Track Your Business to the Top
An important aspect of getting your website optimization right is tracking results and monitoring visitors and how they move about on your site, to make sure you’re getting targeted traffic (relevant for your product) and that your visitors ‘convert’ when they get there: that’s tech-speak for they do whatever it is you want them to do!
To make sure you get the mix right, a vital component of your website equipment is efficient tracking tools. The more accurately you can monitor who visits your website, why, and how satisfied they were, the more successful you’ll be online. Simple equation. You will be able to spot trends, and identify problems or areas where your system is coming up short with ease if you get your tracking right. This will make it so much easier to make changes that bring real results.
It’s sometimes difficult to gauge which tools you should be using though. There are so many web tracking applications out there and they all differ wildly, terms of complexity and price.
It occurred to me (OK, I was having a flash of inspiration! Are you done laughing? Then I’ll continue….) that the best way to pick the best tracking applications would be to monitor what other successful websites are using in the way of tracking devices.
So that’s what I did.
Google Analytics–Leader of the Pack
No surprises that Google Analytics came out on top: it’s free, it’s accurate, easy to install and what’s more, it tells you most of what you need to know. The trouble is, as far as I’m concerned, is that when you have Google Analytics installed, the largest search engine on the planet also has access to all your traffic information. Think about that. Obviously the same drawbacks exist for newly-launched Yahoo Analytics.
In the table below you’ll see tracking companies used by several top SEO firms as well as a number of the most successful websites. This is relevant, although the websites are nowhere near as big as CNN, for example, the keyword ‘SEO’ has to be one of the most competitive keywords ever, so I make no apology for including those first. After all, we should watch what the professionals use no? I’ve also included the most successful blogs ever, headed up by the Huffington Post because, let’s face it they’re doing something right with millions of visitors every day.
Like me, you’ll probably notice an interesting two or three applications that come up again and again. And, not all these applications are strictly tracking applications: it’s interesting to see how many different companies/techniques successful websites are using to improve their traffic and bottom line.
Here’s the list in no particular order, and I’ll just mention that I threw in a couple of web analysis companies that I know are used a great deal by online businesses, and therefore shouldn’t be discounted. I daresay I’ve missed a few, but this should be great food-for-thought for anyone considering how best to monitor what goes on with their online business. I’m kicking off with Google Analytics because of it’s overwhelming popularity:
- Google Analytics
- Index Tools (recently acquired by Yahoo Analytics)
- Web Trends
- Tribal Fusion
- Google Custom Search
- Revenue Science
- Crazy Egg
Tracking is important, but only insofar as it can help you to increase conversions. Don’t get obsessed with it: just observe and do what you can to get your website running as smoothly and effectively as possible.