Most marketers I talk to seem to use Google Analytics (GA) on their sites to track their stats And why not? It’s free, it’s powerful and it works well. I used to have Google Analytics on all my sites too, but over the past few months, I’ve started to explore other Google analytics alternatives. Why? Mostly, because I wanted to have real-time traffic stats instead of them being updated just once per day.
There are also a couple of other drawbacks to using Google Analytics as well. For one, Google already knows too much about me and my sites. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but why give them even more data about my sites to track? They may or may not be using this data, but I’d rather not give them this opportunity if there are other alternatives out there.
And second, Google Analytics leaves a big footprint which people can use to link together your sites. All you need is their Google Analytics UA code. Anyone can view the source of your webpage, grab your UA code and use a site like reverseinternet.com to find out a list of your other sites.
Piwik is an open source, self hosted tracking solution. This means you need to upload the Piwik code to your own server and access the dashboard from there. You can track as many sites as you want with it, and if your combined traffic isn’t too high, you can track your stats in real-time.
However, if your sites start getting a lot of traffic, then Piwik’s performance becomes more and more sluggish. To combat this, you have to setup a cron job and use the Piwik auto archiving feature. This makes performance faster, but now your stats are only updated every certain time interval (depending on what you set it to). Piwik also has the same footprint issues as GA, although I don’t know of a tool off-hand that will detect Piwik sites like there is for Google Analytics.
The Piwik Dashboard is nicely laid out, displaying various widgets that show things like the keywords visitors are using to come to your site, what entry pages they are coming in to and more. You can add whatever widgets you want, and use the drag and drop interface to lay out the widgets exactly how you like them.
Piwik also supports Goal tracking, for tracking things like sales and email opt-ins which can help you better optimize your sales process. Like I said, it’s free and it’s constantly being updated which is very nice. All in all, Piwik is certainly a viable Google Analytics alternative and I would certainly recommend it.
Clicky is a paid analytics service. It offers real-time stats, with a simple, but functional interface. The dashboard is nicely laid out so you can see all of your important site’s stats on the front page, although it is not customizable like Piwik is. It’s also quite fast to navigate around, compared to some of the other services.
What I really like about Clicky, is that next to each statistic, it compares its current value with what it was at during the same point the previous day. For example, I can look at my visitors right now and see that 256 visitors have visited my site at this point today, which is down 9% compared with the same time yesterday.
Another feature I like, is the ability to drill down into the stats of each page of my site. Clicky then shows me exactly what organic search terms people used who visited a particular page. This is a great way to discover new long tail keywords that I am ranking for, and helps me further optimize my SEO efforts.
Clicky also supports visitor segmentation. So I can do cool things like see how many of my US visitors searched for a particular keyword, and how their engagement stats (like Actions, Total Time spent on site) compare with other users.
If you only have a single site with under 3,000 daily views, then you can use the Clicky Free plan. The Clicky Pro supports 10 sites, 30,000 daily views for about $9.99 a month, and there are also additional plans as well.
Woopra is another paid analytics service that’s still in beta. I’ve seen it recommended by a lot of others, but honestly, I have not been super impressed with it. It also offers real-time stat tracking, but I find it a little slow, and I don’t like their Dashboard as much as Clicky’s. I’ve also noticed, that it doesn’t seem to be able to retrieve stats from my workplace, as it seems to be blocked here for some reason.
One unique feature of Woopra is the real-time chat feature. This lets you chat with your visitors live over IM. This is especially useful if you have some sort of ecommerce site, and could help you close more sales.
Woopra does seem to have a better pricing structure than Clicky does. Their Free basic plan doesn’t have a site limit, and it supports up to 30,000 monthly pageviews. This means for many people, using the Woopra free plan is all you really need.
Mint is another polished looking analytics service I’ve used. Unlike Clicky and Woopra, it’s self hosted and a license fee of $30 (one-time) is required for each site you want to put it on. Stats are real-time, although the default views are pretty basic. However, Mint makes uses of plugins (called Peppers) that lets you customize what data you want to include in your dashboard.
The problem I have with Mint though, is that doesn’t seem very cost effective if you have many sites (like I do). Lets say you wanted to track 10 sites with Mint. That’s a $300 up-front one time payment. If I’m using the Clicky Pro plan, then I’d have to use it for 30 months before Mint starts becoming worth it.
Plus, there’s no central dashboard where you can check the stats of all your sites in one place like the others. Instead, you have to login to each individual site you’ve installed Mint on to see their stats. To me, that’s too much trouble to do frequently and I personally like having a single dashboard where I can see all my sites in one place.
A lot of what web analytics service to use comes down to your own personal preference. For me, after testing these Google Analytics alternatives on my own sites, I have finally settled on using a combination of Piwik and Clicky for my sites. I like Clicky’s interface the most, but I don’t really need it installed on all my sites- just my most important ones. So I’m currently using the Clicky Pro plan which lets me track 10 sites. Then for the rest of my sites, I have Piwik installed on them.
No matter what analytics service you choose, make sure you use something. With the many free options out there, you really have no excuse not the be tracking your stats.
Do you have your own favorite web analytics service? Let me know in the comments.