By Rick Tansun

10 Web Analytics Tools For Tracking Your Visitors

By Rick Tansun

analytics-graphicAny blogger or site owner worth his or her salt will tell you that knowing how your site is performing is essential.

You have to know what is working, what isn’t, and what trends will make your site the next “must read” stop for visitors each day. The only way to effectively do this is to have a good statistics package working in the background. However, figuring out which package is best for your site can be tricky.

Until your site starts earning some revenue, you’re best starting off with something free. Then, as your site grows, you may want to pay for a few more features. If you’re really lucky, you’ll start off with a free package that can grow with you, and it may be the only package you’ll ever need.

This list covers ten free and paid solutions that will allow your site to hit the ground running and, hopefully, show you just what a success your site really is.

1. AWStats

AWStats comes pre-installed by many web hosting companies. Additionally, if you’re setting up your own servers, you can download it for your personal use. AWStats goes deeper into the referring sites’ information than most analytics packages, and is a perfect tool for monitoring whether someone is hotlinking files from your site. Besides being a great detective tool for bandwidth thieves, it offers all of the usual useful tools that you might expect from a statistics package.


2. eLogic

eLogic provides three levels of service based on your exact needs. If you need to track only one or two pages, they offer a stat counter that just offers you the most basic of reports. Their Webstats BASIC package is also free, but gives you more the usual tools you expect like referring sites, a history, demographics, and more. Finally if you’re a business or a larger site, you may sign up for their subscription program, Webstats PRO, that will give you a full history and more extensive tools.


3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is arguably the most popular analytics package available for individual site owners. Google Analytics (or plain old “GA”) allows you to dig down deep into your stats to see breakdowns of individual regions, states/provinces, cities and numerous other items to better identify your site visitors. The wealth of data available is admirably balanced by a well-executed user interface, but it can still be overwhelming. The package integrates with AdWords and has ecommerce-specific tools to track sales.


4. ShinyStat

ShinyStat was initially designed to monitor visits to Italian web sites. Now it is available to sites all over the world, and offers software packages for the individual user, the professional user who needs to track marketing, and a business owner who needs to monitor sales and ROI. There is also a level of service for ISPs to install and include with their hosting accounts.


5. SiteMeter

SiteMeter has a free version for smaller bloggers with up to 100,000 monthly visitors that offers all of the usual tools a webmaster can expect such as tracking referrals, visit durations and so on. If you are launching a larger site and need more tools, there is a paid version based on your volume of visitors.


6. StatCounter

StatCounter might have a rather plain interface, but it deftly handles multi-author blogs, allowing you to easily assign unique codes to each author. While it is free and does work, you have to click on a link to see each analytic result on a separate page. Despite its unpolished looks, the site does offer you clearly readable stats on things such as keywords, traffic sources, and other useful information.


7. W3Counter

W3Counter comes in a free and paid version. With a free W3Counter account, you can track up to 5,000 page views a day across 10 websites and see all of the usual stats. In addition, you get a bonus that you can share your stats with anyone you like via widgets for your blog or an API that lets you build new tools. For sites with higher traffic, you can go for the Pro account that allows you to track up to 1 million views a month.


8. W3Perl

W3Perl differs from other analytics packages in that it doesn’t just measure web traffic, but also can parse the log files of email and RSS to measure just about anything you choose. You can set up the administration interface for web access and gain real-time stats from there.


9. Webalizer

Webalizer is written in C, which means that it is extremely fast and portable, and is a favorite choice of people who host their own servers. Many web hosts have this analytics package pre-installed for your use inside of their control panel. Webalizer doesn’t allow you to dive terribly in-depth into your data like some other packages, but it provides an excellent overview.


10. Woopra

Woopra is currently in a closed beta test, but it offers you a wealth of data for those who can get in. Real-time data are streamed from your site that appear on a map letting you graphically see where readers are coming from, what keywords brought them in, and referring sites. Woopra offers you a unique ability to open up a chat window with visitors of your choice as they browse your site. An unusual feature of this service is that the data is presented to you in a desktop application. WordPress users can install a plugin that lets them see this data in the dashboard of their blog.


There are no doubt other excellent site analytic packages out there. Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

  • Rick Rochon

    If you need to know what organic and paid search traffic is generating calls and chats on your sites, then AdSymetrix Dynamic Tracking is for you. Our product dynamically tracks users, calls generated by users and is fully chat enabled. Our product is a must have for any service business or a business that receives or would like to receive telephone calls to help with conversions. Check us out and decide for yourself.

  • Piwik ( is a open source analytics package that has the potential to be quite nice. It’s got a good starting base and will hopefully improve as the year goes on.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re going to use AWStats, have a look at JAWStats ( also. JAWStats is a wrapper that presents AWStats data in a clearer and more attractive layout with graphs, pie-charts, maps (soon!) and tag clouds and the like. It is very easy to install and is fully skin-able also.

  • Laura Kalbag

    Mint ( is brilliant. It’s got a really reasonable one-off license fee and was quick to set up. There’s loads of additional add-ons which means it’s easy to run a simple base version, or make it as complicated as you like. The interface is clean (although the text is pretty small), and you can use it from mobile. The iPhone app Ego also has a way of monitoring your daily unique visits from Mint.

  • I think a while back I read a post on sitepoint about how that Yahoo web analytics is now the best tool for traffic stats, but it’s not mentioned in this article :)

  • ChumBonus

    We use twatch, simple to install, accurate and an easy way to validate other services you may be using.

  • ChumBonus
  • ToolboxTech

    I use and quite enjoy It’s a great subscription analytics package with a “Spy” feature that lets you track the action on your site live. Subscriptions start at $3.99 I believe.

  • George Susini

    Do any of these programs do an automatic week mailing of PDF reports that are similar to Godaddy Analytics ?

  • aemciv

    / Google analytics does scheduled emailing of pdf reports

  • Woopra has been in closed BETA for a very long time… I wouldn’t consider it as a good choice right now.

  • Vadim

    Upcoming service:

    What’s great about is that you can embed the stats widgets onto your site for all to see ;)

  • Fun fact: W3Counter was created by Dan Grossman, who is a member of SitePoint’s forums. (And an all-around great guy.) :)

  • Anonymous

    The top of the line: TrueSight IM

  • RIA Guy

    I use Google Analytics

  • StevenHu

    I’d love to see an article on how to best USE these tools.

  • aemciv

    thats a true statement. SitePoint should do a poll on how many have analytics installed and how many actual utilize the data.

  • sitehatchery

    Thanks for the tip on JAWStats. It’s awesome. It takes a good program (awstats) and organizes and displays it better. The only thing it’s missing is data on the graphs (data is displayed in tables below the graphs), and the ability to set user-defined date ranges.

  • Anonymous

    VisiStat? Great real-time analytics. Worth checking out.

  • essexboyracer

    Awstats, Analog, Urchin, google analytics and webtrends. The thing with statistics is that they are never 100% accurate (due to the underlying technical nature of the internet – stateless protocol – and some users having jscript off). Do a bit of test and measure but dont get analysis paralysis. I go for Google analytics everytime.

  • Anonymous

    That’s what I use and it works pretty good for me! But I don’t have much experience with other tracking tools so I can’t really tell how how great it is compared to others. But works super for me =D

  • Tarh

    9 Firefox Addons For Blocking Tracking By Privacy-Invading Websites

    CookieSafe – one of the best first lines of defense. Often spysites use trivial cookie techniques to track visitors; CookieSafe allows granular control of cookie permissions on a per-site basis (set to deny by default for maximum security).
    RefControl – why are you telling every website where you just came from? It’s none of their business! RefControl lets you easily block referrer headers in your requests; in fact, it even allows you to spoof them to avoid problems with “referrer checks”.
    Adblock Plus – in addition to freeing you from advertising, this will also stop third-party tracking threats before they even start.
    NoScript – it’s not just for blocking Javascript (although that’s always a good thing); it can help eliminate threats like <a ping…> tags and block “web bugs”, which try to track users with Javascript disabled.
    Controle de Scripts – when NoScript just isn’t enough.
    BetterPrivacy – some tracking packages are sneaky enough to try to track you through “Flash cookies” rather than regular cookies. This addon takes care of that threat.
    FormFox – is your form information being routed through a third-party? Check for naïve methods of doing so with this addon.
    CustomizeGoogle – this addon blocks privacy invasion specific to Google services.
    Greasemonkey with Meta Refresh Blocker – stop sites from redirecting you to places that you don’t want to go (especially useful to block “you don’t have Javascript” alerts).

    Together, these addons will defeat even the most crafty tracking packages, and prevent you from becoming a viable statistic. Of course, this combination also allows you to drop your shields for sites which should be able to keep some persistent data, but also allows control over what those sites can and cannot do.

  • grahamallen

    Very nice! I have been using AwStats for years and it has served me well!!!! Glad to see it pop in at number one.

  • @Tarh: W3Counter will track you across sessions even if you block the cookies. If the script is executed but cookies blocked, or the script isn’t executed but the “noscript” tag content is, then W3Counter will keep track of your sessions and return visits through matching IP address and user agent pairs.

    Glad to see my little tracking service mentioned on a SitePoint post!

  • Anonymous

    Hi have a look at for url rating…quite fun and you can cut and paste a ranking box onto your own website

  • Dave

    What about software that analyses streming media stats as well as web site stats? We have been using Funnelweb for a long time but it is getting quite long in the tooth.


  • Dayton

    Track copy and paste activity
    There is a completely new metric that a product called Tynt Tracer ( is able to track; our tagline is “Do you know what is being copied from your site?” and basically the Tracer product shows you what and how often content is being taken from your site. Our users our always shocked to see how often people copy and paste their content. Anyway, just thought I would throw that into the mix. Cheers!

  • Tarh

    @Dan Grossman: NoScript defeats W3Counter when “web bugs” are disabled, which causes your images in the <noscript> tag to be ignored :-)

  • essexboyracer

    Whilst we’re talking about analysis of log files, what about tools used to analyse corporate firewall log files to find out who has been going on websites or emailing people they shouldn’t have? I know that there are attempts to use programs to convert firewall logs into ‘fake’ apache logs (fwanalog) and if your firewall logs are in a certain format Wentrends can report on them. Has anyone had any experience with this?

  • mia

    you can also add to the list landing page analysis tool

  • Recently I use WassUp Plugin

  • wampu

    No etreme tracker ?

  • C00L

    All these external JS based tracing tools will miss a considerable portion of FF users using blockers (i.e NoScript). Always good to use (J)AWStats or sth that you can install locally (Piwik, Mint..)

  • Andrew Ballenthin

    I’ve just skimmed through 6 of the 10 recommended and set-up a number of profiles. Although it’s certainly best practice to add tracking code to each page, for a medium-heavy blogger and social networker this is just more work. While far less sophisticated I prefer old school and that only require entering the URL and results are instant. They only provide macro numbers which are helpful for snapshot analysis. Both have high international usage as do a number of the other 10 recommended.

  • For PHP projects I’ve occasionally used bbclone. Pretty basic but it provides some to-the-point lists.

  • Cory Pritchard

    If you are interested in plugin data, have a look at It is the only analytics site that I’ve seen that has plugin reports and number of other things too that I haven’t found anywhere else. Their site currently says that new accounts will not be available until April 15, but you can pre-register now.

  • Take a look at They have some advanced features that I find very helpful in determining not only who is coming to the site, but what they’re doing while on the site. The company is based in Israel, and has a free plan that lets you use some of the advanced features.

    Some of the nicer features include a heatmap which shows which parts of the site are viewed most frequently, mouseover statistics, so you know which objects they are hovering over and for how long, form monitoring, so you can see where visitors are getting hung up on their forms, and more. I’ve been trying it out for a while, and so far I’m happy. The best feature by the way, is the ability to “record” sessions, so you can actually view what people did on the site, reproducing their experience.

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