Thursday, February 26, 2009

Google Analytics, Stat Counter or Site Meter?

Google Analytics

After signing up for Google Analytics, the best place to insert the tracking code is right before the </body> tag in your template. The tracking code does not display a visit counter or a Google Analytics graphic.

I originally had the Google Analytics tracking code inserted right before the </body> tag, when I decided to cut and paste it into a gadget. Unfortunately, I assumed that the Google Analytics tracking code hadn't been modified by Blogger. Not so. Blogger changed the double quotes into single quotes. I only discovered my error when Google Analytics reported zero visitors for the previous day. If you are moving the Google Analytics tracking code around, make sure you start with a fresh copy of it from your Google Analytics account. Finding that fresh copy is a bit clunky ... on the "Website Profiles" page, click the [Edit] link, then click the [Check Status] link in the top right.

Blocking your own IP address uses regular expressions and Google Analytics provides a page to quickly build the regular expression needed for an IP address range.

Google Analytics gathers tracking information on a day by day basis. Statistics are available only up to and including the previous day. Interesting to note, Google Analytics gathers a visitor's IP address, records the geographic location of the ISP associated with the visitor's IP address, and then discards the IP address. Google Analytics does not record visitor IP addresses.

Stat Counter

After signing up and creating a project, the Stat Counter tracking code can be inserted right before the </body> tag in your template or by using a Blogger HTML/Javascript gadget.

Blocking IP addresses, like your own, is simply a list of addresses using the "*" symbol as a wildcard.

Stat Counter gathers tracking information in real-time. The free version only retains detailed information on the last 500 visitors. However, Stat Counter can export the detailed visitor data to a CSV file. Tracking totals are retained indefinitely.

Site Meter Basic

Signing up for Site Meter Basic is slightly different than Google Analytics and Stat Counter. With Google Analytics and Stat Counter, you create an account and then, within that account, you create profiles/projects that allow you to track a website. With Site Meter Basic, each website tracked ... is the account. To sign up for Site Meter Basic is quicker and easier than Google Analytics and Stat Counter. Site Meter Basic leads you through a series of forms, emails the account/project name and password, and provides a bookmark link to quickly access the tracked site's statistics.

Site Meter Basic tracking code can only be inserted right before the </body> tag in your template. It cannot be inserted into a gadget ... correction, I could not get it to work as a gadget and Site Meter only recommends inserting it in before the </body> tag.

In Site Meter Basic, there is only the option to block your local sub-net.

Site Meter Basic gathers tracking information in real time. One feature that I really like, is the ability to view, in one page, all the information about a single visitor.

Initial reaction?

Google Analytics is ideally suited for a website that has large volumes of traffic. Detailed information is not available about a specific visitor.

The free version of Stat Counter is targeted at someone who has several smaller websites or blogs and would like to track down to the individual visitor, using a centralized console.

Site Meter Basic is targeted at someone who wants to add visitor tracking to their blog or personal web presence.


I'm keeping Stat Counter and Google Analytics!

Site Meter Basic ... is too clunky to administer multiple instances; is too clunky when trying to navigate the reporting console; and is too clunky when displaying graphics. Compared to Stat Counter and Google Analytics, Site Meter Basic is just ... you guessed it! Too clunky!

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