Frequent website analysis is an essential part of ensuring your site is efficient, competitive, and useful for your users, and specific analysis checklists can help you stay on task. But which tools should you use to complete the evaluation?
In August 2019, we polled 30+ growth strategists, marketers, SEO and e-com managers, designers, and content creators and asked them which website analysis tools they couldn’t live without and how they used each one. These experts represent multiple industries and businesses ranging from sole proprietorships to companies with over 1,000 employees—and here is what they told us.
Most traditional website analysis begins with examining traffic volume and patterns, to monitor:
This information can then be used to single out a website’s most successful pages and traffic-generation techniques and increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
What it is: Google Analytics is the most popular and widely known traffic analytics tool, and it was a user favorite by far, with 62.5% of participants identifying it as their favorite analytics tool.
What it’s good for: experts reported using Google Analytics for a variety of reasons, including analyzing traffic patterns and sources, reporting on e-commerce, and gauging the effect of new campaigns and the efficiency of new content.
One lead marketing strategist said, “It's so much more powerful than most people give it credit for. If you use it correctly, you can see trends that can really open up your ideas for advertising, SEO, partners, content, and almost every other aspect of marketing.”
What it is: Adobe Analytics offers traditional traffic analytics, multichannel data collection, and advanced functions that let you parse and organize your traffic data.
What it’s good for: Adobe is a potential traffic reporting alternative to Google Analytics. According to our survey, its emphasis on multichannel communication makes it useful for examining data from multiple sources to draw greater conclusions about user behavior.
What it is: Heap is a product analytics, CRO, and behavioral tracking tool that lets you retroactively view actions across your site and mobile apps.
What it’s good for: analyzing user movements. The head of growth at one SaaS company said: “Far too often we would have needed to add a tracking code [to our site] to get the complete picture, but Heap lets us self-select the actions to fill out the view.”
What it is: Zendesk has a whole suite of customer support and analytics products. In particular, Zendesk Explore is an omnichannel analytics tool that lets you holistically monitor your brand’s traffic across platforms.
What it’s good for: monitoring traffic across multiple sources (website traffic, social media, email) in one dashboard.
What it is: Mixpanel creates behavioral analytics reports to help you better understand the user experience. You can use it to create profiles of typical users (or personas) and compare their behaviors.
What it’s good for: gleaning insight into where prospects lose interest while on your site, what fuels their interests, and how they prefer to engage with your site. One director of marketing said: “Mixpanel funnels are really useful for acquisition marketers working on a product or service that involves multiple touch points before a customer converts.
Traditional website analysis is important, but it’s user-driven analysis that can really help you stand out from the competition. Behavior analytics tools (like heat maps or site recordings) give you a unique window into how people behave on your website.
We at Hotjar pride ourselves on being the leading and most popular platform on the market, used on over 500,000 websites in 180+ countries (data from BuiltWith). However, in the spirit of giving an unbiased overview of the available options, we’re listing all of the tools mentioned by the experts we surveyed.
What it is: that’s us! We offer easy-to-use visual tools for understanding user behavior, including visitor recordings, conversion funnels, and heat maps.
What it's good for: experts mentioned Hotjar as a great tool for analyzing users’ onsite behavior, finding exit points, and pinpointing areas that need improvement. One expert said that Hotjar is key for “watching heatmaps of site visitor behavior,” and another uses it to understand “entry points for a product flow.”
PS: If you want to find out more of what people say about Hotjar, we’ve collected over 120 Hotjar reviews into one piece.
What it is: a tool that helps you create testing scenarios and watch real-life users engage with your site.
What it’s good for: running remote, moderated usability testing. The results can be used to improve your site’s functionality and effectiveness. One survey respondent explained: “We run tests on new homepage and landing page designs to make sure the intent of the page is recognizable before launching it.”
What it is: Crazy Egg helps you understand the customer journey by generating heat maps and session recordings; it also includes an A/B testing feature.
What it’s good for: testing site changes and observing user actions. One expert said: “Their heat maps allows us to see user behavior and interests.”
Another component of user-driven analysis is using feedback and VoC tools to better understand who your users are and what they like, need, and prefer. The most common way to do it is via email, online, and on-site surveys.
What it is: SurveyMonkey bills itself as the world’s most popular online survey tool.
What it’s good for: our survey respondents used it for customer research and content surveys and to collect general feedback from their customers.
What it is: Intercom is a messaging platform that allows businesses to communicate directly with customers on their website, through social media, and through email.
What it’s good for: collecting content feedback from subscribers. One website cofounder used it for “live chat support during our trial experience.”
What it is: GetSiteControl offers pop-up widgets for your website to run surveys, collect feedback forms, gather email addresses, and use chat boxes.
What it’s good for: one of our survey participants singled out GetSiteControl as a great tool for running Net Promoter Score surveys.
What it is: it’s us again. Hotjar offers several user feedback tools including surveys and pop-up polls to place on your website pages.
What it’s good for: Hotjar is great for gathering feedback from your users, whether it’s customer experience scores like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES) Experience, or in-depth demographic and psychographic data.
In fact, the survey results for this article were gathered using Hotjar!
A good SEO strategy is the bedrock of most organic traffic plans, which require a comprehensive SEO analysis of the following:
Ahrefs and SEMrush were tied for the most popular SEO tool identified by our experts, but a few other specialty tools were also singled out.
What it is: Ahrefs is a suite of SEO tools that help you grow your search traffic and monitor trends in your niche.
What it’s good for: the most popular use cases identified for Ahrefs were keyword research, competitive analysis, and article and site performance tracking over time. It also comes recommended when you want to target other websites for strategic link building.
What it is: SEMrush calls itself an all-in-one marketing tool kit that allows users to audit their sites, perform keyword research and backlink analysis, and research keywords.
What it’s good for: most survey respondents mentioned SEMrush as the best tool for conducting keyword research, tracking SERP positions, and analyzing competitor’s SEO profiles.
What it is: BrightEdge is an SEO platform and content performance management software that helps you build a keyword strategy and then monitor its performance over time.
What it’s good for: while not as popular as the first two tools, BrightEdge was mentioned by several participants as an essential tool for tracking keyword and page rankings over time. It’s also useful for obtaining keyword recommendations for optimizing content and planning future strategy.
What it is: this SEO Spider tool lets you crawl your website’s URLs and find errors, such as 404s and duplicate content, while also analyzing individual page metadata and tags.
What it’s good for: some of the most important functions the experts mentioned for Screaming Frog were website crawling, identifying site errors, investigating competitors, and checking tag accuracy.
What it is: Clearscope uses the power of AI to help you optimize your content to perform well in search.
What it’s good for: Clearscope can help fine-tune your written content to compete better in search. One content marketing manager said: “We use Clearscope to make sure our articles are hitting on the right keywords to try and increase our likelihood of ranking. This also can help us identify search intent for certain keywords.”
A website that loads slowly can drive away users and hurt search rankings. Website performance analysis can help you determine if your site is loading slower than average, and why. Making sure your site is performing well includes analyzing the following:
There were a handful of reliable tools that were repeatedly mentioned for evaluating website performance.
What it is: GTmetrix tests your web speed using different browsers and locations and other variables. Then, it breaks down the results in minute detail.
What it’s good for: learning how fast your site is loading and where there's opportunity for improvement.
One of our experts said: “GTmetrix is my go-to for monitoring and analyzing page speed. The waterfall visual makes it easy to pinpoint what’s slowing down various pages on your site. It’s also easy to save GTmetrix reports in order to track changes over time.”
What it is: this tool monitors your website and notifies you when it goes down or when it slows down significantly.
What it’s good for: an easy system for monitoring downtime and testing page speed, Pingdom lets you get as high level or granular as you need in order to identify problems.
What it is: this is Google’s proprietary tool for analyzing and optimizing your web page for speed.
What it’s good for: one expert finds PageSpeed particularly useful for “assessing improvements in my page load speeds across various devices.”
You can’t get a complete view of your website without analyzing where it stands in relation to your competitors. Competitive analysis is the process of identifying and analyzing your competitors to assess threats and opportunities, including:
What it is: as mentioned above, Ahrefs is an SEO analysis suite of tools that lets you analyze your competitor’s sites in addition to your own.
What it’s good for: learning what keywords your competitors rank for and how much traffic they generate, and developing a strategy to challenge their keyword dominance (through either paid or organic search).
What it is: this is another SEO analysis suite that allows you to examine your competitor’s search traffic and most fruitful keywords.
What it’s good for: using its position tracking tool to monitor your competitors’ daily search rankings, or comparing your keyword profiles with the keyword gap tool.
What it is: SimilarWeb lets you analyze any website or app for information about its traffic data, SEO rankings, and audience demographics.
What it’s good for: getting a peek behind the curtain at your competitor’s traffic data and customer base.
What it is: reading real-time, unbiased user reviews about software and service companies.
What it’s good for: gaining insight into what real users like and dislike about your competitors (as well as your own product).
What it is: the tool allows you to look up a site and get an instant competitive analysis report, which is based on data about the site and its top four competitors.
What it’s good for: one expert said, “I use it most often to find SEO and content opportunities by seeing top keywords driving traffic to competitors, but not to me.”
Now that you know what the experts prefer, how do you pick the right tools for your website analysis work?
By trial and error, mostly.
Try on different tools to see what you find easy to use and what presents you with the most actionable data. A few of the ones we mentioned have free plans that you can sign up for, including Hotjar—you can use a free forever plan by clicking on the box below, and simply play around to find what works for you.