After much work, your site is finally up and running. Perhaps, the most crucial question after that is “How well is my site doing?” To gather all the information necessary to answer that question, you can make use of online tools to track website traffic. Depending on how in-depth you would like your data to be, you can choose from an array of tools available. There are both free and paid options so take your pick!
1) Google Analytics
Google Analytics (GA) is probably the most well-known tool on this list, and that is not without reason. Although it is a free tool, do not underestimate its capability as a web analytical tool. GA is powerful as it provides a wide variety of data to help you understand your web traffic and your visitors. This includes demographic and behavioral data. For example, it shows what age group your visitors are in, whether they are new or recurring visitors and how long they spend on your site.
If you run an e-commerce site, you can also configure GA to help track revenue so you know which pages are doing well at driving sales. Also, although it was previously unable to do so, GA now possess the ability to reflect real-time data.
With so much data available, GA may seem overwhelming for beginners. However, with the educational section provided within the interface (Figure 1), it is much simpler to understand what each piece of information indicates.
Piwik is another powerful web analytics tool that tracks website traffic and reveals useful insights about your visitors. In terms of features, Piwik is comparable to Google Analytics (GA). The difference between Piwik and GA is where the data is stored. Piwik is self-hosted so the data is stored on your own server unlike GA where the data is stored with Google. This is useful if you wish to keep your visitors’ information private.
W3Counter tracks the usual web metrics and presents them in a user-friendly interface. With the free version, it may not track as much data as the previous two tools mentioned above. However, with its easy-to-navigate platform, this tool requires hardly any learning. Thus, it is more suitable for those who want basic web metrics presented in a clear, straightforward format.
For StatCounter, the data provided can be separated into two categories – Summary Stats and Detailed Stats. The Summary Stats include an overview that shows page views, sessions, visitors and new visitors. The tool provides Summary Stats for free with no limitations. Free accounts get Detailed Stats for the most recent 500 page views. Visually, StatCounter may not be as appealing as the other tools. Nonetheless, it provides reliable basic stats for up to 250,000 visitors/month for free.
Unlike the other tools on the list, CrazyEgg presents the web traffic data in a complete different manner. Instead of numbers and figures, the tool shows a visual representation of the data in the form of heatmaps and scrollmaps. The heatmaps let you see what visitors click on your site while the scrollmaps show how far visitors scroll on your site. Such information is especially handy for web design adjustments to increase conversions. For example, if it is shown that most visitors scroll only to a certain area, it is good to ensure that any important information gets seen before the visitor abandons the page. Although CrazyEgg is not free, they do provide a free 30-day trial for those who are interested.
Bonus tool: JetPack for WordPress
The bonus tool on the list is a WordPress plugin. JetPack for WordPress has features in the areas of web traffic, SEO, content creation and even community engagement. One of its features is to track website traffic and provide web analytics. Even though the stats it provides are rather basic, they cover almost all the needed information about visitors so it is sufficient for beginners.
Tracking your website traffic will help you to determine what and how to improve. By considering the characteristics of the visitors and understanding what appeals to them, the improvements made to the site will be more effective. Such a process requires long-term monitoring paired with consistent trial and error. Instead of spending your precious time on that, why not approach us and see how we can help?