Posted October 23, 2014 by Scott Nesbitt
If you have a website or an online business, collecting data on where your visitors or customers come from, where they land on your site, and where they leave is vital. Why? Having that information can help you better target your products and services, and beef up the pages that are turning people away.
The way to gather that kind of information is with a web analytics tool.
Many people and businesses (of all sizes) turn to Google Analytics. But if you want to keep control of your data, then you’ll want a tool that you have control over. You don’t get that from Google Analytics, and luckily Google Analytics isn’t the only game on the web.
Let’s take a look at three open source alternatives to Google Analytics.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the open source application that rivals Google Analytics for functions: Piwik. Piwik does most of what Google Analytics does, and chances are it packs the features that you need.
Those features include metrics on the number of visitors hitting your site, data on where they come from (both on the web and geographically), from what pages they leave your site, and the ability to track search engine referrals. Piwik also has a number of reports and you can customize the dashboard to view the metrics that you want to see.
To make your life easier, Piwik integrates with over 65 content management, ecommerce, and online forum systems like WordPress, Magneto, Joomla!, and vBulletin using plugins. With anything else, you just need to add a tracking code to a page on your site.
Open Web Analytics
If there’s a close second to Piwik in the open source web analytics stakes, it’s Open Web Analytics. In fact, it has a number of key features that either rival Google Analytics or leave it in the dust.
In addition to the usual raft of analytics and reporting functions, Open Web Analytics tracks where on a page and what elements on a page visitors click, provides heat maps that show where on a page visitors interact the most, and even does ecommerce tracking.
eAnalytics isn’t as well known as the other two tools this article looks at, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It’s a good option if your site gets anywhere up to five million views a month.
eAnalytics shares a number of features with Piwik and Open Web Analytics, including a comprehensive reporting system, a dashboard that you can easily customize, and the ability to track metrics and statistics in real time.
This tool also lets you track one or more Twitter and Google AdWords accounts, as well as track metrics across more than one domain or server. You can also add a button or link that lets visitors opt out of being tracked. It’s a nice touch, and one that people concerned with privacy will appreciate.