Options for Tracking Data on Your WordPress Site
You have a lot of options when it comes to tracking data on your WordPress site. Google Analytics is the most popular tool, but several options are available. Analytics is popular because of its widespread use, the amount of content written on how to maximize it, and the fact that it’s free.
Here are three popular tools:
- StatCounter: StatCounter has both a free and a paid service. The paid service doesn’t kick in until you get to 250K page views a month.
StatCounter uses the log generated by your server and gives you the ability to configure the reports to fit your needs. If you want to use a log file, you need to have a self-hosted blog and to know where your log file is stored. StatCounter requires a little more technical knowledge than your average analytics app because you have to deal with your log file instead of cutting and pasting a line of code into your site. The main advantage of StatCounter is that it reports in real time, whereas Google Analytics always has a little bit of lag in its reporting.
- Jetpack: The Jetpack plugin provides a pretty good stat package for its hosted-blog users. Shortly after launching, WordPress.com provided a WordPress Stats plugin that self-hosted users can use. If you use this package, your stats appear on the WordPress Dashboard, but to drill down deeper into them, you need to access the stats on WordPress.com. The advantages of WordPress stats are that they are pretty easy to install and present a very simplified overview of your data. On the downside, they don’t drill as deep as Google Analytics, and the reporting isn’t as in-depth. Neither can you customize reports.
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics can seem overwhelming when you sit in front of it for the first time, but it has the most robust stats features this side of Omniture. (Omniture is an enterprise-level stats package, which is overkill if you’re a personal or small-business site owner.)
WordPress plugins bring a simplified version of Google Analytics to your WordPress Dashboard, much like the WordPress.com Stats plugin. If you feel overwhelmed by Google Analytics and prefer to have your stats broken down in a much more digestible fashion, this plugin is for you: It provides a good overview of analytics information, including goals that you can set up.
Although the plugin doesn’t offer everything that Google Analytics brings to the table, it provides more than enough so that you can see the overall health of your website and monitor where your traffic is coming from, what posts are popular, and how people are finding your website. Besides the Dashboard Stats Overview, this plugin gives you a breakdown of traffic to each post, which is a nice bonus.