Blog Stats Software Reviews – Introduction

One of the things we try to impress upon bloggers is the need to monitor your stats so you know how well your blog is performing and its overall “health”. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the blog tracking software available.

Types of tracking

There are a few types of stats packages out there

  • Client Side – these use Javascript code in your template to track visitors and page views. Plus point being you do not need access to your server log files and non-human visits are largely ignored. A big plus is the stats tend to be real-time or near enough real-time. Minus point is you often do not get information for when search engines have visited, the stats can be quite lightweight and you need to trust the stats company. One minus often raised might be or may not be an an issue – people with javascript disabled – some packages do get around this with “noscript” code but if not perhaps it is worth having a main package and a backup if you are worried. Most people do use Javascript though.
  • Server Side – server side stats packages are either modules that you install into your blog software or are software that reads and analyses your server log files. Log analysis can either be offline or run as a server process every night or monthly. Most hosting packages have at least some sort of log analysis but the quality varies greatly.
  • RSS – To get a good picture of what is going on with your blog you also need to look at your subscriptions. Tracking RSS is notoriously difficult and log analysis does not work. A log file analyser will see each read of your “rss.xml” file (for example) and give you a hit count, but how do you know if “100 hits” is 100 individuals or one person downloading 100 times? Dedicated RSS tracking services do their best to get around these problems.
  • Advertising – All the advertising systems have their own stats but you need a little more usually to get a complete picture. In this context we are talking from a publisher point of view as of course advertisers also have stats packages. Adsense has the most support from third party systems and they all aim to fill in the gaps the Google control panel does not provide. Most are advertised promising to help you earn more and many people claim they do just that.

Review Criteria

There are very few products aimed just at bloggers. They mostly tend to lump all websites together. Some are way too corporate or industrial strength, few bloggers will need the sort of ecommerce and advertising campaign bias.

Cost is a big issue. Only a small number of bloggers will have a big enough budget to play in the commercial software market so cheap or free is important.

Simplicity is a must. I think bloggers are far more likely to use something that is easy, but more importantly LOOKS easy. Not necessarily pretty, but looks are important too.

Quick view summary pages are a good feature. Something where you can just refresh and show most of the key information.

The registration/install process. You don’t want to spend all day and require a PHD just to get the thing working.

Counting outgoing clicks is an interesting metric that not all manage to provide. There is one package that specialises in only measuring outbound clicks.

So what packages are in the market?

To begin with for the first phase I am going to concentrate on the following client side services with a follow up series for the log analysers and advertising solutions.

  1. Sitemeter
  2. Statcounter
  3. Mint
  4. MyBlogLog
  5. Google Analytics

if someone can get me onto the beta for MeasureMap I will include this also!

Have I missed your favourite?

This is where you come in, is there a service I have missed out? Let me know and I will add it to the list!

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