Since I converted this site to use a hosted server, one of the benefits of running my own site is having the ability to glean statistics about who is coming to visit the via web analytics.  Here are some of the packages I’ve looked at using while I am trying to figure out which offers the best features.

I know it sounds ultra geeky to care about such stats of where the people were coming from, or how they got there, but it’s interesting to see what may have interested people in what I had to say.

Some of the points of interest I am looking to learn:

  • What are people visiting on the site
  • Where are they coming from
  • How long are they staying
  • What page are they leaving from
  • How often do people come back to the site

Some packages are installed on the same web server which analyze web logs to determine statistics, while others use JavaScript embedded in your site to communicate visitor statistics back to the hosted service.  The hosted solutions work well with any platform that supports embedded JavaScript.  Some blogging packages provide their own analytics as well, but I am mainly focused on the depth of the additional packages.

Google Analytics 

Google Analytics is a free hosted JavaScript service, and was one of the first one I used since converting the site, and for the most part it’s good high level data. One of the benefits is the tight integration with Google Adsense if your goals are to measure how well your Adsense advertising relates to your visitor statistics.

Microsoft Analytics

This is Microsoft’s analytic platform which is still in beta,that is built out from their adcenter business.  It is a hosted JavaScript solution that I believe will be free.

After viewing preview information about this platform, I would really like to be invited to the beta to check it out.  Unfortunately,  after submitting my request to join the beta months ago, I still have not been accepted It does look promising from a statistics, and viewer information standpoint but I may have to wait until release to give it a try.  I just received my beta invite, and setup the code today.  It will take a few hours to get data collected, but so far it seems like a very useful tool.


Statcounter is a semi-Free service hosted JavaScript solution, which I find myself using the most.  It provides the same high level statistics over time as the others, but I really like it’s near-real time display of who is visiting your site.  It was through this data that let me understand who was linking to my content, and who the audience who found the content interesting was discovering it at.  It is free to store 500 "hits" (I am not sure if it’s by PageView), which mans it only stores the last 500 hits to the site (you can purchase additional collections for a cost).  Since my site is a low usage site, it offers some great visibility into who is visiting the site, and what they were looking at. A nice feature is that it will display your hits in detail on a Google map to get a visual idea of where your traffic is coming from, and when.  So far this is my service of choice, but for other high volume sites it could become costly.


I came across a post (and here) on a new Web analytics package today named Woopra, which started me thinking about which package to use.  So far from the information on the web site it looks like a very interesting piece of software.  One of the main differences is that while it uses hosted JavaScript on your site to collect stats, there appears to be a client application (as well as as web console?)you can use for viewing the statistics gathered.  Unfortunately since this is still in beta, I’m having issues signing it currently, but hopefully I will be able to give it a shot shortly.

Update: I have since been approved to the Woopra beta, and you can view my review of the Woopra service here.


I am fortunate that my host has SmarterStats installed on the web server which provides a wealth of knowledge about my entire site structure from it’s local usage logs.  I think having the ability to report based on Log information, as well as the live hit functionality really is a nice combination to gather information in a holistic view that a single solution does not provide.  Since it is based on web logs, some of the statistics are not real time depending on the log collection period.

So with that,  I plan on checking out the Beta services above as they look very promising, but I think Statcounter is my current system of choice.

If you have any recommendations for other services, please leave a comment below.

Usage Analytics Apps

Since I first posted this, I did happen to stumble across another post which listed 5 web analytic sites which are better than Google, but many of them seem to offer a different experience. Some of these apps fall into what I might call "Usage Analytics" as apps such as CrazyEgg and ClickDensity offer some innovative tools which provide maps of click usage activity on your site which definately helps in the design aspects of the site, but they did not have the same visitor stats I was looking for

Clicky seems like a good service so far, as I do love the live "Spy" feature which displays visitor information as they happen on your site.  Unfortunately, the features which make it stand out, are a small fee which I will see over the next few weeks if it’s worth it.  So far it mmight give StatCounter a run for it’s money for my needs.

Here is another review of 11 Free Analytics Apps which draws it’s own conclusions that others might find useful.