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Blog Statistics Packages

A number of bloggers have recently asked me to write something about statistics packages – particularly to talk about the stats systems that I use and what features in them that I analyse.

I’m happy to do so but I’m not sure how unique my opinion will be. Perhaps it could make a good discussion – so consider this an ‘open mike’. What stats packages do you use on your blog? How do you use them? Which features do you look at most frequently? Share your thoughts in comments below.

My statistics habits

I use two statistics packages on most of my blogs. Both give me slightly different information – both have their strengths and weaknesses and working together give me a pretty decent understanding of what is going on in my blogs on a daily but also a longer term level.

Sitemeter – this is a free statistics package (unless you upgrade to unlock some of the premium features) that I use to check my daily statistics. It’s strength is that it is easy to install and gives a snapshot of each blog quickly. As I start a new blog I sign up for a new sitemeter counter so each blog has its own independent stats. Let me take you through it’s features using ProBlogger.net as an example (you can do this any time by clicking the little colored square at the bottom my blog which I keep open to the public – I have nothing to hide).

Summary Page – The stats I check on this page at least once per day are:

• Average Per Day – this is an average of the last 7 days unique visitors.

• Last Hour - I like this one as it tells me at a glance how the site performed very recently.

• Today - today’s unique visitors.

Each of these stats can be viewed per unique visitors or page views. I tend to look mainly at unique visitors.

Referrals Page - This page gives you a snapshot of where the last 20 visitors of your site came from. At the bottom of the last 20 referrals are links to 5 other pages giving you access to the last 100 visitors site of referral. This tells you who is sending your traffic. Knowing this is useful in building relationships and tracking conversations. You’ll see a lot of mine are ‘unknown’ (depending on when you view this) – this means it could be news aggregator, bookmarks or email referrals.

Daily Graph - This doesn’t really tell me much useable information – but is interesting. Patterns do become obvious from day to day though. You can also see it with page views and unique visitors.

Monthly Graph – This tracks the last month’s daily totals. I find this a more useful graph as it identifies patterns and trends (ie like weekly rhythms – how a series of posts might be affecting stats etc). Again you can view it with page views.

Yearly Graph - Handy for tracking the big picture stuff. Not so useful after just a few months but after 12 months it can be quite interesting to track seasonal events like Christmas. Here is the page views one.

Entry Pages - I find this very useful – it gives me an idea of which posts are ‘hot’ today as it tracks which page people are entering my blog on. Usually my home page is the biggest one – but there is usually one or two posts that are bigger than others which gives me some indication of what is working and what is not. Again this tracks the last 100 visitors entry pages.

These are the main pages that I check using Sitemeter – these give me a quick handle on what is going on at any given time. Sitemeter has other features which I check from time to time like Time Zones (which graphs where in the world the last 100 visitors are viewing the site from) but I don’t tend to view the other features too often.

You’ll notice a little lock icon next to some features which are locked because I have not upgraded to the premium version. I haven’t done this simply because my web hosting comes with another stats package that gives me a much more comprehensive statistics package called AWStats.

I won’t show you the inner workings of this package except to say that these statistics are more accurate and comprehensive. They don’t just show the last 100 visitors details but capture a whole months and store previous months. They have pretty much everything Sitemeter has on a larger scale however the way my host has theme set up they only update once per day and doesn’t really give you a quick snapshot like the sitemeter stats do.

I tend to use AWStats on a less frequent basis (weekly and monthly) to track the bigger picture trends.

Lastly – the only other statistics package that I’ve used id Extreme Tracking. This is another free service that many bloggers use. It has similar features to Sitemeter – however I don’t find it quite as comprehensive.

So – now lets turn this over to the wise and experienced ProBlogger readership. I know there are plenty of other stats packages out there – a few of the owners of them have been trying to get me to try some out recently but I’ve stayed with the tried, true and familiar so far – but I’m curious about what stats packages do you use and recommend? How do you use them? Which features do you look at most frequently?

Update: A few wise readers have pointed out another advantage of systems like AWStats – the fact that it tells you the words that people are using to search for your blog with. ie it gives you the top individual words and phrases that people type into Google, Yahoo!, MSN etc to end up at my page. This is incredibly valuable information.

SiteMeter gives you this information if you updgrade – and you can get it indirectly by looking at your referral pages and clicking on the links – but AWStats is much more comprehensive on this. The only down side of AWStats keyword tool is that you can only really view it on a monthly period and not a daily one.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Kyle says:

    I use awstats (http://awstats.sourceforge.net) and it works really well for my admittedly limited needs. On the front page, I can see traffic trends in the current month and for the last several months, browser and OS shares, popular pages, and keywords from search engines that have sent me traffic. Plus it’s written in Perl and is pretty easy to extend and modify on your own.

  2. Tinus says:

    PPHLogger still works fine for me!

  3. Allen Heat says:

    my only problem with awstats is that i can’t exclude my visits, and i can’t view how many UNIQUE visitors enterd DAILY.

    Heat

  4. Tim Flight says:

    You can exclude your own visits in Awstats. In your awstats configuration file look for the SkipHosts directive. SkipHosts=”192.168.1.1″ for example, but use your own public IP address.

  5. I use StatCounter (http://www.statcounter.com/) to track my site. Pretty good for tracking real users (as opposed to non-javascript spambots) and it provides a large number of very cool stats. Premium features are unlocked at a reasonable price.

    smp

  6. I use webalizer (http://www.mrunix.net/webalizer/) mostly because it’s what I set up a while back. AWStats looks much better, actually, but the big chore of setting it up on some busy sites has made me put it off…

  7. Daniel Neamu says:

    There’s BBclone (http://bbclone.de) out there also, which for an open source, text-based, non-database stats package is very good.

  8. AWStats is far and away my favourite, for ease of customization and detail of information presented. The only problem is that AWStats counts pageviews differently than any other app, so I find them off by about 50%. I use Webalizer for pageviews.

    That said, I also exclude RSS views from pageviews in both Webalizer and AWStats, and generate an RSS report manually.

  9. Rob Lewis says:

    I use a script I wrote myself, and whilst it can’t do half of the things that the packages mentioned above can do, it allows me to see the things I am most interested in – page views, referrals and search engine keywords. I can also make sure it is only counting pages i’m really interested in tracking (not admin pages etc) and I can exclude myself by using a cookie.

    Another benefit of doing it myself is that I have been able to have a single page to pull in stats from several different sites, with links to go to the full stats if I need greater detail.

  10. colbert says:

    i am trying out http://www4.addfreestats.com as it can track adsense links. So far loggin in to my account has not been very successful…

  11. Vix says:

    I use sitemeter and awstats. I look at entry and exit pages.

    What I like about Awstats is that you can check what keywords people are using to get to my site.

    For referrals I’ve been using refer 2.0 from http://textism.com but these days I find that most referrals are spam ones.

  12. Andrew says:

    I use StatCounter, and am pretty happy with it so far in terms of seeing how vistors get to my blog, what pages get most hits, etc.
    It doesn’t give me feed stats, which leads me to ask:
    - Jeremy, could you say a little about you generate your RSS report?
    Darren, how do you get stats on your feed?

  13. Darren Rowse says:

    Stats on my feeds are harder.

    i do use feedburner on a couple of my blogs that give some stats – other than that I don’t get much information on feeds and probably should look more into this.

  14. Duncan Riley says:

    Got to be awstats for me, Ive used sitemeter on blogs in the past, and am running it on one blog now and I just don’t trust them in terms of accuracy, for example awstats from my server log shows 3x as many search engine clickthrus (with the words used) compared to sitemeter.

  15. SmartMoney says:

    Thanks Steven,

    I’ve had statscounter running on my site for the past 24 hours and it is a BIG improvement over awstats. Can’t believe it is free. Much better info than I had been receiving.

  16. AWStats is the one I use – mainly because it’s already there in my hosting package (nothing to set up etc.,) – The best part of it is checking what keywords/phrases are being used in searches. It’s great to see how ordinary people (not seo types ;-) search the web – it’s surprising what I, as a webmaster think are good keyw/phrases to what real people think.

  17. Doubleletter says:

    I started using http://www.blogpatrol.com for my blog. It’s very nice. It shows referrals, unique visitors, I can exclude my visits by ‘banning’ my IP [if its fixed, of course], browsers, and all the usual info…

  18. Patra Roman says:

    AWstats uses tracking cookies as you well know. Most computer-savvy people are not at all happy with tracking cookies on their own machines, I wonder if you clean yours off but expect others to put up with you putting one on their machine?

  19. Patra Roman says:

    AWstats uses tracking cookies as you well know. Most computer-savvy people are not at all happy with tracking cookies on their own machines, I wonder if you clean yours off but expect others to put up with you putting one on their machine?

  20. dig says:

    My website uses StatCounter: it’s what I can can name “perfect”: does a good and neat job!

  21. Rebecca says:

    Has anyone had any luck setting up bbclone to work with wordpress blogs?

  22. I use Mint and absolutely love it. It’s fast and very easy to use.

  23. Richard says:

    GoStats has released a great WP plug-in for easily installing the powerful GoStats web stats into your blog. If you haven’t used GoStats before you’ll be plesantly surprised with the level of reporting that you get with the free version.
    Wordpress Plug-in: http://counterblog.gostats.com/how-to-install-a-gostats-hit-counter-using-wordpress-plugins
    Direct signup: http://monster.gostats.com

  24. slick willy says:

    1) awstats does not use cookies.
    2) awstats can generate daily stats, using -databasebreak=day

  25. Snooper says:

    Does anyone can tell me what kind of free website visitors tracker will exclude my visits on the website. I have used many of them and it confuses me always with my details… I learned well all the staff about my browser, and for change I’d like to stop seeing that any more. The thing is even worse ’cause I haven’t static IP address and tracker count my visit every next time.
    Thanx a lot…

  26. The wes-stats account gives different stats then my cpanel traffic stats

    what’s wrong

    can someone help me

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