As I mentioned earlier today, I’ve been one of the alpha testers of Performancing’s new Metrics tool. We’ve been using it on a number of b5media blogs over the past couple of weeks (including ProBlogger) since Nick approached us with the opportunity.
I’d actually heard of the package previously in chatting with Nick a number of months back and from that time was very excited by what they were proposing to include in it for a number of reasons:
- It’s Blog-centric – While there are a number of free statistics packages out there I don’t know of too many comprehensive ones that are tailored specifically for blogs. This one is designed with bloggers as the primary user.
- It’s Light weight yet comprehensive - Google Analytics excited me as a package when it was first announced – but quickly disappointed me because of it’s slowness but also it’s complexity. I’m a simple guy and I like to be able to get a quick and easy picture of what’s going on in my blogs without having to go too deep. I do occasionally use Google Analytics for more in depth analysis but have found myself using SiteMeter more on a daily basis.
- It can integrate multiple blogs and networks – At b5media we’ve struggled with statistics packages from a network perspective. We want our bloggers to be able to view their stats but we also don’t want to overwhelm them with too much (ie they don’t need to see everyone’s stats). Also as network owners we want to be able to view everything at once. Performancing’s Metrics answer some of these issues.
- It integrates a variety of different types of statistics - I currently use Sitemeter to measure incoming metrics, MyBloglog to measure outbound metrics (ie where people are leaving my site to go to – this is a paid service) and have experimented with different scripts to measure how my readers are interacting with my AdSense (again these generally cost). Performancing’s Metrics attempts to bring these things together into one package – for free!
So when Nick asked us to test their alpha version I jumped at the chance. Here is my first impression review:
My initial installation experience of the package onto ProBlogger was pretty easy. All you have to do is copy and paste some code into your template and it will kick in.
My only problem with installation has been on getting it up and running on my MovableType blogs which are running on an older version. I’m yet to get them up and running – but this is partly due to my own time constraints.
With any new statistics package (or any blogging tool for that matter) there is always a period of acclimatization where you need to get into the rhythm of using it.
I’d be lying if I said I found my first impressions of Performancing Metrics as being ‘easy to use’. It has taken me some time to dig around and find out what everything does.
This is partly because it is in alpha and to this point there are no tutorials or help links to explain what it is that I’m looking at (hopefully these things will be added). I think a brief description (a sentence or two) on each statistic page might be useful in explaining what each page does and means for newbies – however even a tech dummy like me quickly worked out what everything did and meant (and that’s saying something).
The layout of the tools are pretty easy to use.
The statistics are broken down into the three main categories of ‘Visitors’, ‘Activity’ and ‘Marketing’. Each of these has a summary page and is then broken down into sub categories of statistics – each with their own page.
Most of these pages have the option for you to view statistics in a number of date formats (ie by ‘today’, ‘last week’, ‘last month’ or a date range etc). Some pages have graphs associated with them, others are more text based.
I’ll now turn to each page of statistics in turn and describe each one:
Once you enter a blog’s metrics page you’re confronted with the dashboard for Performancing’s Metrics. I’ve included a screen shot (click to enlarge) of ProBlogger’s dashboard below (note it is part of b5media’s stats – hence the ‘b5media tag top right).
The Dashboard is basically a summary page of the blog’s key statistics and includes three graphs (Visitors, Comments and Adsense Clicks) which can be viewed as 1, 2, 3 or 4 week’s stats.
Under the graphs are the three areas of statistics with hyper links to each sub page of statistics as well as details of your top 5 posts statistics on the blog (I’ve blurred those details – a guy has to have a few secrets :-) )
The ‘visitors’ summary page shows three bar charts that graph ‘Visits’ (total number of visitors), ‘Repeat Visitors’ and ‘New Visitors’ (screen cap below – click to enlarge). Each of these graphs show a number for today’s total visitors as well as the option to view the graph as 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks or 4 weeks of stats. Under the graphs are details of your last 5 visitors by IP address, Geography, Language, Browser, OS, Screen Resolution and referrer. All of this information is expanded in the following pages of stats.
visitor stats – on this page you get a graph that looks at a summary of your stats for what ever date period you’ve selected. It has a graph (a simple line graph) which plots ‘total views’, ‘sessions’, ‘repeat visitors’ and ‘new visitors’ over the time period selected.
Under this graph is more summary information for the date range selected in the following areas:
Average per Day
Average Visit Length (measured in minutes)
Return Visitors (a total number and a percentage of your total number of visitors)
Geography – this page has a bar graph that shows the top five countries from where your visitors have come from over the time period selected.
Underneath you’re given the same information in text statistics with both total numbers for each country and the percentage of the total statistics that this country represents. You are given the choice of viewing different numbers of countries in this section ranging from the ‘top 5′ through to ‘all’ (options are top 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and all).
Languages – This page functions exactly the same as the ‘Geography page’ except that it tracks the languages of readers.
Browsers – This page functions exactly the same as the ‘Geography page’ except that it tracks the browsers being used by readers (40% of you are using IE 6.0, 35% are on Firefox 1.5).
Platforms – This page functions exactly the same as the ‘Geography page’ except that it tracks the platforms being used by readers (88% of you seem to be on Win32 and only 9% have taste (Mac users :-) ).
Screen Resolution – This page functions exactly the same as the ‘Geography page’ except that it tracks the screen resolution that users are viewing your site with.
The Activity summary page gives some summary activity stats from the different sub categories. It has three bar charts across the top that plot ‘Post Views’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Posts Commented’. Each one can be viewed in a number of time frames ranging from 1 week to 4 weeks (screen cap below)
Under this is a summary of your last 5 comments by date/time, email of commenter, the post it was on and the author’s name (I’ve blurred details of those leaving comments below).
Post Views – This page has a line chart at the top which plots the total page views of your blog over the time period. Under the graph you get to track which posts are being viewed most. You have the option to see the Top 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 or all posts by total views and them as a percentage of total views. So as I look at this today I can see that 6% of page views at the moment are on my Blogging for Beginners series of posts with 5% viewing a post on my recent DoS attack.
Comments Posted – This page again has a line chart that tracks the numbers of comments left on your blog over a period of time. This is great to see as I’ve never had a visual on this before. Under the graph is a summary of the stats on your comments with a total number of comments for the period – your average per day and your average per post.
Comments by Post – Similar format here to the ‘Geography’ page in that it has a horizontal bar graph that shows the top 5 posts on your blog ranked by the number of comments (for the period of time selected). Under the graph is the option to view the ‘top’ posts (from top 5 to all again). So at a glance I can see that over the last week my post ‘Which Statistic is Most Crucial to Your Blogging’ has had 26 comments (7% of the total comments for the week just gone by).
Categories – This is the same format of page again. The graph plots which categories on your blog have had the most traffic in the period and the information underneath gives this information in text. Most popular category at ProBlogger is ‘Pro Blogging News’ (23%)which is where the majority of posts go. Second most popular is the AdSense one (16%).
The statistics in the ‘activity’ category are very blog specific as you can see. While you can get some of them from other stats packages or from your blog’s stats (if you use WordPress for instance) to have them side by side other stats is fantastic. For instance the comments stats are something you couldn’t ever get from SiteMeter. Very nice.
Like the other category summary pages this page has three verticle bar graphs across the top that track three stats from the category over 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks. These are ‘Adsense Clicks’, ‘Search Engines’ and ‘Outbound Links’. They also tell you the figures for ‘today’.
Under this you get the top 5 (also viewable in other numbers) referrers to your blog.
Here’s a screen cap from the Marketing page:
AdSense Clicks – This is a page I’m sure many will love as it tracks the pages on your blog that generate the most clicks via AdSense. The overall amount of AdSense clicks are tracked on a line chart at the top of the page and underneath you can view which pages (posts, front page, category pages – everything) generate clicks. So I can see that my front page actually gets more clicks than any other page on the blog (no surprises there) but that the number two ranked page is actually a single post that is quite old (it generates 22% of my blog’s clicks! ). That is very handy information to have!
These AdSense stats are pretty basic when you compare them to other tracking scripts that track not only pages of clicks but ad sizes and design etc – but this is a good start (I hope they add more features here later and am pretty sure taht they will).
Referrers – This page tracks how people come to your blog (ie the referring sites). This is graphed in a bar chard (ie the top 5 referrers) and then you have the option to view the top 5, 10, 20 etc by total numbers and percentages.
Search engines – This page tracks information on how people arrive to your blog via search engines. Graphed are the top 5 search terms people come to you looking for and under the graph are two types of information. Firstly you get a list of the top keywords and secondly you get a summary of which search engines are sending you traffic. ie here at Problogger 69% of SE traffic comes from Google.com, 6% is from Google.co.uk, 3% from Yahoo! etc.
Outbound Links – This last page looks at how people leave your blog. It graphs the top 5 links that they click on to get out (not including AdSense from what I can see). Under the graph is the normal ‘top’ list of links that they click. These are hyper linked so you can click them and visit those sites yourself.
These links include affiliate links that you might have linked to which is useful. I find that tracking outbound links is a very useful statistic on a number of fronts but mainly to track which positions on your blog work best for placement of key outbound links. ie I know on one of my blogs that one of the links in my sidebar gets a large percentage of clicks – obviously it’s in prime position and is using words that trigger action. As a result I’ve placed other important links in a similar position.
- I am impressed – especially considering that Performancing Metrics is in alpha! The basic feature set is great and will server bloggers well. The tools are quick to load and easy to navigate (once you get the hang of them).
- Stats seem to be updating every hour (so it’s not quite real time like SiteMeter – but it’s better than Google Analytics).
- I’m almost certain that they’ll add more features and suspect that they’ll open up the API for developers to come up with plugins.
- Areas that I’d love to see statistics added in include the ability to track RSS feeds, a more extensive AdSense tracking (and tracking of YPN, Chitika etc would be great of course too). These would make this package very well rounded and would mean that many bloggers could stop using a number of statistics packages and roll all their metrics into one.
- I’m also looking forward to seeing how they develop some overall stats for blog networks. At present all the blogs in our network have their stats sitting separately and there are no overall stats – but I can’t see why they can’t aggregate them together and give network wide stats for all of the above (which will be very handy).
I think this is a system that many bloggers are looking for and am certain it will be very popular. Well done to the team at Performancing!
update: Ahmed has written a preview of Performancing Metrics also.