Hello folks, I am seriously considering removing all Google properties , Analytics, Webmastertools (or whatever they call it) from all my properties due to an event I can't disclose right now. Can members suggest alternatives to Google analytics and webmastertools. Else I'll go blind.... :)
I would suggest you think twice before making any changes. Not because Google is the best solution. We all want to make the best business decisions and when we are frustrated or angry we rarely make the wisest decisions for our businesses.
It is easy to complain about Google Analytics but we all need to remember its free and you kinda get what you pay for. So what alternatives are there? It depends do you want free or paid? Then do you want real-time or log based or something else? You can consider Yahoo [developer.yahoo.com...] or Kissmetrics or something else. If you want to go crazy and have over $10,000/year there are some really fun analytical tools but I doubt we are talking about those options.
As for Google Webmaster Tools, there is no real alternative to this inside information. Only Google webmaster tools can give you a snapshot of your backlinks and queries from Google's perspective. There are other marketing tools that try to imitate this but it is never as accurate. For example Majestic & Moz can give you backlink data but its not backlink data from Google's perspective.
Thanks goodroi for the time being I'm keeping analytics until users suggest a suitable alternative.
Webmastertools is now gone, I would suggest all webmasters delete this, the event was a test to the honesty of webmaster search console and my personal googler on mentor.corp.google.com and they failed abysmally. More details soon.
[edited by: goodroi at 11:48 pm (utc) on Oct 10, 2017] [edit reason] Let's be careful to keep the discussion on a professional level [/edit]
If you are moderately tech savvy and have access to your raw server logs, that is the best way to get actual data without being "interpreted" by stats (analytics) software.
Download your log a couple times per day and manually examine it with a text editor. In time you learn what to look for. Investigate who and where your visitors come from, and what they do on your website.
If you find looking at a raw log overwhelming, once it is on your local machine you can process it with Analog [mirror.reverse.net] which is free, accurate & highly customizable web log analysis software.
Helpful links regarding what to look for in the logs:
I promised myself 5 years ago that I would never comment again on these forums. Well, I felt this would help you @seoskunk. A few months back I changed from GA to Clicky. I wasn't thinking about any Google conspiracy or anything. I just wanted heatmaps and since I was going to have to pay for them, I chose Clicky.
1 week after switching, I received a pretty substantial site wide rankings boost on all 3 of my domains. 1 is informational, 2 are niche affiliate sites.
Of course my observations are anecdotal, however there was not any chatter of an update at the time.
Since that time, traffic throttling, if there is such a thing, has not happened nor has there been as wide of fluctuations and my morning and evening traffic are closer to normal ranges that I experienced years ago.
Concerning GSC, I am not sure there is an alternative. In fact, I am not sure how much data you are giving to Google by using it. The only data is your user data and your sitemap. Even then, I have not found having a sitemap to be all that beneficial as long as you have good site structure.
Anyways, I love your insights. You have been spot on when thinking outside the box on some of these claimed updates.
Have you looked at Yandex Metrica?. It's free and has some great features like heat maps [metrica.yandex.com ]. I've never used it though, so I don't know how it exactly stacks up against Google Analytics.
Is there a relationship between wmt and analytics? I mean an intrinsic connection, other than that both happen to be currently available from google.
At least three major search engines* have webmaster tools, and they're not mutually exclusive. The more the merrier, since they don't directly affect your site functionality. A lot of times one of the three will mention some bit of information that the other two don't bother with.
How often you download and process raw logs obviously depends on the size of your site. I run my test site's logs once a month (really).
* I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there also exists a Baidu Webmaster Tools.