics​

Let’s start by having a look at the tools that most closely resemble a direct alternative to Google Analytics (in alphabetical order):

Clicky

​I’ve been using Clicky for quite a long time now. In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about the user interface, but once I got used to it, I recognized its merits. The standard dashboard gives a very comprehensive overview over all of the core data: visitors (today vs. yesterday or any other date-range you set), visitor actions and bounce rate, top content, top search terms and traffic sources.

One thing Clicky does well is allow you to dig down and segment/filter your data in many ways. It doesn’t just show you some fancy graphs, it lets you get right down to the stuff that matters the most: you can find where your best converting traffic is coming from, you can see which pages are grabbing your visitors’ attention and which aren’t and much more.

One of my favorite things about Clicky is how easy it is to create campaigns and conversion goals, so you can measure your site’s effectiveness and even revenue generated. An interesting feature is that it allows you to set up custom twitter searches, so that you can monitor mentions of your site or brand on twitter, from within the Clicky dashboard. The service also integrate with a service called SheerSEO as well as Visual Website Optimizer for rank tracking and split testing respectively. Plus, it comes with a very well-made WordPress plugin.​

Clicky calculate bouce rate differently from most analytics solutions and they’re proud of it. Clicky considers every visitor who spends more than 30 seconds looking at a page as an “engaged” visitor and doesn’t count them as a bounce, even if they don’t view a second page on your site. This makes a lot of sense, since you can’t really say that someone who visits your site, reads a whole post and then leaves was “bouncing”. They just found what they were looking for.​

Clicky Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

YES

Conversion Tracking?

YES

Funnel Analytics?

Not Visual

Special Features:

Twitter monitoring, easy
goals & campaigns

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

YES
(up to 3,000 pageviews/day)

Price Range:

$9.99 - $20+ per month

Conclusion: Intuitive and clean user-interface, reasonable pricing and some innovative features make Clicky a Google Analytics alternative worth taking a closer look at. Clicky has become my go-to analytics solution and I gladly recommend it.

Link: Click here to get Clicky with it.

Heap

​Heap analytics has its sights set on user friendliness. The idea is that you can easily set up tracking for all the important events on your site, without needing any technical skills.

Beyond installing the tracking code on your website, everything in Heap is done with point-and-click interfaces instead of cryptic menus and settings. You can even define custom events by clicking directly on buttons and forms on your site and telling Heap what you want it to track in relation to them.

In addition, Heap automatically tracks events on your websites and shows you a list of the most commonly performed ones, for you to label and classify.

The result of all this is that Heap is incredibly easy to set up and use for anyone. In terms of user friendliness, Heap is the opposite of Google Analytics. In fact, Heap is an absolute joy to set up and use - as a business owner, you should sign up just to see how excellent their onboarding process is.​

Heap is set up in such a way that it actively encourages you to create the tracking and reports that are actually useful for you. It doesn't overwhelm you with endless stats and screens. Instead, it guides you through the process of building your own reports, based on your particular business needs.

Heap Features & Highlights

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

YES

Conversion Tracking?

YES

Funnel Analytics?

YES

Special Features:

Easy, non-technical setup,
retroactive reporting on new events.

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

YES
(up to 5,000 visitors/month)

Price Range:

$59 - $399 per month

Conclusion: Heap sits somewhere in between an analytics solution and customer analytics. It wouldn't completely replace something like Google Analytics and it's not trying to, either. What it does is give you an easier way to examine the most important data on your site. And it does it impressively well.

Link:click here to marvel at Heap Analytics.

Mint​

Mint is a stylish “less is more” kind of analysis software. Where many others pile on feature after feature, Mint strives to give you an at-a-glance view of what's happening on your site.

The “less is more” principle is taken a tad too far, sadly. The standard view shows you the visitor count (total and unique), the top referring websites, your most popular pages and the most popular search terms people are using to find your site. You can edit each view for a certain date-range or to show you recent terms/referrers rather than popular ones. Interestingly, there’s also a separate view for traffic coming through image searches, which could be a very interesting feature for certain types of websites like portfolio sites, sites about design or any other image-heavy sites.

​Data digging is almost non-existent with Mint. It also doesn’t show bounce rates, time on site or any other useful user engagement metrics. My impression is that Mint shows you mainly “vanity stats”, but fails to give you the tools necessary to sort your data in such a way that it can lead to intelligent changes on your website, that improve your business.

The basic functionality of Mint can be expanded with so-called “Peppers”. These are plugins for Mint, which are provided by the developers themselves as well as third-party providers. Possibly, some of the features I was missing in the standard version can be added through these extensions (I did not spend a lot of time searching through them).​

Mint is a self-hosted script and it costs a flat rate of $30 per website, making it very affordable.

Mint Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

NO

Conversion Tracking?

NO

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

Self-hosted, one-time price,
extensive plugin library

Multiple Sites/Account?

NO

Free Version?

NO

Price Range:

$30 per website

Conclusion: Mint is stylish and light-weight, but is it also useful? Unless there’s a very specific feature you’ve been looking for, found in one of the many “pepper” extensions, I can’t see a reason to use Mint.

Link: Learn more about Mint here.​

Open Web Analytics​

Open Web Analytics (or OWA) is a free, open source web stats solution, like Piwik. It’s self-hosted and it’s available as a WordPress plugin, which creates one instance of OWA to track the specific WP site it’s installed on. Installed separately and independently from WordPress, you can use OWA to track multiple websites.

​The user interface is reminiscent of one of the older Google Analytics interfaces in the choice of colors as well as the general navigation. If you were a fan of the GA interface about 3 or 4 revisions ago, you'll love this. And even if not, the OWA interface doesn't take too much getting used to.

Open Web Analytics is very feature-rich, especially considering that it’s free to use. It can track goals along several steps of a conversion funnel, it offers separate stats filtered by pretty much any factor you can think of and it even offers heatmaps and mouse-tracking. However, be warned: with those last two options active, OWA will gobble up server resources like nobody’s business. A shared hosting account will not find this agreeable.​

Open Web Analytics Features & Highlights

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

NO

Conversion Tracking?

YES

Funnel Analytics?

YES

Special Features:

Funnel analytics, mouse-
tracking and heatmaps

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

YES
(unlimited)

Price Range:

Always free.

Conclusion: OWA is a solid and feature-rich analytics solution. Unfortunately, it has the same bounce-rate and time on site weakness of most analytics tools. It also looks like it’s not being updated very frequently (not surprising, as the only income source seem to be donations).

Link: Check out Open Web Analytics here.

Piwik

Piwik is advertised as an open-source alternative to Google Analytics and this seems an accurate description. It’s completely free to use and fairly easy to install. It’s available as a self-hosted script for free or as a hosted solution starting from €49 per month. I will be focusing on the free version for this review.

​I immediately too a liking to the Piwik dashboard. After just a few minutes, I felt right at home and configuring the different widgets and views is very intuitive. I also like how easy and straight-forward the setup and tracking of conversion goals is. It’s also a breeze to add as many websites as you like to one and the same Piwik installation. Much like with Mint, the Piwik dashboard is very customizable and additional plugins are available to add to the system.

​One of the best features is that you can very easily set up and track goals. Beyond the basic stats, I would have liked options for deeper and more detailed segmentation, which is often lacking.

Piwik Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

NO

Conversion Tracking?

YES

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

Open source, customizable
dashboard with plugins

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

YES
(unlimited)

Price Range:

Premium plans from €49/month

Conclusion: For a free analytics tool, Piwik is quite impressive. I would have liked a few more features, but the only big drawback is that Piwik has the same, inaccurate way of tracking bounce rates and visit lengths that Google Analytics has.

Note that a premium, hosted version of Piwik is available, but I've only tested the free version.​

Link: Get a taste of Piwik here.​

StatCounter​

StatCounter is one of the better-known free Google Analytics alternatives and it’s been around for a while.

There’s no way to be nice about this, so I’ll just say it: Compared to the other solutions listed here, StatCounter is ugly. But, just because you don’t get the “oooh, shiny!” effect when you log into StatCounter, doesn’t mean it’s a bad product. The basic data is all there and you can get insights into visits, visitor paths, popular pages, entrance- and exit-pages, incoming keywords etc.​

In terms of segmentation, goals, campaign/funnel tracking and fancy stuff like that, StatCounter lags behind the competition. As with Mint, I found that StatCounter fails to deliver the kinds of insights that will actually help you make meaningful changes to your site.​

StatCounter Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

NO

Conversion Tracking?

NO

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

Generous free plan

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

YES
(up to 250,000 pageloads/month)

Price Range:

$5 - $119 per month

Conclusion: StatCounter has one saving grace: it’s free to use. Given that, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of premium solutions. Unfortunately, some of those bells and whistles are really important, which is why I can’t recommend this product.

Link: Learn more about StatCounter here.

W3Counter

​W3Counter is another free web tracking solution and in contrast to StatCounter, it delights with a well designed and user friendly dashboard.

In just a few clicks, you can see real-time stats, view a map representing the countries and locations your visitors are coming from, explore your top entry and exit pages and more. Overall, I found the dashboard very easy to navigate and the information well presented. A notable feature is a "click overlay" that shows you where you're getting most of your clicks, directly on a representation of your website.

Unfortunately, there are also some downsides: the free version of W3Counter only works if you add a visible badge to your site, it's supported by advertising and the historical log of your traffic is ​severely limited.

There are premium levels available that remove the ads and restrictions and add some additional features, although the premium level of W3Counter cannot keep up with the stronger premium analytics solutions in this roundup.​

W3Counter Features & Highlights

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

YES

Conversion Tracking?

NO

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

User-friendly dashboard,
click overlay feature.

Multiple Sites/Account?

Premium Only

Free Version?

YES
(up to 5,000 pageviews/day)

Price Range:

$4.99 - $29.99 per month

Conclusion: my impression is that W3Counter is a solution aimed at beginners. If you are relatively new to this and unfamiliar with (or overwhelmed by) Google Analytics, W3Counter will give you the basic stats for your site in a free and easy package. You'll eventually want to graduate to a more performance-focused solution, though.

Link: take a look at W3Counter here.​

Reinvigorate​

When I was working on the first version of this roundup, Reinvigorate was a new analytics solution on the market. It looked promising, but things went wrong and at this point, Reinvigorate is no more.

I'm leaving this mention of it in the roundup, but I'm removing all the details etc. since the solution is no longer available.

Part 2: Real-Time Stats​

Next, let's look at the real-time solutions. As you've seen above, most analytics solutions track in real time (even Google Analytics does that now), but for the following solutions, real-time isn't just a feature - it's the main focus.​

Chartbeat

Chartbeat has evolved a lot since my last update of this post. Last time I tested it, it was little more than a live stats dashboard. By now, it has expanded with new features and functionality, built for specific purposes.

To begin with, Chartbeat gives you a live view of your visitors and their actions on your site, as well as information about platforms they're using, where they're coming from etc.

In addition, you'll find features specifically built for ad-supported websites, video-based content and more. Chartbeat can give you detailed insights into where your visitors are clicking, the scroll-depth on pages (and how that affects ad impressions), video-playback statistics and more.

​Another notable feature is what they call the "Heads-Up Display", which overlays information directly on a representation of your website.

Chartbeat can be a powerful tool for magazine and news sites that receive a high volume of traffic.​

Chartbeat Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

YES

Conversion Tracking?

YES

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

Specialized features for news
sites, ad publishers and videos.

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

NO
(free trial avaiable)

Price Range:

$50 per 1,000 concurrent visitors

Conclusion: if you operate a high-traffic (500K visitors/month and above) news or magazine site, Chartbeat is well worth a look.

Link: click here to see what Chartbeat is all about.​

Gauges​

Gauges aims to provide the most important website data without any additional clutter.

​In the Gauges dashboard, you can get an overview of one or several websites that you're tracking. You'll see a traffic trends overview for the past 12 hours and daily traffic for the past 2 weeks, plus the most visited content and top referrers.

​You can also activate the "Air Traffic Live" view, which shows a global map which updates with live geolocations of your visitors. It's screen-filling and nice to look at, but the practical usefulness of the feature is limited.

Further, Gauges provides insights into traffic referrers, browsers and screen sizes of your visitors. All the basic data is there, but Gauges didn't manage to surprise me with particularly good or useful features.​

Gauges Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

YES

Conversion Tracking?

NO

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

"Air Traffic Live" view with global
map, easy multi-site management

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

NO
(free trial available)

Price Range:

$6 - $48 per month

Conclusion: Gauges is nice to look at and provides all the basic features, but it needs to go one or two steps further to become a truly useful solution.

Link: find out more about Gagues here.​

GoSquared​

GoSquared presents a dashboard that is divided into three main categories: live stats, historical data and ecommerce data.

The live dashboard gives an at-a-glace view of the exact number of current visitors, top traffic sources, most popular content, geographic locations of visitors and a few other data points. The dashboard does a good job of providing​ an immediate overview of site activity.

There's also a "trends" dashboard where you can see daily, weekly and monthly comparisons of historical site data. This gives you a longer-term view of the most visited pages on your site, best traffic referrers and so on.

Finally, the ecommerce section reports trends in number of sales, sales revenue, average value per sale​ and the top traffic sources that your converting visitors came from.

GoSquared provides a lot of data and presents it in a way that's easy to understand. But you should keep in mind that, in contrast to something like Google Analytics, the emphasis in GoSquared is on identifying trends and getting a view of what's happening on your site right now.​

GoSquared Features & Highlights​

Real-Time Stats?

YES

Time on Site Tracking?

YES

Conversion Tracking?

YES

Funnel Analytics?

NO

Special Features:

Great live stats dashboard +
stats that go beyond live.

Multiple Sites/Account?

YES

Free Version?

NO

Price Range:

$18 - $790 per month

Conclusion: like all of the real-time solutions, GoSquared only makes sense for high traffic sites. It has a less specialized, broader appeal than Chartbeat, but whether it makes sense for you depends a lot on your business model.

Link: check out GoSquared here.​

Part 3: Advanced Customer Analytics​

Advanced customer analytics solutions are closely related to the kinds of services I've tested in this roundup. However, they are also a lot more complex and are built for a more specialized purpose and because of that, I have reviewed them in a separate post.

Vanity Metrics?

​The danger with any analytics program is that we get lost in vanity metrics. Everybody likes to see that there’s more traffic this week than last week or that the bounce rate is lower this month than last month. But on its own, this kind of data is useless. In fact, any kind of data is useless, until you make a change based on it. No matter which solution you choose, don’t abuse web stats as an emotional roller-coaster ride with no further purpose.

Some solutions do a good job of encouraging​ an action-oriented use of analytics, while other provide little more than vanity metrics. Whatever you end up choosing for your website, make sure to look past fancy dashboards and ask yourself: what data will actually help my business?

Watch this short video to discover a simple and effective way to combat the vanity metrics issue.

My Personal Preferences​

For a long time, Clicky was my number one analytics solution. It has a good, hassle-free interface, all the basic features I needed and it's easy to get it set up and reporting on numbers that matter to an online business. Thanks to Clicky, I didn't log in to Google Analytics for months at a time.

I still highly recommend it as a solution for anyone who's looking for an affordable and less overwhelming alternative to GA.

I originally planned on using either Piwik or Open Web Analytics, mainly due to the attractive price tag of $0. However, I didn't like how resource-intensive they were. Be warned: ​if you have sites with a fair amount of traffic, the self-hosted analytics solutions can become real resource gluttons.

The most impressive new addition to the roundup is Heap Analytics. It doesn't replace Google Analytics, but it's a great solution for a business with a few different conversion aspects and paths to it (such as a site that generates leads and sells one or more products).

Conclusion

When I first did all this testing and wrote this post, my goal was to replace Google Analytics and never have to deal with it again. I have since come to a grudging truce with GA. For many businesses, it pays off to get acquainted with the intricacies of the tool and wrestle it into some semblance of usefulness. It is a time consuming and often frustrating task, but it can be worth it.

For many businesses and new websites, it makes a lot of sense to use a simpler alternative like Clicky, Heap or one of the other candidates here. Even if they technically don't do much that Google Analytics can't do, there is enormous value in having a tool that's easy to work with and gives you immediate data you can take action on.

Although I'd like to, I can't fully recommend any of the free solutions in the roundup. While some of them are quite good I also have to be honest and say that I no longer use any of them for my own sites.​

What do you use for analysing your website visitors? And how do you make use of the data you get? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Shane Melaugh and I'm the guy writing most of the posts on this blog. My goal is to provide you with useful, straight-forward insights on how to grow your business by creating compelling offers, driving traffic and increasing conversions.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 136 comments
Olivia - March 5, 2011

Wow…what an eye-opener. I didn’t even know there were alternatives to GA. Thanks for the education and I will definitely be looking at these tools.

As usual, you always bring terrific value to your readers.

Thanks, Shane,

Olivia

Reply
Alex - March 5, 2011

Nice article, I myself use woopra on websites that do not have adsense. Google analytics + adsense gives you so much additional information… Besides, those websites are already linked by my adsense ID anyway.

But, woopra is great for elsewhere :)

Reply
    Shane - March 5, 2011

    Yeah, that’s a good point. With AdSense on the site, there’s no escaping Google anyway and linking it up to GA has many benefits. I think this approach is best (GA for AdSense sites, different solution for all others).

    Reply
Betty Fellows - March 6, 2011

I’ve not received the opt in email yet. I do hope it is coming as I want your report.

Reply
Jeff - March 6, 2011

Thanks for the overview and alternatives. What I’d really like to see is your opinion as to what is best if you take the possibility of a slap out of the equation. Whether you use GA or not, Google still has a pretty good handle on what you’re doing. Taking everything into account, if you’re totally white hat you don’t have “too much” to worry about. Integration and ease of moving between Analytics, AdSense, AdWords, Webmaster Tools, Reader, and all the other Google products makes for a pretty compelling argument for using GA, not to mention WordPress plugins that integrate with all of Google’s services. But if/when the day comes when you do get slapped, having alternatives is a nice insurance policy.

Reply
    Shane - March 6, 2011

    Google Analytics is a good system, no doubt. It isn’t my favourite, though. So even if you don’t want to hide your data from Google, I think alternatives are worth looking at. Some analytics tools are more performance oriented than GA, for example. The best example of this is probably KISSmetrics, which I didn’t include here since they are apparently in the “we don’t talk about the price” price-range.
    Woopra is another good example of a system that is very different from GA and might suit your personal needs better. So it’s not only about keeping your data away from the big G.

    Reply
      Todd - November 30, 2011

      Shane,

      I just started a new website and am currently using GA. Like you, I am not a huge fan of it. We will most likely be using AdSense / Adwords in the near future. Is it worth upgrading to a software like Woopra? Will Woopra or any others still compliment these Google products? I’m not so worried about “getting slapped” as I am having the best/ most useful tools and analytics in front of me.

      Reply
      Shane - November 30, 2011

      Hi Todd,

      In terms of features, Google Analytics isn’t really lacking. I think the user interface is not the greatest and the way it sets up and tracks goals is pretty stupid, IMO. But it’s functional and comes with everything you need.
      Something like Woopra won’t necessarily provide you with better information or tell you things about your site that you could not find out, using GA. However, in my opinion, it will be easier to use and navigate. That’s the main reason I ultimately went with Clicky as my preferred alternative to GA: I just find it easier and more pleasant to use.

      Reply
Nigel - March 6, 2011

Like Olivia, I didn’t know there was an alternative. This information certainly gives me food for thought.

Reply
Alex - March 6, 2011

Superb post Shane.

I’m pretty weak on tracking combined with being google phobic so this post is exactly what I need. I quite like the sound of piwik but it’s a script and needs installing UGH and reinvigorate has a heat map and is a plugin – sounds superb.

Thanks

:-)

Alex

Reply
    Shane - March 6, 2011

    Concerning Piwik: It’s a really easy installer. I had to contact Hostgator support to help me out with one of the steps, but it was a very quick and easy fix. If I can install it, it must be simple. :)

    Having said that, reinvigorate is an even easier option.

    Reply
Peter Sundstrom - March 6, 2011

I’ve never used GA as I know what sort of footprint it leaves and have a distrust of Google having a lot of knowledge of all my sites.

If you use the same GA id for all your sites, it makes it quite easy for anyone to identify all of the sites you own.

On my WordPress sites, I find that the basic wordpress.com stats plugin provides me with enough basics and awstats/webalizer is useful for some more details.

It’s very easy to get bogged down with detail and over analyse web statistics (been there before), however, I don’t deny that you do need to look at them to get an idea of what’s working well and what isn’t.

Reply
    Shane - March 7, 2011

    Good point with the footprints! I hadn’t even thought of that, but it’s an important factor if you want to keep your good niches to yourself.

    I agree that one has to be careful not to fall into analysis paralysis with all of these stats and this data. Analytics are only as useful as the actions you take based on the data. That would (and perhaps should) be an article all of it’s own.

    Reply
      Douglas - March 9, 2011

      “Analytics are only as useful as the actions you take based on the data. That would (and perhaps should) be an article all of it’s own.”

      Analytics and testing could be a complete course. Surprised no one has come out with one yet.

      Reply
      Shane - March 9, 2011

      Good point.
      I have an inkling about why no one’s made a product about this yet: It’s not very marketable. Using analytics properly isn’t particuarly sexy, if you know what I mean.
      At least to the “typical” IM crowd, this would be a tough sell.

      Reply
calfred - March 9, 2011

Wow! Thank you so much for this Shane.

Even when you’re not promoting anything, you sound totally honest too. Erm ya.

I have used Piwik on a site. But the visitor number seems to differ greatly (as much as 60%) with the unique visitors at Awstats.

Thanks again for this analytics review. May this page get indexed for thousands of keywords and your blog will be more well known. :)

Reply
Wayne Cochrane - March 9, 2011

Hello Shane,

I have never used Google Analytics as:

1) I don’t like Google collecting, compiling and using data about my stuff;

(I don’t use Google for Search now either, I use https://startpage.com/ – secure and does not collect Ip addresses etc);

and

2) Google Analytics can dramatically slow webpage loading. I am FREQUENTLY waiting, sometimes for minutes, for other people’s webpages to load and meanwhile Firefox is telling me “waiting for Google Analytics”,and sometimes “waiting for Doubleclick” (Google). I have never heard anyone else mention this, maybe it is just here in Australia that these delays occur?;

and

3) It is a thirdparty service. Thirdparty services are unreliable. I need complete control of my business. (I already had a problem with this after [against my better judgement] I used a thirdparty URL-shortening service. It was a great service but it changed ownership and became useless due to monetization strategies of the new owners. I lost hundreds of my links. Now I use my own free self-hosted URL-shortening service and whilst it’s almost as good as the service I used to use [and easier to use] it is in my control and the links point to my website, not someones else’s :-)) (Have you noticed that Google has downgraded the External Keyword Tool recently? Maybe it’s just here in Australia, but the export keywords function has been removed. [Which makes it dramatically less useful.])

I do not dislike Google but I do not trust them and there is no way I will allow myself to be dependent on them.
I have no intention of ever doing anything I need to hide from Google but there is no way I would use Google Analytics when there is a free open-source self-hosted alternative like Piwik, which I found very easy to install.

Thanks Shane,

Wayne.

P.S. I am looking for a good self-hosted split-testing script.
If you or any of your readers have any experience with those Shane I’d love to hear about it.

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Tim - March 9, 2011

There’s one that you might want to add to the list, Open Web Analytics (OWA). It looks similar to Google Analytics, but it’s open source.

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    Wayne Cochrane - March 10, 2011

    Tim,

    I hadn’t heard of Open Web Analytics, I will install it and check it out.

    Thanks!

    Wayne.

    Reply
Jeff - March 9, 2011

Hi Shane,

Great resource! I have been using GA and StatCounter but didn’t aware of the alternatives. I will definitely take a look at them all. I noticed that both GA and StatCounter don’t seem to give accurate counts – like I can take a look at StatPress WP plugin and they are showing visitors; but both GA and StatCounter showed little to no visitors! Very confusing. I guess I may have to use the hosting log to verify…

Also, you might want to mention that GA does not have real time results – they always a day behind. So people might want to check out the alternatives if wishing to get immediate view of traffic in real time.

Thanks again for the great resource.

-Jeff

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Alexander - March 9, 2011

I use GA on my AdSense sites and Piwik on all of them as well. I like Piwik – easy to install and update, easy to use and it is unlimited free solution with enough data to track your site’s performance.

I have to use WordPress.com Stats plugin on mu WP sites but found it not so good as the other one – StatSurfer plugin that I use now on all of my WP sites. StatSurfer is derived from StatPress plugin but is much better in my opinion. I think StatSurfer is the best solution for WordPress websites now.

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Gordon - March 10, 2011

As always Shane…right on the ball…this is great info and I think I will test a couple of these myself…anything free is good so PIWIK is probably first cab off the rank.

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    Shane - March 24, 2011

    Piwik is definitely a good choice. It’s becoming my personal favourite and it doesn’t hurt that it’s free, either. :)

    Reply
Yoav - March 10, 2011

Great Info Shane!
These are really amazing tools.
This was a subject I knew almost nothing about until I read your post.

Thanks!
Yoav

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Alison Graham - March 10, 2011

As I only have sites with adsense on them, I am not sure about changing from analytics – although I don’t like the fact that G knows more about my online efforts than I do! However I also have the free version of statcounter as I like the interface, visitor paths information and exit link information that is easily accessible.
Regarding Statcounter, I would just like to mention that it does give you ‘phantom’ adsense clicks – which nearly gave me a heart attack the first time I noticed that whilst editing a post there were a couple of google adsense clicks showing as having been made by me.
Statcounter investigated, these ‘clicks’ are apparently caused by just mousing over an ad or hovering over it for a fraction too long. This has never been resolved by statcounter, these are NEVER in my adsense analysis so the phenomenon could possibly make someone new to using statcounter and adsense think that somehow G was doing them out of earned money from clicks on their site ads.

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Stella @ Strategic Internet Marketing - March 14, 2011

I did not know there are alternative to Google Analytics; thanks for the comprehensive review here.

From your review, and another reader’s, Piwik seems cool and especially so because of its price point ($0) – i’m gonna check it out.

Stella

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Alex - March 17, 2011

Oops! Just checking on REINVIGORATE and they have a free 14 day trial before progressing to charge you $10, $20 or $100 per month.

Shame I’m looking for a free alternative to GA and I liked the heat map.

O well back to your list Shane!

:-)

Free and easy to install, where does that take me…

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    Shane - March 18, 2011

    I think Piwik might fit the bill.
    And Open Web Analytics (which I didn’t know about before I read about it in the comment above) might also be a good candidate. :)

    Reply
Alex - March 24, 2011

Just had a good look at Piwik and I like it.

There’s also a plugin

:-)

So far so good…

Shane, here’s what I want to do next.

A site is making sales and I want to know which of several links is most effective, and which pages and posts are not pulling their weight.

I use an amazon tracking code so I know which site is working are these services like piwik able to drill down to the link level?

Tx

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    Shane - March 24, 2011

    Yep, Piwik rocks. :)

    I think the feature you are looking for is the “Goals” one. You can define clicks on outbound links (e.g. your affiliate links) as goals and Piwik will then show you which pages are getting the highest CTR and all that good stuff.
    Google Analytics can do the same, by the way, but it’s far easier to set up in Piwik. :)

    Reply
patrenet@gâteau mariage - May 2, 2011

I use Piwik, and i’m really glad of it.
I don’t know Open Web Analytics, but i think the advantage of Piwik is the community, very active…

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    john - May 27, 2011

    owa give you more tools, like heatmap for exemple… check it out

    Reply
Francis - July 6, 2011

I am quite tempted to try Piwik and OWA. By the way, I haven’t read if it is possible to use more than two analytic tools for the same website. I don’t see why it should not be possible.

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    Shane - July 9, 2011

    Yes, that’s possible. The only downside is that the more tracking scripts you load, the slower your site will become, so for the long-terms, it’s best to use just one. For testing purposes, you can be using several anlytics apps in parallel, though.

    Reply
Erik - July 19, 2011

I’m really interested in Woopra & Reinvigorate. Shane, do you have any idea how well they interact with Google Adwords?

Btw, I love the site.

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    Shane - July 19, 2011

    Hi Erik,

    I have not tested any of these analytics solutions specifically with AdSense. I doubt that you’ll get the level of insight that AdSense + Google Analytics provides, from any of the non-Google solutions, though. I recommend signing up for a free trial (both Woopra and reinvigorate offer them) and maybe contacting support about this topic.

    Reply
      Erik - July 19, 2011

      Thanks for the reply. I’m also trying out the trial with BuildMyRank.com through your aff. Always happy to support good content providers.

      Reply
Dewald - August 4, 2011

hi shane
for any newbie who would like to start with tracking basics
and more, use a free wordpress plugin “Jetpack”

the stats are plain and understandable and shows traffic sources, most visited page, and more. Nothing explosive but effective plus other wordpress features.

landed here via “page load info”, time to get back there

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Mike - August 16, 2011

Thanks for the great list. Our site has been destroyed by Panda and we’re trying to go Google-free to see whether it might help results. We used to use Mint, which was actually quite awesome how quick it is and how flexible. Unfortunately I didn’t see any good screen shots which would really help people evaluate! Might make for a good follow up article. Given the flexibility, we might choose open web analytics since it seems to now be the most popular of all the alternatives.

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Than N. - September 9, 2011

I’m just now learning about web analytics. Do any of these offer the ability to track the IP address of each visitor?

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Kate - October 18, 2011

Shane,

Great review article and exactly what I was looking for. I have been flying blind for too long, and it is time to get serious and see what is happening and, in some cases, what is not happening.

I was leaning towards either Piwik or OWA right up until the very last where you mentioned the resource requirements. However, my sites are under 10,000 visitors per month, so I will probably give one of them a try. You say “sites with a fair amount of traffic” – what is your definition/range of “fair amount”? Cheers!

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leonard - November 9, 2011

I am testing the metriclytics analytics, in addition to tracking website analytics and tracking becomes personal email marketing http://www.metriclytics.com puden hopefully test it as much as they like me.

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Zach Milne - December 27, 2011

I have to add that Stat Counter does not do a very good job of filtering out bots in their numbers. I have a site that has a drastic difference in visitors between GA and Stat Counter. From 11-13k in Stat Counter to 4-4.2k visitors. This could be due to other issues as well. I don’t know.

I would love to hear from anybody about the accuracy of Woopra or Clicky compared to GA. Anyone ever compare stats?

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    Shane - December 28, 2011

    I’m not aware of such differences, but haven’t done a side-by-side comparison of the numbers on the same site.
    One thing worth mentioning is to make sure to compare the same numbers, since some tools show visits, others unique visits and others pageviews as the standard traffic-counter.

    Reply
rahul - February 7, 2012

Nice article. I am using piwik and owa. The goodness of them are, they can’t be block unless no-script is using, ghostery can’t detect piwik, if a custom js (renamed .js) is using, and can view the ip of users, which is pretty handy.

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Steve Anson - March 21, 2012

Very helpful wrap up of GA alternatives. Seems there are growing reasons to ditch GA… especially having just read “Search and Destroy”.

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Steve Anson - April 3, 2012

Shane, we have GA installed on 2000 client sites. We’re looking for an alternative and would be interested in engaging you to consult to us. Please contact me. ~ Steve

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Mark - April 9, 2012

I have been using Piwik on a site, and doing some research on that site on Google, I found that someone was using one of my images. I’m with Hostgator and am running the hotlink protection in cPanel. After contacting HG support, they informed me that “The site in question uses some sort of proxy to retrieve your image, which makes the request look like it is coming from your own site.”

They then suggested I add a condition (which they gave me) to .htaccess to deny the site access. I did and it didn’t work… they are still using the image.

After more research, Hostgator (which I like a lot) wrote back with this: “The requests are coming from a number of other IP addresses, so it seems that our initial diagnosis was incorrect. The common threads for the requests is that many (not all) come via google.com in some way (possibly the image search), and that they ALL come via your Piwik suite. The suite is password-protected, but it seems that there may be some back doors that we are unaware of, that are allowing access to this image. Would it be possible to put a limit for piwik access to a specific address or range of addresses, so you could still see your stats, but others can not exploit the back door?”

So far I haven’t found a way, but I thought this would be good info to pass along.

I appreciate the alternatives you’ve listed, and am definitely going to check them out.

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    Shane - April 9, 2012

    Thanks for your comment!
    That’s a bit worrying… hopefully, if there is an exploit here, it will be fixed in an update.

    Reply
Tristan - April 13, 2012

Nice article – we use an analytics package not on this list. It’s called A1WebStats and the website is A1WebStats.com.

We use this software as it helps us identify the company that visited along with useful information that will ultimately help us improve our website and get more sales.

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Paul @ IMH Blog - April 13, 2012

Spelling mistake in the article – ‘I an’t recomment’

Great run down, but ill probably just stick with GA, doesnt really bother me that they collect data, we are getting watched through every other avenue in our lives, its hardly surprising the internet isnt free from this.

I dont trust google but then again i dont have anything to hide from them and am working to try and increase my different traffic sources

Eventually i dont want to rely on google for traffic.

For a free tool GA is very in-depth, while it may not be super accurate, unfortunately not any tool is either

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Nick - April 14, 2012

Very good post Shane… I was searching for something like this (a list of alternatives) recently and i couldn’t find the right one.

I am using the free from clicky but it seems changed from a few years ago when you could have visitors recorded. Or is the free version somehow limited?

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    Shane - April 14, 2012

    Hi Nick,

    Yes, the free version of Clicky has some limitations. It has a limit in terms of daily pageviews you can track and it doesn’t have what they call the “premium features” like goal tracking, twitter monitoring and so on.

    Reply
Les - April 16, 2012

In addition to GA and Statcounter, I have also used Awstats which is free on some hosting services. Awstats contains a lot of data, but I suspect it also slows down page loads. Any experience with Awstats or comments welcome.

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    Paul - August 14, 2012

    AWStats is mainly for server techs rather than non-techie business owners looking to make strategic decisions based on the data. It sits on the server and makes visual representations of visitor log files. Whereas the data in AWstats is likely to be accurate, you’ll also notice that figures are elevated in comparison to other analytics tools because AWStats measures traffic from bots, which Analytics can’t do. Also, with AWStats your data sits on your server, rather than a remote third party server such as GA.

    It won’t slow down page loads at all because the program simply reads from log files.

    AWStats has a number of basic reports – these can be useful if you’re techie enough to make sense of it but for most people a more user friendly Analytics tool would be advisable.

    Reply
Donald - April 16, 2012

Hi Shane,

High quality and very useful information as always – thank you!

Like many people I would love to get Google right out of the equation but, since they are the major player when it comes to organic search traffic, this is not always easy.

Where, for example, do we stand as far as Google Plus is concerned?

Many people believe that Google Plus, while still in its infancy today, will play a significant role in SERP results in the next few months. However, to take advantage of this webmasters will need to link their sites to a Google Plus account and, if you do that, you might just as well use Google Analytics.

What are your thoughts?

Don

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Terry Chadban - April 16, 2012

Hey Shane and all,
Justin Brooke has just started a web-hosted service (I only got the email from him about it this morning!) called PixelTrakk, which is a cut-down version of GA, especially designed for marketers. It doesn’t measure bounce rates, which, as you point out, are usually wrong anyway. There is a free version, which only tracks the four basic stats, and a premium version which also tracks your entire sales funnel, and does split-testing as well, which one of your readers asked about.

From what I have seen so far, the basic version would be enough for most website owners — as long as they take action to improve their stats, as you mention. The premium version is more for anal-retentives like you and me! :-)

Terry

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Sandra - April 16, 2012

Hi Shane,

I’ve been toying with the idea of using Clicky, too, as I’ve seen it within my Cloudflare Cpanel.

Have you tried Cloudflare? What are your thoughts on it as an overall website optimiser? http://www.cloudflare.com

Thanks again for putting all these tons of info together and for presenting them in such an aesthetically pleasing and quick to absorb way :)

Sandra

PS:
I’m actually signed up to SECockpit – that’s how I got the idea of checking your blog out ;-)

Reply
    Shane - April 16, 2012

    Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I’ve mentioned cloudflare in this post about speed optimization. You need to do a before/after test with it, to make sure it really helps your site’s performance and to check that it doesn’t “break” anything on your site. But given that, it can be a very useful service.

    Reply
Rusty Ferguson - April 17, 2012

I have been using Statcounter for a long time. I have for a long time worried about my high bounce rate. During your last Webinar, I learned the bounce rate GA and Statcounter provide is not accurate. I always understood the weakness but I didn’t know there was an alternative.

After the webinar, I went back to clicky and opened my account again. I prefer statcounter until I learned about the bounce rate. You can dig into statcounter a bit. Perhaps not enough. And what I have found they don’t make it easy to understand. It all starts with where you start digging. I’m still learning clicky but I understand I need better user engagement data than Statcounter can provide.

When I left Statcounter they asked me why and I told them, explained what Clicky has that Statcounter doesn’t. They only responded with we will try to provide that in the future. So that confirmed its not there hidden away.

I just signed up with Woopra, they do have a free trail now. But there is almost no chance they can keep me at $40 a month for a website. Are they crazy? haha So far its not working for me at all. When I try to look at live stats, I get a blank white page.

I’m having some issues adjusting from Statcounter to Clicky but I’m getting there.

Did you find a way to sort by pages with low engagement?
Oh, the reason I started this post…. haha

i suppose once we have our website in GA and Google Webmaster Tools, it wont do a lot of good to pull them out?

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Fırat Ekinci - April 18, 2012

I recommend a wonderful yandex metrika.

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Sean Breslin - April 23, 2012

Good post Shane… I have a mix of G/A and Statcounter… which I do like! But giving Clicky ago seems like a good idea. Lots of resources here I was not aware of… I look forward to reading more!!!

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Peter Cameron - April 27, 2012

I think I should change GA to Clicky. Your advise is so helpful and to the point. Thanks

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Craig - April 27, 2012

Hi Shane,

Great Review! What is your take on having your site in Google Webmaster Tools. One site I created a long while back and did only directory submissions for received a message about unnatural linking. Would keeping the site out of GWT had made a difference?

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    Paul - August 14, 2012

    My suspicion is that GWT has nothing to do with the detection of unnatural linking and more to do with notification.

    Unnatural linking is all about analysing inbound links from external sites, so it doesn’t make sense to me that a piece of code placed on your site can “betray you” in terms of unnatural linking detection.

    Reply
Mike - April 29, 2012

Because of your review , I paid more attention to Clicky. I have to admin sounds interesting.
But what about Piwik ? I heard some good news about it. What’s your opinion on this.

thanks in advance :)

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James P. - April 29, 2012

Thanks for all the info, Clicky looks great!

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Ronald Edwards - May 1, 2012

I ditched GA and Webmaster tools when my site fell because of Panda and Penguin. I’m now comparing clicky vs reinvigorate.

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tom Helmke - May 8, 2012

If you pull GA & GWM out then how can G know and then factor your site. So leaving them in would be VALID ?
I added to a Test site two things that help with the One Page Bounce Views.
1) A Java Timeout to get pushed to internal pages that users typically click on anyway.
2) A Rollover image that if they go back to the address bar – it triggers to a new page.
I did a test and it seemed to get the bounce rate down a lot. It went on my test site from 45% down to 22%.

So if you dont use GA / GWMT – how do they sense what is occuring ????

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Chris - May 14, 2012

Do any of these track mobile users?

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    Shane - May 14, 2012

    Most of them automatically track what platform incoming visitors are using, including mobile browsers.

    Reply
David - May 22, 2012

Great review Shane, I’ll will start testing some of these this week :)

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Bob - May 31, 2012

Shane you mention you don’t use GA on this site yet you have the code? Looks like your using Woopra, GA and Clicky. Why? You running a test or something. Don’t see any avantage in using 3 different analytics.

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    Shane - May 31, 2012

    Yes, I’m testing all three at the same time, at the moment. For the article, I was testing up to five at the same time. But I do this only for testing purposes, of course. No point otherwise. :)

    Reply
jose lezama - June 3, 2012

Shane, do you know of a good online seminar on Analytic interpretation, data comparison(between tool) and what data to follow closely?
I will appreciate your guidance.
Jose

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craig - June 5, 2012

Hi Shane,

I can not find the thread you created to submit to you suggestions for topics.
So I am posting it here, hope you don’t mind. :)

Can you suggest some recent data or create a post on how to get a site back from the Google Slap due to the most recent Penguin Update. I am getting many inquiries from business owners needing help getting their site back.
Getting a site back is not something I have really had to do (I have ideas on what to do) but it would be great to have other viewpoints especially from those who have done it.

Thank You!

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Danny - July 25, 2012

Nice post, Shane.

All the problems being encountered surrounding the lack of Accuracy with Analytics tools and services, is something that will not go away anytime soon.

In may simply be better to use a number of tools, then make as close an estimate as possible, by relying on the most accurate features of each individual tool.

For me personally, considering Google Analytics was way off with it’s data, I tend to balance the Google Analytics numbers with around five or so, other tools.

I have noticed that certain site data tools do tend to match up quite closely with certain other tools results, only they return the data in different time frames.

So, if we are willing to wait a little, we can see the data that matches from these tools, beginning to overlap…

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federico - July 27, 2012

Hi Shane, great post.

There are some analytics that track affiliate sales as a goad directly in the interface?

EX: whit pixel to put in the vendor thank you page?

My goal is to have all my stats (keyword, affiliate sales, etc)in one interface

thanks in advice

Federico

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    Paul - August 14, 2012

    I’ve been able to set Analytics up to track Clickbank affiliate sales, but that’s only because Clickbank have integrated sales reporting enabled:- http://www.clickbank.com/help/account-help/account-tools/integrated-sales-reporting/

    Basically, it’s impossible to track affiliate sales through to conversion unless the affiliate network (in this case Clickbank) or the merchant of the product you’re promoting allow you to either add a pixel on the thank you page or have some integrated sales reporting such as Clickbank.

    Reply
Steve - August 14, 2012

Hi Shane
Awesome post, thanks! I have 2 questions.

1/ like most people here i don’t trust google and don’t want them knowing everything about my sites, however i do use adsense on most of my sites. Do google get the same info from adsense as they do from GA?

2/ I used to use statpress reloaded but had lots of problems with my host (hostgator – shared hosting) frequently placing temp blocks on my account due to “overuse of resources” which they said was due to statpress. So, which of your recommended GA alternatives are NOT (or “less”) resource intensive and most suitable for shared hosting?

thanks again!
CHEERS

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Chris - September 6, 2012

Hey Shane. Any thoughts on Flurry?

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Peter - October 10, 2012

Hi Shane,

I see that you have a huge experience with web analytics tools. What do you think about http://www.foretaster.com ?

“It’s like Statcounter’s visitor path converted into stylish and easy to understand template.”

thanks,
Peter

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Dan Grossman - October 19, 2012

Where’s W3Counter in this list? It’s older than Google Analytics, all its reports are real-time, and it’s more used than some of the services you did list.

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ruth - October 23, 2012

It’s October 2012 and this is still being read and considered. Thanks!

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amlouk - November 7, 2012

I liked your article because I use getClicky for spying my visitors and GA for comparing everyday’s charts

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Milind - November 7, 2012

Awesome Post Shane!

I landed on this blog searching for more information on Mixpanel. Can you maybe do a post on Mixpanel and KissMetrics ? I am looking for an analytics product for a SaaS product http://www.agencyplatform.com . Do you know of any other great analytics product for SaaS products?

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Eric - January 4, 2013

Statcounter now offers Time on site tracking – just a heads up!

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Mihir - January 8, 2013

Hi,
Great info.
Still relevant today, but have your preferences changed? I really hate GA, since it seems to skew my data a lot. I really need a free alternative solution.
Thanks a lot.
Do any of these services measure search terms used to find the page?

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    Shane - January 8, 2013

    Hi Mihir,

    Thanks! My preferences haven’t changed. I’m still using Clicky as my main solution and I’m thinking of cancelling my Woopra account, because it’s just not quite what I’m looking for.
    All of the services look for incoming search terms.

    Reply
Andrew Medway - January 10, 2013

Very nicely done article. Just what I was looking for. Thanks so much!

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Bina Nair - February 15, 2013

Excellent comparison… Another tool that I have been using is http://www.ovalbricks.com. This also gives information on who clicked ads on your web site. May be interesting for content publishers with ads on the site

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TJ Greene - February 20, 2013

Shane,

Just a heads up to you and your readers, I just discovered the hard way that Piwik does not allow you to transfer your data to a new server. I recently moved several sites to a new host and lost all of my old Piwik data.

Piwik support says they will be happy to add the feature if someone wants to sponsor it, but as of now, it is not an available option.

Too bad, because I really liked the program.

Best regards,
TJ Greene

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TJ Greene - February 26, 2013

After going back and forth with the Piwik developers I thought I would drop back by and add a few clarifying remarks.

The developers seem to want to play with semantics and insist an import feature is not needed by “most people”. One can only presume that they assume that “most people” will never move their sites!

The fact is, there is no Piwik database import feature. You can not import, merge, or add Piwik data from one Piwik installation into another one that has existing data in it. Therefore, if you want to move a site to another location that is already using Piwik, say as an addon domain, you will lose all of your Piwik data associated with the domain you’re moving.

This is a long-standing issue. If you Google it, you can find a hack created by some smart guys that is supposed to get around the problem. But it is not an easy solution, especially for the technically challenged.

Best Regards,
TJ Greene

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Eric - March 12, 2013

Thanks Shane! I was already leaning toward Clicky. I love how your article gave some key points to consider from an SEO’s prospective that I hadn’t thought about (like proper bounce rate detection), but really needed to!

Now, do you have any insights about some of the heatmapping tools? I’ve even found some that offer very attractive free plans, like:
http://www.inspectlet.com/plans
http://www.clicktale.com/pricing/plans
http://www.clickdensity.com/SignUp.aspx

Would love to hear if
1. You think these are useful to optimize pages for visitors, or for any other reason.
2. Which tools you like/don’t like from your experience.

Thanks!

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    Shane - March 13, 2013

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks!
    I’ve been thinking about doing a comparison of heatmapping tools. I’ve had a go with ClickTale and CrazyEgg. Ended up not using either of them, because the basic heatmaps in Visual Website Optimizer (which I already use) do the trick, for me.
    I might do a roundup of tools sometime in the future, though.

    Reply
Holger - April 7, 2013

i use piwik for all of my sites at my vserver and i am happy with it

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Nuria - April 8, 2013

Excellent article! and as usual a very interesting and informative reading

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Alan - April 8, 2013

Shane, a really informative post. I currently use GA, but due to not wanting to rely too much on Google products thought I would look around at other services. The only one I have heard of in your list above is Piwik, which to begin with I thought was great, however, no matter what I did, I could not get it installed and working on my site. I used the plugin, put in the relevant code, tried the forum for help, all to no avail, so I went back to GA. I will be looking at some of the ones you have listed above, so again, thanks for that.

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    Shane - April 9, 2013

    Thank you for leaving a comment, Alan!

    That’s one of the downsides of the self-hosted solutions: you’re left to your own devices. As a not-very-technical person myself, I often struggle with that a bit, as well.

    Reply
Boris - April 12, 2013

Shane,
What do you recommend for a platform where you can best trigger email campaigns from actions on the site.
My thoughts so far.. Woopra and Kissmetrics?

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i - April 17, 2013

You can try Adobe (formerly Omniture).

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Mark - April 17, 2013

There’s a new product called Angelfish which should be on this list, especially since it can process the __utm.gif generated by Google Analytics.

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Tony Perez - April 18, 2013

You have done such a great job with these articles, I really appreciate it.

I am in need of someone who can install the code for clicky on every page on my web site. I am not a technic savyy and I don’t know how to do it.

Can you recommend anyone. I use joomla and it is a directory.

I thank you and keep up the good work.

Tony Perez

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Alex - April 24, 2013

I have used Piwik before but the other ones ddid I knot know about, gonna try them! thanks.

Rgds,
Alex

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Farzana Neha - April 27, 2013

You have missed another great analytic platform crazyegg.com. They are great too. Others are better than GA but, their free version lacks of more page views :(.

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Joe Garma - May 9, 2013

Shane, you’ve fast become an essential guide to online marketing and product making.

You’re trustworthy, thorough and smart.

Thanks much.

-Joe

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Ivan - May 9, 2013

My only real issue with Google Analytics is the growing number of “(not Provided)” in the Organic Search Traffic report.

So what I am looking for is a tool that would show the search phrases of the visitors from Google – all of them.

Could you recommend one please?

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    Shane - May 9, 2013

    This is not something an analytics solution can do anything about. Google is not passing on those keywords, so whether it’s Google Analytics or a different tool “listening”, you won’t be able to see them.

    Reply
      Andy Harris - June 5, 2013

      As another (not featured in the list) provider of the ever-increasing number of analytics solutions out there, just wanting to back up Shane’s comment about the ‘not provided’ keywords with some additional thoughts based on what our users do/have thought of …

      1. Websites that have been well set up will have numerous pages that are each optimised for certain types of keyword traffic. So, although ‘not provided’ may be an issue, if you can see that X people landed on a certain website page, then you can take an educated guess of the types of phrases people may have typed (based on those keywords landing on that page that you CAN identify).

      2. It’s easy to get hung up on identifying keywords. Most analytics providers would say “focus instead on the numbers of people landing on certain pages and how they then interact with that page and additional pages within the website”.

      3. If there’s too much focus on ‘not provided’ keywords, while the website has little traffic via social media, other websites etc. then it’s probably time to think a bit differently about what drives traffic to the website.

      Finally, you can expect that analytics systems will start to react to the ‘not provided’ issue by providing some indications of what the keyword phrases MAY have been like, based on previous visits. For example, if a landing page about widgets has had historical (identified) keyword phrases of ‘red widgets’ and ‘metal widgets’ then it could be suggested that the phrases used MAY have included similar to those.

      Hope this is useful.

      Andy

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freddyb - May 10, 2013

Shane – thanks for the thoughtful analysis of so many tools. When did you write this up? The blog post date is April 6, 2013 but the comments started in March 2011. Did you update this review recently?

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    Shane - May 10, 2013

    Thanks! Yes, the post date shows the last time I completely updated the post and made sure everything is up to date. This post has been polished up and updated about three times, now. :)

    Reply
Ted - May 20, 2013

I think the “old style” server side analytics were best, like Urchin and Webtrends. The relied on the server logs and didn’t share the data or slow the server down. I’m not at all happy with GA. Do you know of any packages like that that are still available? Google bought Urchin and shut it down.

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    Jurgen - November 13, 2013

    Allmost all hosters run either AWSats, Webalizer or both on their servers. Typically you can see the stats on YOUR_URL/webstat or YOUR_URL/webstats or YOUR_URL/stat or YOUR_URL/stats or something like that.

    However, these old style stats scripts are subject to all kinds of criticism. But since they are free and already there most of the times, it’s nice to check them out once in a while.

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Chris - May 27, 2013

Great job Shane! I’m storming through articles about GA alternatives, because I’m writing about it myself and I have to say that yours is the best I have found on the web. Keep up the good work!

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shelby - June 3, 2013

We have been using Google Analytics for years but would like to try something different that is not so “snoopy”. We are going to try Clicky on a new site and will let you know how it works out.

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Steve - June 4, 2013

Great round up!

As others have stated, I steer clear of GA on my new sites. I do it for two reasons:

1) G-paranoia – I don’t like them keeping their little dossier on me and my entire business.

2) Diversification – I am already over-reliant (most of us are) on Google through search. I don’t need to compound the issue by depending on them for analytics too.

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Ray Cassidy - July 29, 2013

That’s a superbly detailed expose of the alternatives to GA. The whole bounce rate issue is a real pain especially as they probably feed that in to the quality score, skewing it negatively for the site owner that’s doing PPC. You mentioned a hack somewhere in the article and I can’t see where it is now; but does this refer to a hack that I have seen mentioned, about GA, where you can alter something in the GA settings to reflect a more accurate bounce rate. This is just a vague memory and may be off track, but I’m sure I have come across something along those lines somewhere.
Cheers,

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hpvd - July 30, 2013

Very Great overview :-)
maybe you could add the version number/feature check date to the each description.
e.g. piwik did make a strong move with its new segment editor in v1.12
http://piwik.org/blog/2013/05/piwik-1-12/

for the future an additional criteria maybe interesting: is there a mobile version of the tool?

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Ed@Midas - August 28, 2013

I agree with Shane here, Clicky is worth every penny. Great tool.

That said we still typically run it alongside GA so we have a fallback and historical data.

Ed

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Zoli - December 7, 2013

Nice article, I will give piwik a try ;)

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Juliette - December 15, 2013

Piwik is fantastic to use. You may want to update this blog post as they have added lots of features and made lots of changes – its a great analytics tool! Free, open source, reliable, and full control over your own data. I use it for my website!

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Nick - December 16, 2013

For a nice and making use of GA and StatCounter but do not conscious of the choices. I’m going to surely have a look at all of them.

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Hemant - January 22, 2014

Hi Shane,

Your article is really helpful, thanks for writing. I am looking forward to read more articles in future. Keep writing!!! cheers.

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Tom - November 17, 2014

hello Shane,

great post….learned alot…

Do you use something different for link tracking?

thanks in advance,
tom

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    Shane - November 18, 2014

    On this site, I’m using Pretty Link to track affiliate links. Apart from that, I mainly use campaign parameters to keep track of links.

    Reply

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