Web Analytics

Analytics ain’t Nothing but a Number

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Keyword traffic, landing pages, bounce rates, conversions, time on site tracking… Do you have an idea on what this blog is about? Let me give you another hint. When you think about this topic, Google usually goes hand-in-hand with it. Got it? Today I will be talking about analytics.

When I think about analytics, Google Analytics (GA) immediately comes to mind. This is because Google has one of the leading platforms for providing data on how many consumers visited your website, how they found your website and what keywords resulted in them discovering your website.

GA can also tell you demographic, behavioral and technological information about your visitors. It tracks ad campaigns, conversion rates and it can analyze this data across multiple websites, social media accounts and devices, and the best part is, it’s free.

I know what you’re thinking, how could any other platform compete with all that GA has to offer? Well, like many things in life GA isn’t perfect. Many users have reported that the GA dashboard is too complicated, there’s too large of a learning curve and there are too many features. Not to mention that it cannot accurately measure how long a visitor stays on your site. It will report that a visitor stayed on your site for zero seconds when in fact they stayed much longer, they just did not load a new page or perform another page action.

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Are you wondering if Google has any competitors in the web analytics industry? Well here are three platforms that offer similar data reporting services as GA.

1.    Clicky

This platform is very similar to GA but does not require a strong technical understanding of website design. All of the data is reported in real-time, meaning the data is captured up-to-the minute. It allows you to filter your data easily so that you can analyze what you think is important, like where your best converting traffic is coming from. Clicky offers custom Twitter searches, a visual website optimizer and a WordPress plugin. You can easily create ad campaigns and goals, and track data for multiple websites. One feature that stands out is that Clicky considers every visitor that stays on the site for at least 30 seconds to be an engaged visitor, instead of counting them as a bounce. This platform is free for up to 3,000 page views a day, and then can be upgraded to different account levels ranging from $9.99-$20+ a month.

2. MOZ Analytics

After researching the analytical services that MOZ provides, I don’t know if I would consider their products to be in direct competition with Google’s (especially because they have a blog that tells you how to use GA, read it here), but I definitely think that some of their products could be used in place of or in addition to GA. MOZ offers four main products: keyword research, SEO audit & crawl (diagnostics), backlink research and rank tracking. Most of these products offer a free trial, but to obtain the most from the products you have to pay a monthly fee for them. One thing that stands out about MOZ is the way they present their data. The data is placed into streamline and attractive visualizations which for me makes the data easier to interpret.

3.    Heap

Heap is known for having a very user friendly and organized platform. Like Clicky they offer real-time statistics, conversion tracking, time on site tracking and is easy to set up. Heap captures visitor’s actions without having to enter additional code and allows you to customize user profiles so that you can track individual consumer behavior on your website (this is great for seeing who is new to your website or who is a returning visitor). Their funnel analytics allow you to see exactly where visitors are dropping off while browsing your website. Heap offers a free version for those smaller companies who have less than 5,000 sessions a month and then charges $59-$399 a month for the premium plans.

After reviewing a few alternate analytical platforms, I could see why some companies may choose to forego Google Analytics and instead use one of three mentioned platforms.

For many companies the complication of GA is worth the data that it provides, but some companies may want to use a platform that has a low technical necessity and one that presents the data in a clearer way.

Since I have mentioned that Google Analytics is difficult to use, I decided to go through the first lesson on the GA Academy, Digital Analytics Fundamentals. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • The measurements that GA reports can provide companies with crucial information about driving traffic to their website.
  • The user dashboard seems a little overwhelming and setting up the tracking code on your website could be a little tricky if you don’t have any experience with coding or html.
  • Setting up goal tracking seems to be the easiest form of conversion tracking that GA offers.
  • Setting up filters will help you clean up the way your data is reported and allow you to view the data that you find the most important.
  • The reporting system allows you to view your visitor’s demographics and behavior while they are visiting the site. This information can be extremely useful when determining a target market.
  • I find the conversion tracking feature especially useful when wanting to see how many visitors make a purchase or sign up on your website.

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After completing the first lesson on the Google Analytics Academy, I agree that there is a high learning curve when it comes to using their platform, but in my opinion the data outweighs the cost. I am interested to see what else GA has to offer, so I am going to move on to the next lesson and hopefully things will start to make a little more sense. In my next blog I will be discussing the Google Analytics Platform Principles lesson.

Supplemental Articles:

Alternatives to Google Analytics

Google Analytics Academy

Google Analytics vs Moz Analytics

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