StatCounter: A Strong Google Analytics Alternative

If you run a website, you’ve almost certainly heard of Google analytics. Many of you probably use it quite happily, but some of you might have wondered what other website statistic services exist. I’ve been using Statcounter for a few years now, and continue to do so quite happily. Their website can be found here.

StatCounter is a company based in Ireland, who seek to offer a straightforward website statistics service. Their basic services are free, but more advanced features can be purchased for a monthly fee that varies on the amount of traffic you wish to track in detail. The only real difference between the free service and the paid ones is the size of the log that you can explore (i.e. the individual visits that you can drill down into). I’ll go into more detail about that feature later.

Registering an account on StatCounter couldn’t be more straightforward and can be done on this page. Following that, you will be asked if you wish to create a project. You create a project per website you wish to track. You only need provide the most basic details about the website. Among the basic options here that you can select is the length of time between visits from the same IP for them to be considered unique, as well as IPs that you might want to block from being recorded as traffic (such as your own). The next page will ask you to select the kind of counter you wish to display on your site (you can use an invisible one), and there will be a few followup questions for your counter. Finally you’ll get to select an installation guide depending on what type of website you have. If you use WordPress, like I do, there’s a handy plugin that does most of the work for you.

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The image below shows one of the various views of the summary statistics that you can see in Statcounter. Free from heavy javascript (unlike GA), this loads in a couple of seconds even on a mobile browser. Very good for getting a quick snapshot of how your current traffic is looking.

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You can also see recent keyword activity from various search engines, along with your current rankings for those keywords. If you look at the image below from one of my sites, you can see that it is ranking number 1 for Carbon Tax. If you click on the green text of the keywords it actually loads the specific google search page that the click came from.

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If you click on Recent Visitor Activity, you can actually see the visits of real people, and you can drill down to see what they did. This is where your log limit comes into play. The free account gives you a log size of 500 visitors, and if you pay more you can see more. For most purposes, the free account is great. The image below shows a typical recent visitor activity list, and the following images show what you can see if you drill down further by clicking the magnifying glass next to one of the entries.

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StatCounter is a great alternative to Google analytics that is updated and browsable in realtime (did I mention that?). You don’t need to wait to check who just visited you site. It can be very useful for tracking phone calls. Imagine you have a website for your business and are wondering which pages or search terms convert. All you need to do is flick to StatCounter after concluding the phone call and you might be able to figure out which page they just visited and how they got there (assuming they got your number from the website, that is). Let me know how you all go!