Website analytics made easy. Free content tools for small business owners.
Do-it-yourself, drag and drop software like WIX, Site123 and Web.com have made it possible for amateurs to build a website. You may think that once you have a visually appealing site with what you believe is good content, you'll get page 1 rankings and the customers will come pouring in and when they don't, you are exasperated. Every business owner needs a website and every business owner needs to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their site based on analytical data.
Quite simply put, website analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage and ultimately increasing conversions.
Analytical data comes from a number of sources; from your website itself, from your server and from specialized tools and software (some of which are free, others are not).
Free web analytic options
The software you use to build your website will give you some basic data; creation and revision dates, page views, hits, votes, ratings and other little tidbits of information to improve your site's structure and performance, but this is not enough.
Your server will provide analytical data that has already been partially segmented by day, by week, by month or other periods. Technical data like disk space, CPU usage, number of visits, unique visitors, page views are usually available.
Alexa is a web analytical tool (basic services are free) that provides data relating to keyword searches, engagement, bounce rate, local rank, global rank and some geographical data. The paid version offers you keyword research tools, site comparisons, site audits etc. There is much controversy about the Alexa tool and ranking system but that is another topic altogether.
Google Analytics is a fine, free, robust platform that you can use to extract even more data about your site visitors; behavior, loyalty, user flow, engagement, traffic sources, retention, demographics, interest groups etc.
Google and Alexa require you to add a line of tracking code into your site's root directory (not for novices).
There are many, many more options out there, there is no one-size-fits-all solution but for most small- and medium-size businesses Google Analytics remains the tool of choice.
Remember that even the best or most expensive web analytics tool will fail to give you insights if you are not skilled in using and interpreting them. If you can't, it may be time to call in a professional SEO expert to help you extract vital data.
Next time we'll talk about paid analytic solutions.