Is anyone looking at my website? It’s a simple but important question. OK, some people may use a website as a type of diary and may not be interested in whether anyone is reading it or not but I assume that you are like me and are hoping many people read what you have to say. There are many tools for tracking visitors to your website but I always use two and I’ll explain why.
Official StatCounter Plugin
This is one of my favorite tools and I use it on every website I have. The thing I love about this tool is that you can see what pages your visitors looked at and you can basically follow their path around your website. You can usually tell where each visitor came from and a host of other stats but the function that I just mentioned is what I look at the most. It can tell you a lot about the visitor but also about your site. If all your visitors are coming to one page and then disappearing from your website, you may have a problem. There are many reasons for this, it could be that you have only one page, an ugly website, a crap article, nothing that entices people to look at other parts of your website or a host of other things. It doesn’t tell you what the problem is unfortunately but it does tell you that there might be a problem.
To use statcounter you need to have a statcounter account but they have great free service. There are other similar services out there but I like this one.
Link: Official StatCounter Plugin
Recently this plugin was bundled into the Jetpack by WordPress.com plugin that I mentioned in the previous post (Installed WordPress – What next?). To use JetPack by WordPress you need to have a WordPress.com account. This is a nifty plugin that provides a variety of stats and graphs about your website such as how many times posts and pages have been viewed and where your visitors are coming from and you can look at it directly from your control panel. In fact if you have several sites, as I do, using this plugin you can check all their statistics from one of those sites control panels. Also because all of the processing and collection runs on wordpress.com servers and not yours, it doesn’t cause any additional load on your hosting account. That last sentence is pretty much copy and paste but I couldn’t have said it any better.
Link: Jetpack by WordPress.com
Google Analytics is also a very popular way to monitor traffic on your site and provide a wealth of stats but while I do have it installed on a couple of sites I don’t really make much use of it. To use it, you need to have an account at Google. If you are serious about your website and about getting traffic to your website, you need to have an account at Google. In another post I will talk about creating sitemaps and submitting your site to Google but you might as well sign up now. Regarding plugins, as far as I know, there is no official Google Analytics Plugin but there are many to choose from. If this is a must for you and you are a data hound then I highly recommend Google Analytics for WordPress by yoast. It is the most comprehensive I have seen and Joost de Valk of yoast is one of the best, most reliable plugin designers out there. I will talk more about his plugins soon as one of them is practically a requirement for WordPress installation.
Note: In the next post I will talk about installing plugins and give you some advice about how to find plugins, how to choose the correct ones for you and what to watch out for.