Technology

Blog Stats Software Reviews – SiteMeter

In this first post of our blog stats package reviews let’s see if the aging SiteMeter still stands up to the new kids on the block.

The What’s New page has the SiteMeter service going back to 1998. That’s quite a long time in internet years. At first glance the service doesn’t seem to have moved on very much but looking at the additions it has been looked after over those years. They do though have a blog so you can keep updated with news on the service. Looking at the blog actually it seems more of a “he” (David Smith) than a “they”, quite an achievement.

Sign-up

Joining is though a multi-page wizard kind of affair. Although a bit “spammy” (optin lists and advertisements) it is easy enough. There are instructions for quite a few popular blog packages but anyone using a service that isn’t listed but has access to paste HTML and Javascript into their template should have no problems, in fact if you can only add HTML source is provided that just uses a dynamic image to provide stats.

Signing up

A little spammy

Instructions for popular software

Appearance

This is the epitome of KISS and a direct contrast to the many “industrial strength” analytics packages out there. It is by no means pretty, in fact you would probably describe it as “cheap and cheerful”. First impressions are not great, they could do with calling in a great designer.

Fees and service levels

The service comes in two versions, a free account and a $6.95 a month or $59 a year option. The biggest difference between them is the level of reporting, the free version must show the SiteMeter button image and only remembers the details of the last 100 visitors. Having said that the paid version only remembers the last 4,000 visitors so a highly trafficked blog might be losing out even if they pay. The free version is so light on information it isn’t really worth considering so we will look at what is available on the fee service.

Reports

There is a nice brief snapshot of your traffic on the summary page. This shows your total and average visits and pages and a real nice touch is wherever visits or page views are mentioned the same colours are used throughout. This consistency shows a care and attention to detail.

Pretty much everything is there, but a big omission is unique visitors and return visitors. This is probably down to the constraint of only storing x number of visitors. It’s a statistic that advertisers want to see and makes “visits” more meaningful. For example you could have a small number of visitors skewing your visit figures if they visit multiple times a day. Return visitors would give an indication of your sites stickiness.

The rest looks exactly as you would want with referring sites, entry and exit pages, etc and it all seems clear enough. No blog specific information is collected, this is generic webmaster stuff.

Summary

So it all looks pretty basic but is quite a serviceable little package. It is quite an achievement for what seems to be a one person operation. Having said that it does need a designers touch and I can’t help but feel it is a little lacking. With a bit of investment I am sure it could really rock.

Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

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