Blog Metrics and Site Stats

Most bloggers have it hard because most they are running their blogs as one-man-shows. That means that most bloggers have to be writers, marketers, and tech administrators.

Streamlining and simplifying your operations is one of the keys to making it all work. In this article, we’ll show you a variety of ways to simplify the art of tracking your blog stats and metrics. The cool thing is that the tools for analyzing site statistics are becoming more and more dynamic, allowing you to see real-time pictures of visitor activity.

pMetrics Blog Stats

At the current time, we believe that there really is only one excellent choice for blog analytics and it’s called pMetrics from Performancing. While not perfect, it gives bloggers almost everything they need to get quick and useful snapshots of important blog stats. pMetrics is a javascript based solution that gives you a concise, simplified, but feature rich portrayal of your blog’s traffic and visitor behavior. pMetrics is the only metric solution that includes a “Live Ticker” spy function so that you can watch blog traffic dynamics in real-time. I can’t overemphasize the importance of this feature. It allows you to get instant feedback on the success or failure of any promotional activity that you do. See which blogs are worth commenting at by monitoring how traffic flows into your site. See which social voting sites (reddit, Digg, Netscape) are worth submitting to by monitoring incoming results.

pMetrics is easy to use. You just drop 3 or so lines into the footer of your blog template and you’re golden. Stats are stored and calculated on a remote server, which ensures that your own server won’t slow down (unlike another stats option I’ll be reviewing). You get regularly updated snapshots of incoming links, incoming search queries, incoming referrals and even user behavior throughout your own site (pMetrics tracks clicks). I really can’t say enough about this product. It’s perfect for bloggers who want a simple but feature rich stats program. The only downside is that it doesn’t give you much on the side of content analysis, though you can still get this from your own server side logs. Where pMetrics shines is on giving bloggers a real-time, up to the minute picture of a blog’s activity.

Download pMetrics here.

Google Analytics

Google gives away their analytics program for free and while it is a powerful and robust system, it is also awkward, complex and confusing. The average blogger won’t know where to start in finding *useful* information and might get frustrated. Google has put too much emphasis on their AdWords campaign tracking, and it takes far too much drillling in too many disparate sections to get at the information most people are interested in (e.g. keyword phrase searches, most visited pages, links from other pages, referrals). To be honest, it takes me about 10 minutes per visit per site to navigate through and see all the information I want to find.

Google Analytics shines when it comes to content and keyword analysis. It is a more robust solution than pMetrics on those levels. Just like pMetrics, it is easy to install with a few lines of javascript code in your blog footer. However, we feel that Google Analytics is too cumbersome and doesn’t give you that *killer* feature like pMetrics. In other words, you can get much of the same effect from your server-side logs as from Google Analytics, though GA is admittedly more robust and informative. But there’s nothing like the pMetric real-time ticker.

In the end, I feel that pMetrics is the better package for bloggers for 2 reasons. One, it offers a critical feature that Google Analytics is missing: a real time “Spy Ticker” to track visitors and user behavior in real time. Second, it presents its information in a simple, intuitive and easy to understand interface. You’ll have a picture of your blog statistics in seconds, rather than minutes.

Raw Server Logs

If you’re lucky enough to have access to your own server logs, and some server-side program like AWStats or Webalyzer, then you should take advantage of them. Unlike javascript based solutions, they are not dependent on your visitors having javascript enabled browsers. Plus, they keep track of every single server request that is made from your website. You can monitor file usage, image downloads, etc. Raw server log analysis also provides with the most accurate measurement of unique visitors, page views and hits. Because of this, they give you a standard measurement by which to measure your blog’s progress.

The downside to raw server logs for bloggers is that 1) not everyone has access to them and 2) most analysis software provides limited analytics (Google’s Analytics is much better for content and keyword analysis) and 3) don’t give you the dynamic real-time picture of site traffic like pMetric’s Spy function.

Blog Plugins and Stats stored in blogs database

For WordPress users, there is an extremely useful plugin called wp-shortstat. Unfortunately, this blog statistics plugin has a huge downside. It stores all of your blog stats in your WordPress database. At first this is no problem, but after a month, it starts to drag on server performance, especially on shared hosting platforms. I usually use wp-shortstat when just starting out on a new blog, but as soon as it starts getting more than 100 visitors per day, I uniformly have to disable the plugin and turn to a more scalable solution like pMetrics or Google Analytics.