ClickTracks and HitsLink cull Web site stats without the stress
Midrange offerings provide easy-to-use analysis tools at an affordable price
Web sites are an important conduit between customers, potential clients, and employees, so it’s not surprising that organizations invest heavily in watching how their sites are used. For this job, enterprises often turn to the big guns in Web analytics -- Coremetrics, NetIQ, Omniture, or WebSideStory -- because they present visitor behavior from practically any perspective. But this complexity can mean hours of trying to set up and then harvest useful data from reports. Even more difficult is using reports to spot potential click fraud.
Such frustration opens the door for two capable, easier-to-use, and more economical analysis tools, ClickTracks 6.1 and Net Applications HitsLink.
ClickTracks 6.1, available as in-house software or as a hosted service, has fewer reports than both large-scale rivals and HitsLink, but they all cut right to useful information, such as tables that map search engine keywords to revenue. The data is overlaid on your Web page, so you can easily see how visitors navigate the site.
HitsLink, a hosted service, provides comprehensive reports on site traffic. While statistics appear in traditional tabular or chart format, HitsLink delivers results in real time, even on high-traffic sites.
Most significant, both products have specific features to help you identify possible click fraud. HitsLink’s map view shows essential data, such as clicks by country, making it easier to spot unusual patterns. ClickTracks’ detection employs elaborate statistical analysis and prepares reports that you can submit to your PPC (pay-per-click) provider.
ClickTracks is intentionally simple. Beginning with the Start page, you’ll find large icons for selecting reports and tips that explain how to use the app. This visual approach extends to the way many reports are presented, which assists in interpreting results.
As do many high-end products, ClickTracks’ Navigation report displays an exact rendering of your site overlaid with statistics. For instance, this view showed how many visitors from Google clicked a particular link on my home page. In another pane, I saw a path display of how people navigated to other parts of the site.
Time Splits is a really helpful feature for seeing the effect of site changes. Using Site Archiver, which compresses files 10-to-1, I captured a copy of my site at a particular time and then revised the live home-page design. After the change, ClickTracks showed performance statistics of the old and new design side by side. This is a creative approach to comparative testing because it doesn’t require having two production versions of the site.