If you are running an online business, you need to have as much information as possible at your fingertips. It’s not enough to see how much you are making every month. You also need to see how much you could have made and didn’t. You need to know what your customers do when they arrive on your site.
For example, what do they search for? How long do they stay on the page? And how many are repeat visitors?
Armed with this information, you can then tweak your promotions to improve the length of time someone stays to browse. Or you can make it more likely you will make a sale. The old adage “information is power” is never more true than when running a website.
So how do you get this information? The answer is simple. Use a free or paid Web analytics service. They can be easy to use, and set up.
11 Web Analytics Tools
Google Analytics 
When you access Google Analytics for the first time, you will be hit by a huge number of features. It can be a bit intimidating at first.
After inserting the tracking code into your website, you will have more data about your website than you know what to do with. If you have WordPress (self-hosted), then you can also upload a plugin  to keep track of your stats.
- Find your visitors geographically – You can view on a map where your visitors are coming from. This can help you to tailor marketing campaigns for those markets.
- Learn the number of visits you receive daily – This data is displayed on a chart. It lets you clearly see if the daily visits are increasing, decreasing, or holding steady.
- Measure revenue – Goggle Analytics is tied into Google Adsense. So this means you can see on your analytics dashboard how much your site is making on a daily basis.
- Determine demographics – You can learn information about visitors such as age, gender, location and interests.
- Measure your active visitors – Learn how many visitors you have on the site right now.
In this tool’s tracking code, it actually includes the tag “Google Analytics Alternative.” After signing up, you are asked to place the tracking code on your website. If you have WordPress (or other sites such as Drupal or Joomla), you can upload a plugin  instead.
Clicky has some good features. But where it falls down is the below-average website design. First appearances really matter. And when you compare the Clicky site with the big sleek Google Analytics site, Clicky is going to suffer somewhat. Plus the tool is only free up to 3,000 daily pageviews. After that, prices start at $9.99 a month.
Clicky offers pretty much what Google Analytics offers. So this is a good service to use if you don’t want to be relying on yet another Google product. You also have to be okay with paying for the service.
Crazy Egg 
Just by looking at the heat sources on the page, can you see the areas most clicked on by your visitors.
CrazyEgg is another paid service with a 30 day free trial. But unlike Clicky, there is no free plan. The basic option costs $108 a year. But CrazyEgg is different in that it enables you to set up “heat maps,” which show you where on your site visitors clicked. The bigger the heat source, the more popular the area or link.
How does this information help you? First you can find the best areas on your page for advertisements. Secondly, you can see if your latest new feature is being looked at and used. One glance at your page shows you what is being used and what is being ignored.
Optimizely introduces the concept of A/B testing. This is when you have two versions of a website, and you show them to visitors at the same time. You then see from the stats which version was the most successful. Optimizely makes this very easy, but again this is a paid service, starting at $17 a month. (Of course, there is a 30 day trial period).
After specifying the domain name and setting up your account, you can create multiple versions of your page. You can then tweak the code in each version so they are different. Then send them out into the world, and see what happens.
When people come to your site, Mouseflow will “record” what they do. You can see their mouse moving around. Watch it filling out text boxes, entering search terms into the search engine and much more.
To get a better idea of how it works, try out the free demo page . It’s fun to see what you’ve just done come alive on the screen.
How does this benefit you? Well, you can see from your visitor’s behavior if they scroll all the way to the bottom of your page. If not, there must be a serious issue with the content in the top half. Also, by watching people filling out your forms, you will get an idea if there are any problem areas. If they abandon the form halfway through, then you clearly have a problem that needs to be addressed.
There are different plans for Mouseflow, including a free plan, and various paid plans . Have a look.
A report about your site, compiled by a real user who is paid to put your site through its paces.
Again, this is an interesting spin on the whole analytics concept. Instead of lists of figures, pie charts and tables, UserTesting recruits a team of people to test your website and report their findings back to you within an hour.
Is there something on your site you want tested? Are you not sure if the shopping cart on your site is fully functional? Do you want to see if the page is clear and unambiguous? UserTesting will find users in your demographic who will tell you what they think. You will get the written answers to your questionnaire, and a video of testers using the page.
However, this is not cheap, so it should be reserved for the most important site investigations. You would be paying $49 per user. But, for real-time instant feedback, this is hard to beat.
If you like green, then you are in luck. Mint gives you a very green page with lots of facts and figures about your site.
This service has a very affordable one-time fee of $30. But what you get for that fee is impressive. There’s more here than just the usual data (number of visitors, demographics, etc). You are also given information about the sites that brought your visitors here. It doesn’t matter whether they are search engines, social networks or another kind of site that’s entirely different.
Plus you can see how well your RSS feeds performed and which of your visitors clicked on what. That will give you further confirmation about which content was most popular. So this tool could be very effective for blogs or other content driven websites.
Woopra provides the usual stats, but what makes this tool stand out is the “behavioral profiles.” You can start to build a picture of each customer by seeing exactly what they did on the website and when. Customers are tracked across devices. So if they start an action on their iPhone and later continue it on a PC, Woopra will keep track of the action no matter what.
Find out everything there is to know about your customers from their payment methods to what they bought, and when.
Woopra will even tell you if a specific customer is on your site right now. You can then time how long they stay.
Woopra has a free version. But the paid version starts at $79.95 a month, depending on your needs.
Having analytics stats is enormously valuable. But what is even more valuable is instant real-time feedback from customers who are currently on your site.
Using Qualaroo, you can ask questions anywhere on your site, with any combination of variables. When a person starts to fill their shopping cart, ask them about their shopping experience. When the visitor leaves the site, conduct a brief exit survey asking how they enjoyed the site. Exit surveys are also useful when an action is suddenly abandoned. Think an incomplete download or an abandoned shopping cart full of items. Is there something wrong? Find out.
The service starts at $79 a month and there is no free option. So this is a service for online businesses with a high turnover of site visitors who can afford to use the tool to learn why.
Free, open-source, private. View your analytics stats from the privacy of your own server.
Piwik is completely unique from all the other analytics tools we’ve looked at thus far. First, it is a free open-source Web analytics platform. This means you can download the software, and upload it to your own server. The information stays with you and not on someone else’s system. You pay nothing, and your data remains a secret. Check out the demo  to learn more.
Plenty of help is provided on the Piwik site. And it’s a great choice if you want to support the concept of open-source. But many of the features sound impressive too.
Is your site image-heavy? Then get your visitors engaging on them by using CliqueMe’s photo page.
Aside from many other features, CliqueMe gives you social analytics, too. The tool also provides information on some of the other sites your visitors have frequented. It even offers analytics for your blog comments so you can search for appropriate keywords. This last feature can help you with your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
But most exciting, CliqueMe provides you with an Instagram-like page to place your images encouraging your visitors to engage with them more often.
There is also a “Trending Images” page, where site visitors can see which images are being viewed and talked about the most.
Analytics  Photo via Shutterstock