Effectively tracking the momentum of your blog's readership means having access to statistics about who's visiting, where they're coming from, where they're going, and much more. Two of the most popular free stat services are Sitemeter and StatCounter. Sitemeter is the default stat service for beginning bloggers, but it probably shouldn't be.
Though I ran Sitemeter exclusively for more than two years, I've been running both on Baby Cheapskate for a couple of months now to see which I liked better. More and more I've found myself depending on StatCounter. Why?
- StatCounter consistently shows me a higher number of readers than Sitemeter by anywhere from 1% to 10%. I don't know why. I'm sure it's a result of how the data is gathered. Whatever the reason, tell me I have ten percent more readers and I'm yours!
- StatCounter tells you more of what you need to know. You get to find out, for example, which of your posts were most popular and which keywords visitors used to find your site--important stuff.
- With StatCounter's free version you get information about the last 500 clicks to your site. With Sitemeter's free version you're limited to the past 100.
- StatCounter does a great job of explaining how they gather stats and how you can use them. Sure, the explanations clutter the page, but what can you do?
- StatCounter lets me switch back and forth from looking at Baby Cheapskate stats to looking at BlogCoach stats. No need to sign in and out.
- No need for the little green box at the bottom of my site! StatCounter lets you choose an "invisible" counter.
- I don't have to wait for Sitemeter's ads to load at the top of the page.
And here's Sitemeter's Summary page:
Two Sitemeter functions that I find myself continuing to use are Referrals and Outclicks. I like to see where people are coming from and where they go when they leave. I find Sitemeter's cleaner layout allows me to access that information more quickly.
If you want even more detail, there are two other services to consider:
- Google Analytics (Very detailed stats. Integrates with AdSense)
- PMetrics (Provides tons of info about your traffic)