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I’ve read too many blogs already on the awesomeness of Google Analytics’ Site Overlay click tracking tool. Yes, it’s a great tool, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s free, but is it really as reliable and accurate as many people seem to think it is? I asked some search marketing specialists, did some research into Google’s click tracking software and then into some other specialist click tracking software and found a few interesting pros and cons of each.
Google Analytics Site Overlay
The great thing about tracking clicks with Analytics’ site overlay is that if you have Analytics running on a site, you automatically have access to its click tracking software, there’s no need to pay for anything and EVERY page of your site is tracked automatically. You simply click on the “content” tab of your dashboard and you’ll be able to check out the hotspots for each page, as shown in the image below:
Image courtesy blog.stamats.com:
As you can see above, the image clearly indicates exactly what percentage of visitors to the page have clicked on each link. This is extremely useful for click tracking and does give a fairly good idea as to what people are clicking on when visiting this page.
The big problem with analytics click tracking is that it only tracks clicks referenced with the HREF tag. In addition to this, if you have two identical HREF tags on one page, it treats them as a singular link and assigns an equal percentage to the two, made up of the sum of both tags’ clicks. EG: IF you have a menu item with a link to your “Contact us” page, and then a button further down the page that links to “Contact us”, and both these HREF’s are identical, then they get treated as one link. If 30% of visitors click the menu link and 20% of visitors click the button further down the page, Google analytics click tracker calculates this as 50% of visitors are clicking the HREF for “contact us” and assigns this value (50%) to both links, thus not indicating to you which is more effective between the two links.
All the above flaws result in you not actually receiving an entirely accurate report of where people are clicking on your page and which could result in your making inaccurate conversion analysis decision.
Specialised click tracking software – crazyegg:
For the purpose of this comparison, I have decided to compare a click tracking utility with which I am well acquainted with. This is not a promotional tactic of any kind, I have personally just found that crazyegg provides what I need from a click tracking tool.
Basically, software such as crazyegg is that it tracks each and every click on a page. If a user clicks on an HREF link, a flash banner, an image that doesn’t actually link to anything or any other events that happen on a page, crazyegg tracks your clicks.
By tracking all clicks individually, you get a detailed click tracking report of where users are clicking and can therefore make a fully informed decision on how to better optimize your page for conversion. EG: if you notice that you have an image on the site that users constantly click on without realizing that it doesn’t actually link to anything, you can then ensure that you make the image clickable and link it to the most appropriate page. This is just one example in a sea of endless possibilities with such great click tracking software.
Some of the other benefits include the following:
- You can apply limits to the amount of clicks or visitors you wish to track
- You can view click tracking in different formats including a heatmap, individual clicks tracking, site overlay (similar to Google) and
- You can block certain visitors. Therefore if you don’t wish to track search engine traffic, or referrals from a particular site, you can block them from being tracked.
- Click tracking data is 100% live and up-to-date. You do not need to wait 24 hours to see a particular page.
Below is an example of a site overlay from crazyegg:
I suppose the biggest downfall would be the fact that most decent click tracking software programs are paid services. They’re minimal, starting from approximately $5 a month upwards, but they still require you to pay. A $5 package will entitle you to track about 10 pages. You will need to add click tracking code to each page individually which can also be a slightly tiresome task.
Google analytics’ site overlay does provide a good free service. HOWEVER, if conversion is of utmost importance to you and you need to really make a well informed decision on any design changes to a site or specific page, then it could be immensely beneficial to spend a minimal cost on some good click tracking software that could provide you with invaluable data.