Web analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website. Web analytics applications can also help companies measure the results of traditional print or broadcast advertising campaigns. It helps one to estimate how traffic to a website changes after the launch of a new advertising campaign.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.