May 4, 2006
Keeping tabs on blog stats
Though this blog is run on Movable Type, it is hosted on a server that I don't have access to (thank you to my kind friends at the University of Winnipeg who allow me to blogsquat there!), and I rely on a variety of third party applications to track site statistics. These aren't exactly 'new' tools, but they're definitely very useful. They are also free, with the caveat being that they're also in various stages of development.
But before I get to that, let's not get carried away with or discouraged by stats used as a measure of a blog's popularity or worthiness. Well, I suppose that would depend on your motivations and reasons for blogging in the first place (won't go there), but a number of newer bloggers have said things to me like 'nobody is reading my blog so why should I bother to put in the time and effort.' That's a whole other conversation altogether. But stats paint a picture, and it's not necessarily the only one (have I made my methodological bias glaringly apparent?) Stats can be very useful for highlighting posts that are getting attention (perhaps warranting an addition to the 'popular posts' category, etc), where your readers are coming from geographically, and ultimately how many hits you're getting a day. What they don't do as well is measure overall impact: that's much harder to capture.
This is an all-around great tool for capturing all kinds of stats. It's free, includes customizable cut n' paste scripts for pretty much all of the major blogging software out there. Simply insert the script into a few blog templates and you're set. Users can log in to their accounts and access the stats with the dashboard, and/or receive updates through an RSS feed. It captures the activity of visitors, repeat visitors, and search engines:
I've been using Perfomancing Metrics for the past couple of months and highly recommend it.
ClustrMaps is a visitor tracker and does not offer anywhere near the level of detail as Performancing Metrics, but what it has that Perfomancing doesn't is a neat graphical representation of visits to your blog, and for those of us who are particularly fond of maps, this is a very good thing:
ClustrMaps has tiered service levels, and is free for 'light' users who get less than 2500 hits a day. Light users have a limited map archive whereas paying users get an unlimited archive.
There is also an option to subscribe to an RSS feed of visitors to your site. Correction: RSS is currently not available with ClustrMaps. I've been using ClustrMaps for several months and have found it to be pretty reliable.
Ah the mashups! Here is a visitor counter that displays data with, you guessed it, Google Maps. Like Performancing Metrics and ClustrMaps, gVisit works by pasting a bit of code into your blog template. It's free, and like the others, provides an RSS feed. With a small donation, you can get rid of the ads and see 100 most recent visitors instead of the 20 that you get with the free account.
Posted on May 4, 2006 12:24 PM to cool new tools