An important element in any SEO plan is analytics, the method by which you monitor the effectiveness of your web site. Analytics are the metrics that show you how pages, links, keywords, and other elements of your web site are performing. If your web host hasnâ€™t provided you with an analytics program, find one. Not having an analytics program is like walking around in the dark, hoping you wonâ€™t bump into a wall.
Many web-site owners shy away from analytics packages because they appear to be complicated as well as expensive. However, they donâ€™t always have to be. You can find a good analytics program thatâ€™s not only easy to use but is also inexpensive or even free. But use caution about making ease and low cost the deciding factors when selecting an analytics program.
The program will give you the power to see and control how your web site performs against your goals and expectations. You want it to show you everything you need to know, so here are some considerations when youâ€™re evaluating analytics programs:
- What reports are included in the tools youâ€™re examining, and how will you use those reports?
- How do you gather the information used to create the metrics you need?
- How often are your reports updated?
- How much training is necessary to understand your application and the reports provided?
- Do you get software installation or is the product provided strictly as a web-based service?
- What is the total cost of ownership?
- What types of support are available?
- What is the typical contract length?
Many analytics programs are available to you. Google Analytics, AW Stats, JayFlowers, ClickTracks, and dozens of others all offer something different at a different price tag. If â€œfreeâ€ is what you can afford, donâ€™t assume youâ€™ll get a terrible package. Google Analytics is one of the free packages available; itâ€™s an excellent program and is based on what used to be the Urchin Analytics package (which was quite costly). Other programs cost anywhere from $30 to $300 a month, depending on the capabilities youâ€™re purchasing.
The cost is not the most important factor, however. Ultimately, your consideration should be how the analytics package can help you improve your business.