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Which Statistics Package Should I Use?

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I read a post by By Kevin Newcomb of The ClickZ Network talking about “Comparing Web Analytics Packages”. There are many good ones, but before you compare or decide on a package you need to establish just what and how much information about your site that you are looking for.

Do you just want to know how many visitors are stopping by your pages? I have advised a few customers not to put counters on their pages. I don’t think that anyone needs to broadcast that information and I think the counters just look amateurish and just too 1990’s.

Probably the best way to start is to have a look at the free readily available programs just to see where to start. Most any web hosting package that you can get will have several stats packages that will tell you that. There is also much more information about your visitors available to you than that. Where they came from. What pages they visited, how long they stayed and even more.

The real trick is to put the numbers together in a way that you can understand. I personally use a combination of a couple of programs that come free with my site. I like Awstats and also use Webalizer for detailed summaries. I also like to use “latest visitors” to see where people are going on a more day to day level.

I also have a couple of customers who use Google Analytics and they are very happy with it. The way this program works is that Google gives you a small script that you can put on any page you want them to track. Google has a very good free system for organizing this data and giving you it back to you in a easy to understand format. That’s what they do better than anyone else. The bad part is that you are giving them all of your site’s visitor data and you are trusting them to be benevolent with it. It’s not a big worry now, but who knows what the future holds?

Those are some of the free options “Comparing Web Analytics Packages” talks about several other paid products.

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