Tools

Google Analytics: Overview, Features, Alternatives, and Tricks

Google Analytics is arguably one of the most powerful analytics software on the planet. Not to mention that it’s completely free to use.

Bloggers, marketers, and webmasters can use Google Analytics to gain actionable insights on how their website is performing, what’s working, what’s not, and how to optimize both their site and content for their audience.

The only trouble is that to a complete beginner, the Google Analytics interface and the jargon built in and around it can seem a bit overwhelming. With this in mind, we put together this introductory guide that’ll help you setup your Analytics account and get a hang of its features.

This guide is written with the absolute beginner in mind, so if you’re more of an advanced user, it might make sense to jump straight to the “Resources” section at the end for recommended reading and advanced Analytics tools.

Setting Up Your Account

Setting up Google Analytics for your website is a simple two-step process.

First, sign up by entering basic information for your account such as the name of your organization, the website you wish to track, and its URL.

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Post sign up, Google Analytics will give you a tracking code for your website, which is a snippet of JavaScript used for account verification and the collection of user browsing data. This is what your tracking code will look like:

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Second, either insert this code manually into your website or use a plugin if you’re on WordPress. And that’s it, you’ve just set up your Analytics account!

Some Key Metrics

Now, let’s try to understand the meaning of some key metrics that you’ll need to be familiar with in order to make sense of all the data in your dashboard.

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» Sessions

session is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For instance, a single session can consist of multiple page views, events, social interactions, or e-commerce transactions. By default, the session duration is set to 30 minutes, which means that if a user returns to the website after 30 minutes of inactivity, it’s counted as a new session.

» Users

The Users metric indicates the total number of unique visitors who have viewed or interacted with your website or application within a given period of time. This data is assigned and stored through cookies managed by a browser.

» Pageviews

A page view is simply defined as a view of a page on your site that is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code. If a user clicks reload after reaching the page, this is counted as an additional pageview. If a user navigates to a different page and then returns to the original page, a second pageview is recorded as well.

» Pages / Session

This is the number of pages that your users are visiting on average per session. For instance, if one user visits three pages in a session and a second user visits two pages in a session, the Pages / Session count would be 3+2 / 2 = 2.5

» Avg. Session Duration

Average session duration is calculated as the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions. One important thing to note here is that this data is more indicative than precise, this is because of the way session duration is calculated. Session duration is calculated by subtracting the timestamp on the last user engagement on the website with that of the first engagement, which means that the time on exit pages is never counted. So a user could land on a particular page, read it for 10 minutes, then close it or hit the back button, and the session duration for this would be 0 seconds.

» Bounce Rate

When a user lands on a page of your website and then leaves it without browsing any further, the user is said to have “bounced”. Bounce rate is the percentage of users who bounce from your website. For instance, if for 100 users, 70 immediately close the page or hit the back button, your bounce rate is 70%. A very high bounce rate is an indication that something about your website is turning users away — maybe the navigation needs to be improved or perhaps the average page load time is too high.

» % New Sessions

Percent of new sessions is just the percentage of sessions generated by new visitors on your website. This number usually hovers around 80% for most websites since it’s been widely observed by many that the standard ratio of new vs. returning users is around 80:20.

Homepage

The homepage of Google Analytics provides an overview of your account. In the top navigation bar, there are three tabs i.e. Reporting, Customization, and Admin. We’ll be discussing them in more detail later.

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Also on the homepage is a list of all the websites being tracked by Google Analytics. You can track up to a 100 websites using just one Analytics account! Clicking on the name of the website will take you to its reporting page where you can view the data related to that particular website in much more detail.

Analytics Reporting

Reporting is the raison d’être of Google Analytics; consequently, this is the section where you will possibly be spending most of your time tracking and analyzing incoming data and using it to optimize your website. Let’s look at the various components of the reporting panel.

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» Dashboards

Dashboards are a collection of widgets that give you an overview of the reports and metrics you care about most. Dashboards let you monitor many metrics at once, so you can quickly check the health of your accounts or see correlations between reports. Dashboards are easy to create, customize and share.

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You can also import premade templates from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery that are designed for specific purposes like analyzing the performance of content, social media activity, site engagement, and much more.

» Shortcuts

Shortcuts remember your settings so you don’t have to reconfigure a report each time you open it. For instance, here we’ve created a shortcut for a report benchmarking Sessions against Avg. Session Duration.

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Any setting you apply to a report, like adding an advanced segment or a new metric, stays applied in a shortcut until you manually change the settings. The settings are saved even if you sign out and sign back into your account.

All report customizations and settings are saved in a shortcut except the date range. Check the dates each time you use a shortcut to make sure the time period you need is applied.

» Intelligence Events

Intelligence monitors your website’s traffic to detect significant statistical variations and generates alerts when those variations occur.

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There are 3 types of alerts: Automatic web alerts, for when Google Analytics detects any significant change in usage or traffic stats; Automatic AdWords alerts, for when Google Analytics detects a significant change in traffic from AdWords; and Custom alerts, for when traffic reaches a custom threshold specified by you.

There are 4 views: Overview, daily, weekly, and monthly.

» Real-Time

As the name suggests, Real-Time reports the activity happening on your website right now. The overview tab page displays how many users are active on your site in real-time, where they’re from, and which pages they are browsing, among other things.

The other tabs in Real-Time i.e., Locations, Traffic Sources, Content, Events, and Conversions present the corresponding data about active users.

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» Audience

The Audience report in Google Analytics gives you a detailed analysis of the users visiting your website. The Overview tab gives you an overall picture of your website’s audience and their activity; here, you can also benchmark one metric against another and select a custom time duration to generate a report.

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Here are the other reports under Audience:

  • Demographic tab shows you the age and gender of your audience.
  • Interests tab shows you the dominant interests of the majority of your users such as technology, TV, movies, photography, news, and more. It also shows you their in-market behavior and purchase intent segregated by categories such as consumer electronics, dating services, travel, and more.
  • Geo tab shows you the language and location of the users.
  • Behavior tab shows you the behavior of your audience based on their interaction with you site such as New vs. Returning Users, Engagement, and more.
  • Technology tab shows you the browser, OS, and network that your users are using to access your website.
  • User Flow tab visually displays where users come from and how and to what extent they interact with your website.

» Acquisition

The Acquisitions report gives you a detailed overview of where your traffic is originating from such as organic search, direct, social, referral, or email. Using the tabs inside the Acquisition report, you can dig deeper into the individual traffic sources and view them by channel, source/medium, and more.

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The Search Engine Optimization tab shows the keywords that users searched for to land on your web pages. The Social tab displays the traffic coming in via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others.

If you run AdWords campaigns, you can link your AdWords account to Google Analytics from the Admin panel and monitor all the activity from within the Acquisition report.

» Behavior

The Behavior report captures and displays what visitors do on your website, the pages they visit, and what actions they take while on those pages. The Overview shows you how many Pageviews your site received in the selected time range along with some other metrics.

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Here are the other reports under Behavior:

  • Behavior Flow shows the paths users commonly take while navigating your site, from the first page they land on, to the page they exit from.
  • Site Content shows you the top performing content on your site, a folder view of the content categorized by pageviews, and the top landing pages and exit pages.
  • Site Speed displayscrucial reports that may help you identify any specific pages that are slowing down your site or other bottlenecks you may be unaware of.
  • Site Search displays the overall metrics for visitors who use the search box on your website, but you need to configure it once.
  • Events allow you to track specific actions that users perform on your website, such as clicking on an external link or downloading a file or adding a product to cart.
  • Publisher shows your AdSense publisher data right within Analytics, although you do need to connect your AdSense account to your Analytics account once.
  • Experiments help you to conduct A/B testing to see which landing page variations perform best at meeting your conversion goals.
  • In-page analytics lets you bring page stats to the front end of the website and even overlay data on individual links, you need to install a Chrome plugin for this.

» Conversions

In analytics, conversions simply mean a certain action taken by the user that’s important to your business; for instance, the completion of a purchase.

Conversions are further divided into two types: Micro and macro. Macro conversions are the primary goals of your business such as product sign-ups, purchase completions, or new leads. Micro conversions, on the other hand, are smaller engagements such as newsletter sign up or adding products to cart.

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Here are the other reports under Conversions:

  • Goals help you create and track micro and macro conversions.
  • Ecommerce is a report that helps you analyze the purchase activity on your site or app. You can see product and transaction information, average order value, ecommerce conversion rate, time to purchase, and other data.
  • Multi-Channel Funnels shows how your marketing channels (i.e., sources of traffic to your website) work together to create sales and conversions.
  • Attribution allows you to assign credit for sales or conversions to touchpoints in coversion paths.

Analytics Customization

In addition to all the Reporting panel, Analytics also has a Customization Panel which allows you to create custom reports according to your specific needs.

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All the custom reports that you create or import from the Solutions Gallery are saved in once place for quick and convenient access.

To create your own report, you pick a dimensions (City and Browser, for example) and a metric (Sessions, Pageviews, and Bounce Rate, for example) and decide how they should be displayed. You must specify at least one dimension and one metric.

Analytics Admin

Finally, the Admin tab in your Analytics interface gives you control over all the options related to your account and the websites linked to those accounts.

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Using the admin interface, you can add or remove websites and manage users and define the level of access they have. This is also where you find your tracking code in case you need to re-configure it, and link other accounts such as AdWords, AdSense, Ad Exchange, and others to your Analytics account.

Besides account management, you can also define user segments, set up custom alerts, define attribution models, and schedule email reports.

How to Use Google Analytics to Improve Your Content Strategy

So you’ve spent countless hours analyzing traffic, channels, and conversions on Google Analytics; well done. Now it’s time to take a step back from everything and take an objective look at your content and its audience to see where they find the most value.

Jay Castro, part of the Mobile Content Marketing team @ Google, has some great tips to get you started. Here’s what he says about refining up your content strategy with Google Analytics:

Understand Who Your Audience Is

If your website has been live long enough (without being de-indexed or blocked for malicious practices), you will have some visitors.

That’s your famous “15 minutes of fame” right there.

No matter how bad your content is, someone somewhere will be sifting through it for any reason under the sun (good or bad).

But do you know who that guy is?

Knowing who your audience is and what they like is key to creating better content that actually succeeds in converting visitors into loyal readers.

The first thing you see on Google Analytics is audience overview. If you take the time to dig a little deeper than the sessions, you can unearth some tasty bits of insights about your audience.

And I’m not talking about individual user reports in User Explorer. I am talking ‘broad spectrum’ audience analysis — age group, gender, and most importantly, interests based on browsing, search, and purchase activity.

Once enabled, Demographics and Interests reports are a goldmine of information about your audience.

In Audience reports, go to Interests (1) >> Other Categories (2) (yup, the very same used in AdWords targeting!). Select a goal (3) and get cracking. For instance, here’s Google Merchandise Store’s Audience Interest Report (Goal: Engaged Users):

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The granular category (News > Business News > Company News > Company Earnings) has some good numbers! But there’s more to be found when you click on the category name. You’ll see the audience with this interest segmented by age…

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Wait, 18-24 year-olds are into News?!

…followed by gender…

Oh. It’s just the men, apparently. (FML)
Oh. It’s just the men, apparently. (FML)

And if I add a primary dimension for affinity categories, I will get to the gold:

Ha! Paydirt!
Ha! Paydirt!

Credit for data goes to Google Analytics Demo Account (covered here).

From this series of (increasingly specific) reports, you can tell that 18-24-year-old males looking for Business News constitute a significant portion of Google Merchandise Store’s engaged audience.

The last report (affinity categories) can be used to identify what this audience segment likes and responds to in general. See what I mean about delving deep?

Publishers with better things to do with their time than know their audience can get a broader view with interests overview. Here’s one based on avg. session duration (poor man’s substitute for ‘Engaged Users’ goal).

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What can you do with this information?

Why, find out ways to incorporate these interest categories within your content strategy to increase your reach and engagement. Obviously.

Analyze Your Content for Performance

Content Grouping is, by far, the best (and most underrated) Analytics feature for publishers and bloggers everywhere. It lets you divide and bundle your published content in ways that make sense to you.

Once you’ve bundled your content in groups, you get a simplified look at reports in every page and audience report, including Behaviour Flow (more on that in a moment). You can still drill down to individual pages (by page title or URL) for in-depth analysis.

Castro suggests you use this incredibly nifty feature to simplify content analysis so you can find, focus, and improve on:

> Identify slow loading web pages

Page speed == User Experience is practically indisputable. And some of your content (for instance, posts with more images than general, infographics, video content, etc.) may be lagging behind.

An easy way to identify these slow-pokes is: Group your content (here’s how) by type, author, topic/category, or any other parameter that seems logical to you. Then go to Behavior >> Site Speed >> Page Timings (1). You can segment the report by content groups as primary dimension (2).

Here’s an example from demo account that shows avg. page load time and bounce rate for content group: Product categories. Note how the group with highest avg. page load time (Brands) also has the highest bounce rate (16.07%):

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You don’t say?

Hone in on these pages with everything you’ve got and improve their performance.

> Identify pages with low AdSense CTRs

Group content by topic (WordPress users can go with categories taxonomy) and use the AdSense Pages Report (here’s how you link AdSense with Google Analytics). Use the AdSense Pages metric to compare content groups with lowest click-through-rates.

Tip: Drill down to individual pages within lowest CTR pages. Focus on increasing acquisition with SEO and Social shares directed specifically to these pages.

We also suggest you find out and monetize upon content groups that have:

Learn How Visitors Navigate Your Site

Your visitors enter, navigate, and leave your site in ways you probably never thought about. Here’s how you can decode the navigation patterns on your site.

> Landing Page Report

To Google Analytics, ‘landing page’ means a visitor’s point of entry to your site. Go to Behaviour >> Site Content >> Landing Pages (1). Here’s what Demo Account landing page report says about Google Merchandise store (primary dimension — content group: clothing by gender(2))

Women’s clothing: Top conversion rate (purchase completion goal) but dismal number of sessions.
Women’s clothing: Top conversion rate (purchase completion goal) but dismal number of sessions.

You can see these divided by content groups and drill down further to individual pages…

Like so.
Like so.

Your aim: Identify content groups/ pages with highest bounce rates and fix them. Another aim: Identify pages that convert best and figure out why.

We also love the following GA features:

  • Reverse Goal Path: Analyse content that helps conversions (2nd and 3rd landing pages) and use it to funnel audience towards completion of primary website/blog goals with internal linking
  • Behaviour Flow: Find out how visitors arrive and move across your website.

All about Google Analytics Demo Account

What is it?

The Google Analytics Demo Account is an account provided by Google filled with real website data. If you have a Google account (any Google product — Gmail, Drive, YouTube…), you can use that to gain access to the Demo Account.

Where’s the data from?

The Demo Account pulls data from an actual eCommerce store by the name of Google Merchandise Store. Google is practically handing you all the information of its branded online store (traffic, content, and transactions) on a silver platter. Go nuts. (Seriously!)

How to access

Sign in to your Google Account and opt in for the demo account.

Keep in mind that if you already have a Google Analytics (standard) account, the Demo Account will simply become one of the free 100 accounts available to you.

Once you’re done with it, you can remove the demo account whenever you like by following the instructions given here.

What You Can Do With the Demo Account

Every single reporting feature within GA comes alive with data. With demo account, you can play with those reports and data to your heart’s content — manipulation, segmentation, custom reports, and dashboards… just all of it. You can share everything you create as well.

To the brilliant bloggers who will have half-a-dozen tabs open on their browsers for actionable insights about GA, I suggest heading straight to:

  • Search Console Data (landing pages, queries, and demographics by country and device), and;
  • Attribution Modeling (to understand profits from various channels / sources via different models, and even create your own)
screenshot-analytics google com 2016-08-18 17-22-15

What You Can’t Do With the Demo Account

Nothing’s perfect. Here are few things you can’t do with the demo account:

You can’t collaborate

You can share your assets (custom reports, segments, etc.) and you can see the assets shared with you by others, but you can’t collaborate — which means learning this remotely from an analytics-whiz (in real time) is out of the equation.

You can’t extract the data

It’s impossible to extract this data using API (for further study in a different analytics tool). You’re stuck with Google Analytics.

Best Google Analytics Alternatives

Did you know that there are also Google Analytics alternatives available? There’s at least 20 such alternatives that you can use so why limit your options, right?

In order to help you decide which ones to use, we have come up with a list of the hottest web analytics tools on the Internet right now and we have also provided a run-down of their pros and cons just to give you an idea of the features they have which you may or may not like. We’re sure the information provided below will cut your research time significantly.


Clicky

Clicky is considered to be one of the most robust web analytics tool today and it provides real time traffic information of your website. The main dashboard includes a variety of website stats that can be customized based on date. It offers a link report that shows all external websites sending traffic to you. It offers an actions metric that measures all visitor actions like video views and downloads by the user. It offers search data which provides a list of incoming search keywords that brought the users to your website and, with its Sheer SEO tool, Clicky also shows the ranking for those keywords.

Pros

  • Its analytics feature is nearly as good as Google Analytics.
  • It provides real-time data so you don’t have to wait the following day to find out what’s going on with your website today.
  • Unlike other free tracking tools it is very easy to install. Infact, wordpress users can install it with a simple plugin.
  • Clicky automatically feeds your website with keywords people are using to access it; plus, it shows your ranking as well.
  • It offers an interesting feature called Twitter Search Tracking, with which you can monitor twitter tags, keywords and retweets.
  • It also has an iPhone app called ClickyTouch which gives allows you to stay updated right from your mobile device.
  • A robust API for advanced users.
  • Heat Maps included.
  • Split-testing and A/B Testing features are also present.

Cons

  • Its interface is not user-friendly. First-time users may find it overwhelming.
  • It will require you to pay a fee if you install it on multiple sites or if your site gets more than 3000 page views a day.
  • Many key features such as goal tracking and email reports are only available in premium accounts.

Price: Its pricing depends on the page views. You can find more specific pricing info by clicking here. It also offers a 21 day free trial for all accounts.


KISSmetrics

The developers of KISSmetrics claims it is a customer web analytics tool that will help you in customer acquisition as well as customer retention by giving you information on user engagement and habits before and after, they buy from your website. So it’s somewhat one step ahead of “just visitor stats”.

Pros

  • It provides real time data. The full time report is automatically updated allowing you to see the trends as they happen.
  • With its data funnel feature, it helps you find your site’s weakest point/step that might be costing you conversions.
  • It allows you to split test different layouts and funnels, giving you enough information to tweak and optimize your landing pages for maximum profits.
  • The API integration makes it very easy to incorporate analytical data into your website or customer application. The revenue tracking feature not only shows you what you earned, but it also shows you what your customers does after purchasing your product.
  • It’s a great tool for SMBs with an online presence.
  • It gives you all the data you need to improve conversion rates.
  • It tracks visitor activities in real time.
  • It has a really nice and highly intuitive interface.

Cons

  • Since it is built more around Customer Insights and actionable metrics, It lacks some of the features that Google Analytics has, particularly when it comes to getting data surrounding only traffic.

Price: Starts from $250 per month for up to 500,000 events.


Chartbeat

Chartbeat is a tool, which I have been personally using, till some time ago. It is focused primarily on real-time data and real time analytics. In short, this is a tool, which lives in the preset. Its robust dashboard, iPhone app and email alerts notifies you immediately of any server crash, or traffic spikes. Their clientele include Billboard, Fox News, Foursquare, and Time.

Pros

  • With Chartbeat it is all about knowing your audience. It tells you if they are reading, sitting idle and even how far down they are into the page.
  • As mentioned above, it gives you real time data. Along with reporting page views, it also tells you how people are engaging with your content.
  • It has a very nice UI, and I personally love the overall design.
  • Gives detailed insights as to how users are sharing your content.
  • The replay feature is very useful.
  • Real-time data about user-content interaction can help you make quick decision about your website.

Cons

  • The data it gives is just a “tip of the iceberg.” It only gives you a snapshot of what’s going on in your site now, but when you look at historical data, it is not in-depth. If your are looking for a tool which values historical data and shows you stats for a longer duration than just now, this clearly is not the tool for you.

Price: Starts at $9.95 per month.

SegMetrics

SegMetrics allows marketers to analyze their sales marketing funnel, from ad click to repeat purchase.

Unlike other tools it offers longterm tracking of prospects, not a limited set of website visits.

It connects to a marketer’s various tools, including advertising platform, email system and payment provider. By linking all the data to someone’s customer ID it is able to keep a consistent history of how the marketing touchpoints they have encountered.

Users can:

  • Compare the LTV of customers from different sources, 
  • Measure the cancellation and return rates, 
  • Analyze the success of upsells and retention rates
  • and much more!

Every step of the funnel can then be optimized to best work together, from allocating advertising budget to testing new email sequences.

Pros:

  • Infinite attribution window
  • Multi-purchase attribution
  • Holistic marketing funnel analysis

Cons:

  • No data about bounced visitors
  • Less detailed website interaction tracking

Pricing: SegMetric’s monthly fee is based on the amount of contacts a business has in their marketing platform.

Solo – $27/month

Pro – $87/month

Business – $247/month

With custom pricing for agencies or large enterprises.


Woopra

Woopra is also a real-time website analysis tool that targets customer engagement. It offers top-notch analytics that allows you to seamlessly monitor more than one website simultaneously.

Pros

  • On its online app, When you click on the number of visitors on your website, it shows exactly what those visitors are individually doing on your site.
  • It has a really good UI and a very well thought dashboard, for advanced webmasters.
  • It lets you view activities on your site in real-time.
  • It lets you track blog posts, comments, and searches through its WP plugin.
  • It also features live chat, which allows you to talk to your customers when they’re on your site.
  • Goes one step ahead and brings you customer insights from website visitors ie It tells you how the website is being used, instead of who is using the website.

Cons

  • The dashboards have so much of data (which is a good thing) but it can be confusing for beginners.
  • Managing multiple sites using sub-folders is slightly difficult for new users.

Price: $0 to $199.95/month, depending on how large your website is. Free for up to 30,000 actions per month.


Mixpanel

Mixpanel is another real-time analytics tool that measures user engagement.

Pros

  • As mentioned, it gives you real-time data.
  • It gives a completely new way of getting answers from the data – segmentation.
  • Provides special emphasis on the mobile segment.
  • Focused on measuring user engagement to help you understand your users better.

Cons

  • Its pricing structure is a bit complicated, as they have people and engagement plans, which takes a while to understand.

Price: Starts with a Free plan for up to 25,000 Data points.


FoxMetrics

This web analysis tool will allow you to specifically use metrics that your business requires. It offers four key features: Funnels which help you identify the points at which users drop an action (such as a purchase) and so that you can “fix them up” for maximum profits; Profiles which automatically builds user profiles and create customer life cycle, Segments which help segregate website traffic into categories and Triggers which are actions, on the basis of which you can assign a reaction.

Pros

  • Not just limited to laptops and computers.
  • It allows you to track events such as software installations and newsletter views.
  • It’s quite inexpensive in comparison to other applications, in its segment.
  • Helps measure conversion rates and improve them.
  • Measure funnels and see where your users are doing, after exiting from the funnel.
  • Measure success of an ad campaign by tracking conversions through it.
  • Allows 3rd party integrations.
  • Works well as an analytics tool with desktop applications too.

Cons

  • Funnels, Segmentation and some other features, only available to enterprise accounts.

Price: $20 – $120 per month.


Gauges

Gauges is a Javascript based real time web analysis tool that varies in pricing based on number of pageviews. It gathers and analyzes web traffic in real time.

Pros

  • It has an intuitive user interface.
  • It can track real time visits and activities.
  • Focuses on the basics of Analytics – “How Much? Where From? Where To?”.
  • Provides clean and simple stats overview of all websites in one dashboard.

Cons

  • The product website is not detailed enough.

Price: $6 – $48 per month.

Inspectlet

Inspectlet is an analytics tools more focused on Usability testing. It has four important features, which are: eye tracking heatmaps, screen capture, customizable metrics, and real time analytics. It goes beyond just providing the basic visitor metrics.

Pros

  • It is an excellent tool to measure conversion funnels.
  • You can easily view visitor-content interaction because of its screen capture feature.
  • Their eye tracking heatmaps allow you to spot what part of your website the visitors are reading through their mouse movements. Click heatmaps tell you what your visitors are clicking on, and scroll heatmaps show how far the visitors have scrolled down the page.
  • You can basically record a complete user session and see how users are browsing on your website.
  • Create custom metrics to see what matters to you.

Cons

  • Not aimed at beginners.

Price: Plans start at $10 per month.

GoingUp

GoingUp provides website analytics as well as SEO tools for your site. It allows you to track visitors, sales and conversion rates while offering search strategies.

Pros

  • Analysis and presentation of your traffic trends.
  • Actions and Goals to measure your sign ups, sales, etc.
  • Helps measure and improve conversion rates.
  • Helps track your Alexa rankings.
  • Includes SEO related tools such as a keyword tool, keyword position tracking, keyword density and a page optimization tool.
  • Provides heatmaps.
  • With their traffic trend analysis, you can learn where your visitors have been. This proves important in predicting where they will go.
  • Incoming search keywords from the top search engines are tracked.
  • It tells you the length of your visitor’s stay and the most popular pages.
  • It monitors your inbound links.

Cons

  • As with a lot of free tools, it may not have all the features you need to analyze website data extensively and features around inbound marketing are not robust.

Price: Free.

eTracker

eTracker is an analytics tool that gives you real-time data and combines qualitative and quantitative analysis so you can have all the information you need to evaluate your site’s traffic.

Pros

  • Track visitors mouse movement or motion to see how your visitors view your website.
  • Collect feedback from your visitors which can help improve website usability.
  • Measure your Search marketing campaigns effortlessly and track ROI.
  • Socio-demographic analysis of your visitors.
  • Allows you to survey targeted groups.
  • Records and reports suspicious activities like click fraud.
  • Offers real time statistics and campaign tracking features.
  • Tracks mouse movements to understand visitor engagement.
  • Automatically integrates with Google Adwords and reports campaign progress and effectiveness.
  • Click heatmap allows to identify weak spots and analyze the popular sections of the website.

Cons

  • Most of the features mentioned above, come in the form of different products and are not bundled together, hence it is quite expensive to use them together.

Price: Ranging from $0 – $851 per product per month.

AT Internet: Web Analytics

AT Internet is an advanced analytics tool designed to make it easy for Webmasters to analyze and measure their website’s data.

Pros

  • Analysis of navigation, traffic, sources, behavior, goals, technology, geo-location.
  • Proprietary technology called ClickZone (combinations of heatmaps and overlay) which helps improve user experience.
  • Multivariate testing feature available.
  • Measure user interaction with Rich media.
  • Performance and uptime monitoring included.
  • It comes with advanced analytics reporting features including an intuitive interface that allows you to cross-analyze multiple categories and export in various formats.
  • An option to create Custom metrics.
  • Advanced analytics reporting features.
  • Complete view of e-marketing campaigns and their profitability.
  • Offers behavioral analysis to better target the audience.
  • Tracks email campaigns.

Cons

  • Pricing not available on website.

SiteCatalyst

SiteCatalyst is an excellent alternative to Google Analytics, albeit, quite pricey.

Pros

  • Dashboard can be customized in a wide range of formats.
  • Can be viewed on all devices like mobile and desktop.
  • Actionable Key Performance indicators like customer loyalty, purchasing info and visitor profiles are available.
  • Allows you import external data.
  • Create Paths and Funnels.
  • Real-time visitor intelligence.
  • Rich media analytics
  • It has enterprise class customer support.

Cons

  • There is a steep learning curve for all customizations.
  • It also won’t automatically detect the source of traffic for your site, you need to define it first.

Price: Enterprise Software, expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars monthly.

Coremetrics

Coremetrics is a web analytics tool now owned by IBM and is often being used by e-commerce websites. Its easy to use interface provides detailed statistical data that can be customized to meet the options of any business.

Pros

  • E-commerce is its forte because it provides comprehensive data on abandoned cart value, purchased products and other statistics.
  • It allows you to multi-task and work on different reports at the same time.
  • Its easy to implement so if you’re a newbie, this will be very ideal for you. It uses a variety of tags, for example, the real estate tag can track the number of clicks on a page.
  • It allows you to deep-dive on data.

Cons

  • It’s lacking in terms of content browsing stats.
  • Too expensive for Small websites and businesses.

Price: Starts from around $5,000.

Webtrends Analytics

Webtrends is a hosted web analyzer that’s available in multiple editions, depending on your requirements and needs. It was started in 1993 when most people were more interested in adding content that tracking what their visitors were actually reading. Webtrends was the first company that ever offered a web analytics tool, and they have provided their services to several influential corporations like Coca Cola, Toyota, Microsoft and The New York Times.

Pros

  • Along with basic tracking information like number of unique visits and page views, it gives a plethora of in depth advanced information such as their likes and dislikes, their geographical location.
  • Its analytics tool covers three important tiers of the marketing world: Web marketing, social media marketing and mobile marketing.
  • It lets you know what your visitors are doing on each of your web pages.
  • It gives you a holistic view of where your traffic is coming from and which pages they are going to.
  • It has excellent heatmaps.
  • It gives you access to real time data on visitor engagement.

Cons

  • It’s very expensive so it is out of reach for small time businesses and internet marketers.

Price: Depending upon your website and needs, it can set you back by anything between $10,000 – $100,000.

Open Web Analytics

OWA is a downloadable application and is essentially the open source community’s answer to Google Analytics. It is self-hosted, and for wordpress users there is a plug-in available. This tool can be used to track more than one website. For a free tool, OWA is filled with features. It offers stat filters and heat maps.

Pros

  • It gives you more control and ownership of your website’s data analysis. The data is not shared with any third party.
  • As said in the description, Free and open-source.
  • It has almost the same key features as Google Analytics.

Cons

  • Aimed at tech savvy users, who understand how to install PHP based applications on a server.
  • Customizing or changing the source code, can only be done by an experienced developer.

Price: Free and open-source.

Histats

Histats is a free web statistics tool and stat counter to help you track your website visitors down to which pages they are visiting and where they are coming from. It also provides logs that webmasters can use to compare campaign stats.

Pros

  • It lets you manage up to three hundred websites (premium package).
  • It has a simple user interface.
  • Real time stats.
  • Completely Free.
  • Invisible/Visible GIF/Flash based counter.

Cons

  • Control Panel in the Free version, contains Ads.

Price: Starts at $0

Webalizer

Webalizer is a very basic self-hosted server side analyzer that can give you a very detailed and easy to understand data in HTML format. Its main page consists of a graph summary and a monthly stats table with links to more detailed information about each category of information. Information about the browser used, referrers, pages accessed, keywords and visitor information based on hour, day, month and year is available. The information is presented in a way to make the process of integrating data onto a spreadsheet, easy.

Pros

  • It updates your log files throughout the day.
  • It lets you view your file logs online or you can download it if you need to use the data with other programs.
  • The reports are easy to understand and for the most part, self explanatory. But for those looking for help, it does offer an explanation with screenshots.
  • It gives you the option to receive reports of your website’s traffic on a weekly or monthly basis.

Cons

  • It has the tendency to overestimate data because it does not use cookies to recognize a visitor. It cannot distinguish between returning traffic and unique traffic properly.
  • It combines traffic from human visitors as well as search engine spiders, which makes the data even more confusing.
  • While adequate as a basic analyzer tool, when compared with other analyzers, Webalizer is limited in terms of being able to track advanced information.
  • Just like AWstats, the UI is not the best.

Price: Free

StatCounter

StatCounter is a reliable and powerful web tracker that is customizable based on your data requirements. It is different from other applications that offer server side statistics in that it requires you to integrate a special code right into your website to gather info about your visitors.

Pros

  • Just like Webtrends, you get real time data and do not have to wait till tomorrow to know your traffic stats for today.
  • It provides two levels of analysis: One – Simple Aggregate stats about your visitors and second – highly detailed analysis of the last few visitors depending upon your log size.
  • It gives you a list of incoming search keywords, popular pages, and inbound links. It also provides information on the users geographical location, the number of pages accessed by them and their entry and exit page. Along with that, it also gives info on search engine that brought in the traffic.
  • You can place a “Block cookie” on your browser so that your visits to the website don’t skew up the stats.
  • It allows you to track your visitors’ IP addresses in real-time.
  • It does not force you to place any ads on your website. The only advertising revenue they generate from your ads are from the ones located inside your personal account, which you can choose to ignore.

Cons

  • Its user interface is a bit outdated (it’s not as intuitive as Google Analytics).
  • It doesn’t give you sufficient information when it comes to looking at the entire number of visitors you have.

Price: This service is offered free of charge for those with less than 9000 page views a day.

BBClone

BBClone is a “web counter on steroids”—at least that’s what its developers say. It can give you information regarding your visitors’ OS, IP address, the browser they are using, as well as when, where and what time they visited. You just need to download the script so you can get real time data for your website.

Pros

  • It gives you a clear view of who visited your website.
  • It can also show you the website path followed by a visitor in the order of visited pages.
  • It doesn’t rely on mySQL.
  • It has some nice features such as reload resistance, proxy workaround, and hostname resolution.

Cons

  • A lot of users have complained it is not stable enough. Also, the project has not been updated very frequently.

Price: Free

Final Word

So there you have it—a list of Google Analytics alternatives that you can use to check your website’s stats. Obviously, Google Analytics is still the most popular website analytics tool out there, and no one’s going to argue with that.

However, there’s nothing wrong with using Google Analytics alongside other tools that may serve to enhance its features and as a result, give you all the data you could possibly need to ensure that your website will reach its maximum potential.

If you have the budget, I strongly suggest you go for premium tools that have all the features and metrics, which your website needs. That is not to say that free analytics tool are no good—Google Analytics is a testament of how useful some of them can be. However, if you want more customized features, you may need to look into analytics tools that meet your requirements.

If you’ve used any or some of the Google Analytics alternatives mentioned above, do share your experience. I’d love to hear your opinions and comments.

34 Powerful Google Analytics Resources You Need to Know About

We have also covered some of the best tools and resources that will help you extend the capabilities of your Google Analytics account.

Since you may be a novice or expert user, we’re going to provide both beginner and advanced user resources that everyone can take advantage of.

Beginner Resources

  1. The Absolute Beginner’s Guide: A great resource by MOZ, you’ll learn a little of everything in this post. From installation to filtering reports, this guide will teach you how to use analytics quickly and easily.
  2. A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics: VerticalResponse published a great post that teaches you how to use analytics within just minutes.
  3. How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress: A helpful guide to help beginners install Google Analytics directly by code or with a WordPress plugin.
  4. How to Use Google Analytics on Your WordPress Site: Since WordPress is the world’s most utilized content management system, it’s important to know how to install it right through your dashboard. You’ll learn tips and tricks to use your website’s data to its full potential.
  5. The Small Business Guide: A very in-depth resource, this guide is broken down into various sections or chapters that allow you to learn everything from installation to goal tracking and even e-commerce tracking.
  6. How to Master SEO with Analytics: SEO is essential for your website’s rankings. Positionly will show you how your website can use this data to boost search engine optimization.
  7. Google Analytics for E-Commerce: Shopify offers insights into making reports, understanding real-time actions of your users, how you acquired users and their behavior. This guide is geared specifically towards e-commerce sites.
  8. Mahalo’s Beginner Guide: What I really like about this resource is that there’s a video that’s about eight minutes long that walks you through the interface of Google Analytics.
  9. Step-by-Step Guide: Conversion Voodoo created an amazing guide that’s old, but still has a wealth of information that will help beginners learn Google Analytics.
  10. A Beginner’s Dictionary of Google Analytics: Learning the lingo is essential to understanding what your data is actually providing. This is a must-read resource because it walks you through the terminology that you’ll see in the Analytics interface, such as bounce, entry page, and sessions.
  11. Google Analytics’ Official YouTube Channel: This channel is still updated today with new and relevant information that teaches you the basic and advanced features of Analytics from the developers themselves.
  12. Google Analytics Blog: The official blog by Google that informs you on all the latest updates and information about the Analytics product.

Once you’ve devoured all of the content on these pages, you’ll know more about Google Analytics than the majority of website owners. And, you’ll be able to start using your website’s data within just an hour or two of reading all the content.

But, this just isn’t enough for somebody that wants to extract more valuable information from their users.

Intermediate and Advanced Google Analytic Resources

  1. 16 Secret Advanced Segments: Search Engine Watch created an article that explains how you can dig through your data using advanced segments. You’ll even learn how to determine if content piracy has taken place and segment your data by your own business hours.
  2. Advanced Segments by Google: Google has an exceptional help page that teaches you everything you need to know about segments. This is where you’ll really learn how to refine your data and determine your visitor’s behavior.
  3. The Ultimate Guide To Google Analytic Profile Filters: A wealth of information provided by Paul Koks that explains how profile filters work, advanced segments and how to use custom variables.
  4. 6 Advanced Tricks That All Site Owners Should Know: Neil Patel walks you through six tricks that you can use today to gain more control of your data.
  5. Measure Your Online Marketing Efforts: A complete guide that teaches you about advanced segments and goals to better understand your marketing efforts. This is used when you’re conducting marketing campaigns and want to determine which campaign is producing the best results.
  6. Decoding Google’s Referral String: Hacking your way to information. This guide is your true answer to Google referral strings. After reading this post, you’ll have a better understanding of the “not provided” information listed in your analytics.
  7. Multi-Channel Funnels: An older article by Distilled that walks you through creating multiple channel funnels in Google Analytics. The best part is that there’s a video included that helps you along the way.
  8. Measuring And Increasing The ROI Of Your Content Resources: How to use Google Analytics to measure and increase the ROI of the content your site produces. This is vital for anyone who uses content marketing in their website’s marketing strategy.
  9. Regular Expression Google Analytics: One the most powerful tools provided is also one of the most complex: regular expressions. This will allow you to find information faster and easier, but learning regular expressions is very difficult. This post clears things up and makes it easy to understand how to use this tool.
  10. Google Analytics Academy: Free courses that come directly from Google. These courses are led by experts who will teach you how to use Analytics using quizzes and practice exercises. This is a great resource for anyone who’s just beginning and wants to start from the bottom up with their data.

By the time you get through all of these resources, you’ll be an advanced Google Analytics user. You’ll master the data that’s provided and know how to make the platform work for you. This makes reporting much easier. You’ll be able to see all of the information that’s most pertinent to website’s success; information that will save you time, help you increase your profits, and enhance your users’ experience.

Invaluable Google Analytics Tools

If you’re like me, you want to use all of your available resources to make your life easier. These are tools and plug-ins that will help you take control of Google Analytics in a different way.

We’ll cover plugins that make it easy to view Analytics right on your WordPress dashboard, and more advanced tools that professionals use to extend the information that Google Analytics provides.

  1. Custom Report Sharing: A forum that provides custom reports through templates. Social media dashboards, SEO dashboards, and several other templates are provided. A one click download, these take the work out of creating advanced reports.
  2. Google Analytics | Solutions Gallery: A magnitude of different tools are provided that allow you to import dashboards directly from a Google-owned property. This is great for users that want an advanced dashboard, but don’t have the time to create one on their own.
  3. Quill Engage: Quill offers a paid and free solution to users for Analytics by connecting directly to your account. This makes information easy to understand and provides reports that are dispatched weekly or monthly. This makes understanding your data much easier and faster.
  4. N2K: Similar to Quill Engage, this tool provides a one-page view for all your Google Analytics’ data. This tool allows you to make complicated data easy to understand and formats everything into columns.
  5. G Analytics (Android): Available directly on Google Play, you’ll be able to view all of your website’s information on the go. Plus, the interface is easy to use and understand. This app is available in nine languages and offers a plethora of features.
  6. GAget (OS X): You can use this advanced app either on your Mac or iPhone. This provides you with all the Analytics information that you would find in your dashboard, but you can use it on your mobile device.

Google Analytics Tools for Google Chrome

It’s not necessary to log into your dashboard to see all of your site’s information. Browser plug-ins and extensions will allow you to view all of your data without leaving your browser. A few of the extensions and plug-ins that we recommend are:

  1. Stats Checker for Google Analytics: A quick overview of your sites information and stats provided on one page. Updates are done every five minutes, so your information is always up-to-date.
  2. Page Analytics (by Google): Google created this extension to allow you to see how customers interact with your web pages.
  3. Google Analytics Debugger: This extension loads the debugged version of Analytics for all sites on Chrome browser. And creates a list of error messages with the Analytics link and tips to correct them.

Note: We haven’t included any Firefox add-ons because they haven’t been updated in so long and are unreliable for current versions of the browser.

Google Analytics Plugins for WordPress

If you’re using WordPress, there are several plugins that will make retrieving your Analytics data easier:

  1. Google Analytics by Yoast: The developers offer a simple plug-in that will track all of your blog’s activity, and provide easy installation and viewing of your data.
  2. Better Google Analytics: Quickly track all of your data from heat maps to charts, events, site issue tracking and even A/B tests straight through this plug-in.
  3. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP: Another option, this plug-in displays real-time information right on your dashboard.

Did we miss one of your favorite resources or tools? Let us know in the comments below.