Free Tools for Web Analytics, Search, Social Media & Competitive Analysis

Last week I was on a “Measuring Success” panel at PR+MKTG camp in Seattle. Someone from the audience asked if there were any tools for a newbie to start measuring PR & Marketing efforts and learning. I uttered the names a few tools that came to my mind.

Considering that there might be many others in the same situation I decided to write this blog post. In this post I am listing some of the tools that you can start using for free. Please note that this is not the most comprehensive list of the free tools.

Side Note: All the panelists unanimously agreed that you need to first figure out your measurement needs based on your business requirements and KPIs and then find the tools that meet your needs. One of the biggest mistakes most companies make is that they pick the tools first and then try to modify their measurement needs according to the tools they have in place.

However, I recognize that someone who is not familiar with the various measurement tools needs some exposure to the tools to really think about the questions they might want to ask before making an investment in a paid tools.

With that, here is the list of tools that you can start using today for free:

Web Analytics

For monitoring the on-site behaviors of your users and the performance of your site, use the following free tools
  1. Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics
  2. Yahoo Web Analytics – http://analytics.yahoo.com/

Search

Use the following search tools to learn what keywords your customer/potential customers are searching for so that you can optimize your site accordingly.
  1. Google Adwords Keyword Tool - https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
  2. SEOMOZ has set of Free tools - http://www.seomoz.org/tools
  3. Google Webmaster Central – Provides you data on how your sites in crawled and indexed by Google.
  4. Bing Webmaster Center - Provides you data on how your sites in crawled and indexed by Bing.
  5. Google Trends - http://www.google.com/trends
  6. Google Insight for Search - http://www.google.com/insights/search/#

Social Media

I already mentioned two tools in my blog post titled “Free Social Media Monitoring Tools for Small Businesses”, here they are again (and two new ones) :
  1. Google Alerts – http://www.google.com/alerts
  2. SM2 by Techrigy – http://sm2.techrigy.com/
  3. Twitter Search – http://search.twitter.com/
  4. Yelp.com – Good for small and medium size businesses. Find out what customers are saying about you and your competitors.
Here are some more but I have not used all of them, http://mashable.com/2008/12/24/free-brand-monitoring-tools/

Competitive Analysis

Want to know how your competitors are doing compared to you? Use some of the tools listed below. Keep in mind that all of these tools use different ways to collect the data and hence the actual data you get from one tool will differ from the other but overall it should provide you good competitive information.
  1. Search and Social Media Tools – Many of the tools listed above can provide you competitive information as well. E.g. Set SM2 to monitor the keywords that describes your competitor and you can start to see what customers are saying about your competitors
  2. Alexa - http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo
  3. Compete - http://www.compete.com/
  4. Quantcast - http://www.quantcast.com/
  5. Google Trends for Websites - http://trends.google.com/websites
  6. Google Ad Planner - http://www.google.com/adplanner. Here is my review of Google Ad Planner

Like, I mentioned above this is not the most comprehensive list but it should get you started. Do you have a favorite free tool that is not on this list? Leave a comment on this blog post or send me an email with the name of the tool.

Comments? Questions?


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