I've used Google Analytics for a while now, and it's pretty good for a high level view. But when I want to dig into the numbers a bit more, everything gets kind of vague. I also don't like that it takes so long to update. Are there any better options?
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Better is relative to what you are looking for. Google Analytics is pretty feature rich but there are a lot of alternatives. I would break them down into the following buckets with an example of each:
- Paid hosted: This will generally be a lot like Google Analytics but you will get the added bonus of things happening in closer to real time and a lot more bells and whistles that may be important to someone in a marketing position. An example that falls into this bucket is Omniture.
- Paid installable: A lot of these guys have gone to the hosted model as well but still allow you to buy what amounts to a self hosted version of their product still. At one point it seemed like Google might re-release Urchin (the start of what turned into Google Anaylitics) in this form but I haven't seen anything recently. Going this route is going to give the ability to track people based on logs as well in most cases and that can be an advantage. An example that falls into this bucket is Webtrends.
- Free installable: This group won't be nearly as feature rich as the first two but will get the job done. Most of these will use your server logs to generate the stats and that can be both good and bad. An example that falls into this bucket is AWStats.
- Other: These are where things are probably headed in the analytics realm. Both real time and more visual. Examples that fall into this bucket are Crazy Egg and ChartBeat.
Clicky sets itself apart from Google Analytics in some very intriguing ways.
- Real-time analytics: Site getting hammered? Google is no help in finding the source with data taking a day to show up. Clicky can show you very quickly where all the traffic is coming from.
- Easy to use: Google Analytics is pretty easy to see basic data, but Clicky is even easier to derive value from the data.
- Mobile version: They have an iPhone-optimized version of their site and another for any other mobile device.
- Social: See twitter and bit.ly sources.
- Ajax & flash tracking: A bit more work, but you can track any event through their API.
These are just a few highlights - it is a very nice tool! It's only free for a single site, but very affordable for to add more.
Piwik: Open source real time analytics. I don't use this, but I have a friend who does and he really likes it. It does look pretty nice and with something like this you can do all sorts of other things with the data (such as your own real time stats on the website).
Also, here is a list of alternatives. It has log file analyzers, like Analog or AWStats, remote services, like stat24 and Yahoo Analytics, and self hosted, like Open Web Analytics and FireStats.
Some folks like http://haveamint.com/ too.
10 Promising Free Web Analytics Tools
Most of the aftermarket tools available for iOS, for example, support GA or Mint
There are anothers, but everyone has its limitations. i remember xiti from http://www.atinternet.com/ omniture from adobe, and there are some open source solutions that will work if you don't have a very large site like piwik.org
Someones do something better than others, but in my experience google analytics outperforms the other in price/cost, because it's almost free (you have to have a linked adword account with a expenditure of at least 1 euro a day to remove some limits) and you can do almost anything that you wan't to do with an analytics tool. The only thing that bugs me in google analytics it's the 50.000 thousand limit in every dimension, that it's that if you have more than 50.000 diferent pages in your site, just the first 50.000 are going to be tracked with the page name, and all the others are going to be in a "(other)" clause.
www.mixpanel.com is free for low volume. If you put their badge on your site, you get the $50 plan free
Another good service would be reinvigorate (reinvigorate.net). They used to have a free plan available, but since they were bought by Webtrends a couple of days ago the free plan disappeared. Their tracking is awesome though and it's not as expensive as other paid services.
Picking the right tool for you is harder than finding a wife / husband!!
...to cite Avinash Kaushik.
Whenever it comes to questions like your one taking a look at Occam's Razor, the blog of Analytics legend Avinash Kaushik (currently @Google) is really helpfull.
There is an older but still good article you might benefit (even if you accepted an answer): Web Analytics Tools Comparison: A Recommendation
Avinash lists some questions "10 Questions to ask Vendors" or "Three Questions to ask Yourself" that get you even more ideas.
Google's Urchin is