Tracking your Blog Visitors

So you have a blog with great content, optimized for search engines and ready to get exploding traffic? But how do you know which of your articles are most liked by your visitors, and how many unique visitors and impressions your blog gets daily? To track these, you’ll have to feed your blog with few lines of JavaScript; or if you find it hard, plugins are there for you.

1. Third Party Tracking:

Tracking tools range from free to professional, simple to flexible tracking. Google Analytics has been there for years, and is still preferred by many. Though Analytics has few complications, it is still preferred for its ease of use, flexibility and professionalism.

Next comes StatCounter. Based on JavaScript, StatCounter not only gives you a damn simple interface but also permits you to deeply analyze a visitor – Visitors’ IP address, hostname, ISP, Map Overlay, Browser, Operating System, JavaScript status. Both require JavaScript to be embedded in to your blog’s PHP file (footer is better).

1.1 Google Analytics

To start analyzing with Google Analytics, you’ll first have to create an Analytics account (you can simple login with your Google account, if you have one). If you already have an Analytics account, you’ll have to create a site profile then. You’ll be asked for a profile name, URL and few other requirements. You’ll then be presented with the tracking code.

Now, if you are familiar with HTML, you can simply add the code to footer.php of your template. If not, you have ‘Google Analytics for WordPress’, a plugin by Joost de Valk. Download the plugin, upload it to your host and activate. Once done, select Google Analytics from Settings and key-in the UA code for the corresponding site. This screenshot should help you. You can enable advanced settings if you are ready to tweak it more.

1.2 StatCounter

As said earlier, StatCounter has the simplest interface, yet allowing you to deeply analyze a visitor. To get started, you should create an account on StatCounter. Click ‘Add New Project’ and fill in your blog’s details. You’ll then be taken to a page to configure and install the code. Select your preference and proceed to the code installation page. Select your platform as (You pay for the hosting). On the next page, you’ll get your tracking code along with a link to download the official plugin. Download the plugin, upload it to your host and activate. Go back to the code installation page and copy/paste the required values – Project ID, Partition ID and Security string. Enable StatCounter logging from the plugin and you are done. :)

Visit your project page to track your visitors.

2. WordPress Plugins for Tracking:

If you are reading this, you probably are finding third-party tools harder to be embedded (or you are curious to know). Alright, few plugins out there help tracking your blog’s visitors, giving you a similar third-party tool’s interface.

2.1 Wassup

Wassup, to me, is the best ever tracking plugin. Wassup lists your visitors’ time of visit, their IP address, Hostname, Browser, Operating System, Screen resolution, User Agent, Search string and referrer. The plugin can also spy (not literally) your visitors showing your visitors in real-time.

Download the plugin and activate! That’s it. You don’t have to configure anything, Wassup will start tracking your blog visitors. Select ‘Wassup’ from the left pane.

2.2 Stats Stats can be considered if you still need another tracking tool. Though Stats isn’t as flexible as the other tools, it can still show you the top post, search strings, referrers and outbound clicks.

To get started with Stats, download the plugin and activate it. You’ll then have to key in your API key (the one that you used for Akismet). Once done, give Stats some time to get used to your environment. ;) Once it starts collecting, you can find it at Dashboard >> Site Stats.

Related: Track your RSS Readers

There are still many tracking tools out there and I could have missed them. Let me know through the comments if you find a tool that could overdo the ones above.