Alternatives to Site Overlay


In a post from last week, I talked about some of the shortcomings of Site Overlay. If understanding what visitors click on on your site is interesting to you, but Site Overlay doesn’t quite fit the bill, here are a couple of alternative recommendations.



CrazyEgg is a tool that’s designed to track what visitors click on. It will give you an overlay view similar to Google Analytics’ Site Overlay, as well as heatmap and “confetti” views showing where users clicked. The heatmap shows a “hot and cold” overview of the page, shading from blue to red, while the confetti viewYou can also get a list view of the raw data that can be exported into a spreadsheet.

CrazyEgg installs just like Google Analytics, with a simple Javascript snippet that gets copied into the pages you want to track. It lets you block internal visitors (by IP address or by special URLs).

CrazyEgg used to offer a limited free plan, but unfortunately they seem to have nixed that. Pricing starts at $9/month and is based on the number of visits and pages you want to be able to track.



ClickTale is another tool for tracking how visitors interact with a page, and it does some really cool things. It basically records all the mouse movements a visitor executes on your pages. Then it takes that data and provides reports that tell you things like where people hover, how many of them eventually click, where do they hesitate, and so on. It can show you things like how far down the page visitors tend to scroll, and how many fields in a form visitors fill out, whether they skip some fields, hesitate, etc. And you can even watch recordings of interaction — kind of like an informal, no-audio user test of your site.

ClickTale is also a Javascript tag-based tracking solution and offers several alternatives for blocking internal visitors. ClickTale offers a free plan for up to 400 pageviews per month. Paid plans start at $99/month.

An Example

Here’s an example of a question about a website that only using a tool like one of these could help answer. RedZone Robotics was interested in visitor behavior on their Contact Us page. The page includes a form to submit contact information and a lookup of sales representatives’ contact information based on your geographic region — both of which are tracked by goals in Google Analytics. But we were interested in people who abandoned the page without completing either of these goals.

We installed ClickTale to use its form analytics reports to see if we could understand what was going on — maybe people were turned off by filling in one of the form fields, for example.

What we found turned out to be entirely a surprise. People weren’t filling out the form, but when we watched the video, what we saw was the following?


They highlighted the phone number and clicked — they were copying and pasting the phone number from the site! The Contact Us page was a gateway to leads that came in via telephone, in a way we couldn’t have measured without a tool like ClickTale.

Other Alternatives

There are a number of other tools that offer heatmaps and similar click-tracking functions out there, including ClickDensity and Pagealizer. If you know of more, or have specific recommendations about particular tools, leave them in the comments.


Jonathan Weber is our Data Evangelist, focusing on bringing the strategic value of data analysis to our customers. He spreads the principles of analytics through our training seminars and even wrote a book on Google Analytics & Tag Manager. Before he caught the analytics bug, he worked in information architecture. Away from the computer, you can find him as a flower farmer and plant geek.

  • Mike

    Is there anyway to use these tools on an AJAX intensive site? Thanks. Mike

  • CrazyEgg will record all the clicks, regardless of whether they go to AJAX elements or other elements. However, if the elements were inserted dynamically after the page loaded, CrazyEgg may not be able to tell you where exactly they clicked.

    I do know that ClickTale has an API that you can call to manually assign clicks to elements, which could be useful for AJAX elements that are dynamically inserted.

  • Mark

    Great article! I’ve found this website called codynamix they are offering free accounts, but it seems pretty basic at the moment. The clickmap was generated overnight without any problem. it could be worth a look.

  • thank you for sharing.

  • Cool article. But you’re missing one very important tool: More or less the same features as ClickTale, but a lot cheaper to use.


  • DrsMgmt

    Thanks for this post. Very helpful.

    I’m cleaning up a very messy site that has a content mgmt system that a lot of people used to add a lot of links/info.

    Anyway, I was very excited that GA SO would be helpful in this process, but my bubble has been burst.

    Thanks for presenting alternatives!

  • Here’s another heatmap tool for you: EhaviorClick™

    Ehavior gives you the first 2000 clicks for free so that you can try it out and be convinced.

  • Peter Sile

    Shame our service SeeMyVisits wasn’t included as an alternative to Site Overlay. Worth checking out as it includes mouse recording playback and heatmaps (scroll, eye tracking and click).

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