Adding More Statistic Tracking

Yesterday was a busy day working on Chasing a Dream in the background. So busy, I didn’t get to write any posts! I’ll try to make up for that a little today. What I was busy doing was adding some additional web statistic tracking applications and merging old accounts into one at Google Analytics.

After running into one of Darren Rowse’s post at ProBlogger, What Blog Metrics Packages Do You Use? on how he tracks his stats, I decided to try some of his suggestions. It also led to other options too.

I wasn’t interested in SiteMeter, primarily as it required the stats to be public. Once my numbers improve, I’d be happy to share, but I want it to be my choice. See below for more info on my plans to share. I just saw a comment from Michael on Darren’s post telling how you can make SiteMeter stats private… might have to go back and try it! Update: after reviewing the SiteMeter site, I realized this is only for the paid version. We will revisit this in the future.

I’m already using Google Analytics, however I decided to cleanup some of my data last week by putting both my site and my old under the same account. I wish I had realized I could have done multiple sites under the same account sooner! It would have saved the need for downloading the data from the old account for archival purposes. Of course, I could go back and login, but it’s not convenient and it’s old data. But, I do want to keep it for long-term analysis. So, I downloaded the data and saved it in an Excel file for archival record and merging & comparison with the new site. For fun, I created a graph of the stats for the period I had which was only since October 2006. (I was going to give you a shot of the graph… but, Excel decided to keep crashing. Maybe later…)

I reviewed the metrics package provided by Media Temple, my host, which is Urchin. If you are not aware, Urchin is the predecessor of Google Analytics, and if you look at both side by side you can see the relationship. However, Google Analytics is much more detailed. So, I’ve decided I can pretty much ignore those stats. Besides, the numbers that I receive from my host are based on the logs which merges all my sites, and Urchin does not give a break down of them by site. On top of that, they seemed really out-of-line with the GA numbers. On the very high side, which would have been nice, but not realistic. I think they are a strictly file-based count, so one hit to a WordPress page gives you all the hits for each include page that is used to construct it. That’s not a realistic way to get numbers today. The JavaScript ‘bug’ that is used for Google and the other systems I installed below are much more reliable. Though you do depend on the user having JavaScript turned on or enabled for the Google Analytics site. (I use the NoScript plug-in for FireFox which disables JavaScript unless I explicitly allow it. I globally allow the Google Analytics servers.) So, those numbers may be on the low side. The other point is how does it track robots since they generally don’t execute javascript… I’ll save that for another post.

While I was there, I did setup my local client to download my raw logs so I can do off-line intensive analysis in the future. This is how I process web logs at the university I work for, using Analog. I have raw logs back over six years! Analog is the creation of Dr. Stephen Turner, the CTO of ClickTracks. Once I achieve a little income from this blog, I will be investing in ClickTracks, which starts at $25/month.

I’ve also added 103Bees… it looks like it will be interesting as well.

Somewhere along the way, I ran into StatCounter and decided to try that too.

I’ll give them all a month to gather some numbers, then give you a recap. I have no intention of keeping them all! I’d go crazy since they don’t always agree with each other. I’ll try to analyze and see which one’s are the most useful as far as a quick overview, and which for a detailed analysis.

As mentioned in a few of the ProBlogger comments, there are also my FeedBurner stats. I’ve been running them from Day 1 too. Subscriber numbers are of extreme importance to a blog when not all visitors actually visit your blog to read it.

As I mentioned above, once I have more significant numbers, I would be willing to share here. I can imagine there might come a time where I might stop doing so for privacy considerations–so my competitors don’t know how good (or bad!) I’m doing. However, I’m generally in favor of transparency, so I will save that evaluation for the future. But, I can say now that I understand other blogger’s choices to both be open with their stats, or not. It’s their choice. And mine. Stay tuned for more details on these packages as the numbers roll in! I will also probably evaluate a few others I was introduced to while reading Darren’s post comments.

4 Replies to “Adding More Statistic Tracking”

  1. Seems like you’re mostly just tracking stats.

    I’m one of the two developers of the current CrazyEgg. You should try it out too, it’ll help if you ever decide to redesign your site.

    Set a baseline of site usage and then test alternative layouts to see if you can improve peoples flow through your site.


  2. Yes, I am only tracking stats with these current applications. They do show what articles, and thus subjects, are popular. Also, the search terms used to find them is very interesting. I forgot to mention it–I guess I’ll have to add another post later–that I signed up for HitTail. It will be an interesting experiment in looking at search terms used.

    Thanks for pointing me to CrazyEgg, Thomas! I’ve signed up and am trying it on my home page to see the navigation usage. Note, I think you need some directions on how to add your code to a single page (rather than a whole site template footer). I added it to the footer and wrapped a little php around it using is_home() so it will only appear on the home page. I’m assuming since it is designed to be used on a single page at a time, it might not like being loaded from a ‘wrong page’, or at the very least it would be doing work when not needed.

  3. Put the code anywhere and everywhere, we can handle it.
    It’s smart enough to know where it is and only activate itself on pages that you are currently testing in your CrazyEgg Dashboard.

  4. Guess I was thinking about it too much… 🙂

    Interestingly, after one night, it is leading me to put it on a second page, Web Site Management Tools & Techniques, which is a summary page of posts in the general topic area. I had thought about doing that page, as well as the archive page when I initially set it up. Then decided to start with one page to get a feel for it.

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